pühapäev, märts 17, 2013

re: toomsayers

So the talk went well. I reread some of the opinion pieces regarding MP Yana Toom' s {some say misinterpreted} characterization of Estonian as a dying language/culture and came away with two perspectives: she's right and she's wrong. I leaned toward Rikken's retort: that Estonian language/culture was really in danger in the second decade of the 18th century after the Great Northern War when there were about 150,000 people left on the land. Here, I was reminded of my gradeschool study of the other peripheral northern land, Iceland. Their fragile tongue was in even greater peril. There were about 60,000 of them up until the middle of the 19th century. Which is why the idea that Estonian is a dying language seemed so ridiculous to me. If countries could dwindle to sizes one tenth (or even less) of what currently exists in Estonia, then how could we expect the whole language/culture to vanish in a few generations?

When I did my Iceland project in 1991, the population of that country was about 250K. Today it's about 320K. So, they have grown, while Estonia's population has gotten smaller. Why? As I noted in the talk, their climate is just as depressing -- darker, and with no trees. Sure, they don't have Russia {and Germany} in the neighborhood, but they do have volcanos and plagues -- 37 plagues in the past few hundred years which consistently eroded and tested the population base. Icelanders leave the island to find work elsewhere {such as Hallgrímur, the friendly agent we met at the car rental service in Munich} and they have Slavic immigrants too -- 13 percent of the nation is foreign born, the largest minority is Polish. Oh, and they had an even more apocalyptic recession during which Christmas trees were burned. No, any excuse you can come up with to explain away their population growth won't stick. So, what makes people stay in {and make more babies in} Iceland?

The only honest answer I could come up with is a higher standard of living. In any system of rankings, you will find this other economic pirate country at the top of the heap. Estonia is farther down, not as far down as some of its other neighbors, but far enough down to make it a less desirable place to live. Want to keep Estonia healthy? Continue to make raising the standard of living your national goal. Not just wealth, mind you, health, education, blah blah ... I'll stop now before your soc dem radar goes off ...

But the Estonian population is a bit tricky. The 2000 Census shows 930K ethnoEstos, 350K russoEstos. The 2011 Census shows 890K ethnoEstos, 320K russoEstos. So, the number of ethnoEstos is about the same as it was in the 1934 census (888K) at which time the number of russoEstos was about 92K [in case you have been misled to believe in the myth of a purely ethnoEsto prewar Estonia]. Mind you, there was a terrible war, mass deportations (and fleeing) from Estonia after 1934 (and Soviet population transfer) and Estonian is still spoken, at least in my home.

And to bring Yana Toom back in here ... the russoEsto population has declined significantly in this country. If ethnoEsto language/culture appears to be on the way out, then russoEsto lang/cult is one step ahead out that oblivion door. Two more things/thoughts: Soviet population transfer was not an organic means of population growth (birth rate+controlled immigration). And the idea that the Estonian population would continue to grow after 1989 beyond that 1.6M (or whatever it was) is ... well ... not a good idea. So, honestly, I am not sure what the {real, sustainable} population of Estonia should be.

Finally, talked about generational differences -- Winners, Losers. But that's already another post ...

44 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

Russians are assimilating. Outside Tallinn, Tartu and Ida-Viru that process is already complete. Kids born today into Russianspeaking 20 something family, lets say in Viljandi, are essentially Estonian. I know quite a few young (ex) russianspeaking families in Viljandi and they even name their kids Western names, or at least with Western versions of them so they won't get bullied at school and so on. They still retain some of their traditions and religion, which is a good thing, but they are Estonian.

Northerners are still struggling and I suppose time is a healer.

I think with current infrastructure we could sustain up to 2 million, but that would mean reversing internal migration trends - people would have to want to move back to the countryside. But there's an opportunity here. All these empty picturesque villages and towns would be extremely attractive to people from overcrowded Western European cities. This is something we could realistically tap into and solve an awful lot of problems in one go.

Temesta ütles ...

"The only honest answer I could come up with is a higher standard of living. In any system of rankings, you will find this other economic pirate country at the top of the heap. Estonia is farther down, not as far down as some of its other neighbors, but far enough down to make it a less desirable place to live. Want to keep Estonia healthy? Continue to make raising the standard of living your national goal. Not just wealth, mind you, health, education, blah blah ... I'll stop now before your soc dem radar goes off ..."

I you look at these rankings,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_birth_rate

at first sight there doesn't seem to be a strong correlation between the standard of living and the birth rate, rather the opposite. Migration is another thing. When I was a small boy, Belgium had ten million inhabitants, now eleven million. But 70% of our population growth can be attributed to migration. In all three rankings Germany is at the bottom, that's not a country with a low standard of living. I also see that Estonia has a higher birthrate than Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The birth rate is something that is very difficult to influence, so giving people enough reasons to stay or to come (back) is the biggest challenge.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Good it went well. As it should have. Yawn.

Randy ütles ...

Fertility rates don't have so much to do with economics as with family structures, and Estonians have more of a Nordic-style, gender-egalitarian and multi-form family style than Germans. This is a good thing, since a culture that allows for families in multiple forms (working mothers or not, marriage or cohabitation, et cetera) evidences a higher fertility rate than a culture that does not.

Migration is also a concern. Estonia is lucky in that it is relatively wealthy compared to its Baltic neighbours, has a wealthy neighbour literally in commuting distance, and might plausibly be attractive to migrants from this richer neighbour (which, conveniently, happens to be culturally similar enough). In a decade's time, or even now, if you're in Helsinki will Tartu be much less attractive than Tampere?

Martasmimi ütles ...

Happy it went well for you Justin.

Meelis ütles ...

"The 2011 Census shows 890K ethnoEstos"
These were preliminary results. According to final results: ethnic Estonians 902547, ethnic Russians 326235, other nationalities 64038, ethnic nationality unknown 1635.

Meelis ütles ...

"is about the same as it was in the 1934 census (888K)"
According to results of 1934 population census there was 1126413 inhabitants in Estonia. 992 520 (88,1%) of theme were ethnic Estonians.
This was in pre-war frontiers.

Meelis ütles ...

"at which time the number of Russians was about 92K"
But this was within prewar frontiers. In contemporary frontiers only about 46000 Russians lived at this time.

Marko ütles ...

Which brings us to the very "hot" topic of current border negotiations. I think that border will stay where Stalin draw it, but there are also people out there who would strongly disagree. What do you guys think?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Negotiate with Russians to let them have them the territory but grant Estonia most favored trading parter status in return so that Estonia would become a counduit of all goods coming to and leaving Russia ... and all will be forgotten ...

Think business, not principles. Everyone is a whore. Just be the most expensive one. We got a chance here. Maybe.

Temesta ütles ...

Is solving this issue important for Russia? Do they gain or loose from the status quo? If it is not important for them, they do not have to make any concessions to Estonia. Unless they want to improve their image somehow. :)

Marko ütles ...

I'm for leaving it to them too. Above all we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people who haven't got a clue about democracy and law and order. If the Russians would give us the land back there's a chance that it would destabilize the whole country. But then the conservatives would probably argue for cheap labour etc.

Giustino ütles ...

Meelis -- you are exactly right, and it shows you how "reliable" numbers can be in these arguments. But frontiers or no frontiers, there were still a lot of Russians in prewar Estonia.

Temesta, the Russians do need the treaty, because then they can (eventually) obtain some kind of visa free travel agreement with the EU. That's a big bargaining chip on the Estonian's side. I don't think the Esto's really want Ivangorod. Petseri, on the other hand, is useful as far as travel goes. It is so friggin hard to drive around in deep Setomaa because all the main roads go through Petseri. That being said, I'm told that the Estonian/Seto presence on the other side of the border is negligible these days. Maybe build a better road?

Temesta ütles ...

http://darussophile.com/2012/06/02/jaan-kaplinski-from-confrontation-to-reconciliation/

Any thoughts?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

So nothing will happen. Estonia, just another zit on Russia's already pimpled ass won't be anything important. Not for image, not for business, so it is all just a wash ...

Sad.

Troels-Peter ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Troels-Peter ütles ...



I didn't know there were negotiations taking place, but surely it must be about getting that border treaty signed by the Russians at last. I mean, the area east of Narva and Petserimaa are not seriously up for some negotiation??

Marko ütles ...

Petseri is Estonias Karelia in a way. It has some historic and emotional meaning to some Estonians, but at the moment it's Russified and economically deprived. Not sure if we are in a position to handle our own little East Germany. And areas in question are quite large, totalling up to 25% of current continental territory. But thrn again, this is our land and they think there might be some coal and gas east of Narva. So us getting it back would be as realistic as Finns getting back Viipuri. It's a tricky subject and many just want it over and done with.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

The armchair military strategist in my head tells me that the time to get it back is when Russia is on its knees fighting for survival against the Chinese invasion on the Eastern front. That is when we ride in, change the street signs into Estonian, arrest the local population and deport them to work as slave labor in the fertilizer mines in North East Estonia or large public road builidng projects elsewhere ...

Giustino ütles ...

The Estonians have this tendency to see Soviet actions in WWII and afterward as being directed specifically at them. But Estonia was just a minor part of a vast conflict that embroiled the entire continent. In 1940, when Estonia lost its independence, Paris was under German control, Germany had occupied Denmark and Norway, and was bombing the UK. Meantime, what happened in Estonia also happened in Latvia, Lithuania, and Bessarabia. So if anybody is thinking of something happening to Estonia, think of it in that context. And the last time Estonia changed hands before that time (1721) was after another far reaching and devastating continental conflict. Bottomline, bad stuff tends to happen to Estonia when bad stuff happens to everybody else.

Giustino ütles ...

Temesta: I think most historians agree that there was no general antipathy toward Russians until 1940. At the same time, the post-war population transfer policies were just a disaster. Some thinkers twist themselves into incredible shapes (but it was one country, but to divide people by nationality is racist) trying to avoid admitting the very obvious: that it was wrong.

Moving hundreds of thousands of Soviet workers into what was a defeated and broken country was a Bad Idea. Of course, they were just people, and it wasn't their fault, but, any time you have that kind of mass population change in a short period of time, especially between two different cultures, bad things happen. Look at North America ... Europeans and indigenous peoples in the Americas were basically at war from the time of contact all the way up to the end of the 19th century. That's 400 years of bloodshed. I am surprised things in Estonia didn't get more out of hand. It's a tribute to the country's cool temperament that there wasn't a Yugoslavia-like situation there.

Anyway, what Kaplinski has done there is reach beyond the Soviet experience. I think it's a good idea to have that kind of perspective and it is one that only old men like Kaplinski can provide. He's right about the Estonian media, too, but he doesn't acknowledge that the portrayal of Russia in the Estonian media has a lot more to do with internal politics than Russia itself. The media tends to favor the right-wing parties, and negative news about Russia is connected with the Centre Party. It's all about tossing some more dirt Savisaar's way. In a way, it's really, really boring. One day, new faces will arrive in Estonian politics. Still holding my breathe ...

Rainer ütles ...

"Moving hundreds of thousands of Soviet workers into what was a defeated and broken country was a Bad Idea".
Given, but that alone does not explain current ethnic Russian presence in Estonia. The Western media often tends to a)exaggerate the number of Russians living in Estonia either out of ignorance, misinformation or deliberately, for dramatic effect; b)portray the Russians as poor hapless underdogs first dragged kicking and screaming against their will to Estonia, and now being snubbed and rejected by the Estonian society and reduced to a veritable underclass. The truth is that good many of them - the military and factory workes notwithstanding - came to Estonia of their own accord, namely to partake in Estonia's higher living standard. Just because they could. After the annexation Russians immediately started to pour in, because there was nobody to stop them and they were in fact encouraged by the Soviet authorities to do so. They justified (and sometimes still do) themselves with the claim that since they had freed Estonia of the Fascist German yolk the country now belonged to them and the Estonians owed them a living. They weren't bothered by the fundamental fault of logic the claim was based on.
If the Russian population had really been involuntarily transfered to Estonia, the vast majority of them would have left after the fall of the USSR. But they didn't, did they? No. I remember well a Russian-Estonian woman, an obvious soulmate of Yana Toom, talking on TV what disgusting Fascist peasant pigs the Estonian are and how they oppress noble, morally superior Russians. Music to the ears of the BBC, no doubt. And then she ended her tirade with a most revealing punchline: "A zhytj zdesj dovolna uyutna" - "But life here is cosy/comfortable enough". What is it with the Russians and oxymorons based on faulty logic?
Anyway, you are right, Estonians do have a myth of Ethnically homogenous Pre-War Estonia. But I don't think anyone actually thinks there weren't any Russians to speak of in Estonia, there were just SIGNIFICALLY LESS of them. Interestingly enough, older people say that the Russians started to stick out and their langue dominate on the streets as late as in the early 60's.

Rainer ütles ...

PS At the end of the day is the main cause of bad blood between the Estonians and the Estonia's Russians is the fact that the latter were litterally dumped on the former - the Estonians had no say in the matter - and after the dissolution of Soviet Union wele left high and dry by their fellow countrymen in Russia. So in fact "the plight" of the Russian minority in Estonia is a Russian problem through and through. And it doesn't help at all that the Estonians tend to see the Russian minority as a bunch of troublesome, unwanted and uninvited guests who just won't leave. No to say the Moscow's political drones ready to be activated at any minute. And sadly, those Russians who choose not to dwell in their ethno-linguistic bubble (a parallel reality dominated by Raussian mass media) know it.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

All true, Rainer, nicely explained too ... but nobody really knows or cares about it ...

That's what's so frustrating.

Giustino ütles ...

Anyway, you are right, Estonians do have a myth of Ethnically homogenous Pre-War Estonia. But I don't think anyone actually thinks there weren't any Russians to speak of in Estonia, there were just SIGNIFICALLY LESS of them. Interestingly enough, older people say that the Russians started to stick out and their langue dominate on the streets as late as in the early 60's.

The peak migration time was the decade and a half after the war. The Russians went from being 8 percent of the population in 1934 to 20 percent in 1959. That's crazy. We have big problems in the US today because of uncontrolled migration from Latin American countries. I am not saying that the Latin American immigrants are a problem, I am saying that the policy puts a strain on society, which produces negative reactions, among other things, armed [sometimes neonazi] militias patrolling the borders.

Rainer ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Rainer ütles ...

I meant to write "significantly", of course. It seems I got carried away.

Unknown ütles ...

If anything, Latin Americans are improving the US.
Man, it gets tiring to read the Anglo/Northern European bias of media on both sides of the ocean. It's amazing that in the 21st century with so many technological breakthroughs, we are more, not less, ignorant than before.
In the last few years net Latin migration to the US has been zero, and actually reverting, given the economic slump in the US. Hispanics or latinos are 16.7% of the US population (half the amount then, of Russian speakers in Estonia), with a significant amount of people already living in the West and Southern part of the US before it was forcefully taken by the US in a war. Spanish place names have a Spanish place name for a reason: California, Arizona, Tejas, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Santa Fe, L.A., San Francisco, etc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USA_Territorial_Growth_1850.jpg). Added to that, many were actually invited by the US during WWII and after it, to work there. I often wonder that the US does not know how good they have it with the immigrants they receive. 100% of Latinos or Hispanics born in the US use English as their mother tongue (many of them even do not speak Spanish at all), and the majority of those migrating are fluent in English. I can think of many ethic/religious groups that are far more different culturally, and far less likely to integrate than Latinos.
Oh, but if the point is spreading F.U.D. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt) and other feelings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanophobia , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Mexican_sentiment), then just say so.

Giustino ütles ...

In my former life, I worked in construction, and I was used to transport illegal workers from their gathering place (beside a convenience store on a major highway) to the work site. At that time, there were public service announcements on the radio against hiring illegal workers. Ironic, no? There were whole communities on the island where I lived that essentially became Spanish speaking (at least in part) at that time (and still are). Workers might sleep a dozen or more to the same house (sometimes even the same room). Of course, it had happened before in New York. But, then again, America didn't exactly welcome the Poles or the Italians with open arms either. But it caused a lot of friction nonetheless. And so you had ugly incidents like this one. I felt no fear toward these men. I worked with them. They were mostly nice guys. But many people around me expressed their fear of them.

Unknown ütles ...

And many Estonians work in construction in Finland, and make the second largest minority group in Finland. That doesn't justify anti-Estonian acts in Finland.

Temesta ütles ...

No one is justifying anything. Prejudice and hatred towards immigrants is something that always seems to appear in every society that has to deal with it. It is not because Justin describes something that he also supports it.
In Finland there are also a lot of people who don´t like Estonian immigrants.

Giustino ütles ...

Oh, man, you are having this conversation with the wrong person. It doesn't *justify* it, but it is *one outcome* of it. It is not right or fair or merited. It merely is.

Marko ütles ...

Yup, quoting Ivana Trump:"It is, what it is".

Thanks, Giuostino, for sharing this with us. We've all got some skeletons here and there, but not all of us have got big enough balls to deal, reflect and learn from stuff.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Hah. We Estonians are generally so intolerant and racist that it serves us right to be given our own medicine now and then ...

I myself have felt "racially profiled" once too ... at a Lativan Ligo party no less where I was the only Estonian present. Some guy did not like me being Estonian and pointed out that I should be attending Jaanipaev instead. At that point I felt like Rodney King and wanted to cry out in tears streaming down my cheeks "Can't we all just get along" ...

Marko ütles ...

I had an incident once, among many others, when a gentlemen walked into my office and found it appropriate to point out that at least with Nigerians and Pakistanis theres a common history and shared heritage, there's nothing in common among the English and the 'us lot'. Had a generally bad day at so I just asked him to leave, but it sure did knock mr down a few notches, heh :)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I was being sarcastic. As usual. In case nobody noticed.

I especially like to give hard time US blacks when they moan about slavery. Simpley ask them, did it last 700 years? Like for us, Estonians?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

And then go from there ... bo hooo ... so it all comes down to having bad hair and looking goofy, uh? Do looks matter so much that you have to gripe and moan all the time? Slavery, my ass.

Maybe it does? But don't hate me because I am handsome ... I did not do it. God did. So ask Him wtf?!

Got it, Mr. Farrakhan, Mr. Jackson, Mr. whatshisface whoshowsup everytime there is some racial sht going on ...? Hahahha.

Meelis ütles ...

"they moan about slavery. Simpley ask them, did it last 700 years? Like for us, Estonians?"
Foreing government did last 700 years, not serfdom.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Facts can be stretched a bit to make a point. Sometimes. Can they not? :-)

Marko ütles ...

In this case they can't. Estonian serfs used to live in their own houses, were free to marry who they wanted, and most importantly - they could hire labourers (sulaseid) to do all the dirty work. Estonian serfs also received a level of education, could train themselves up in a trade and by joining a guild, were able to climb the social ladder. They were also able to take their Lords to court or directly contact the Swedish Kings or Russian Tsars, and in a number of recorded cases nobels, abusing their subjects, were stripped of their titles, privileges and land. There was a system in place where wrong doings could be put right.

How on earth do you even compare that to what happened to African-Americans, and on a minor scale to Scots and Irish, in the New World?

Marko ütles ...

The 700 year old 'dusk of slavery', is a populist myth. Like 'all the land in Estonia is owed by foreigners', foreign nationals actually owe less than 1%. There are many of these kind of emotional myths out there and in a long run we shouldn't be supporting their continuation by feeding in to them, I think.

Rainer ütles ...

Word.

Rainer ütles ...

Maybe a little positive note to end this particular discourse:
until the late 80's Russian dominated on the streets of the Old Town of Tallinn. In the 90's Finnish took over. By the end of the first decade of the new century English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Japanese, etc came, and my late father, who visited the Old Town quite seldom, said: "the city has become international". Amen.

MIlo le. ütles ...

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