kolmapäev, august 15, 2007

Mida?, NB!, ja Korp!

Mida?

In case you haven't noticed, I don't look like an Estonian. That's because most of my blood comes from here and here, and also a bit here and here. But today, standing in the supermarket at Eedeni Keskus in Tartu I was approached by an older lady who saw me joyfully kissing my daughter's cheek while my wife went to hunt down some taignas(dough).


"Oi, kui kena," she said. "Mis tema nimi on?"

"Tema nimi on Anna," I replied.

"Mida?" She said looking at me with curiosity.

"Anna," I said.

"Mida?" she replied.

"Anna, nagu Anna Haava," I tried again. Anna Haava was a famous luuletaja (poet) for whom several streets are named in Estonia.

The old women looked puzzled, perhaps not remembering who Anna Haava was, but finally digesting that the kid's name wasn't Kadri.

"Ah," she said. "Väga armas."

NB!

On August 16 and 17 the foreign ministers of Eesti, Läti, Leedu, Soome, Norra, Rootsi, Island, and Taani will meet . The five 'Nordic' [rich, cradle-to-grave welfare giving] countries and the three 'Baltic' [less rich, ok, poor, your on your own, don't ask me for free dental] Baltic states, will be meeting in Turku, Finland as the Nordic-Baltic 8.

The last time they met was last August in Norway. Fortunately for all eight FMs, the menu this year will likely include fish and potatoes, as it did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Topics of concern will likely include energy issues, including the grotesque plan of Germany and Russia to build a giant gas pipeline right next to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden's most awesome coast lines.

Ed Lucas has of late been recommending that Georgia join NATO ASAP to prevent its descent into the pre-2003 Kremlin hell hole where everybody is Russia's stooge. May I suggest that the boldly dressed FMs of the Nordic countries do something reasonable -- think about making one or all of the Baltic countries part of the Nordic Council. This would address the reality of Estonia's inclusion in the nordic space, and allow the right-thinking trio of Fredrik Reinfeldt, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Matti Vanhanen, to do away for once and for all with the idea that social democracy is the nordic countries and nothing but.


Korp!

Finally, I am currently writing my last piece of August before I head off into a sunset of vacation time. It's a freelance story for The City Paper about Tartu korpi life and the extent that it influences Estonian political and business culture.

While the Korp! life is certainly interesting -- imagine rules for drinking beer! -- I am having a hard time getting to the bottom over whether or not it pays to be in EÜS if you want to be Minister of Agriculture one day or not. The Korpid have been telling me that they are apolitical, but I didn't see a lot of Keskerakond symbols around election day here in March.

It would be very helpful if you contacted me or told me in the comments section what you know about the influence these ancient institutions have on the wheels of Estonian life. Is it all it's cracked up to be? Is the feuding (EÜS vs. Sakala) for real or just for giggles? Do the female corporations matter? If you join EÜS will you get to get wasted with Tõnis Luukas in the basement? And what's up with those hats? Let me know what you know. Then we can go and tell the world.

15 kommentaari:

plasma-jack ütles ...

EÜS probably does not rule the republic. If you check their "Sirvilauad", you can see that their members have very different views and ideals, from right-extremism to social democracy.
All members of the student corporations that I have had chance to met, have been rullnokad in suits. Vironia seems also encouraging neo-Nazism, as I have previously hinted in my blog.

david h jones ütles ...

any chance of a translation (with footnotes) of your conversation with the old lady in the supermarket?

langust ütles ...

The share of Korp!'s and other fraternities (Eestis peamiselt Üliõpilaste Seltsid) - it's important to make difference here -in the elites is of course debatable. Obviously personal relationships matter in one's career, but i think their role is been seriously overestimated by some - let's only mention the legendary Alaküla. As the money is what talks - never heard that Annus, Palts, Hanschmidt, Tamjärv, Sõõrumaa, Kruuda and all those others would have some background in them. O.K. - Pruuli (EÜS) is an exception.

Historically - however - their role is been more impactful. It was good habit to someone socially active to belong to some Korp! or ÜS - nearly half of students in 1920-1940 did. And already in 20s critics blamed the fraternities in monopolising some jobs (Sakala and the power structures, Liivika and agric. etc.; EÜS - everything, but higher education and EELK especially). However it's necessary to mention that the fraternities had different backgrouds as well - folks with military interests were perhaps more likely to join Sakala because of it's traditions; Liivika's core was made up by agronoms; Vironia's by economists. You would definitely not have liked to see proportional representation of organisations amongst farmaceuts instead of domination of Fraternitas Liviensis (most of them belonged to it). As much in concerns independents (with nice term metsikud) then they were mostly also somewhat less active in social life.

As much in concerns EÜS then as always the biggest one they have been the most accused one as well. However, despite there is likely often truth in those accusations - a good paranoican always find's an argue. As i remember from reading the books about the excile life - when the Eesti Komitee (in Sweden) was accused in being EÜS cover-organisation, critics solved the problem of most of the board having different academic belonging with declaring them (as Veljesto's Heinrich Mark) to be "EÜS's handpicks". Seems somewhat as the Soviet founded "kulak's handpicks" to continue explaining resistance in terms of class-theory.


P.S. ei tea kuidas on tänapäevaga (kuigi EÜSi nimekiri on neil võrgus üleval), kuid mõnegi organisatsiooni kohta on hulk ajaloolist materjali. Nii TÜ kui linna raamatukogus on hulk nende albumeid, samuti on EHA võrgus:

http://www.eha.ee/

olemas Album Academicum. Organisatsiooni järgi kahjuks otsida küll ei saa.

Giustino ütles ...

Langust,

Would you mind mailing me your thoughts? It would be nice if I could quote you in my story.

Heli ütles ...

To David h Jones

Oi, kui kena," she said. "Mis tema nimi on?"
"Oh, how nice (sweet)" she said " What´s her name?"

"Tema nimi on Anna," I replied.
"Her name is Anna"

"Mida?" She said looking at me with curiosity.
"What?"

"Anna," I said.

"Mida?" she replied.
"What?"

"Anna, nagu Anna Haava," I tried again. Anna Haava was a famous luuletaja (poet) for whom several streets are named in Estonia.

The old women looked puzzled, perhaps not remembering who Anna Haava was, but finally digesting that the kid's name wasn't Kadri.

"Ah," she said. "Väga armas."

"Ah", "lovely"

dresolve ütles ...

I don't think that currently the animosity between Sakala and EÜS is as severe as it was before the second world war, but my grandfather tells me that if anyone from Sakala was caught even talking to someone from EÜS they would be thrown out of the Korporatsioon. Why there was this rivalry I don't know exactly, may have something to do with the relationship that Sakala had with the VAPS movement which was accused of trying to overthrow the government. While many Estonians supported Kontsantin Päts some weren't all that sympathetic when he established authoritarian rule by declaring a state of emergency and violating the Estonian constitution.

Wahur ütles ...

dresolve, I think this animosity is seriously overblown. Both Sakala and EÜS members were so numerous that zero communication would have been quite impossible.
Rivalry itself was (and is) rivalry between two biggest organisations.
Second, I do not know specifically about Sakala, but as a rule of thumb korps supported Päts (who was esticus himself) and more liberal EÜS, Veljesto, other seltsid opposed Päts. I would be REALLY surprised if Sakala had lined with seltsid in this point.

mpechter ütles ...

How good ins your comprehension of written Estonian, Giustino? I would definitely recommend that you read or skim through the books "Spes Patriae" and/or "Vivat Academia", which present the most comprehensive overview of the corporation culture in Estonia. Both of those books are available in the University Library.

Also, if you want some information straight from the horse's mouth, I should be able to organize some meetings with past and/or present chairmen and chairwomen of different corporations. Unfortunately, I do not reside in Tartu anymore, but most of my old contacts should still be there.

/All members of the student corporations that I have had chance to met, have been rullnokad in suits./

Oh dear.

One thing you have to understand is that the majority of corporation members take great pride in their membership and tend to regard the non-member students as not their equals. That might result in patronizing behaviour towards you, but only of you confront them on the matter. Personally, I would take the comment of "rullnokad in suits" as an insult.


Best wishes,

Mart Pechter
Fraternitas Liviensis

plasma-jack ütles ...

All members of the student corporations that I have had chance to met does not mean "each and every one of them", but.

Wahur ütles ...

Yup, Pechter. Cannot be explained any better. Just that less "patronizing" and "we are The Elite" attitude would do only good to most student organizations. Too much of it is simply unfounded, so "rullnokk in suit" is hell of a good expression, even if it definitely cannot be applied to all (or even majority) of academic citizens.

mpechter ütles ...

/All members of the student corporations that I have had chance to met does not mean "each and every one of them"/

Fair enough. You might just have met the wrong persons.

/less "patronizing" and "we are The Elite" attitude would do only good to most student organizations. Too much of it is simply unfounded/

A lot of it is, I agree. Most corporations today are merely standing on the shoulders of giants that are the pre-WWII corporations. As for the members today, they differ from an average student only in being slightly more on the conservative/nationalist side.

The thing to remember is that there are a lot of exaggerations and misunderstandings that exist about the corporation culture. Some of the condescending attitude (that I might not also be free of) is a response to ignorance or scorn from the other person.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, I already submitted my story, so thank you all for your help. I'll be putting up my translation of the great article with the Nashi boys from Ekspress soon, but for now i'm off for a pint or two with Flasher T.

If there is anybody else in Tartu that wants to get together, let me know! I am now on vacation :)

n-lane ütles ...

Wikipedia says "Corporations in Estonia are very much like those in Germany". I wonder if the corporation students in Estonia also have those (beer) drinking rituals, which are compulsory for all members, as the German Burschen do. And do they also practice Mensur fencing in Estonia?

mpechter ütles ...

/I wonder if the corporation students in Estonia also have those (beer) drinking rituals, which are compulsory for all members, as the German Burschen do./

Yes. The rituals vary from one corporation to another, though. Also, teetotallers may use non-alcoholic beer.

/And do they also practice Mensur fencing in Estonia?/

Officially, most male corporations are fencing corporations. Since the equipment and knowledge about fencing was lost in the WWII and the following occupation, it is not widely practiced anymore.

By my knowledge, only Sakala has reinitiated the practice. They have 2-3 sets of fencing equipment and they take lessons from Latvian corporations. From the other corporations, only Vironia is planning on following the example.

tfk ütles ...

First of all EÜS is not a Korporatsioon, it is Student Union (Üliõpilaste Selts) :).

If you compare korporante ja metsikuid (non-korp! members) then you can base on the comparison of ajateenija (recruit) and non-recruit. Is a ajateenija better than a non-recruit?

The korp!-s are apolitical but the members have not to be. A good korporant is usually an active person and therefor probably many of them are also active in politics.

giustino you can contact me if you want more information.

ksv! Juursalu (taavi at root ee)
korp! Fraternitas Tartuensis