On "particularisms", from Ireland to Latin America

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at SPAMarnet.com.ar
Tue Feb 6 13:58:49 MST 2001

En relación a Disagreeing with Gary on Irish language,
el 1 Feb 01, a las 20:47, Philip Ferguson dijo:

>  to begin, let me repeat that I am fully in favour of the Irish language
> being available for people to learn throughout Ireland.  ...
> The fact that hardly anyone in the South speaks it is indicative that
> history has moved on.
> The dominant politics in the north of Ireland these days are not old-style
> Unionism, but new-style 'respect for difference'.  Speaking Irish, far from
> undermining this dominant new establishment and ideology, is an inherent part of
> it.  The Republican Movement has traded national liberation for what it calls
> 'parity of esteem'.  The Irish language is now no threat in the north, indeed it
> is integral to the 'parity of esteem' sell-out, and thus has no particular
> radical significance.
> That Irish as a language has no radical character today is not entirely
> new.  Remember it was *not republicans*, but *Unionists*, who organised to
> save the Irish language and what was deemed as Irish culture in the late
> 1800s.  This too, like today, was tied to the *defeat* of the political
> struggle for Irish liberation.
> In the South people have ... decided to
> speak English, rather than Irish.  Since the South contains 70 percent of the
> population of Ireland, and 85 percent of the population of nationalist Ireland,
> I think we can say that the bulk of Irish people have made the choice.
> I am neither for nor against that choice.  I am, however, for *recognising* it.
> The problem here is that the conquest *was* complete.  A new
> socio-economic-political system was imposed on Ireland - in fact two were,
> first feudalism, and then capitalism, both thanks to British rule.
> And new socio-economic-political systems bring new languages to the fore.
> The bulk of Irish people, including a helluva lot of republicans, have
> simply recognised reality.  So while they still want Irish to be readily
> available, and there is heaps of goodwill towards it among ordinary people
> (once they get over their school memories of it!), there is little chance
> that it will ever again be the spoken language of the mass of the people
> any more than Latin will be the mass language of the people of Italy.

These comments are very important for comrades in the Third World, certainly
they are for us in Latin America and I dare say that African cdes. will also
benefit from them.

National liberation has little, if any, to do with the "cult of difference"
that has become a trendy fashion in many places.

Need I remind the comrades that the Dutch policies towards their colonies in
Indonesia (BTW: does anyone remember the official name of these colonies?) kept
the natives as separated from the Dutch language as possible? This was not a
matter of keeping the natives in freedom to resort to their own primeval means
of expression, but on the contrary to make it as difficult as possible for them
to accede to a language that would immediately connect them with the cultural
world generated by European capitalism. This implied that the Indonesians had
to _reinvent_ their language. If I am not wrong, they didn't even have a word
for "television". It is impossible to develop a modern technical civilization
if you do not have the words that make it possible to build up _things_. And it
does not have to do with technics only. It would have been better for
Indonesian Marxists if Indonesians had been able to resort to the translations
of Marx and Engels to Dutch, I suppose...

In Latin America, the latest trend among many "progressive" imperialists is to
reject _in toto_ our history after 1492. Thus, Spanish and Portuguese are
"imperial" languages that should be replaced by Aymara, Guarani, or Quechua.
Thus, divisions are imposed on divisions.

Moreover, people have already voted here. Whenever Andean peasants are set free
from agrarian isolation and torpor, they speak Spanish. Paraguayans (and people
in the Argentinean province of Corrientes) also speak Spanish as their basic
language. Maybe this is a sin, because there is no translation of Marx to
Guarany or Quechua?

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

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