On Citizenship and Language Death

Northern Russia is home to more than 40 indigenous peoples, all of whom have their own language. But many of them are on the brink of extinction.

Nenet people with reindeer

Fayina Lekhanova has a broad face with a flat nose and dark, deep-set eyes. She looks exactly like the Eskimos I remember from the books I read as a child but, as she explains, the Eskimos are just one of dozens of tribes indigenous to Russia’s far north.

The vast expanse of the Russian Federation, from the Kola Peninsula in the north west to the Sea of Chukotka in the north east, is home to 41 indigenous peoples.

They have evocative names like the Saami, the Nganasan, the Itelmen, the Ulchi and the Tuvinian Todzhins. The area they have traditionally inhabited makes up more than half of the entire territory of Russia.

But today their numbers are dwindling, and their languages are dying out. Some have never even been written down.

That was Chloe Arnold of the BBC. Read her entire article. Language death is one good reason to dislike the nation-state.

Then, from Walter Mosley in the February 12, 2007 Nation, we have this:

Citizens. It doesn’t matter what crime you’ve committed; if you are a citizen of this nation, then you will continue to be one. No matter if you kite checks, get into bar brawls, murder for hire or tunnel into banks. It doesn’t matter if you have carried an illegal weapon or even committed some heinous crime against children or the elderly. No matter what you’ve done you are still a citizen, and as a citizen you have certain unalienable rights. And the most important of those rights is the franchise to vote.

The article is not just about voting. It is about our rate of incarceration and how felons are stripped of their rights as persons and citizens. This is not required by the Constitution. It could be changed.

In the context of globalization – internationalism’s evil twin – I have nostalgia for the nation-state. I was also raised to believe that the expansion of citizenship rights would solve many problems. In several ways, however, the nation-state seems intended precisely to limit these. I am studying anarchism.


2 thoughts on “On Citizenship and Language Death

  1. Oh, good, Professor Zero takes up anarchism! I’ve been an anarchist for forever, since my 20s, even when I was a fundie, then I was a “Christian anarchist,” (there are such creatures and they are, for the most part, very cool) but more recently I’ve come to describe my views as “decentralist” as opposed to anarchist, in part because of the maleness of so much of the anarchist movement/writings, and in part because I think it’s a better, more descriptive term which doesn’t carry the connotations of young guys wearing black setting fire to trash cans and making bombs in their basement and reading “The Anarchy Cookbook.” :/ Also, I want a woman-centered decentralism in that wherever men are in the movement, there will be issues with sexism, and if I call myself a radical feminist decentralist or a woman-centered decentralist, then I sometimes have opportunity to talk about these things because people ask me what I mean. 🙂

    Have you done much reading about Mujeres Libres/Free Women of Spain? Most inspiring!

    Huh, I feel a blog post coming on. 🙂

    I look forward to reading whatever you get to thinking about anarchy-wise!


  2. Well, it is going to take me a little while to figure out anarchism, but I have the distinct impression I should stop trying to use my extreme intelligence to work for the Man. I am looking into it – and I have a slightly hackneyed title, but one indicative of my current mood, in mind for my future collected writings: PALABRAS LIBRES.

    I have done no major reading about the Mujeres Libres, and I should start right here:
    http://www.historiasiglo20.org/enlaces/mujeres.htm … I can see that I ought to have been studying this and related phenomena starting some time ago, I would have become more inspired than I have been.

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