This morning in the shower, as we were discussing world-building (as one does. Well, one does in my family) the Mathematician reminded me of Esperanto.
So the cue was “But why would their writing be like that” for very odd world you’ll get by the by. And the answer was “because the language is synthetic and created by crazy people.” And then he groaned and said “Esperanto.”
I never learned Esperanto. I think I was in my forties before I stopped feeling guilty over that.
For those of you who weren’t around and aware in the seventies: half of my friends in languages and linguistics were also learning Esperanto in their own time.
I paid for courses in Swedish and Italian and to continue French after not in my curriculum, but I never paid for Esperanto, and back then I couldn’t tell you why. It might honestly have been that I hated — HATED HATED HATED — sanctimony and the whole “We’re learning Esperanto, because it’s the language of the future, when the Earth is united and there’s no more war” just rubbed me the wrong way.
In retrospect, looking at it, it was a completely crazy idea, on the same level as communism, or the UN. And btw, back then I was still stupid enough to think I should work for the UN because that would help with world peace. (This is a peculiar European delusion. They can’t stand to attribute their long stretch of peace of Pax Americana, so the UN it must be.)
And it was completely crazy in the way that even the Heinlein books before he took his world tour were crazy: because they assumed that the entire world would retool to take on the more “functional” culture of the US.
It was a beautifully insane delusion, which completely ignored the fact that cultures are real and stubborn things. To be fair, the left still doesn’t get that. They don’t understand that humans are social beings, and therefore are not just beings of flesh and mind, but beings of culture. And cultures, frankly — though I don’t know how much people get that — are almost like living, sentient beings. Which means they will find ways not to die, including but not limited to, infiltrating the conquering culture.
The only way that universal future culture would work would have been if the US — at the time it would have to be the US — had conquered the whole world in fire and blood and imposed our language and culture, including taking kids very young and raising them away from their parents. (Assuming you didn’t kill all the parents.)
Much less replacing a language with a synthetic language — imagining that synthetic languages would not evolve and separate and become organic — which falls under “if only everyone”.
No one is going to fall in with any of this, which is why Esperanto never happened. It’s why the UN where it does anything is with other people’s troops. (And because it’s a worldwide organization and the sh*tholes greatly outnumber the functional countries, the things it can enforce are usually horrendous, horrifying, and shouldn’t ever happen.)
It’s also why Communism would never have happened without force. The force mostly being financed by the rich of the world or the incredibly corrupt (China) or both, in so far as Communism is a great system to impose all sorts of totalitarianism under the flag of, from Fascism to Feudalism.
Without force, Communism becomes Esperanto. The thing you look at in a few years and go “Oh, yeah, I remember when that used to be cool.”
The thing is, even with force it’s not any great thing. Because think about it, ladies, gentlemen, and small furry animals: they’ve been trying to take over the world for a over a century. 1984 was predicted for… well, 1984.And the thing is, after a crest of looking plausible around the 1970s, they’ve been steadily losing ground.
Because they’re like Esperanto with an army. No matter how much force you use, people will still think its stupid, and they’re not going to learn your made up words. Or if they try they find themselves quite out of words for the functions of every day life, like swearing at your enemies or making fun of your cat.
We’re going to win this. It’s going to be difficult because in a way it’s a struggle as old as mankind. Most of us want to be left alone, but a few bright boys and girls want to dictate everything we do and say and think. (Spoiler, they ain’t that bright. Burned light bulb in coal cellar at best.)
But the current vehicle is beyond silly. And it is one of a parcel of ah… mid century modern ideas hinging on “If only everyone.”
Those just can’t work. They just can’t. Because they might be great for some species. But not ours.
The soonest they die, the best for everyone concerned. And the ideas have to die, not the people. (Sure, you can kill the people too. But that never killed an idea. In fact having martyrs to the cause tends to make the cause seem way more urgent, important and VIABLE than it ever was.)
So, put on your armor of irony and ridicule, and once more into the culture trenches my friends.
Let’s laugh them out of existence.