Does Esperanto have a culture of its own?
Do people talk about serious subjects likes politics, religion, philosophy etc?
Does the community tend to lean one way or another in politics or is it more balanced?
Will you commonly find religious or spiritual Esperanto speakers?
My father had a periodical, did meetings, and wrote songs in Esperanto so I would say yes.
I don't speak it. He always wanted to teach me and gave me once some lessons, but I've never found it useful or showed any real interest. He basically thought it was the best thing in the world, used it daily, and was so devoted to it, that it had actually the reverse effect and was off-putting to us. It was also accompanied by strong anti-English and anti-Americanism resentment (he was European), which the rest of the family didn’t share. It’s like he had an "Esperanto fever" which only contributed to creating a sense of dividence. He even created a flag for it. I don’t know if I have positive feelings towards it, most of my childhood it was annoyance, but I’m more inclined learning it, now that I’m older, since it played such a large and integral part in his life.
TL;DR - Yes, yes, maybe left, and yes.
First, let's define culture. The University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition has a nice collection of definitions from various authors here: http://carla.umn.edu/culture/definitions.html I'll use their definition to answer your question.
So, yes, Esperanto definately has its own culture. There are many social rules to learn, and plenty of background that one needs to be aware of, to understand other Esperanto speakers beyond the basic meaning of their words. "Kabei" doesn't mean "kabab" and while they seem to be talking about large reptiles, no, you did not stumble into the "Esperantistaj Herpetologiistoj" conference by mistake. After interacting with speakers for any period of time, one will become aware of these things and what they really mean. The nice thing about Esperantists in particular is that they are often happy to share how and why they do thing a certain way, and what the context is for their expressions.
For example, the idea of "Ne krokodilu!" - "Don't crocodile!" means "Do no speak another language when you should be using Esperanto!" Some newcomers don't like this idea as they think that it has a cult-ish vibe or is intimidating to newcomers. (Some long-time users also don't like it...) I originally hated the idea, but I came to realize that this part of Esperanto culture is very important and has real value. First, it is rude to use another language when you know that some of the other speakers don't understand it as well as you. Additionally, at Esperanto meetings, many of the other speakers are there because they rarely get to use Esperanto elsewhere. Even if they know that language, they want to be immersed in Esperanto, so even speaking to them in their native tongue can be rude. Also, it is actually bad for public relations as many large Esperanto events attract the media. If a reporter sees that everyone there is just speaking English, and reports that on the news, it makes Esperanto look like a joke. It took me time, through socializing with other Esperantists, for me to change my opinions and to adopt this part of the culture, but even before I adopted it, it was everpresent.
Yes, people will discuss serious matters. Politics, religion, philosophy and the like are all topics that I have discussed and seen discussed. To give you a decently tame example, I took part in a debate about whether a certain computer operating system should be called GNU/Linux or just Linux. It went on for a while, both sides gave their reasons, and thankfully, at the end, we all agreed the others had good points, but agreed to disagree. Not all conversations end so nicely, but such topics do happen. There is a stereotype that all Esperantists talk about is Esperanto, and I'm not helping debunk that with this post, but it is just a stereotype. To give a more concrete example: I have 5 Esperanto songs on my computer - only 1 is about Esperanto.
From an American political perspective, the community as a whole appears to lean to the left. BUT, and this is important, that is likely due to the fact that anti-nationalism is seen as a leftist view. Esperanto is, by its nature, anti-nationalist. There's an old Esperanto poem that goes: "Rompu, rompu la murojn inter la popoloj!" - "Break, break the walls between the peoples!" This isn't to say that there are no nationalist Esperantists, but there is a bias against nationalism. So asking this is like asking "Are vegetarians more likely to fall on one side of the political spectrum?" Sure, but animal rights is defined as being part of the left, and you'd be hard pressed to find a vegetarian that is anti-animal rights. I'm sure they exist, but more than half of my family (myself included) is vegetarian and I've never met another vegetarian that isn't at least somewhat in favor of animal rights. Those two ideas are complementary. So I'll say left-leaning, but take it with that grain of salt.
Yes. There is a stereotype that Esperantists are more likely to be atheist, but one of the examples that Esperantist are quick to point out when asked "where is Esperanto used?" is to say "the Vatican has an online Esperanto radio station" and "the Pope sometimes gives speeches in Esperanto." That isn't to say that a majority of Esperantists are Catholic, or even Christian, but they certainly aren't any more anti-religious than any other language group. (In fact, I'm sure that some national languages are less religiously diverse than Esperanto, but I have no specific examples or proof, that's just my gut feeling.) I regularly see Christian Facebook posts in Esperanto and I've seen several videos from an Esperanto speaking YouTuber who is Muslim. Others have already mentioned how Esperanto has been adopted by members of some other world relgions, meaning some Esperantists come to speak the language as a direct consequence of their faith. And even if the stereotype is true, remember that most surveys find that less than 10% of the world is atheist, so even if Esperanto's community contains 5 times as many atheists as the world average (it doesn't), religous folk would still be the majority. Spiritual speakers are certainly common.
Some Esperantiast went as far as creating Esperanto-oriented things. I found a Wikipedia article on it
Most Esperanto culture revolves around peaceful political stances and literature, but I have heard of things like Esperanto music and Zamenhof Day. Religion I would imagine is very diverse as the language is almost globally used but you would have to ask an Esperantist (which I am not).
1 - Yes, Esperanto has a combination of the speakers' native culture, making its own culture. 2 - Yes, we talk about several subjects. Also we have an Esperanto version of Wikipedia (eo.wikipedia.org) with 238 457 articles. 3 - Today we have a more balanced community. 4 - Yes. By the way, here, in Brazil, the spiritists were the biggest incentivators of learning Esperanto.
You'll find a number of people who aren't overly interested in such things. The stereotype is that Esperanto speakers tend to be left-leaning, but I also hear as many complaints from people who think they're the only right-leaning Esperantist - which obviously can't be true. Lately, among American Esperantists online, I've noticed a lot of Christians - especially evangelical Christians - but worldwide it tends to be all over the spectrum.
How strong is the sense of kinship within the community and how it's comparably to one's own countrymen and your native tongue?
I read another one of your comments in which you said you used it for many many years.
Yes. We started in 1997, so we're coming up on 20 years. I've had the advantage that my family speaks it too, so I've never wanted for people to speak with.
You may be interested in my YouTube channel. Search YouTube for Esperanto Variety Show.
I think there's a pretty strong sense of kindred spirits among Esperantists. I generally don't accept every Facebook friend request that I get, because I don't think there's a rule that we have to be FB friends with everybody who speaks Esperanto, but I'd be more inclined to go the extra mile or help out an Esperanto speaker.
I usually explain it this way. There are enough Esperanto speakers that you can usually find someone wherever you go. However, there are few enough speakers so that when you do find someone, they're usually REALLY REALLY excited to see you.
It's a small world and Esperanto is a smaller world. It takes a pretty decent investment of time to learn a language well. Therefore, it's fairly safe to assume that if someone contacts me via the Pasporta Servo, that they're not looking to cause trouble - because word would get out quickly and they'd lose their place among the Esperanto-speaking community.
you're welcome, comrade
Any group of people interacting around a common interest is liable to develop a culture.
People talk in esperanto about anything that people talk in not-esperanto. What people talk about doesn't necessarily change when they speak a different language.
I thought that Esperanto would have a very specific political slant, but after a while it seems you find people of all stripes in esperanto. You will find people you agree with, and you will find people who you will vehemently disagree with. Especially on the internet. Same goes with religion (or lack thereof).
Yes, Esperanto has culture. Unfortunately (at least from what I've seen, which is not all that much) much of this culture includes talking about Esperanto. You don't learn a language to talk about a language. Just my opinion anyway. :D
While as I already mentioned we tend to talk about Esperanto a lot, we certainly do talk about all the things you mentioned, and just about anything at all!
It seems to me that much of the community is left leaning, but I myself am a Christian and would be classified as "right-leaning".
As I said, I am a Christian, and unfortunately have not seen too many other Christians online, although I have not been extremely active in the community.
This may be a bit off-topic, but being Christian does not make you "right-leaning," per se. You and/or the leadership of your particular denomination or community may hold views which happen to align with the platform of a given party or ideological interpretation that is considered right-wing at this instant in history, but many others don't.
Remember that a couple hundred years ago virtually everyone in the West was nominally a Christian. That didn't prevent the left-right political spectrum from existing. If you buy the idea that U.S. political parties reflect each end of the spectrum (I don't, but just for the sake of argument), you can see in the statistics that plenty of Christian groups identify predominantly as Democrats, and plenty are really close to half-and-half. So to say "I myself am a Christian and obey the Bible, and therefore I would be classified as 'right-leaning'" implies that all these people have it wrong, even many that are probably within your own denomination. Of course, the distorted "every Christian is a Republican" narrative is one that popular media loves. The same applies to incendiary social questions about particular policies.
Sorry to go on a tangent, but I think political philosophy is a fascinating subject, and yet so many of us simply join up with a tribe that we imagine we belong to for pretty simplistic reasons, while the underlying set of philosophical positions is largely ignored. Protestantism, for instance, would have been left-wing almost by definition, if that term had existed at the time of Martin Luther (since it advocated the radical reformation of existing traditional institutions, much like a certain singular figure whom you admire, and the devolving of powers from a hierarchy of bishops to the congregations of people).
Just because you follow the Bible doesn't mean the Bible tells you in all cases precisely what the role of government is. And when it does, it can be somewhat contradictory or, if you prefer, interpreted in contradictory ways. Unless you advocate a modern theocracy, it is difficult to argue that "Christianity" in its most holistic sense advocates or necessitates any broad political identification. But if you accept the usual academic definition of these "wings," then the left advocates egalitarianism, while the right defends hierarchy and natural inequality. I happen to read the gospels as pretty clearly egalitarian. But this is just a personal interpretation.
Anarchism isn't on the left or right. Both the left and right definitely believe in having a government, but want it to do different things. And actually, in the US, since anarchism is most closely related to libertarianism, and libertarians are associated with the right, I tend to view it as a bit right-leaning. However, it isn't either.
The word "libertarian" has very different connotations between Europe and the US. In Esperanto the definition is clear with the terms Liberecanoj vs Libertarianoj, where the European term refers to anarchists and anti-authoritarian communists, and the Usonian term refers to the syncretic ideology of free market capitalists (right wing economically) with occasionally left leaning social ideas (individualism, personal liberty), aka "anarcho-capitalism"
You are right and it's even more twisted. Eg. Anarchist communism (also known as anarcho-communism, free communism, libertarian communism, and communist anarchism) is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour, and private property (while retaining respect for personal property), and in favour of common ownership of ...
Kliphph's statement had good intention, maybe not fully researched.
Tolstoy had different ideas in promoting moral philosophy than what was used by Christian anarchism (left, but still right/conservative)
We need to read in context of intention. Conservatives/right want status quo of (ab)using power and get rid of opponents (gov, unions, leftists...). Progressives are mostly not in power and try to reverse the process, but may fall into dictatorship of the 'leaders' (similar outcome).
The key is having proper philosophy principles, more advanced than dogmatic (religious)/metaphysical. Unfortunately, we are in 'dark ages of philosophy' when people resort back to Socrates to avoid inconvenient truth of modern philosophy/sociology (most human disciplines) to avoid conflict with the oligarchs.
The New Testament has a distinctly left-wing bent (help and feed the poor, love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, etc...). What is fascinating to me, is that Protestants tend to be more right-wing in the US than Catholics. One theory is that Catholics more emphasize the New Testament. Jews (in the US) tend to be overwhelmingly left-wing, and Jews do not have the New Testament, so that theory breaks down. And atheists, who one could logically place in the right-wing category, seem most often left-wing.
An interesting tidbit: A friend last year was on a flight where several theologians were traveling to a conference. After talking to them for a bit he realized that they were almost all atheists. When he asked, he was told that many theologians are often atheist.
Now all of that can and is sometimes discussed in Esperanto (to bring it to the original topic).
I'm not sure that I follow your logic on atheists being right-wing. Perhaps you would care to explain.
Regarding theologians being atheists, while many probably are, I think there is somewhat more nuance to this than you are reading into it. I think many if not most of them do not believe in an active, anthropomorphic deity as would be understood by many "common" people, if you will excuse the term. It is a mistake of modern materialists to caricature everyone who believes in "God," which can mean almost anything and has, as believing in an extremely naive and limited vision of God which atheists can easily disavow based on scientific principles. Plenty of philosophers have described God in a way that any broadly reasonable person could at least entertain as plausible. I think it is this more abstract and distant God which many institutionalized theologians "believe" in.
No, those theologians were apparently your regular run of the mill atheists, and they described themselves as atheists. Many atheists are interested in studying religion as an academic pursuit. No need to believe in God or anything similar.
Anyway, in the simple view atheists should be the Ayn Randist kind of types. And some certainly are. But it seems, not most. That was my point.
In the same way, simple reasoning should tell you that all christians should be leftists, given how extremely left wing that Jesus fella seems to have been. And that simple logic doesn't work (again that was my point). Although notice that before Reagan in the US evangelicals voted democrat, now they vote republican. So these things are not as set in stone as it seems.
The notion that atheism implies Rand-style social Darwinism as a necessarily emergent system of ethics really has no basis, as far as I can see. I don't see this as being at all obvious unless you believe that religion is the font of all egalitarian morals.
With regard to theologians, I am accustomed to recognizing a distinction between the academic discipline of "religious studies" and hearing "theology" being used only with reference to seminaries or departments situated within institutions with a historical or present affiliation with a religious tradition. I realize this is not universal or perhaps not even common, but that was the context in which my comment was made. To me, theology implies you are actually studying the nature of a deity (as the name implies), which isn't really possible if you don't at least entertain the notion that one exists. Otherwise you are really just studying a branch of anthropology. But I'm no expert, so I will defer.
On the bright side, and on topic, it does demonstrate that Esperanto speakers are willing and able to discuss religion and politics (albeit in English).
JasonMey: Nu ni povus diskuti Esperante, sed la originala demando estis en la angla, do eble se la diskuto estus en esperanto la demandanto ne povus sufiĉe kompreni ke ĉi tiu estas unu el tiuj gravaj diskutoj pri religio, kiun li volis. Estas grava ke ni montru nian diskutkapablon angle :)
Anyway, we are talking cross purposes. It seems that you say you disagree with my by making exactly the point I am trying to make in a different manner, so I can't see where you are disagreeing with me. My only point was that "I am christian therefore I must be right wing" is not a reasonable argument because there are other bases of moral and political values than religion (or lack thereof).
Anyway waaaay of topic.
Wow! Long comment, thanks for responding. :) Yes, I certainly agree with you. What I really mean to say is "I am a Christian, and am right leaning." You're right that the Bible doesn't say in all cases and clarity what the role, and often it can be interpreted differently by different people of different viewpoints. I don't advocate theocracy, but rather believe that Church and government should be separate. It's true that the Bible is very clear on some things, while less clear on others and everyone interprets things differently. This was a very short response, but I hope it was enough to clarify.
Well, you've found at least one other Christian Esperantist, and there are plenty more of us. However, we're not all right-leaning. I'm a centrist myself. If you need an answer one way or the other, the last political test I took put me a bit to the left, but it changes - I was to the right a few years ago. And either way, it is slight. Something like 55-45.
I do agree that Esperantists talk about Esperanto too much, but don't we tend to find that sort of phenomenon everywhere? At my local go club, we tend to talk about go a lot. At university, everyone talked about classes a lot. And at every one of my college Bible studies, we would often talk about the Bible. I think the phenomenon is due, at least in part, to the fact that all Esperanto speakers have Esperanto in common, so it gives them something to talk about. For example, I meet many younger Esperantists who have never worked a job, so there isn't as much common ground. It isn't that we can't talk about work, but it would be a one sided conversation that would soon end. With Esperanto, we both have something to say, so the conversation can keep going.
Glad to know! And actually I'm a younger Esperantist who's never worked a job, so I know what you mean. Especially if you are not speaking in your native language it can be hard to keep a conversation going. :)
- Culture: yes. 2. Talk about serious subjects: yes. Esperantists will talk about absolutely anything and everything. 3. Leanings: I don't think either of your choices fits. Esperantists tend to be accepting of others. 4. Religion: see answer to #3!
In regards to politics and Esperanto, there has been a strong history of anarchist and libertarian communist ideological links with Esperanto, due to the appeal of a non national language among anti-nationalists, and the concept of a "workers' Latin" for the proletariat. An essay in English on Anarchism and Esperanto. A variety of libertarian communist articles in Esperanto can also be found on Libcom. Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda also have a SAT kulturo page with left leaning anational Esperanto culture.
Apologies if I'm repeating comments already made. Zamenhof (who invented Esperanto) was Jewish. The Esperanto language was banned by the Nazi regime during WW2 and many Esperantists persecuted at the time as Esperanto was considered to be associated with world citizenship and the opposite of promoting national culture. Many socialist groups have encouraged the use of Esperanto as a way of promoting a world socialist view or of a way of communicating with people in communist countries, (Chinese and Russian being quite difficult languages to learn). So, historically the Esperanto movement has always had a left leaning, though that may be changing now as people's reasons for learning Esperanto change. Yes, there is also an Esperanto culture amongst some, which can lead to an inner clique, which can be off-putting to the newcomer.
I disagree that the apparent "left-leaning" nature is caused by any connection in the past with individual esperantists and socalism.
1) A bit more Egalitarian culture.
2) Easier to talk about anything, with more open mind. Also used professionally: San Marino - Akademio Internacia de la Sciencoj has Summer Classes primarily in Esperanto. Hungary - available to students in schools/universities. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has found that Esperanto fulfils all the requirements of a living language.
3) A bit of both, but more balanced.
4) A bit softer than 'native common'; more agnostics. However all of 45K Japanese Oomoto religion members have studied Esperanto (1000 fluent). All popes from Pius X have welcomed supported the Esperanto movement.
As individuals we have reached our biological (local) max many thousand years ago. As Human(ism) we have a long way to go in the up/down cycle and exceed our best. Esperanto should help that and needs cross-cultural Collaboration. Thanks to Duolingo, the responsibility is ours.
My sense is that your first sentence is not connected to the rest of your comment. It can also be read in about seven different ways -- so I'm not sure what the connection is.
I'd be interested to hear you expand on how this ties in to the question about Esperanto culture.
Thanks for the attention. I think multi-dimensionally and sometimes create challenging statements to make others thinking. The 1st sentence is about the end(ing) of individualism/competition (we have not improved biologically other than sourcing the knowledge). To improve our wellbeing we need to focus on optimal social/collaboration relationships as Humanity. Esperanto (is aware of/) aims at intercultural communication without creating ambiguous words/phrases. We can clarify the misunderstandings with effective feedback.
There is many more potential relationships/energy flow in a networked system vs current hierarchical (quadratic dif.) We need a shift from industrial to cognitive (enough philosophy). Have a good day. Bonŝancon.
I do not know much about the esperanto culture or their community, but I should comment on the prescriptive (what it should be) and compare it to the descriptive (what it actually is) when possible. Esperanto did have a culture of their own but the Esperanto language, itself, should be transcultural like English which is used by people from unrelated cultures; Esperanto has limited failure in this matter. Esperantoj should talk about serious subjects, but they leave the impression that they focus more on the serious matters of their own community instead of foreign issues. Your third question is ambiguous since there are multiple political axis. On the two most salient axis in USA, Esperantoj theorectically will lean toward the left of the social axis and slightly left on the economic axis. I have no knowledge about their actually political orientation. There are religious and spiritual esperanto speakers since some religions have transnational emphasis; the Bahá'í Faith is one notable example. I have no knowledge of the religious componsition of esperanto speakers.