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in Estonian
in Russian


Prof Kari Sallamaa at Folklore Evening,
Tartu, July 25


1 Ott Heinapuu.
Etnofuturismi mõiste ja
 (In Estonian)

2 Zapatist links

3 Rein Taagepera.
Põlisrahva iseendaksjäämisest
tänapäeval ja tulevikus
(in Estonian);
English summary:
The 'ethno-futurist
triangle' by Rein Taagepera

in: Some treatments
of the concept of ethno-futurism 
in Estonia 

by Heinapuu Ott
& Andres Heinapuu

4 Andres Heinapuu.
Liivi rahvas kui etnofuturistlik eksperiment (in Estonian); 
the same in Russian;
see also the 
Livonian pages

5 Viktor Shibanov.
Étnofuturizm kak
vozmozhnyj vykhod iz postmodernistskogo tupika

(in Russian)

6 Jaan Kaplinski. Wenn Heidegger ein Mordwinier gewesen wäre …;
Jaan Kaplinski. Jos Heidegger olisi ollut mordvalainen
in Estonian (not exactly the same text): Jaan Kaplinski. Heidegger, emakeel ja Keeleema

7 about Laestadius look:
History at Laestadius.net

8 about Zhakov look:

9 Kari Sallamaa.
Uku Masing as the Pioneer of Ethnofuturism

10. Andres Ehin. 
Uku Masingu ideoloogia põlisrahvaste kultuuri küsimuses. Eelkäijad. Mõttekaaslased

Opening lecture, 25th July, 2001, Tartu

About the forthdeveloping of our philosophy

Kari Sallamaa (Oulu, Finland)

I shall now make that opening lecture, which I should have held in the ethnofuturistic festival Tangira in Udmurtia last April, but where I couldn't take part. The headline suits especially well, while it's time to broaden out the area of ethnofuturism to problems of global existence or destruction. As I personally have spoken and written about the phenomenon since 1996 in many contexts, and as I already have found out some kind of stagnation in my thinking, I have to go on and try to develop new ideas for our movement.

Some years ago it was popular to speak also in cultural sphere about the famous second general principle of thermodynamics, entropy. Although I think it is questionable to use it as a cultural metaphor, it is true that globally there are going on processes towards onesidedness of nature, language and culture. Ethnofuturism should have something to say about these threats.

The discussion about ethnofuturism has in recent years been very lively especially here in Estonia, in the craddle of the program, in Udmurtia and in Internet. There is going on a struggle of power to define the phenomenon, like to name places and ethnoses. Should we speak about Lapps or Saamis, about Mordvines or Erzyas and Mokshas? Should we call Mordovia's capital Saransk or Saran Osh, Udmurtia's capital Izhevsk or Izhkar?

Ethnofuturism has been defined in many different ways. Especially there has been dispute about its area: is it global and general or should it be restricted to Finno-Ugric or Uralic world?

Ott Heinapuu has criticised me for using the concept in a too broad and thus loose meaning, and on the other hand too narrowly counting only Uralic peoples under it. I should therefore better speak about Uralic philosophy1.

It is true, that ideas about ethnofuturism have in a certain extention been spread among Turkic peoples in Russia. That is quite understandable. The Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples live side by side and mixed especially in Central Russia, and their language systems differ from the Indo-European ones. Although the old theory about linguistic relatedness of the Uralic and Altaic groups is no more valid, it's obvious, that there are many common traits in the type of thinking based on language.

This is why I want to propose, that our next conference should take place at Kazan, Tatarstan as a meeting arena for Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples under the banner of ethnofuturism. As the Hungarian professor and former chairman of Association of Finno-Ugric Literature, Péter Domokos has shown, Kazan was under the Tsarist era an important intellectual centre for Finno-Ugrians: teacher training college, publication of books in Kazan publishing houses etc. The Estonian professors Mihkel Veske and Walter Anderson teached at the university.

I do fully agree, that it is not necessary to reduce ethnofuturism only for Uralic peoples, although it has been constructed and mostly disseminated in Uralic context. Ethnofuturism suits ideally for the Fourth world, the indegenous and autochtonous peoples and ethnic groups all over the world.

E.g. when I read a paper about ethnofuturism in an international colloqium at Sorbonne, Paris last March, professor Jean-Léo Léonard remarked, that the Zapatist movement of the Mexican indians in Chiapas has many similar features. Zapatists2 can be called Mexican ethnofuturists. One common aspect is the non-violent type of action. Poetry can be stronger than weapons.

The reason why I will also speak about cosmofuturism, is that in developing ethnofuturism it is necessary to place it into a larger context. The concept of cosmofuturism comes from the population scientist, professor Rein Taagepera, who held a substantial lecture at our former conference in this same place in May 19993. His terms were (1) ethnopreterism, a nostalgic effort to preserve the ethnic cultures as pure as they traditionally have been, (2) cosmofuturism as a point of view, which pays no attention to national and ethnic problems and (3) ethnofuturism as something staying between both of them. I think Ott Heinapuu will tomorrow deal more with these questions and especially take up new concepts about ethnofuturism.

I accept Taagepera's terminological division, but I want to emphasize other aspects in cosmofuturism. It should mean the greatest context, the ecological and cultural conditions for world's future globally and locally. In that meaning ethnofuturism is an important part of cosmofuturism. Cosmos means nature, natural and human resources, culture and infotechnology together. Ethnofuturism can harmonize the relations between town and countryside by building ethnic town cultures. It can rescue the traditional village culture from sinking into dead museum stuff, to an ethnopreteric ineffectiveness. It can with good reason criticize technology without neglecting its best achievements.

Ethnofuturism can harmonize relations to nature, e.g. by reviving the original religions of our peoples as alternatives to the three Palestinian originated monotheic religions. The much discussed death of the Christian patriarchal god gives room for return of the religious. Instead of Christian black prelates we should prefer shamans and sacrificing priests dressed in pure white. Like Inuits the Mordvinian peoples, Erzjas and Mokshas, speak about Mother Water as well as Mother Earth (Mastorava). When we sing like Toorama, the eternal mother flows through us from soil to heaven. Why not also speak about Mother Sun and Father Moon? Normally mother gives warmth and takes care, father strikes with his cold hand.

Although I'm not a very religious man, I believe in some kind of god, while it's necessary and meaningful. It can take the shape of Inmar, or The World-Watching-Man of the Mansis, or Hristos Pantokrator of Andrei Rublev.

If we accept the pessimistic prognose of Unicef and Woldwatch Institute, that within a century the today existing about 6000 languages will be reduced to let's say 150, we can ask, would there be a single Uralic language. And if there would exist at least our greatest language, Hungarian, how could it manage in the ocean of Indo-European languages without its relative languages? For preservation of our languages we need ethnofuturism, and it really works, as can be seen in the example of Livonian language4 and culture. But also the Votic language in Ingria will be rescued by ethnofuturism. And many others. Even the Samoyedic Kamass could be revived: the ethnos exists, only the language is dead.

Ethnofuturism means not any kind of nostalgic laments about critical mass needed for preservation of a language and culture. That would be ethnopreterism in Taagepera's terms. As ethnofuturism shows concretely the spiritual values of ethnic traditions and cultures, it puts the existing desperate situation in test and becomes thus ethnocriticism.

Our strength is the spiritual activity. In Finno-Ugric newspapers you can find some variations for the concept, like etnoduhovnost (ethnospiritualism) in Kudo-Kodu 1/2001 (Mari El): this accentuates the spiritual aspects in the new ethnic-ethical movement.

It is important to stress, that ethnofuturism is no more a vague label for some aesthetic and literary phenomenons. Now it is and shall more and more be a full scale aesthetic, political and cultural program. It is broadening itself out to village planning, eco- and cultural turism etc. Then it must also have philosophical principles in all three domains, ontology, epistemology and ethics.

Its leading principle is dialectics between old and new, ancient mythology plus folklore and national romanticism connected with up to day expressive forms. Here you can use the Russian word polistilistika. Another thing is its relations to the famous postmodernism. Ethnofuturism is actually not postmodern, but overmodern. It doesn't come after the modern, but it goes above the modern and also the already aged postmodern. Viktor Shibanov will tomorrow dig a big grave for postmodernism5.

It is clear, that although we have to point out the importance of roots (i.e. mythology, folklore and native religion), we also have to notice, that small peoples and ethnic groups can't anymore deal without modern technology and media: videos, computers, Internet home pages, virtual networks etc. As there is shortage of paper in many parts of Russia, the electronic book could be an alternative, but of course here comes another problem, the shortage of money to buy the necessary equipment for universities and associations, not to speak about private homes.

Now something about epistemology. The known Estonian writer, and philosopher himself, indeed, Jaan Kaplinski spoke about the theme ”If Heidegger had been Mordvinian”6 in the great philosophical symposium at Tampere, Finland last April. It is sad, that Kaplinski couldn't take part in our conference and make his opening lecture, as it was originally planned.

According to Kaplinski the most advanced philosophy has since yet been constructed in classic Greek, German and Chinese, but not e.g. in Finno-Ugric languages. That is not quite true, but our philosophers are not as world known as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger or Kung Fu-Tse and Lao Tse. We are margin peoples and let's be proud of it. But anyway we have own philosophers. I once again mention three names: the Saami Lars Levi Laestadius (born 1801)7, the Komi Kallistrat Zhakov8, the Estonian Uku Masing9. They are all multischolars: priests, theologians, philosophers, scientists, writers, speakers. Intellectuals in a great measure.

All of them have shown, that artificial borders between religion, science, philosophy, literature and art are artificial. When Zhakov calls his mental construction limitism, it means dissolving borders, their transgression. We can put thoughts together without fear to be unlogical or undialectical. The postmodern project is much more modest; it only wants to dissolve the border between literature and philosophy.

According to Kaplinski philosophers have spoken about language relatively much, but most often about language in general, not about concrete languages, like classic Greek, English, Finnish, Hopi or Erzja. Differences in language structures are not held relevant, so their impact in philosophical thinking has been examined very little.

But there has been some thinkers, like Friedrich Nietzsche, who according to Kaplinski was the first to point out connections between thinking and language (in reality he was not the first, as we soon will see). In his work Jenseits von Gut und Böse (1886; On the other side of good and evil) Nietzsche says: "The philosophers of the Ural-Altaic language area (in whose languages the idea of subject has developed as the weakest) probably look at the world in a different way as Indogermans or muslims".

Further, following the title of his paper Kaplinski asks, how Heidegger had philosophized, if he had been Morvinian - Erzjamoksha - if he had used only his mother tongue. He could have answered in Nietzsche's question about an Uralo-Altaic philosophy. Anyway it would have been very different from the German Heidegger's one.

Kaplinski asks, could the till yet non-existing Finno-Ugric philosophy give us something, that the Indo-European or Chinese ones can’t give. The fundamental qualities seem to be as follows: (1) concreteness and phenomenological nominalism in conceptional thinking, instead of Indogerman realism, i.e. that an idea has only one keen word. (2) Inductiveness: from particulars to generalisation and not vice versa, like in Indo-European thinking. Universals, general concepts, Platonic ideas, are for our languages not as real as particulars. The Indo-European languages do more classify by definitions according to borders, like Aristotle does. Uralic languages make it counting and ordinating things. (3) Onomatopoetics or ideophony: the richness of word alternatives. In that way Uralic languages are ideal for the nowadays popular "misty logics".

And the metaphorical etymology of words. Kaplinski takes as an example the German word Ursprung (origin), which Heidegger often uses. It really means "beginning jump". Says Kaplinski: "Our 'algupära' is something very different, it is beginning but also end, the last remain, the bag of the seine net, where the fish catch is collected". Let me add, it is also womb, the end and bottom of woman or female animal, where the biological life begins. My 'algupära' is in the womb of my mother, but also in the long series of the wombs of my ancestor mothers.

Kaplinski asks, is this kind of Finno-Ugric philosophy a real philosophy at all, or is it only a tendency towards a philosophy. Anyway it has rights to exist, a possibility which Western Europeans have often denied for their brothers speaking other kinds of languages. But in my opinion there already exists this kind of Finno-Ugric philosophy. But it is scattered in texts of many thinkers. It is necessary to be collected and systematisized as an ethnofuturistic philosophy.

Yes, if Heidegger had been Mordvinian, Erzja or Moksha, he would not have become rector of the university of Freiburg im Breisgau wearing the membership button of the Nazi party. He was the most glorious philosophical supporter of the Nazi Blut und Boden -romanticism and the speculative German philosophy of life, as György Lukács has shown in his Die Zerstörung der Vernunft (1953; Destruction of Reason).

We must be aware about the risk, that in constructing ethnofuturism there constantly hides a danger to glorify such kind of mystical reactionary ideas. The Indogerman and Judeo-Christian metaphysics can't solve the most vital cultural problems of our peoples and ethnic groups. Ethnofuturistic culture, literature, arts and critics have always their political aspects. The problem is how to avoid one voiced culture, i.e. moralistic, prescriptive and didactic tendency, and reach high quality and value from other points of view than Western or Russian male petty bourgeois canons, Kantian aesthetics and moral judgment. We need the multivoiced choir of ethnofuturism against the imaginary universal, monologic humanistic tradition, the ontologic imperialism (Emmanuel Levinas) beginning from Socrate and ending to Heidegger.

Heidegger and his phenomenological existentialism is possible only in west and south, in the Central European hemisphere, not in margins, not in north or east. There is no sense trying to put this philosophy into work here. There is too cold and too hard a life for such sophisticated philosophy. And it is not necessary, either. We have our own ethnofuturistic philosophy.

As Heidegger's language philosophy is based on German language, his thinking is thoroughly labelled by the Indogerman mentality. Such a world known deconstructive philosopher like Jacques Derrida critically points out, that Heidegger's metaphysics works in the frame of Indo-European linguistic milieu. Further Derrida states: "Metaphysics - the white mythology which reassembles and reflects the culture of the West: the white man takes his own mythology, Indo-European mythology, his own logos, that is, the mythos of his idiom, for the universal form of that he must still wish to call Reason" (Margins of Philosophy 1982). It's worth to remember, that by his origin Derrida is not a high brow Parisian intellectual, but an Algerian jew.

In spite of all its progress the Western philosophical tradition always returns to debate about the existence of the table in front of the philosopher. And as Uku Masing says, originally there would never come into mind among Uralic peoples, that existence would differ from being. Yes indeed, a none-bird is still a bird, a man bird is also a bird, like in the coat of arms of the republic of Udmurtia designed by Kuchiran Yury (Yury Lobanov) and in the flag of the Finno-Ugric youth organisation MAFUN.

The Estonian writer Andres Ehin pointed out in the international Uku Masing symposium in autumn 1999 at Rapla, that the first to understand the dependency of thinking on language was the German baron Wilhelm von Humboldt in his essay "Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues" (1836; "About the difference of the structure of human language")10. The thinking of peoples speaking various languages, especially language groups, is different.

According to Ehin the American ethnolinguists B.L. Whorf and Erward Sapir following Franz Boas have same kind of ideas based on American Indian languages: "Every ethnos forms its world view through its language, and it differs from other ethnoses". So Friedrich Nietzsche was not the first to see the originality of thinking depending on language structure, as Kaplinski says. But Nietzsche's benefit is to point out the very fact, that Finno-Ugric and Altaic peoples differ in their thinking from Indogermans.

Uku Masing has same kind of ideas, when he stresses, that Estonians through their language structure and traditional mentality are connected to Eurasian and Paleoarctic forest peoples and in a certain extent also to Asian high cultures more than to Western, that means German petty bourgeois mode if thinking. You can read such thoughts e.g. in Masing's essay "Eesti hingest" (1935; "About Estonian spirit").

Like epiphany is important for a child, i.e. the touch of depth as a memory of the ever lost paradise of early childhood, hierophany is vitally important for an adult, the touch of the Sacred, the spirit of the ancestors, the holy trees, woods, stones, wells and other places of worship. In this context I only point out, without citations, Mircea Eliade's work The sacred and the profane (1959). It as well as his more known work The myth of the eternal return. Archetypes and repetition (1949) emphasize the importance of connecting the time of nature (Henri Bergson's durée) and the time of culture. The Finnish translation of 1992 has got the subtitle Cosmos and history.

The most vital problem is energy. Not only physical or electric energy, but also the mental one. Spirit and soul, the inner power. Power is energy and nothing else. The Nietzschean 'will for power' means struggle for energy. Lars Levi Laestadius shows, what kind of mental energy lies in prayer and ecstasy. It may be compared with shamanism of the more nature bound peoples, like Khanties, Mansis and the Nenets people.

So traditional religious forms of action, Christian and ”Pagan”: prayers, charms, spells, laments, sacrifices can be important parts of ethnofuturistic culture. They are modes to redirect cosmic and individual energy. The cryptic speech of a lament or a charm suits for god, it is not necessary for humans to understand it fully. The from his nabel cut man (like Mansis say) is just one speaker beside Heaven (Taara, Inmar, Numi-Torum, Veralden Olbmai) and the fairies. In that way we can also begin to understand again the language of animals, our clan forefathers.

Beside Indogerman analytic thinking we need Uralic, Altaic, indigenous synthetic thinking. Western philosophy is as analytic and broken as Western medicine in its vivisection and thrust in chemical drugs.

The Maori novelist Patricia Grace (New Zealand) said in the seminar of indigenous literatures at the university of Tromsoe, Norway 1993, that her people has thoughts, but not thinking, it has ideas but not philosophy. If philosophy is seen as a Venetian lead chamber, a straitjacket of thinking, if it means dead ideology, we can accept this opinion. But our mythic thinking and deconstructive act against the Western ideology, "white mythology", should guarantee the flexibility of ethnofuturism. It's a thesis against the mediocre Western and Russian cultures. Ethnofuturism means opposition against Western eurocentrism, cultural Americanism and Great Russian reactionism.

The young Saami literary scholar Rauna Kuokkanen is preparing her doctoral thesis at the universty of Vancouver, Canada, and makes use of aesthetics and philosophy of Native Americans. As she puts it, it is nonsense to speak in a nowadays popular way about postcolonialism, because colonialism is not dead. It goes on in the Americas, in Russia and in many other places, where the first nations, the aboriginal, indigenous and autochtonous peoples live. Among them are the majority of Uralic peoples. And Saamis are in the same situation in Finland. I also think, that postcolonial criticism is not the correct concept in our case. We can make more use of Uralic ethnofuturism than Anglo-Saxon postcolonialism.

Now a few words about ontology. Some Western thinkers, like Gaston Bachelard have said, that round, circle is the very form of cosmos. He speaks about "la philosophie du rond" in his famous La poétique de l'espace (1957; The poetics of space). Also an ideal building is round, like Saami or Nenets tent: the four corners of a house or a room brake the universal harmony. I want to add, that time is not linear. It is round, too, as we can understand in the eternal return of Mircea Eliade. Foremothers and ancient kings are present. In the same line has spoken the famous Saami multiartist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää.

Universe is an ellipse, like Einstein proved in his relativity theory. Womb is an ellipse. The shaman drum, tangira, is either round or it has an elliptic form. The native American actor, dancer and shaman Norman Charles, who lives in the Swedish Saamiland and makes performances together with the Saami actress Åsa Simma, once said to me: "Everything is round, also the colours. Can you imagine, that red has corners? Has a human face corners? And when you rotate like the Turkish Konya dervishes, you can keep going around for hours, and you get into ectasy, into a seeir's state of mind. No drugs or booze is needed".

And as the last point ethics and politics. The most important factor in the ethnofuturistic project is national selfconfidence. It is not obvious even in the case of "great" Finno-Ugric nations in the three independent countries. Swedisation of the Finnish people did never success, like germanisation in Estonia following Kalle Eller and Rein Taagepera. The greatest obstacle was language and the mode of thinking based on it. So the Swedish speaking intellectuals had to be finnisized for to construct the nation and take power in the state.

But in recent decades americanization has managed perfectly, almost totally, when electric media, advertising, school teaching and many other cultural fields have taken English and especially the uncritical admiration of American culture as their tool. In Estonia there are other, more political reasons, depending on Soviet time and influence of the former refugees.

The global imperialistic system is still going strong, and its heart is economical. Nowadays we can call it globalisation. As the national economy of Russia is smaller than that of Sweden, it can't be part of the imperialistic system, which consists of USA-Canada, EU and Japan-South Korea. Only on a local level inside the country itself Russia can be economically imperialistic, e.g. the oil and gas drillings of Lukoil and Gazprom which do harm to Uralic and other indegenous peoples.

The putinist securocratic system and nostalgia for Tsarist and Soviet super power times are of course very dangerous. Christianity has been an important part of Western and Russian colonial and imperialistic thinking. Formerly politruks equipped mentally the Soviet army; nowadays Greek Orthodox priests bless Russian troops going to murder civilians in the dirty war of Tchetchenia.

The third world war has already begun, although slowly and unseen, along with massive ecological disasters, with exploitation of the last natural resources, with silent genocides and ethnic purges all over the world, also in the northernmost corners of the globe. This is a carnivorous technological, overconsumating system, which on the other hand produces poverty, hunger and diseases.

The new president of United States, George W. Bush jr. has waged war against the rest of the world by neclecting the treaty of Kioto. He has began a new round of armament competition by his Star War II missile program. The imperialistic type of globalisation led by WTO, IMF-World Bank, EU, NATO and G8 group has made the streets of Seattle, Washington, Prague, Gothenburg and especially Genova to battle fields. Carlo Giuliani is also a martyr for us.

In these perspectives Uralic, Altaic and indigenous peoples need their own throrougly thought philosophical and political program, in short ethnofuturism. As the imperialist power system rotates like Juggernaut's wagon, ethnofuturism can put sticks between this big wheel. It is necessary to survive with our own traditions and culture. Margins will live, not centres.

etnofutu4 | etnofutu | suri

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