Well-known in libertarian and Freethinkers’ milieu, like his son Maurice, the mathematician Charles Laisant was an activist for Esperanto since 1900.
As early as the International Federation of the Free Thought Congress of Rome in 1904, the question was raised to recommend Esperanto "as a powerful auxiliary in the struggle for social improvement against any kind of superstitions". This point of view is interesting for Esperanto is the contrary of a belief. It is a rational language with no mystery. Forty-two members of the Science Academy had qualified it as a "master-piece of logic and simplicity".
During the 1905 Congress of the Libre Pensee, in Paris, motions were proclaimed and passed in favor of Esperanto. The Libre Pensee was among the first organizations in France as well as in the world to declare themselves in favor of Esperanto. Also in 1905, at Boulogne sur Mer the Universal League of Freemasons was founded in connection with the first universal Congress of Esperanto.
At that time, the great geographer Elisée Reclus had already observed and noted in his major work "Man and Earth" : " The progresses of Esperanto are fast, and the language penetrates perhaps more in the popular masses than among the upper classes, supposed clever. It is on the one hand, because of the feeling of international fraternity is part of a desire to use a common language, a feeling which is met above all among socialist workers, opposed to any idea of war, and on the other hand because Esperanto is easier than any other language to learn, is offered in the first place t the workers who have little leisure to study ".
Elisée Reclus added this remark which is still topical :" It is wonderful because this new language is already widely used ; it works as an organ of human thought while its critics and opponents keep repeating as a burning truth that tongues were never artificial creations and have to be born from the very peoples’ lives, from their inner genius. The truth is that the roots of any tongue are abstracts from the original fund, and Esperanto comes from it, through all its vocabulary, a new and undeniable example ."
One century after the first steps of Esperanto in France and in the world, Internet gives an impulse and opens new prospects for this language devised to make language communication easier, more accessible, more equal between the peoples.
In 2001, in Gisors, the National Conference of the Libre Pensee passed the following motion by 2456 votes ,against 263 and 635 abstentions : "The national conference of the Libre Pensee asserts the necessity to promote the use of Esperanto, a language that is carrying universal and pacifistic values, dear to the heart of the Free Thought, within international institution, particularly UNESCO ".
That was a brave action of intellectual courage. Indeed, a well-organized conditioning drives people to think today, and even believe rather than think, that Esperanto did not work, that it belongs to the past, that it has no reason to survive, that English plays the role of an international language and there is no need to put that obvious fact to question. The method consists to make as if Esperanto were a Utopia, a hobby, a dreamer’s obsession, to be avoided in current times, to cut off the interest of the youth by silence or by a distorted introduction, first at school then in the media.
There is a deception on the label !
Indeed English is a national language in the first place that was pushed into the role of an international language by English-speaking powers and also by money-king if not money-God milieus.
A report that was kept secret of a conference organized in 1961 by Great Britain and the US planned the formatting of the non-Anglophone world by the means of English. This agreement stipulated that English was " to become the dominating language ". A distinguished linguist, Henriette Walker was right to say : " A language is a way to see the world ". And it is by means of their language that the Anglophone dominating powers want to make non-Anglophone populations to see the world in their own view.
David Rothkopf, a former member of the Clinton administration, was sufficiently precise in an article published in 1997 : " The political and economic interest of the US is at stake to make sure, if the world adopts a common language, that it should be the English language ; if it chooses common standards on telecommunication, security and quality, those standards should be American ; if its different parts are connected by television, radio and music, the programs should be American ; and if they develop common values, they should be values in which the Americans should recognize themselves ".
It is clear that those who lead the US policy want to recognize themselves everywhere, to feel at home everywhere. It does not matter to them if the non-Anglophone world population, in a state of cultural and linguistic alienation, does not recognize it self anywhere.
It is important to know that the native Anglophone population does not represent more than 4.84 % of humankind. It is in regression because of demographic evolution. That is to say that 95.16 % of the world population are forced to spend a great part of their time, money and efforts to learn a language that has none of the required qualities to play the role of an international language. Because of its graphic and phonetic complexity, English, of which there are 38 recognized variants, presents the most favorable ground ever for dyslexia. Indeed nearly everybody in the world learn English, but nearly no one can equal Anglophone natives on the level of speech.
That is the reason why Anglophone natives are more and more preferred and even required for management positions in administrations and undertakings.
Margaret Thatcher, who teaches good behavior lessons to the world but was unable to raise properly her own son, declared in 2000, during a tour in the USA : " In the 20th Century, the dominating power is America, the dominating language is English, the dominating economic model is Anglo-Saxon capitalism ".
The challenging of the monopoly of English demands today a lot of intellectual courage. More courage is needed to recommend Esperanto.
We know all very well that a dead fish floats in the stream. Those who swim against the stream and denounce a cheated game are brave but very few today. The mechanic of this voluntary linguistic servitude, or this servitude through ignorance, was exposed in Charles Durand’s works, a computer specialist who has spent a long time in Anglophone countries, namely "The setting up of knowledge monopolies" and "The new war against intelligence".
At a national, European and world level, the investment is quite enormous and you can understand why a British Council manager was able to say in his report for the year 1987-1988 : " The real "black gold" of Great Britain is not at all the North Sea Oil, but the English language. The challenge we are facing is to exploit it completely ".
In fact, this "black gold" is ourselves, as citizens and tax-payers from France as well as from any other country in the world. In other words this is a huge tax which is paid to the leading countries of the "Echelon" network of world espionage.
This is an unacceptable support to the language of nations that draw all the profits and let all the expenses in time (time is money) and budget costs to all the others. The exemption of effort that is granted to those nations do not give birth to any esteem from them. Whoever is dedicated to grovel will only gather contempt and more and more demands from those who master the cheated game.
This source of profit is completely exploited thanks to the help and the spinelessness of the governments of non Anglophone countries, which, at the international level, represent still more than 95 % of the population. If the British government prides itself on an economic balance sheet that makes many envious, it is thanks to us, non-Anglophone citizens. This bliss, before the masters of the game, is like a whore’s behavior who admires her pimp who, as she would be exposed to every humiliation, would live in luxury.
This is an immense waste. At an international level, billions of hours are wasted in a race for linguistic inferiority. Indeed, an Australian survey showed that non Anglophone natives are handicapped by 10 % in comparison to Anglophone natives in mathematics studies. This is also valid for other subjects. This handicap gradually increases with the study level.
With English as an international language, the Anglophone native is like Obelix : he fell over in the caldron of English in his childhood.
The bosses of large companies have lost all illusions on the all-English. In 1999, Louis Schweitzer, then Renault Manager General, forced his managers in different countries to communicate only in English. In April 2001, we were informed by an AFP communiqué that he had declared : " The language was a difficulty higher than we thought. We chose English as an alliance language but this proved to be a handicap with a reduced benefit for either sides ."
To the question "What is the official language of Sanofi-Aventis ?" the Manager General of this pharmacy group, Jean-François Dehecq, answered in the magazine "L’expansion" : " It is certainly not English. A transnational business is an enterprise in which everyone can speak their own language. In a meeting, it is the people’s brains that is needed. If you force them to speak English, the Anglo-Saxons come with 100 % of their capacity, those who speak it very well with 50 % and the majority with 10 %. When you all want to be Anglo-Saxon, no wonder if the Anglo-Saxons win.".
For François Grin, a researcher at Geneva University, English is the most unfair solution ever. He considers that the profit drawn by the UK from the current domination of English amounts to 17 billion Euros per year, and that the net savings realized by the whole of Europe if it adopted Esperanto would amount to 25 billion Euros per year.
Professor Michel Serres said many times - and he was right - that there are more written signs in English today on the walls of Paris than there were in German during the Nazi occupation.
The admission of the language of dominating nations into the role of international language introduces a balance of power and excludes the principle of fair-mindedness.
The pressure to learn and use the language of dominating countries goes against article 1 of the Universal declaration of human rights. No one is free and equal in dignity and rights when there is pressure to express themselves in the language of those who, by the means of this language, are imposing to the world their way to see it, to rule it, to organize it.
The choice of an international language is also a choice of society between the rule of the strongest carried by English and the law of reason which vector is Esperanto par excellence.
Esperanto is a matter of reason but also a matter of love. It was born in a child’s heart who deeply longed for peace, fraternity and never betrayed his youth. It has more than ever its raison d’être. UNESCO has passed two recommendations in its favor, in 1954 and 1985.
At the birth of Esperanto, there is Dr. Louis Lazare Zamenhof, a humanist who was honored in 1959 by UNESCO as " an important personality universally recognized in the field of education, science and culture." It is worthy to note that the "International secular calendar" of the International Federation of Free Thinkers, established according to a vote of the Barcelona Congress, in 1934, reminded Dr. Zamenhof’s name on October 10 among "Philanthropists and Humanists".
Behind Esperanto, there is no power other than that of good will, a will that exists everywhere. To defend and promote Esperanto demands a real intellectual courage. The Free Thought proved it more than a century ago and again more recently.
New challenges are before us.
SAT-Amikaro General Secretary