Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bitcoin and Esperanto

In 2009 1887, a man working under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto Doktoro Esperanto, unleashed an idea, simple and complex, a feat of genius, which stood an unsettlingly real chance of changing the world, making us more prosperous, defying the the very conception of the nation-state, and ending all wars.

It was a weird era, in a lot of ways. And my favorite. It was a lot like the present time.

During the ascendancy of Esperanto, in an anarchist revolution taking place in Spain, centered in a city full of weird futuristic surrealist architecture, this Esperanto propaganda poster was made. Yeah, I was born too late, or too soon, or something.

Esperanto is a constructed language that's ridiculously easy to learn. It's made out of the common word roots from big European languages, with more novel, perfectly regular, logical grammatical affixes.

Let me showcase it for just a second:

I love her.
Mi amas ŝin.

She loves me.
Ŝi amas min.

I will love her.
Mi amos ŝin.

She will love me.
Ŝi amos min.

No conjugation for person. Change the "a" to an "o" to make the future. Change it to an "i" for the past. You've been studying Esperanto for 30 seconds, and you already have a better command of the grammar than you might after months of studying Spanish. That's the point.

Imagine a language you can get conversational with in the space of a couple months. Imagine everyone on earth took a couple months to learn it.

Imagine that by this autumn you could understand Iranian newspapers and soap operas. I have a feeling that Persians would start to become so eerily human to us that the thought of going to war with them would start to feel as horrible and insane as, I don't know, going to war with England.

Tons of people got behind Esperanto. The anarchists started publishing journals in it. Smart people started saying that it would take over the world in a small amount of time, and they weren't crazy. It looked that way.

A lot of tragedy and poetry interfered. The Nazis didn't like it. Doktoro Esperanto, was, in fact, a Jew. Nationalism got big in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. It sucked.

Dr. Esperanto's daughter, Lidia, was an early convert to the appropriately universalist and synchretic Baha'i faith. Taught both the language and the faith. Died in the Treblinka extermination camp.

Esperanto's exponential trend leveled off and stayed put. The internet is connecting would-be Esperantists and maybe giving it another chance, but smart people are no longer writing editorials in newspapers saying it will be the world language in 10 years.

What happened?

Lots of stuff.

What's my point?

Just because something is easy, would benefit mankind, is ascendant, is blowing up in the news, is logical, and would make everyone richer doesn't mean it'll work out.

There is no teleological attractor driving all things towards perfection. Or if there is, it's a weird one that tolerates setbacks and holocausts. Sometimes there's something good and rational and people still don't adopt it.

Nothing is certain.

But I do prefer to hang out with Those Who Hope.

*Dr Jim LaPeyre, this isn't meant to be the bitcoin post you asked for. This is a different one.


  1. Did they have distributed networks (ie, the internet) in 1887? We live in a different paradigm than even 15 years ago.

  2. Make videos to teach my Esperanto.

  3. 20 reasons to learn Esperanto:

    Videos to learn Esperanto:

    ... who has enjoyed the use of Esperanto during a half century.

  4. For more than a century exists an annuary (year book) named "Esperanto Jarlibro", with addresses of more than 2000 Esperanto speakers who live in more than 80 countries.

    Some Esperanto info: