A brief history of one of the most striking community movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, full of picturesque characters: visionaries and adventurers, Mormons and Esperantistas, American anarchists and Russian pacifists.
For some time, I’ve wanted to edit and update all the strange stories I’d written for the first paper edition of “Phyles: From Nations to Networks,” and which in 2010, disappeared from the final edition of the “Network Trilogy.” Some, like the one dedicated to the origins of Esperantism (which would have been impossible to write without Pere Quintana‘s research) came to mind again and again while I was reading and researching contemporary movements.
So, these last few weeks, I dedicated my few free moments to it. The result is a small, short, and entertaining essay of 9,842 words: “Seperatists,” already available in html and which we will soon move to epub format in the Library of las Indias.
To rediscover “separatism” has been very interesting. In these recent years, its last avatars have evolved towards positions that no longer allow them to be classified as such. Seasteading has gone from being a foundation dedicated to making the dream of creating cities floating in international waters a reality to proposing “start up cities” to States that are discussing creating “charter cities” and “special development zones.” The movement closest to the original separatism that Zamenhof once espoused (a neutral community, with a neutral language, in a neutral place), the Esperanta Civito, is very far from proposing any kind of collective migration and is more evocative of any association for the defense of a “diasporic” culture than classical separatism.
And there’s no point even talking about attempts to create virtual countries. Following the bitter original experience, the disappearance of the recent Spanish replica less than a year after its foundation, and the similar fate of much-touted European attempts, there are few who will trust that new experiments in “digital Zionism” will amount to anything more than role-playing games. To summarize: separatism is dead.
And that’s partly why we can now enjoy the grandeur of their histories without having to focus on the miseries of one or the failures of another. If these stories have any use today, it’s as myths, as literary references. And in any case, it’s not bad to remember those who, in full effervescence of nationalism were able to advance their beliefs, their people and the desire to build a future for themselves, rather than simply accept the imagined community imposed on them by the State.