Sometimes, you throw the devil out the door, and he comes back in through the window. No one would suspect us “Indianos” of encouraging imagined communities. We’ve spent years working on our criticism of them, and we put out a decent text on it, and all. But then… we approached the Esperanto community, we got them worked up with the way we talked… and we annoyed them. Last Friday, three of us “Indianos” asked to become members of the historic Esperanto club of Bilbao. They rejected us. The people we met, mostly older and pretty unfamiliar with the ‘Net and our history, were afraid that we would somehow co-opt the association and use it to advance the Esperanto Urbo. If you think about it, it’s logical: we’re people whose primary source of belonging is our real community, which, in turn — thanks to the cooperative — allows us to have certain economic resources for social actions, and if there’s one thing that’s indisputable, it’s our capacity for work. The truth is that they said it in a way that came off as rather offensive. But they were right, maybe not in their logic, but in ours: what we had to do and what they offered, was to work as equals, community with community, las Indias and the club: to offer to let them participate in concrete projects, not to integrate ourselves individually and assume the imagined identity of members of a community of speakers. But we felt offended, and over the weekend, a huge debate broke out, both on our blog and on other publications in Esperanto. And, in the end, we saw it — it was our mistake: it didn’t make sense to dissolve ourselves into a real community that we don’t know (the club) in the name of a presumed common belonging, or, even worse, of the implicit acceptance on our part of what they would represent, the imagined community of speakers (Esperantio). What it’s about — and we appreciate the lesson — is working coherently on our ideas, which is to say, on the P2P mode, community with community, people with people, everyone from their own contexts, from their own traditions and values, without catching the ever-destructive virus that is accepting any imagined community.
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