Wednesday, July 05, 2006

WHAT MOVES IN THE MOVEMENT?

We often speak of the Esperanto Movement as in references to the International Esperanto Movement, or a National Esperanto Movement, etc.

It is fair to ask What does the "movement" consist of? Is anything in fact "moving?"

I think the number of Esperantists used to be greater than it is now. I've talked with American military veterans who were stationed in Europe in WWII, and they tell me that they saw signs posted that Esperanto was spoken in railway and bus stations in every non-Nazi country.

Furthermore, I think membership in Esperanto Associations has been stagnant or diminishing for decades. Although I don't have the figures for individual countries, I do know two significant indicators, namely the UEA and the USA (ELNA) organizations.

It's incredible that the USA has so few UEA delegates, but the latest figures show a decline, as do the number of people in the USA who are ordinary members of the UEA.

Also, the number of people who ae members of the USA Esperanto Association (ELNA) declines each year. Clearly, many do not renew their memberships and few new ones are joining to replace them.

In 1937, Stalinists executed 2000 Esperantists and sent many more to the Gulag. Think of it -- there have never been that many known Esperantists in the USA! There must have been many more Esperantiss in the past than there are now. At least in the USA.

In what sense is the Esperanto Movement moving? Where is the motion? How is it moving?

Yes, there is movement, but it isn't limited to, nor is it defined by, the national or international Esperanto organizations.

The movement is occuring in cyberspace, the world of the Internet. Uncounted numbers of unaffiliated people are learning Esperanto and using it in emails, forums, messaging, etc.

Lernu, a multilingual online source of Esperanto study from beginner to advanced (http://www.lernu.net) has over 25000 students registered. This indeed shows where the movement is in the Esperanto Movement. The Esperanto Movement is growing at the expanding edges of the cyberspace training sites, not at the limits of the membership rolls of the national Esperanto societies and their affiliated clubs.

These cyber-students were self-recruited. No Esperantist contacted them --- they contacted the Esperantists on their own initiative.

Now suppose that each Esperantist recruited one more each year. The 25,000 enrolled in Lernu would grow to 50,000 in one year, 100,000 the next year, 200,000 in the third year, etc.

Suppose each member in a national Esperanto organization recruited one more member each year. Imagine the same for every member in every club or group.

We claim there are 2 million Esperanto speakers in the world. If every Esperantist duplicated himself each year, in one year there would be 4 million, the next year 8 million, etc.

You see where I'm trying to lead, don't you?

Each person winning just one new person a year doesn't sound too formidable a task, does it?

Then the Esperanto Movment would truly move!




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