Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Resistance Languages

I have a general theme that I began in my last two posts, but this week I feel the need to digress a bit.  In my recent writings I have covered the various categories of nonviolent resistance tactics as outlined by Dr. Gene Sharp.  These include the categories of protest and persuasion, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention.  Nonviolent protest and persuasion is usually the weakest of the three categories of resistance, with the other two categories being much more powerful when skillfully executed.  However, sometimes one comes across methods and tactics which are able to skillfully and effectively express all three categories of resistance.

I'd like to present two such methods in this post.  The hostility of the Trump regime to nonwhite peoples and cultures is very well-known.  Trump represents the naked id of a certain fascist, supremacist element of the Global North.  This element is characterized by a desire to destroy all other cultures and their peoples.  This element feels intolerably threatened by the existence or close proximity of people with dark skin who speak a language other than English (or Russian or German or French if you happen to live in those countries).   Unfortunately, all three branches of the U.S. Federal Government are now controlled by members of this fascist element, who also control many of the largest corporations in the world.

So...what if those in the U.S. who are part of the resistance to this regime decided to learn some of the languages of the oppressed?  What if they decided to use these languages as their main way of talking with each other?  What if the resistance began to learn some of the cultures of the oppressed and to deliberately adopt these cultures?  What if, for instance, those in the U.S. who oppose the Trump regime learned Spanish, or Arabic, or Vietnamese, or Hindi, or Korean, or Chinese, or Swahili?  What if they began to talk publicly to each other in one of these languages instead of English?  What if they used one of these languages instead of English when writing emails, memos, and letters (o entradas de blog)?  What if, for instance, researchers and academics at universities and labs started writing technical articles primarily in Spanish or Swahili?  That's not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds.  Spanish is very well suited for technical writing.  (In fact, the Latin American School of Medicine, which trains some of the best primary care physicians in the world, does all of its teaching in Spanish.)  And for the last four decades, the use of Swahili for technical and academic writing has been growing.  (See this and this also.)  The same things can be said of the other languages I have listed.

Imagine how well such actions would serve as a means of both nonviolent protest, social (and potentially economic) noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention!  For one thing, if you and your friends started speaking and writing in one or more of the languages of the oppressed, you would annoy the living daylights out of any bystanders who happened to be bigots.  For another thing, if anyone wanted to join in the conversation, he or she would have to have the humility needed to learn another language - thus also learning to see the world from another point of view.  Seeing things from new points of view is frequently very good for people.  A third benefit is that you would drastically increase the costs which the State would have to pay in order to do surveillance on you.  A fourth benefit is that you would make a whole new set of friends - people now demonized by right-wing media would suddenly become more human in your eyes by your learning to speak their language, as the social distance between you and them was reduced and you began to see them as they truly are.  Lastly, by speaking and thinking in one of the languages of the oppressed, you would be declaring your withdrawal from the dominant oppressive culture and your intention to be part of an alternative to that culture.  Who wants to learn with me?

There is something else resisters can do as well.  The Trump regime has been breathing fire about deporting massive numbers of Hispanics from the U.S., and of drastically expanding the grounds for deportation.  Many of the targets of his deportations have been adults with small children or spouses who are American citizens.  At this time, we can reach out to the families who have been bereaved of one or both parents by deportation - by providing food, care (including foster care) and other material resources to them.  And when they are sent to deportation hearings, we can volunteer to walk with them, to go with them to their hearings, to document what is done during those hearings, and to report it to the world.  This too achieves more than one resistance goal, as it is both a method of nonviolent protest and a method of nonviolent intervention.

Over the next few months, I will begin writing about some technical, volunteer-based initiatives that I am organizing in my community to help people who are currently without help.  I will be describing in technical terms some of the approaches we are trying, and documenting the results.  When I publish these posts, I will try to publish them first in one of the languages of the oppressed.  (I know people who can translate for me.)  A few days after publishing each of these posts, I will also post an English version.  Mira este espacio.

1 comment:

TH in SoC said...

To the anonymous commenter who read this post, a big Thank You for your readership. Unfortunately, this blog has a policy that anonymous comments will not be published. Please get a Google ID or equivalent and try again. Thanks!