A Novel About Esperanto

A while ago I was reading about the Ido-schism when I noticed several Wikipedia pages referenced a book named A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell, in which the schism was portrayed. As it’s rare to see reference to Esperanto in English, let alone a book about it, I bought the book straight away. It’s not the only English language novel that has Esperanto in it, for example in the Yiddish Policeman’s Union, the main character lives in Hotel Zamenhof which includes a few Esperanto signs like lifto (lift) and one character exclaims “What’s Esperanto for a pile of shit?” (I would suggest fekaĵaro). However, unlike others in books, Esperanto isn’t just mentioned in a throwaway line, it forms a core part of the story.

The book is essentially about three Jewish men and three cities at the turn of the century. Sigmund Freud, L.L. Zamenhof and Kalonymos Kalmish Szapira, in Vienna, Paris and London from 1894-1940. Following this structure the book is divided into three parts, with the middle one heavily focusing on Esperanto. The main character becomes a passionate Esperantist and there are many conversations in and about Esperanto. So is the book any good? Continue reading “A Novel About Esperanto”

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Modern Technology Could Help Revive Irish For A New Generation

The Irish language has a serious image problem. In the minds of young people many, it is still stuck in the 19th century (or earlier) in a time without electricity or cars. The ghost of Peig Sayers haunts the language with many imaging the language only spoken on a desolate, wind-swept, rain-soaked West coast by an old woman in a shawl beside a turf fire over a plate of potatoes. Conversations are limited to potatoes, tuberculosis, the evils of the British and decades of the rosary. During school, we’d sit at the back of class and wonder why we were wasting time on Irish. We doubted whether it was even possible to have a conversation about modern life in Irish, did this peasant language even have words for modern technology? Continue reading “Modern Technology Could Help Revive Irish For A New Generation”

Esperanto and Ethnic Conflict Since 1887

Two books have been in my mind lately. Firstly, this week was the 130th anniversary of the publication of the Unua Libro, the first book in Esperanto, which makes it one of the few languages in the world to have a birthday. On the 26th of July 1887, L.L. Zamenhof created an international language that he hoped would bridge the divide between people and reduce ethnic conflict. The second thing is that I have been reading The Vanquished: Why The First World War Failed To End by Robert Gerwarth. The book details the enormous amount of ethnic conflict that erupted after the end of the First World War and continued simmering until erupting again in the Second World War. Continue reading “Esperanto and Ethnic Conflict Since 1887”

Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic

There was a time when Ireland was for all practical purposes, a Catholic state. Divorce, homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives were all illegal. Books and films had to be approved by a censorship board which banned anything that was contrary to Catholic teaching (which turned out to be a lot). The Church ran almost all schools, hospitals as well homes for “fallen women” and forgotten children. Acting contrary to Catholic teaching meant shame and banishment. The state was guided by Catholic principles to such an extent that it was hardly noticed or commented on. That was just the way things were. Continue reading “Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic”

Why Libertarians Should Like Esperanto

You don’t see many libertarian Esperantists. Well, you don’t see many political Esperantists, the language is strictly political neutral and aims to appeal to everyone regardless of political opinion. Even still, Esperantists are more likely to be left rather than right wing. It’s understandable why nationalists don’t like Esperanto, it’s a very un-nationalistic if not anti-nationalistic idea. Tearing down barriers between nationalities does not appeal to them and nationalists fear that Esperanto could undermine the national language and culture. However, I think there are several good reasons why Libertarians should like Esperanto.

The only times I’ve seen Libertarians mention Esperanto it’s been to dismiss it. They viewed it as artificial, as a top down attempt to force social change instead of a natural bottom up approach. I want to argue that this misperception of Esperanto is actually the reverse of reality. Esperanto is really the perfect example of natural bottom-up growth, whereas natural languages are top-down enforcement by the state. I’m not the only one, just last week I read an article (in Esperanto) arguing for Anarcho-Capitalism for Esperantists. Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should Like Esperanto”

All Politics Is Identity Politics

There is a large discourse ongoing regarding the importance of identity politics, particularly in America. Most articles on the topic criticise it, in fact the term is rarely used in a positive manner. Many argue that identity politics has a toxic influence on politics and is a distraction to the real issues. Some goes as far to blaming recent electoral defeats for the Democrats on an obsession with identity politics.

But all politics is identity politics. Continue reading “All Politics Is Identity Politics”

The White Genocide Conspiracy Theory And Why It’s Nonsense

Do you want to hear something crazy? Let me tell you about a conspiracy theory popular among the alt-right, white nationalists and fascists (or whatever you want to call them). It’s that the white race is facing extinction and that evil unseen forces are plotting to wipe it out. A genocide is happening right before our eyes yet no one has noticed [insert mandatory ‘wake up people!’ here]. Like all conspiracy theories, it’s riddled with holes, flaws and a complete lack of evidence (not that it matters to true believers). Most of it is openly racist propaganda and white supremacist hate. I will admit I do find something fascinating about crazy and bizarre political ideas, which lead me to write this article. Continue reading “The White Genocide Conspiracy Theory And Why It’s Nonsense”