Soviet-Empire.com U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Active ]
[ Login ]
Log-in to remove these advertisements.

Third World Maoists on Language

POST REPLY
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 10 Sep 2009, 01:28
The whole issue of spelling and language used by MSH, was discussed here a while back and created problems. So here is a new article from MSH on their language policy.

Dear Maoist-Third Worldist.. On Stalin and MIM on language

On Stalin and MIM on language



“Dear Maoist-Third Worldist,



Does MSH consider MIM language policy, which is continued by MSH, to be compatible with Stalin’s Problems of Linguistics in which he states language is class neutral and that there is no proletarian language?”

*



Comrade Serve the People answers for MSH:



Comrade, you are equivocating on the term “language.” In his article Marxism and Problems of Linguistics, Comrade Stalin uses the term in the sense of a linguistic system common to at least one people: Dutch, Vietnamese, and Nahuatl are three languages. When MIM established its “language policy,” it used the term to refer to a handful of constructions and forms that the party required or preferred for its official purposes: “Amerikkka” and “bio-womyn” were promoted under MIM’s language policy. These two senses of the word “language” are distinct, and you have unfortunately confused them. We recommend that you reread Comrade Stalin’s article.

The section to which you allude is Comrade Stalin’s answer to the question “Is it true that language always was and is class language, that there is no such thing as language which is the single and common language of a society, a non-class language common to the whole people?” Comrade Stalin answered in the negative. He pointed out that language antedates class society: people in primitive-communist societies did speak, but their languages could not be called “class languages,” because they didn’t have classes. Moreover, in class society, a language is common to all classes in the nation: for example, the Russian bourgeoisie, proletariat, peasantry, and lumpenproletariat all spoke the same language (Russian). There is no such thing as “a bourgeois language” or “a proletarian language.” English is spoken as a native language primarily in several thoroughly bourgeoisified countries of the First World (the “United” KKKingdom, Ireland, the united $nakes, Kanada, aU$tralia, New $tealand, etc.), and certainly its spread throughout the world is an imperialist phenomenon; but it is also the first language of most people in Third World countries such as Jamaica and Belize, and it is widely used as a second language by proletarians and semi-proletarians in other parts of the Third World. Furthermore, it would be both unnecessary and undesirable–even ultra-left–to supplant the national languages for “revolutionary” purposes. Comrade Stalin pointed to the example of Russian: in about a century after Pushkin’s death, Russia went from feudalism to capitalism to socialism, yet the language remained essentially the same. The Russian language was not “feudal” in one era, “bourgeois” in another, and “proletarian” in a third; it was simply the language that the people had customarily used and continued to use.



But that does not mean that language is independent of class. Some accents, words, grammatical constructions, and manners of speaking are associated with one class or another. Comrade Stalin’s article addresses this issue:

“It has been said above that language, as a means of intercourse between the people of a society, serves all classes of society equally, and in this respect displays what may be called an indifference to classes. But people, the various social groups, the classes, are far from being indifferent to language. They strive to utilize the language in their own interests, to impose their own special lingo, their own special terms, their own special expressions upon it. The upper strata of the propertied classes, who have divorced themselves from and detest the people–the aristocratic nobility, the upper strata of the bourgeoisie–particularly distinguish themselves in this respect. ‘Class’ dialects, jargons, high-society ‘languages’ are created. These dialects and jargons are often incorrectly referred to in literature as languages–the ‘aristocratic language’ or the ‘bourgeois language’ in contradistinction to the ‘proletarian language’ or the ‘peasant language.’”

It is in this light that some aspects of MIM’s language policy can be correctly characterized as proletarian: it introduced some proletarian terms and linguistic forms into a language that, like all others, is common to all of its speakers, irrespective of class.

A language develops slowly, not suddenly, although changes do accumulate over time to transform it qualitatively. Consider the history of English. Text written in 1800, just two hundred years ago, is perfectly legible to us today and indeed is considered by both linguists and ordinary English speakers to be in the same language (Modern English), despite some vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and spellings that may seem quaint or unfamiliar to us; we would also have no trouble speaking with people from that time. Go back two hundred more years, to Shakespeare’s time, and the language is Early Modern English–still fairly easy for us to read, though the differences in vocabulary, usage, and grammar are great enough that the uninitiated today may not fully understand writing from that period without assistance, and the spoken language would present even greater obstacles. Two hundred years further back, in the time of Chaucer, the language is Late Middle English–quite recognizable, but hard to read without extensive footnotes or even formal study. Two hundred more years back, around 1200, Early Middle English is scarcely recognizable as English, and a modern reader can at best guess at an occasional short phrase. Two hundred years earlier, the language–called Old English or Anglo-Saxon–is so far removed in every respect that we cannot recognize it as English in either speech or writing, and understanding it requires formal study on a par with that of a foreign language. Three hundred years earlier, the language had just begun to be written, and scarcely 250 years before that it was spoken not in Britain but on the European mainland.

Changes in language have been fairly minor even over a period of centuries, yet their cumulative effect over longer periods is dramatic. It cannot be otherwise. Although the economic base of society can be transformed rather quickly, as socialism supplanted capitalism and feudalism in several countries, the language of a nation cannot be: there’s no realistic way to get everyone in an entire large nation to abandon the national language in favor of a new one overnight. Nor is there even a need to replace the national language: it is as suitable for proletarian as for bourgeois discourse.



What is possible, and what happens in practice, is a minor change in vocabulary and perhaps a few aspects of the language. The glorious October Revolution ushered in some new vocabulary to support the proletarian ideology of the new socialist society. In addition, words for obsolete social institutions (such as royalty) were gradually abandoned or relegated to the historical domain. A spelling reform also simplified writing and supported the unprecedented drive for universal literacy (essentially completed by the late 1930s). But note that these changes were minor: they did not fundamentally alter the language.



In this vein, MIM adopted a “language policy” that sought not to transform English completely (in its vocabulary, grammar, semantics, etc.) but just to introduce some proletarian terms and linguistic forms for purposes such as agitation, propaganda, and clarity of analysis; it also discouraged or even forbade the use of some forms that served the interests of the class enemy. This policy could easily be summarized on a single sheet of paper, if not on an index card. The most notable of MIM’s reforms were some politically motivated spellings (such as “Amerik(kk)a,” “U.$.,” “womyn,” “koncentration kamp”), some revolutionary-nationalist place names (”northern Korea,” “Aztlán”), some terms popularized by our comrades the Black Panthers (”pig,” “vamp on”) and other revolutionaries (”Azania,” “Boricua,” “the Zionist entity”), and a few new categories to match MIM’s gender line (”bio-man,” “gender bureaucrat”).



Is it correct to speak of MIM’s language policy as proletarian? Advancing the interests of the international proletariat was undeniably MIM’s motivation. The extent to which particular aspects of MIM’s language policy, or the policy as a whole, met that worthy goal is subject to debate, and we ourselves have rejected some parts of the policy as incorrect if not downright revisionist. Whatever its failures, MIM aimed to revolutionize language in the interest of the proletariat, not by fundamentally transforming English into a “proletarian language” (for no such thing exists) but by introducing a number of rhetorical devices that reflected and reinforced MIM’s political line.



Coming as it did from the glorious proletarian tradition of MIM Thought, IRTR continued and developed MIM’s language policy. MSH, a successor of IRTR, also inherited this language policy but has since modified it to match our improved political line. The most notable change is our abandonment of parts of MIM’s gender line, for reasons that we have articulated elsewhere. We no longer write “womyn” or “persyn” or use terms such as “bio-wimmin,” as we feel that these terms reflect a well-intended but incorrect line. Also, we tend to eschew the term “Aztlán” in favor of “occupied northern Mexico” and other expressions that clarify our view of Mexico as a nation divided by occupiers, much like Korea or Ireland. Our rather informal language policy, which allows our comrades a fair degree of discretion, does favor the use of language, and all other cultural institutions, in a manner that aggressively serves the interests of the international proletariat. In that sense, it is a proletarian revolutionary language policy.



Another proletarian aspect of MIM’s language policy and ours is their promotion of the use of languages other than Eng£ish. With the help of many comrades, we have published much material in Spanish, French, Czech, Polish, Greek, Tagalog, Chinese, and other languages. With the exception of those that have had state power (and vastly greater resources than we enjoy), hardly any other organization calling itself communist has been so attentive to its international responsibilities.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 13 Sep 2009, 02:42
Stalin turns in his grave.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 13 Sep 2009, 04:37
Why so?

Well I suppose Stalin especially after the 1930s began to expand the realm of nonclass truth into other domains of science and society. The 1936 Constitution restored rights to all classes, and Zizek sees the Linguistic essay, as the real start of de-Stalinization, since once that breach was opened the sphere of nonclass influence could be expanded until it became a flood.

In preparing the Poltical Economics Textbook Stalin wrote the following:
"Poster propaganda finds its way into the textbook. This will not do. An economist should study facts, and here all of a sudden: 'Trotskyite-Bukharinite traitors' what is the need to mention that the courts have established this thing and that? What is economic about it? Throw the propaganda out. Political economy is a serious matter.

In a textbook there should not be even a single superfluous word, the exposition must be sculpted exactly. And here at the end of the section you have these antics: you imperialists are scoundrels, you have slavery, bonded labour, etc. All these are like Komsomol antics and posters. This wastes time and creates confusion. We need to influence people's minds."

The official Maoist textbook, at Wengewang, does precisely that. It talks about the Liu-Lin-Chen clique on every other page. I'm highly skeptical that Lin Biao made the statements attributed to him about upholding Confucius and feudalism. At least not from his public works. The section on the decline of capitalism talks about decadent Beatles music, weird name bands, 30 sex shops in California, and monkeys being praised for postmodern art.

Of course its open to question whether the Stalinian and later Soviet claim to objective class truth, is truer to the scientific Marxist approach, than the openly partisan and polemical class truth of the Chinese.
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 13 Sep 2009, 18:01
Marx used prolific examples in nearly all of his works, which is what made it so engaging. The point is to use them well, so that they are not extraneous to the text.

Language is strongly class dependant. As a social construction, it is impossible for it to escape the ideology of those who forge it. This doesn't mean that it is reduced only to ideology, but that an effort to reflect on its ideological effects should be made (like Marx did when revealing the true meaning of words such as "freedom," etc, within a capitalist worldview).

The proletarian class also generates its own contents, but they don't set the standard on language directly like the ruling class does. Only through social osmosis, and only after the higher strata begin to adopt this "slang" does it get official recognition. In contrast, business, news, academia, science are ways in which discourse is directly generated.

Here it is important to keep in mind Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed in that a liberating education will not try to impose the ruling discourse over the oppressed (traditional education), but will instead seek to take up their own discoursive elements and reflect them (the educator is educated, and returns it not incoherently, but as a moving whole).

But this is is taken from the social, not on a whim. What MIM is doing is contrary to Freire, they are imposing their own language over the rest.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 13 Sep 2009, 22:08
So you disagree with Stalin's contention that language is class neutral?
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 13 Sep 2009, 22:28
Not exactly. I agree that there is no distinct "proletarian language" and a "bourgeois language" What we have is a specific instance called "language" (I would call this a ficticious category), that is a field where discourse is produced, transmitted and which carries an ideological component. We can't split it apart mechanistically, but the signs of its production are there.

Capitalism is distinguised because it disposessess, that is, it takes away our direction of the productive process, and this is true for discoursive production as well.

EDIT: What I would strongly disagree with, and I don't know if this is really Stalin's stance because I'm not familiar with it, is that there is a "neutral" language existing harmoniously previous to subjects, who "then" bend it to their aims. Our aim would then be akin to hermeneutics, trying to arrive at "true" language; this is absurd positivism (which always is really metaphysics in disguise).
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 13 Sep 2009, 22:42
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 13 Sep 2009, 22:48
Cheers. I'll look through it.

Just skimming it, I see an issue I've always had a problem with: the base/superstructure dualism. I agree that when the base is changed a new superstructure is created, but I don't agree that the old one is simply blown away. The Soviet Union did not demolish factories or melt down armament or anything of the sort, all of these things (objectified labor) were put to socialist use. The same can be said of culture, which too is past labor.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 13 Sep 2009, 23:12
Stalin makes that exact point here

"At one time there were "Marxists" in our country who asserted that the railways left to us after the October Revolution were bourgeois railways, that it would be unseemly for us Marxists to use them, that they should be torn up and new, "proletarian" railways built. For this they were nicknamed "troglodytes". "
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14448
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 14 Sep 2009, 00:29
Quote:
"At one time there were "Marxists" in our country who asserted that the railways left to us after the October Revolution were bourgeois railways, that it would be unseemly for us Marxists to use them, that they should be torn up and new, "proletarian" railways built. For this they were nicknamed "troglodytes". "


That is perhaps one of the most retarded examples of ideological masturbation I've ever seen. What value is there in destroying railways only to rebuild them?
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4953
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2008, 15:25
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 14 Sep 2009, 03:11
Dude... Stalin wasn't advocating such a thing. He was just pointing out that there were idiots who did.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14448
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 14 Sep 2009, 04:04
Oh shit I missed the 'at one time there were "marxists" in our country who asserted' bit. But either way its still astoundingly retarded. And its important to note I wasn't criticizing stalin but the argument.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4953
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2008, 15:25
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 14 Sep 2009, 04:33
And I never said you were... although you were in the spirit of criticising Stalin
. Let's not spread our little spat in the marijuana thread to this one, eh?
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 14 Sep 2009, 05:07
So do you agree with MSH's claim that MIM spelling is in the spirit of Stalin's position on linguistics?
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 14 Sep 2009, 16:37
Well I think Lenin and Stalin were right to put an end to the utopian nihilist movements of the 1920s. Still I think there is something to be said of their liberating spirit of the world turned upside down, where everything was popular, similar to the Levelers or the Jacobins, but all the more profound in a proletarian as opposed to democratic revolution. The experiments in orchestras without conductors, or the skin movement which reject clothing.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 14 Sep 2009, 17:10
Quote:
Why so?


As far as I know, he never missspelled names of countries, so it's pretty obvious that MIM's language policy is not in his spirit.

Also, he acknowledges in his article that language evolves naturally, and from that, it follows that language policies of all kinds are bullshit in and of themselves. A proletarian language will finally evolve under socialism (And actually, the varieties of German spoken in the FRG and the GDR had diverged to a certain degree before reunification - the differences are subtle, but noticeable enough that I can usually recognize a GDR text or speaker from the vocabulary and grammatical constructions.) but it won't be crated by "policies".

Quote:
The experiments in orchestras without conductors, or the skin movement which reject clothing.


Huh?
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 14 Sep 2009, 22:21
In the 1920s after the October Revolution, there was a whole series of Utopian experimentation and everyday radicalism and egalitarianism.

The type of people who would create "proletarian railways"

This book goes into a lot of depth:
http://books.google.com/books?id=IY3DfL ... q=&f=false

History of the Greatest Conductorless Orchestra
About the famous Pervyi Sinfonicheskii Ansambl, history of the world's greatest conductorless orchestra.

SIDESHOW OF POPULAR AND OFFBEAT PERFORMING AND CREATIVE ARTISTS

Pervyi Simfonicheskii Ansambl

(1922-1932)

Conductor Otto Klemperer was once invited to lead the Pervyi Simfonicheskii Ansambl in a concert in Moscow. Midway through the program, however, Klemperer laid down his baton and took a seat in the audience, and the ensemble finished without him.

A remarkable feat on the face of it, and yet no one present was surprised in the least, for the group, known more familiarly by the abbreviation Persimfans, had been making its mark since its premiere performance in February, 1922, as the world's first and greatest conductorless orchestra. (Pervyi Simfonicheskii Ansambl means "First Symphonic Ensemble.")

"It isn't that we're opposed to conductors," the group's founder, violinist Lev Zeitlin, once remarked, "just bad conductors." But Zeitlin and company, in keeping with the egalitarian philosophy of Karl Marx, eschewed all men with batons, with the occasional exception of invited guests like Klemperer. As musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky puts it, the Persimfans "was intent on demonstrating that in a proletarian state orchestra, men do not need a musical dictator."

Indeed, the Persimfans fared admirably without a leader, although its successes came only after endless racking rehearsals and conferences during which every performer had to become familiar with the entire score. Works by Haydn, Mozart, and their contemporaries were simple enough to present few problems. But the group was challenged severely by the orchestral excesses of the Romantics and the complexities of 20th-century compositions.

Within the ensemble, a smaller committee of musicians was elected to meet regularly to decide on such intangibles as the volume, dynamics, tempo, and style of specific concert pieces. Then, at rehearsals, one of the committee members would sit in the balcony to monitor and report back on the effect.

Onstage, the group played in a circle so that each musician was plainly visible to all of his colleagues. "The utmost concentration and attention is demanded of each player, all of whom are fully conscious of their responsibility in that magic circle," the French pianist Henri Gil-Marchex, who performed with the Persimfans, once wrote. "Each member of the orchestra has his own important part to play, and glances, raising of the brow, and slight motions of the shoulders... are done by each instrumentalist, but so discreetly that the listener...seldom notices it." In January, 1927, Sergei Prokofiev appeared with the Persimfans in a program that included his Piano Concerto No. 3, as well as his orchestral suites from Chout and The Love for Three Oranges. "The conductorless orchestra coped splendidly with difficult programs and accompanied soloists as competently as any conducted orchestra," Prokofiev, who was rarely quick to praise, later said. "Their main difficulty lay in changing tempo, for here the whole ensemble had to feel the music in exactly the same way. On the other hand, the difficult passages were easily overcome, for each individual musician felt himself a soloist and played with perfect precision."

The Persimfans won worldwide acclaim throughout the 1920s and inspired imitators in Paris, Berlin, and New York. In 1927 they were named an Honored Collective by the Soviet government. Ultimately, however, dissension within the ensemble--coupled with a relaxation of the state-held view that guidance and leadership by a trained individual are always ideologically offensive--proved the group's undoing. In 1932 the Persimfans was disbanded.
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 14 Sep 2009, 22:26
That's pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 831
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 14 Sep 2009, 22:34
The Prolekult movement of the 1920s, were the type would would advocate a whole new proletarian language. I think theres something to be said of the truly transformative nature of the various currents of the 1920s, the futurists, the modernists, nihilists, Godbuilders.

All of the features that Maoists admire in the GPCR were present, including the destructive elements. But I would say in general the Russian Cultural Revolution, emphasized creative side over the destructive far more than the Red Guards did. It was about creating the new rather than destroying the old.

While their worldview was grounded in idealism, perhaps one of the failures of both Lenin and Stalin was to truly transform the consciousness of the people. IF you have met people from Russia, Eastern Europe or China, and I'm not talking about anti-Communist emigres just ordinary citizens, it is quite clear that Communist education has to a great extent failed in its task. Look how fast religion and out reactionary trends returned, or the status of women. You would never believe that there had been 80 years of socialism.

The West accuses the CPSU of too much indoctrination, it seems that they did too little.

Even if you want to blame it all on Khrushchev, you still have to ask how Lenin and Stalin allowed the CPSU to develop to a point in which shallow ideology could triumph in the first place. Most of the elite of today's Russia were former CPSU leaders, and they seem to have learned nothing of Marxism. Mao tried to combat this trend by politicizing the population with the GPCR, but one has to admit that the end result was to produce one of the most apathetic apolitical populations on the planet.

The book Revolutionary Dreams, while strongly anti-Stalinist and to a lesser extent anti-Leninist, is rather sympathetic to the aspirations of the Russian Revolution. But it really gives you a sense of the sheer creative bizarreness of that period.
Kamran Heiss
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4953
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2008, 15:25
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 15 Sep 2009, 13:29
Sorry I haven't answered your question yet, but I'm waiting until I have time to research the issue a bit. I know a bit about MIM's policy on language but very little about Stalin's opinions. All I've heard is stuff from propaganda like accusations of him trying to implement Orwellian newspeak. That doesn't seem to be the case at all judging by what I've read from the horses mouth.
Alternative Display:
Mobile view
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Soviet-Empire.com. Privacy.
cron