Esperanto Language Blog

Raŭmismo and Civitanismo Posted by on Nov 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

In contrast to the concept of finvenkismo we discussed in the last blog entry, I’d like to turn our attentions toward another movement within Esperanto, with which you might be familiar: raŭmismo, and one of its offshoots, civitanismo. Don’t bother looking for an Esperanto root this time! The term “raŭmismo” comes from Rauma, the name of a town in Finland. Consequently, the word itself doesn’t reveal much about what the concept behind it means.

What is raŭmismo, then? Well, broadly construed, a raŭmisto is somebody who doesn’t necessarily think that propagation should be the foremost goal of an Esperantist. Where a finvenkisto is somebody who wants to spread the Esperanto language to all the corners of the world, and thereby allow the language to be a tool in the employ of all the world’s various cultures, a raŭmisto contends that Esperanto is its own culture. The raŭmistoj believe that Esperanto should be thought of as a diasporic language – that is, the language of a community that has been scattered across the globe, resulting in a culture that is tied to the spoken language rather than to a specific geographical area. (In this regard, Hebrew, at least up until the founding of Israel, would be an example of a diasporic language.) Looking at Esperanto as its own distinct culture thus gives the raŭmistoj a different mission than the finvenkistoj. The latter want to spread Esperanto as far as possible; the former want to cultivate the language and its literature, increasing its heft and influence as one of the world’s many cultures.

The notion of raŭmismo was first articulated in the 1980s, when the participants in the Youth Esperanto Conference (held in Rauma) composed and signed a manifesto, aptly called “The Manifest of Rauma.” (You can read the document in its original Esperanto here.) Over the years, the meaning of raŭmismo as articulated in the manifesto has become a bit cloudier. To some people, raŭmismo simply means the use of Esperanto without spreading it (not to be confused with krokodili, which has a negative connotation), and does not connote an ideological stance. To others, raŭmismo is the continued effort to grant cultural recognition to the Esperanto community. This second, ideologically-inflected version has come to be known as Civitanismo (from “civitano,” meaning “citizen”), the effort to make oneself an Esperanto citizen.

What is your take on raŭmismo? Do you think it’s a worthwhile stance? Do you think it’s inherently a part of Esperanto to begin with? Is the divide between finvenkismo and raŭmismo a false dichotomy? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!

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  1. formiko:

    Mi Estas raumisto mi kredas

  2. J. Lieberman:

    Krokodili is to speak English (or another local ethnic tongue) in an Esperanto gathering. Chu ne?

  3. Nicolas:

    I don’t have much thought about finvenkismo and raŭmismo, but thank you for this article which clearly explains these concepts. I heard the word raŭmismo for years without knowing what it was. That fills the gap.

  4. Sharon:

    I’ve often thought Esperanto is a bit like chess. The reason why you learn chess is to play chess with other chess players. It broadens your horizons and gives you a community to interact with. Likewise, the point of learning Esperanto is, surely, to use Esperanto with other Esperanto speakers?

  5. Evildea:

    I believe that any community which grows large enough (such as Esperanto) will eventually develop its own unique culture. I believe Esperanto needs both groups; raŭmistoj and finvenkistoj.