Finding A Voice

We stumbled across this interesting collection of stories of identity, culture and language and were particularly taken by the piece on Occitan Rock. What is clear from these stories is that language is far more than an instrument, an economic unit.  Language is both a history of the movement of people as well as their laying down of roots , of exchange and solidarity, and, ultimately, it is an expression of who people are, have been and will be. Of course, the decisions and actions of individuals are tiny but over time, through their interactions, they come to form linguistic currents, streams and oceans. In class societies, especially bourgeois dominated capitalist society, language needs to be controlled , access to language needs to be demarcated and certain languages promoted over others. This control is none other than the accumulation of surplus in military and economic competition with others.

Of course, languages are subversive, they refuse to fall neatly in to the territorial lines that have been drawn by the nation state, and they can threaten the very unity of those states. Here at Marxist TEFL, we want to celebrate the subversive quality of language and to say that language needs to retain its human quality and not become the appendage of reified capital accumulation (as Orwell warned against in his discussion of Newspeak). Ultimately, local languages and dialects can only truly prosper when the artificial barriers of nation and class are broken by the triumph of international solidarity amongst working people. Free linguistic expression is bound up with the self-determination of the working-class.

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