Isolationism, petty provincialism and nationalism: social ills with far-reaching consequences

by , under Enrique

In the backdrop of Finland’s independence day celebrations Friday and as the world mourns Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday, our country is at a major crossroads contesting whether it wants to be a closed or open society. The historic victory of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party in 2011 is one example how this country has taken a perilous path that brought so much disaster and suffering to this country in the last century. 

For the price of cheap sound bites drenched in nationalism and intolerance of every imaginable kind, some Finns are willing to forfeit everything we gained and worked so hard for in the last century.

Nationalism and intolerance never comes cheap. It caused Europe to go down a ruinous path that brought World War 2 to our homes and where an estimated 60 million people perished. The same arguments that led us to such ruin are being used today by short-sighted and opportunistic politicians: generalizing, over-simplifying and harshly victimizing other groups.

Compare anti-Semitism in the 1930s with Islamophobia and xenophobia in the 2010s.

While the time frame and historical context are different, the discourse is the same.

Since intolerance is nothing more than an exaggerated lie, parties like the PS of Finland are constantly required to make up new arguments to hid their prejudice, stereotypes and racism.

If you believe that the PS has toned down its xenophobia and loathing towards refugees, check out what they are doing in the municipality of Kouvola. According to the local daily, Kouvolan Sanomat, the PS wants the city council to stop receiving asylum seekers and quota refugees by 2016.

While the PS blame the economic situation and cost-cutting measures by the municipality for their stance, the truth is that this is a long-term plan by the anti-immigration party to stop Finnish municipalities from receiving quota refugees.

There are two types of municipalities in Finland today: open and closed. Those municipalities that opt for the closed model will struggle in the face of ever-growing poverty, while those that are open stand a better chance of making it.

One small indicator of our openness is our ability to accept refugees in our municipality. Accepting them is an important gesture and message to others because it shows that we are open to the suffering of others.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-11-28 kello 23.23.53
Finland’s map of shame. Only a handful of municipalities in Finland accept quota refugees last year.

Why would a company invest or a skilled immigrant move to a municipality that is hostile to other groups like refugees?

That is why those who claim to be patriotic while they spread hatred and racism are the real menace to our society. They are impoverishing our society economically, socially and robbing it off its greatest asset: the ability to help others in need.

Imagine that the third-largest political party in parliament in Finland is doing just that by inflating our nationalism to bash immigrants, the EU, and our ever-growing cultural diversity.

But the good news is that our ever-growing cultural diversity is here to stay no matter how much some try to exclude and make it invisible.

  1. Yossie

    “For the price of cheap sound bites drenched in nationalism and intolerance of every imaginable kind, some Finns are willing to forfeit everything we gained and worked so hard for in the last century.”

    On the contrary. PS and others are infact protect what we have gained and worked for! You and your cronies are more than willing to sell out our independence in favor of having laws made in Brussels. Also you are more than willing to do away all the finnish traditions and replace them with your multicultural pipedream.

    “If you believe that the PS has toned down its xenophobia and loathing towards refugees, check out what they are doing in the municipality of Kouvola. According to the local daily, Kouvolan Sanomat, the PS wants the city council to stop receiving asylum seekers and quota refugees by 2016.”

    Your fanatical approach can be seen here very well. Everyone needs to get more and more refugees no matter financial or other reasons. Finland will have to do a lot of budget cuts, painful ones when politicians can muster the courage to do them. if you want to keep taking more refugees in that situation, dont blame finns if refugees arent welcomed with open arms.

    “There are two types of municipalities in Finland today: open and closed. Those municipalities that opt for the closed model will struggle in the face of ever-growing poverty, while those that are open stand a better chance of making it.”

    Open and closed muncipalities? Well arent these clever sound bites. Only way to be “open muncipality” is to take refugees? And this ofcourse only applies to white majority countries only. With so much noice how europe have to take these refugees, you never demand non-white countries to do the same.

    How exactly would take refugees better the odds for a muncipality to make it? If the youth, that has grown and lived their whole lives in there, leaves for jobs in other areas, how do you expect some refugees to stay and somehow provide.. exactly what for muncipality? After all, you are first one to tell how refugees want to live next to their countrymen in downtown Helsinki.

    “Why would a company invest or a skilled immigrant move to a municipality that is hostile to other groups like refugees?”

    More fanatical sound bites. What would a company which aim is to make profit care whether muncipality takes refugees or not? It does not matter. They invest if they think its a good place to make profit in.

    Would a skilled immigrant move to Rinkeby or other ghetto that has collected the refugees that drop to the lowest social latter in the society? Most likely not, I would imagine they would avoid the places like that.

    • Mark

      Yossie

      On the contrary. PS and others are infact protect what we have gained and worked for! You and your cronies are more than willing to sell out our independence in favor of having laws made in Brussels. Also you are more than willing to do away all the finnish traditions and replace them with your multicultural pipedream.

      Brussels? It is utterly naive to think that Finland can construct it’s own laws on many different issues and then expect easy trade with other EU countries. It won’t happen. The EU is set up primarily as a economic zone, geared towards promoting movement of goods, services and capital. This freedom has greatly stimulated the zone and provided for huge benefits to member countries. The idea that Finland’s future depends on whether ‘Brussels’ decides or Helsinki is just laughably ignorant. For a start, a great deal of EU ‘control’ nowadays is done in such a way that national governments must sort out the details of legislation to suit their own national context. Second, the Nordic group of countries has succeeded in steering EU-wide policy in a number of key areas, thus showing that Finland, as part of that Nordic group, has strong representation in the EU to steer policy.

      Your fanatical approach can be seen here very well. Everyone needs to get more and more refugees no matter financial or other reasons.

      Actually, my bone with you, Yossie, is that you have little respect for refugees, full stop. And that’s where the problems begin, and that’s where PS starts writing its policy on immigrants. The economic arguments are tagged on to try to give them some kind of credibility, though you have to be very short-term and very narrow-minded to believe that immigration is bad for economies, considering that all the of the world’s most successful economies are countries that have seen immigration on a far far greater scale than what Finland is experiencing and yet remain at the forefront. Or are you telling me that the Finnish state is too stupid to figure out how to make the best use of human capital?

      Finland will have to do a lot of budget cuts, painful ones when politicians can muster the courage to do them. if you want to keep taking more refugees in that situation, dont blame finns if refugees arent welcomed with open arms.

      A lot of the budget cuts are bullshit. The key figure that embarrasses some politicians on the right is the degree of public spending and high public sector employment. That is a feature of Nordic countries, but it’s something those on the Right have traditionally tried to eat away at whenever they have the opportunity, and recession offers the best opportunity. Actually, the final outcome is more a kind of ‘privatisation’ and ‘globalisation’ of public finances, which sadly sees profits ultimately leaving Finland. It’s a very short term and short-sighted policy, but should RECESSION loud enough and you can get people to adopt all sorts of measures.

      And this ofcourse only applies to white majority countries only.

      Because of course, most non-white countries are so laden down with debt to the developed countries, and arms sales from developed countries, and corrupt financial practices from Western companies that there is very little chance that their economies will develop in a ‘balanced way’, where the vast inequalities in wealth and social justice in these countries is going to be diminished any time soon. But hey, blame the citizens, they are always an easy target.

      How exactly would take refugees better the odds for a muncipality to make it? If the youth, that has grown and lived their whole lives in there, leaves for jobs in other areas, how do you expect some refugees to stay and somehow provide.. exactly what for muncipality? After all, you are first one to tell how refugees want to live next to their countrymen in downtown Helsinki.

      Actually, the simplest way that a municality, especially rural municipalities, can plan for the future is to take immigrants now, train them to be practical nurses and home care staff, as well as other service staff. This fits very well to the demographics of rural municipalities, many of whom have already reached a very high dependency ratio.

      More fanatical sound bites.

      What is it with this use of the word ‘fanatical’? Trying to do some smearing? I think Enrique’s point is a good one and one shared by many industry leaders, that Finland has to sell itself better to the international labour market, and that the treatment and attitudes towards all sorts of immigrants affects this. You can chirp all you like that you are nice to ‘qualified and educated’ immigrants, but if you are a complete twat towards other sorts of immigrants, then this will not sell.

      What would a company which aim is to make profit care whether muncipality takes refugees or not? It does not matter. They invest if they think its a good place to make profit in.

      See my previous point, assuming you can join a few dots together!

      Would a skilled immigrant move to Rinkeby or other ghetto that has collected the refugees that drop to the lowest social latter in the society? Most likely not, I would imagine they would avoid the places like that.

      Your notion of immigrant populations is utterly bereft of balance. Even in areas like Rinkeby, there will be talented immigrants who have lived ‘through the fire’ so to speak, and will have a very sharp will to succeed, GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY. Many a person succeeded following a life of adversity. This is the Finnish story, and it is just as much the story of countless immigrants the world over. That’s not to say that more shouldn’t be done, but the idea that you can throw the most deprived areas as an example of ‘failure’ of a group of people is rather YOUR failure to understand people and the things they can achieve. Go ahead, right these people off, but you only show your own moral poverty when you do that. The real question is what needs to be done to enable these people to flourish. I guess you’d rather label them sub-human and inferior because of course, they are not Finnish, or European, or educated, or whatever criteria you dream up that naturally puts you in a perfect light and them as inferior souls.

  2. Enrique Tessieri

    –Your fanatical approach can be seen here very well. Everyone needs to get more and more refugees no matter financial or other reasons.

    I didn’t say this. I said that closing the door completely to quota refugees and asylum seekers means a certain state of mind where you are closed to the world. This attitude couldn’t be further away from our own Nordic welfare values.

    –More fanatical sound bites. What would a company which aim is to make profit care whether muncipality takes refugees or not?

    If a company is global the last place it wants to be is in a country or municipality that doesn’t get it and which loathes foreigners.

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