How to translate this?

"Ehkä meillä on tällä hetkellä liian paljon liikkuvaa kuvaa tarjolla. Hyvä hukkuu paskan seassa." ("Perhaps we live in excess of moving images. Good sinks into shit.")

-- Jörn Donner
(Quote from http://www.sea.fi/filmintahden/)


Tlaxcala, the network for linguistic diversity

Tlaxcala, the network for linguistic diversity, was founded on December 2005 by a small group of cyberactivists who knew one another through Internet and discovered that they shared common interests, common dreams and common problems. The network quickly grew, has today […] members, and translates into [...] languages. This Manifesto, approved by them all, expresses their common philosophy:

All languages of the world must, and do contribute to the brotherhood of mankind. Contrary to what many people used to believe, a language is not only a grammatical structure, a set of interconnected words, in agreement with a syntactic code, but also, and especially, a creation of meaning based upon our senses. Thus we observe, interpret and express our world from a specific personal, geographical and political context. Because of this, no language is neutral, and they all carry the “genetic code”, the imprint of the cultures to which they belong. Latin, the first imperial language, reached its high point by trampling on the remains of the languages it destroyed as the Roman legions extended their presence to the south of Europe, the north of Africa and the Middle East. It is not strange if at the beginning of the Renaissance it was the Spanish language, a genetic daughter of Latin, which brought about new devastation, this time among the conquered peoples of the American continent.

An empire and its language always go together and are predators by definition. They reject otherness. Any imperial language constitutes itself as the subject of History, narrates it from its point of view and annihilates (or tries to do so) the points of view of languages it considers inferior. The official History of any empire is never innocent, but motivated by the zeal to justify yesterday’s acts today in order to project its own version upon tomorrow.

Nobody knows what suffering the peoples conquered by the Roman Empire endured, since there is no written record of their defeat, which meant the disappearance of their cultures. Conversely, the languages of the American continent conquered by the Spanish Empire left their testimony. Towards the second half of the 16th Century, shortly after the conquest of Mexico, Brother Bernardino de Sahagún assembled what it is known today as The Florentine Codex, a mixture of Náhua tales (Náhuatl is the language of the most ancient Aztecs, still spoken in Mexico) and pictorial illustrations that describe pre-Hispanic society and culture. The second testimony, which contradicts the first one, is The Lienzo de Tlaxcala, also transcribed during the 16th Century by the mixed race Diego Muñoz de Camargo, who based his story upon the fresco paintings by his ancestors – the Tlaxcaltecan nobility – who described in images both Hernán Cortés’s arrival and the fall of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, destroyed by the Conquistadors who replaced it with the city of Mexico. Tlaxcala was at the time the Tenochtitlan Aztec empire’s rival city-state and aided Cortés in destroying it, an attitude that was akin to drawing up its own death sentence, since the new Spanish Empire which was born of that defeat subjugated all the native, so-called pre-Columbian peoples – whether they were allies or enemies of the Spanish Crown, resulting in an almost complete loss of their cultures and languages.

In our days, the imperial power is based in the United States of America, whose official language is English. Faithful to the behavioural characteristics of any empire, the English language now imposes its law. Under the influence of English, entire countries or territories have lost – or are in the process of losing – their communicational languages. The Philippines or Puerto Rico are only two examples among many. In sub-Saharan Africa the false prestige accorded to English, French, Portuguese or majority vernacular languages is killing one local mother tongue every two weeks according to UNESCO.

It is true that in these times of global communication there is nothing negative in having a lingua franca to facilitate mutual knowledge, but it becomes quite negative if it either consciously or unconsciously transmits the ideology of superiority that characterizes it, and does so by exhibiting its scorn for the “subordinate” languages, i.e., all the others. The superiority complex which always accompanies an imperial or imperially-dependent language is so consubstantial to its essence that today it even happens among Anglophone activists engaged in the struggle for a better world: their media is a tangible proof that the writings they publish translated from the “subordinate” languages constitute only an insignificant percentage of their contents. It is not only the fact that translations from English into other languages are so appallingly numerous in comparison, but a problem lies in that the same cannot be said in the opposite direction. We all are culprits of having accepted until now such inequality.

Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity, is born as a post-modern homage to the unfortunate city-state of the same name which committed the tragic mistake of trusting an empire – the Spanish one – in order to fight against another less powerful one – the Náhua – just to find out only too late that nobody should trust empires – none of them – because they use their subordinates only as a lever for their own purposes. The global translators of Tlaxcala seek to redress the ancient Tlaxcaltecan’s lost destiny.

The translators of Tlaxcala believe in otherness, in the goodness of approaching others’ points of view, and for that reason they take the stand to de-imperialise the English language by publishing in all possible languages (including English) the voices of writers, thinkers, cartoonists and activists who nowadays write their original texts in languages that the domineering empire’s influence do not permit to be heard. As well, the translators of Tlaxcala will allow non-English speakers to be exposed to ideas from English language writers who now are on the fringe, or who were published in really small, really hard to find places.

The English language in its position of institutional apparatus of knowledge functions as a global structure of power that presents the world’s languages and cultures in its image and likeness without bothering to seek the permission of the world it purports to represent. The translators of Tlaxcala are convinced that the masters of discourse can be defeated and hope to blur such an apparatus in the faith that the world becomes both multipolar and multilingual, as diverse as life itself.

The basis that Tlaxcala uses for text selection is that it reflects the core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, aiming for full respect for the rights and dignity of the human person. The translators of Tlaxcala are anti-militarists, anti-imperialists and stand against “neoliberal” corporate globalisation. They yearn for peace and equality among all languages and cultures. They believe neither in a clash of civilisations nor in the current imperial crusade against terrorism. They oppose racism and the building of walls or electrical fences – either physical or linguistic – that prevent the natural free movement and sharing between people and languages on the planet. They seek to promote esteem, recognition and respect for the Other, as well as to express the desire that she/he ceases to be an object of History and becomes a subject of it with full equality. This effort is voluntary and free. All the translations carried out by Tlaxcala are on Copyleft, i.e. free for reproduction for non-commercial purposes, as long as the source is cited.

Translators and interpreters of all languages, connect yourselves and unite! Webmasters and bloggers of all colours in the rainbow who share our concerns, contact us! E-mail: tlaxcala@tlaxcala.es

It is not a coincidence that we have chosen the date of 21 Februry to make our Manifesto public. During the years of the 50's, 60's and 70's, 21 February was celebrated as the world anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism day.

On that day in 1944, Paris awoke with its walls covered with big red posters that announced the execution at Mount Valérien of 23 “terrorist” members of the Snipers and Partisans-immigrant workers, the first organization of resistance to Nazism in the French territory. The leader of the group, Missak Manouchian, a 36-year-old Armenian, was a survivor of the Armenian genocide, an immigrant. To the French collaborators who attended his summary trial before the Nazi military court, and who labelled him a métèque, Manouchian answered: “You inherited French citizenship, I earned it.”

“The time of martyrs has come, and if I am one of them, it will be for the cause of brotherhood, the only thing that can save this country.” These were Malcolm X’s last words before being murdered during a meeting in Harlem on 21st February 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam, which Malcolm had left in 1963 in order to create the Organization of the Afro-American Unity. In April 1966, his assassins were condemned to life imprisonment, but those who plotted his murder - the Masters of the Empire – remained, as in most cases, unpunished.

Malcolm X, alias El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, whose original name was Malcolm Little, was 39. He had returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, where he discovered universality after meeting pilgrims of all origins. One of the reasons of his breaking with the Nation of Islam was that it had had contacts with the Ku Klux Klan to discuss the establishment of a black independent State in Southern USA, just as the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had done in requesting the support of the worst anti-Semites for his project of a Jewish State. For Malcolm, whose father had been a victim of the Ku Klux Klan, such collaboration was unthinkable.

On this day of remembrance we put Tlaxcala under the patronage of those two fighters for the struggle of peoples, Missak Manouchian and Malcolm X.

Cyberespace, 21 February, 2006




Revolt, or a step-by-step model?

Today I was once again reading from Moacir Gadotti’s Reading Paulo Freire (1994, p. 128) about the criticism according to which Paulo Freire -- one of the founding figures in international movement of critical pedagogy -- never explicated his view of decent society, or clarified the nature of the revolution needed to construct a decent society based on radical humanist values. Is this true? And if so, is it because his belief in dialectical thinking, or the idea that the ‘road is made by walking’? In other words, is it because his idea that “there are no finished models of society as the social structure is always in motion” (p. 130). Is it further so, like Gadotti points out, that there are at least two sorts of social change, those of mechanical and dialectical (or dialogical)? Mechanical change would mean that socio-economical change of society and its means of production would somehow directly affect psychological, social and educational spheres. Assumingly this was not Freire’s argument. Dialectical change would require overall, concerted change all the way from socio-economics base up to social, cultural, educational and spiritual superstructure. And, besides that, it would demand strict individual change in attitudes, and in ‘being-in-the-world.’ Here Gadotti interprets Freire: “Oppression does not take place only on the social plane but also on the individual level. And it is just on this level that authoritarianism can be seen. And it is just here that oppression must begin to be fought, that is, where it is nearest to us.” (p. 130.) Or as Freire writes it in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed: "we cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates himself, but rather that human beings in communion liberate each other" (p. 114).

So, what is Freire’s answer to the troubling question regarding the logic of societal change? How does it happen? I am quite convinced that Freire did not think that education and educators could make a change – not to mention a revolution – alone, all by themselves. -- Besides the fundamental question, I read the previous quotation in the context of higher education: How should we start building ‘organic learning alliances’, in which we would act not as antagonist teachers and students, but as co-operative allies in a resistance movement? I think the really hard part for most of the mandarins in the academia would the following: “The preservation of traditional methods of education in a revolutionary context signifies the distance between dream and practice. One of the revolutionary struggles is the struggle for the renovation of the methods and procedures at the same time as the content of education is renewed.” (p. 131-132.)

And talking about roads that are made by walking, here's Eduardo Galeano's testimonial: "I was wandering lost through the streets of Cádiz, thanks to my acute sense of disorientation, when a good man rescued me. He instructed me on how to get to the old market, and to any other destination in the wide world: "Let the road lead you." (http://progressive.org/mag_galeano0206) (-- By the way, I seem to have a talent of orientation; it is hard for me to get lost in the woods, or a big city...)


Winter Wonderland

Poverty gap is rapidly widening in winter wonderland. Around 600,000 people in Finland are now living below the poverty line (by the European Union standards) according to statistics by STAKES (the Finnish National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health). The survey reveals that the recent boosts to incomes have done little for Finland's lower class. In fact, the country's poor are doing worse and worse every year.

By contrast, middle-class families with educated parents are doing relatively well. They're making the most of two incomes in typically white-collar jobs, with income tax breaks helping their money go further. But tax breaks have had little - if nothing - effects on the unemployed. The value of state supports and other benefits to the poor have not increased in step with incomes, which widens the gap even further.

Families with many children, or those with a single parent are sinking into poverty faster than any other demographic. The EU sets the poverty line for a single parent with three children at just 1,700 euros a month. Researchers in STAKES say there are things that can help. Tax breaks can be structured to benefit low-income households, for instance. The biggest boost would be to help people get jobs.

But I believe, as always, that right-wing have all the answers needed to overcome this problem.


Give Me a Revolution!

"I should just like to formulate this: the main problem, as I see it, is how human energy is channelled and used by every given society for its own purposes, and how in turn the human needs thus produced have an influence on social development; sometimes a revolutionary one but very often a reactionary one, because the character structure as it has been formed in the past by tradition, culture, teaching, family, etc., changes more slowly than the socioeconomic factors. Indeed, the slowness of the historical processes is to a large extent to be explained by the fact of this lag, that is to say, by the fact that man psychologically lives several generations behind the new economic and technical possibilities. If that were not so, the birth of a new society would not be as painful and difficult as it is." -- From Erich Fromm's letter to the Soviet philosopher Vladimir Dobrenkov in 1969 at http://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1969/human.htm#ref01


Failed State

Noam Chomsky states in his interview book Imperial Ambitions (2005) that "The United States is basically what is called a 'failed state.' It has formal democratic institutions, but they barely function." He further notes that from the point of view of the power elite "it doesn't matter that approximately three fourths of the population think" that people should "have some kind of government-funded health care system." It doesn't even matter for the all powerful "if a large majority regards health care as a moral value," for when social and political commentators in the US "rave about moral values, they're talking about banning gay marriage, not the idea that everyone should have decent health care. And the reason is that it's not in their interest." For they are like Chomsky (or me); we have a fine health care. "For the large majority of the population, though, lack of health care is a major issue, and it's becoming an even more serious one. When Medicaid [medical care available to low-income individuals and families in the US, JS] is destroyed, as it probably will be, that's going to really harm people. But those people are unorganized. They're not in unions, they're not in political associations, they don't participate in any political parties. The genius of American [that is, the US, JS] politics has been to marginalize and isolate people. In fact, one of the main reasons behind the passionate effort to destroy unions is that they are one of the few mechanisms by which ordinary people can get together and compensate for the concentration of capital and power." (pp. 198-199.)

And indeed, mediacare has to go, for Bush needs more money for the arms industry, that is, to his alleys in the war corporations. Bush and Cheney's 2007 budjet plan cuts spending on elderly, and poor people, and takes away social services and education from those who need them most while increasing spending on weapons. If not babies, maybe people will eat guns. See more: http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-1/576/576_03_EatGuns.shtml

But, one cannot forget Johan Galtung's prediction after Georg W. Bush had stolen the Presidental election in 2000. After the election this prominent peace researcher and cosmopolitan thinker cut his prediction of the fall of US imperium into half, from 40 to 20 years.

In a country, size of a fly's shit, called Finland, right-wing party leaders has same tones in their voice as their big brothers in the wild wild west, and elsewhere; at the heart of their sermon is an idea of 'trickle-down' effect of capital cumulation. It means that by growing economic gap between rich and poor, the wealth will eventually flow from the top of the food chain to the bottom. It would be fantastic to see some evidence for this plain claim, but for some reason I have not found any. I wonder why.

In addition, their rational of the good life based on continuous economic growth, entrepreneurship and individual as well as global competition is absolutely rocket science to me. I would say that they still build their worldview heavily on contradiction between those who own the world, and those of their servants as their historically eminent class enemy. Class etc. antagonisms are not over nor history in its end.

The Task of Critical Pedagogy

The central task of critical pedagogy is to understand the oppressive aspects of education and overall society in order to generate pedagogical, individual and societal transformation while developing pedagogical and political strategies that work toward the elimination of various forms of subordination such as class, gender, race and sexual orientation, and strengthen peoples’ possibilities for organic learning, and powers to fight for inequalities of the world.

But "there is no unitary conception of critical pedagogy. There are as many critical pedagogies as there are critical educators, although there are certainly major points of intersection and commonality. There are the writings about critical pedagogy that occur in the academy, which are many and varied. And there is the dimension of critical pedagogy that is most important - that which emerges organically from the daily interactions between teachers and students." (Peter McLaren in an interview with Mashhood Rizvi, http://www.sef.org.pk/educatewebsite/educate5fol/uron5.asp)

"Critical pedagogy does not end with the idea of using student experiences to frame curricula. Rather, it proposes that education should always go beyond that point by encouraging students to become active participants in their education (Anderson & Irvine, 1993; Macedo, 1994; Shor, 1992). Students who are active participants are engaged with the teacher and the curriculum. They contribute their own ideas and learn to wrestle with ambiguities and challenge assumptions. Active participation also means that they cocreate curricula with the teacher to ensure that their needs and interests are given primary importance. Finally, it means taking action and transforming the world in order to eliminate disadvantage. Social transformation is the ultimate goal of critical education." (Sophie C. Degener, http://www.ncsall.net/?id=562)


Organic Learning

Yes, what is it? Organic learning does not respect anything. Curriculum, plaah, policy programs, plaah, notes, text books. It is when something evolves, flows, changes into something strange, something other, which moves, and shakes, and unexpected happens. Without it only no-thing exists, as it so heavenly does.

Organic learning is linked to Leif Segerstam's idea of 'organic musical kaleidoscope', and to Gramsci's 'organic intellectual.' It has to do with the ultimate moment of human democratic creativity, that is, to say no to obedience to authority, and to various abusive (or so used) object-subject -relations.

"However, only in an emancipated society, whose members' autonomy and responsibility had been realized, would communication have developed into the non-authoritarian and universally practiced dialogue..." Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, 1971, p. 314

But, how to build such a society? Some educational progressivists have claimed that this will happen by focusing on critical educational contents and political activism in different fronts and fields. Others have stated that in the end, it is the (pedagogical) process and social relations of learning and teaching that counts. Yet other educational theorists, such as Henry Giroux, have emphasized the integrated strategy where the contents meet the pedagogical forms in balance (see Youngman 1986, p. 5). Common to these two parties is the conviction that various collaborative study methods are needed to replace the widely shared idea of learning - stated here by Edwin Mason in his book Collaborative Learning (1972, p. 30) - "as a process in which an agent - the teacher - does 'the right things' to a client - the student - in a prearranged optimum environment designed for the performance of the operation."

Hollo translates...

... Pentti Saarikoski (Asiaa tai ei [Something to Tell You, or Maybe Not]) as follows:

"The unexpected always happens, so unexpectedly that I have to pay attention every second: everything might suddenly shift into a new light. Nothing has changed, but everything's lit differently."

And then (Invitation to the Dance, XXXIV):

"Full moon late February and snow
brighter than midsummer nights."

The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back
after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

- Gil Scott-Heron, 1974


In the Spring

After years in Paris Grant Wood (Feb 13, 1891- Feb 13, 1942) returned to the Midwest. All the good ideas he'd ever had, those that really matter, came to him while milking a cow. "So I went back to Iowa."