Is Finland prepared for multiculturalism?

by , under All categories, Enrique

In an interesting article published by Siirtolaisuus – Migration issue 2/1996, social psychologist Professor J. W. Berry asks what factors have to be in place to establish reasonable harmonious relationships between diverse groups. Ethnocentrism is a theory devised by Sumner in 1906 and means when “one’s group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it.”

In the article, he asks: “What conditions need to be met, in order to manage successfully a multicultural society?”

(1) In our view there needs to be general support for cultural diversity as a valuable resource for a society; (2) there should be overall low levels of prejudice in the population; (3) there should be generally positive mutual attitudes among the various ethnocultural groups that constitute the society; (4) there needs to be a degree of attachment to the larger national society.

You are free to disagree with me, but I feel that Finland fails on all four counts. With respect to the first point, too few still have a clue in this country what cultural diversity means. The ones that are steadfastly against the claim that diversity destroys or is a threat to Finnish culture and, therefore, one would have to be “mad” to support the existence of a pluralistic society.

If we look at recent polls on how some Finns perceive foreigners, it becomes clear that there aren’t low levels of prejudice in Finland. Racism is still too common, and even encouraged, among some groups as something “manly” and “patriotic.”

Taking into account some of the comments one hears from foreigners, it becomes clear that they too have misconceptions about Finnish society that have caused misunderstandings and resentment. Too few bridges of cultural understanding exist today between the Finns and foreigners. This is fed by outright rejection by Finns of such outgroups. High unemployment among foreigners is not only structural, it is an example of mistrust as well. It is a vicious circle: Finns would prefer not to hire foreigners and, foreigners, don’t even try because they believe finding a permanent job is futile.

Point four is related to three.

In my opinion, the multiculturalist argument is a simple one: If we have people from diverse cultures living in our country, we should make an effort to accept and respect them as members of our society. Apart from being a sensible proposal, it is more effective economically and socially than rejecting and denigrating them. Finland only benefits from a situation where people from diverse cultures can contribute positively to our society. It will not happen through integration by perkele or by placing unattainable cultural benchmarks.

If Berry’s model of multiculturalism is used, it paints a pretty bleak picture for Finland. Or does it?

  1. sam the ham

    Well, as a finn who has been travelling and living around the globe for some twenty years, I have a rather bleak view on this subject. I personally have not been in any country where this idea of multiculturalism thrives. I believe it is just an academic day dream, nice but impossible to realise.
    When a group of immigrants gets so large that it can live according its own cultural and/or religious by laws, there will be a conflict between that group and the local people. Unless, of course, the local customs are the same.
    This is unfortunate but the reality. As a white man who has been in several countries in Africa, I can also say that racism goes around and is not only in Europe. As a person who has lived in muslim countries, I can also say from experience that tolerance for foreign customs and cultures is much narrower outside the developed countries. In Europe and North America there is a tradition of tolerance, an idea of it, which does not ecxist in say eastern Kongo or southern Sudan, not to mention Iran etc.
    In Finland usually the conflicts between the local population and the immigrants begun as a cultural conflicts. Immigrants may not know the local customs or habits, or want to follow their own customs to the hilt, even if they are not socially or culturally accepted here. Sometimes they may be even against the law. For finns this is ofcourse a red flag. I mean this is a country where people will wait for the traffic lights to change even when there is no others at sight.
    I have no answers how to solve this problem other than the simple street code: do not bother me and I won’t bother you.

  2. Enrique

    Hi sam the ham and welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for your comments.
    What you say is true and I think it would be foolish to think that multiculturalism is problem-free. However, I don’t see any other solution. I think that in modern, technologically advanced societies “multi,” “bi” or “hybridculturlism” is more becoming a rule than an exception. If you have travelled and lived in many countries, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Apart from being linguistically proficient, we also learn how to travel inside cultures. Possibly this is the way we should start to look at things: learn languages and cultures.

  3. Tiwaz

    So how about immigrants learning Finnish language and culture before they whine how unfair everything is?

    They are judged by Finns according to Finnish culture. Just like you judge Finland according to your culture Enrique. If they fail to get a job, they should first take a good look at themselves and what they realistically can offer the employer.

    Person who does not fit in work community (disrupting it), person who cannot communicate with rest of workforce in language they prefer, person who cannot communicate with clients in language clients want to use.

    Immigrants should look at that and ask themselves if they would hire such person if tables were turned. Of course not. You have to pay to immigrant same salary as you pay to Finn. But you get far more problems.

    Easy solution to this problem is. Make it clear to immigrants that they have to adjust to society. Learn language, learn culture. Or accept that they are outsiders and treated as such. They are not treated with racism, even Finns who did not speak language or behave properly would end up unemployed and treated like outsiders.

    Your idea of “multi”, “bi” and “hybrid” cultures is not going to survive long Enrique. Read the news, travel the world with OPEN eyes. Everywhere where your multiculturalism is trying to raise it’s ugly head, natives are getting pissed off with immigrants. It is not rare, it is raising trend. This whole multiculturalism will be passing trend. And I really believe that unless people who try to market this multiculturalism get their heads out of their nether regions there will be blood. In the minimum there will be so severe mistreatment of immigrants that their lives will be practically nightmare.

    Why? Because, as I said, natives are getting fed up and annoyed with cultural conflict. Foreigners do not appear to grasp this well, they are happy trying to live in foreign country like they did at home. Oblivious to conflict and tension this causes with natives. And tensions grow until something snaps.

    Look at Rwanda. Majority were being annoyed and pushed around by minority. Until something snapped.

  4. Enrique

    –So how about immigrants learning Finnish language and culture before they whine how unfair everything is?

    You underestimate immigrants, even Finns with immigrant backgrounds. I am certain that many if not the majority speak Finnish and would like to learn more about this culture. Your comments are knee-jerk and too general.

    –Your idea of “multi”, “bi” and “hybrid” cultures is not going to survive long Enrique. Read the news, travel the world with OPEN eyes. Everywhere where your multiculturalism is trying to raise it’s ugly head,

    Yes, the most powerful nations in the world are multicultural. It is naive of you to think that a “race war” is going to return “moncultural sanity.” It is a delusion, a pipedream. Cultures interact. Why, because expansion (genetic and cultural) is the surest way of survival. What you are professing is sending Finland into some museum, where time has stopped.

    Why do you always compare Finland with Rwanda? That is weird. Rwanda and Burundi were countries created by the Belgians without any consideration nor understanding what kind of a tinderbox it would mean forcing the Tutsies and Hutus to live side by side.

    Think about the education you received at public school and lived comfortably in a social welfare state… You sound like a person that grew up in a low-income family in Southern United States/Appalachia…

  5. Tiwaz

    -You underestimate immigrants, even Finns with immigrant backgrounds. I am certain that many if not the majority speak Finnish and would like to learn more about this culture. Your comments are knee-jerk and too general.

    Not really. My comments are grounded on how foreigners act in Finland after moving in. They whine how this and that is not like at home. Demand that they should be given employment in situation where no Finn would be offered one (no ability to speak language or behave properly). When they are denied, they cry racism. As if they should not adjust to society around them

    -Yes, the most powerful nations in the world are multicultural. It is naive of you to think that a “race war” is going to return “moncultural sanity.” It is a delusion, a pipedream. Cultures interact. Why, because expansion (genetic and cultural) is the surest way of survival. What you are professing is sending Finland into some museum, where time has stopped.

    Those nations are riddled with internal conflicts and are currently crashing. Look at USA. It is multicultural, in a sense. And all the infighting, conflict, civil disorder. Why would I want multiculturalism if all it can offer is suffering?

    I compare Finland with Rwanda because there, like you try to apply in Finland, minority was given preference over majority. You try to raise foreigners above natives, their culture above native culture. Demand that natives should change, not immigrants. And we know how such oppression of majority ends when we look at Rwanda.

    -That is weird. Rwanda and Burundi were countries created by the Belgians without any consideration nor understanding what kind of a tinderbox it would mean forcing the Tutsies and Hutus to live side by side.

    Here you are starting to break your illusion of multicultural excellence! I guess I am finally getting some sense through.
    EXACTLY! Two culturally totally different groups were forced into same area. Same thing as multiculturalism, trying to push multiple groups in one area without thought on how they interact, when you try to claim that each one should follow their own culture.

    When you put different cultures together with different core ideals and values, you do not get happy friends and holding hands. You get conflict, segregation and violence. That is why every immigrant has to accept that their culture is not equal to Finnish culture in Finland. Finnish culture defines borders of what is acceptable and what is not, their culture must submit to that.

    Because else we have Rwanda in Finland. Or Iraq. Or Yugoslavia. Where different, incompatible cultures tried to force their supremacy upon others. And that turned to violence.

    I received at school art of thinking critically, not accepting any ideological BS which some people like you spew until I have critically observed it. And when I have in my life looked at multicultural societies, I have seen so miserable places that I would never want to live in one. They are unstable, unsafe and flat out horrible.

    Your beloved USA. Rich people live in walled off areas, firmly separated from rest. Poor areas are like downtown Baghdad with ethnic gangs fighting with guns.
    Most of that country is ethnically/culturally pure. The major cities are only multicultural areas. And guess what, also centers of huge amount of crime, instability, riots and all the “good” multiculturalism brings.

  6. Calculator Man

    I already placed this calculation on another article here. 1.400.000 Finns left Finland and 160.000 Immigrants are in Finland + the lowest percentage of Foreigners in the whole EU + 3 times more unemployed Foreigners than Finns. If this is not a sign that Foreigners get discriminated in Finland then I don’t know how else you can call it?

    I think this calculation shows that Finns are more welcome in other countries than Foreigners in Finland. In how many countries do people learn mandatory Finnish at schools? Do you think qualified foreigners want to come to Finland to learn 2-4 years Finnish in order to get accepted into the society? Those who are doing this can’t either go back home or have a relationship to a Finn.

    If you guys want to have a pension when you get old you have no other choice than accepting foreigners, otherwise you will be the ones who start whining at the end!

  7. Tiwaz

    Foreigners who do not work?

    Calculator, your argument is… Stupid.

    Earth land surface:
    150,000,000 km2

    Finland land territory:
    338,145 km2

    Does that hint anything to you?

    And nobody forced people to come to Finland. They came from their own free will. We, natives, will not appease your immigrant ass if you cannot handle living in Finland. Either learn the language or **** off.

  8. DeTant Blomhat

    “I already placed this calculation on another article here. 1.400.000 Finns left Finland and 160.000 Immigrants are in Finland + the lowest percentage of Foreigners in the whole EU + 3 times more unemployed Foreigners than Finns. If this is not a sign that Foreigners get discriminated in Finland then I don’t know how else you can call it?”

    A crap economy, einstein.

  9. Calculator Man

    why crap economy? These are facts. Or do you have a better calculation? Seems that even some Finns have problems to live here.

    I came here because my Finnish girlfriend is open minded and I thought people here are open minded too. But it seems that there are still some people here with a Stone Age mentality where the border of the world are the border of this country 🙂

  10. Tiwaz

    Crap economy because huge majority of those people left Finland because at the time Finland had nothing to offer them. As economy was crap.

    Today, when our society has been built from Finnish sweat and blood to first world level…

    We would have insane amount of people trying to come in, if we permitted. But we do not. And people like you calculator and Enrique… You guys make me thing we are far too accepting as it is.

    • Enrique

      It is the economy, stupid! (as the saying goes). I don’t think there are hordes of people trying to get in Finland. They would move to more benign countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy where the weather is more bearable. One of the biggest challenges this country is facing is where it is going to get foreign workers.
      Why do you think Finns are far too accepting?

  11. Calculator Man

    Finnish sweat and blood…thats sounds crazy 🙂 Hey I leave this Kindergarten…wish you all a nice discussion…this is below my level here.

    • Enrique

      What you see is what you get. Everyone gets their opportunity to express themselves no matter where they belong: in kindergartens or in universities. Too bad you are parting with all the toys. 🙂

  12. Tiwaz

    Sounds crazy? It is reality. Finns built this country with hard work. Finns defended it with their lives.

    Not immigrants. Finns.
    There were no immigrants rushing to stand against USSR at the border. It was Finns.
    There were no immigrants rushing to pay war reparations and build society and industry. It was Finns.

    And now your kind come here and start demanding things from us.

    Enriquem Finland doesn’t need foreign workers. We are laying off people as we speak. Corporations only speak of urgent need for workers because they, like DT says, want more exploitable labor.

    There is no worker shortage except in few niche industries. Finland does not need immigrants. But immigrants desperately want to get in Finland.

    Give option to anyone to come and you would see hordes rushing from places like India, China, Africa, South America… Anyplace underdeveloped and poor.

    And Finns are too accepting since you and Imbecilator here were permitted residence and you even citizenship if I have understood correctly.

  13. DeTant Blomhat

    “It is the economy, stupid! (as the saying goes).”

    yes it is. I took “tourist pictures a few years back of every door having “people wanted” adverts. I have never seen such in Finland.

    “I don’t think there are hordes of people trying to get in Finland. ”

    Problem there is the thinking bit. The amount of asylum seekers has quadrupled, and if the new immigrant act goes through it will explode. However there is no jobs and very little resources so what these people end up doing. Just sitting with no prospects.

    “They would move to more benign countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy where the weather is more bearable. ”

    But those nasty people deport their unwanteds. or make them live in squalor.

    “One of the biggest challenges this country is facing is where it is going to get foreign workers.”

    Where exactly is this need?

    “Why do you think Finns are far too accepting?”
    The way to get into the country legally is too tight and how to get in abusing the system is too lax.

  14. DeTant Blomhat

    “I came here because my Finnish girlfriend is open minded and I thought people here are open minded too.”

    The part of you that impresses your girlfriend doesn’t impress me. You need to impress me with some other qualities.

  15. The Truth

    Do NOT buy into this “utopia multiculturalism” crap!

    Here in the US, people segregate themselves. But once blacks start moving into a area it QUICKLY deteriorates into chaos. With rampant poverty (bad financial decisions and laziness usually), and crime (alot more young black men want to be the next 50 cent than MLK or Obama). Theres a SERIOUS lack of values among blacks in the US. If you allow mass immigration from African or Carriaban nations, within 10 years you will see a big time decline in the values of your country!
    Such as…. over 70% of black kids in the US are born with NO father in sight. There smooth talkers, but not good fathers.
    This is coming from someone that has alot of black friends here in a major city…. but what i say is TRUE!

    • Enrique

      Hi The Truth, thank you for your comment. It always surprises me when I hear a USAmerican speak that way about blacks. Why? Because it is a stark reminder of how the greatest military and economic power on Earth still has not come to grips with blacks and other minorities. Gunnar Myrdal, a Swede, wrote about this in a far-reaching study published in 1944 called, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.
      I wonder on what statistics you base your claim that 70% of black kids in the US are born with no fathers.
      You mention that multiculturalism is “utopia” but do not give any solutions. Myrdal will clear many of the misconceptions that you hold. Eric Fromm stated that thanks to the civil rights movement and the greater political rights that blacks have gained are proof that the “drive for human freedom is inherent in human nature.”
      Discrimination/racism is nothing more than the manipulation of a minority(ies) by a majority group for political and economic reasons. Minorities in the US were not the only victims of ethnic discrimination. The whole system suffered because it still lives in your neck of the woods in a schizophrenic existence; on the one hand it upholds the Bill of Rights and on the other it loathes minorities such as blacks.

  16. Screamin' Demon

    Finland should never open doors to multiculturalism. Just look at how much Sweden has changed for the worse since it became multicultural, looks at Netherlands, look at Belgium. These were all nice prosperous countries one time, just like Finland, until they took a turn for the worse by allowing mass immigration and multiculturalism. Never allow multiculturalism Finland.

    • Enrique

      Hi Screamin’ Demon, so you think Finland should never open its doors to multiculturalism. If you mean multiculturalism as having a population with foreigners, there is little you can do to stop it. We are a EU member and live in a globalized world where we need foreign labor. Do you consider Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium failed countries when it comes to multiculturalism? I disagree. Think about all the economic benefit these countries have reaped thanks to foreign multicultural labor.

  17. Screamin' Demon

    When I say multiculturalism I mean that concept where instead of foreigners addapting and assimilating to the country, the country adapts to them. Sweden, Netherlands & Belgium are failures at multiculturalism because they are losing so much money by letting Muslim immigrants live off state welfare. Not to mention that those countries have vast Muslim enclaves in which natives aren’t welcome, and that women, jews and homosexuals have all come under attack. I support selective immigration where an immigrant must prove that they appreciate the culture of the country they wanna move to and understand the rules and willing to follow them, but I do not support reckless uncontrolled immigration where just about anyone comes in and can practice their culture even if it contradicts the freedoms of the natives in that country.

    • Enrique

      –When I say multiculturalism I mean that concept where instead of foreigners addapting and assimilating to the country, the country adapts to them.

      As you know, Screamin’ Demon, your view of multiculturalism is more like assimilation. Multiculturalism as a social policy is a totally different thing. Finns, however, refer to multiculturalism as “a society with foreigners,” I think. Taking into account the underwhelming size of Finland’s foreign population, you cannot say that there is a revolving-door policy towards immigration. Every country has certain standards for immigration. Even so, it does not work that way, even if they have the right qualifications. I think it is pretty difficult to immigrate to the EU from a developing country. Coming as a refugee is probably easier if you can make the gruelling trip that may take over a year from your homecountry.
      Let me throw the ball in your court: If there is so much unemployment among some ethnic groups, how do we solve it?
      If you ask me, one of the key words is opportunity. If you take that away you ruin everything.

  18. xyz

    these Stereotypes…I know plenty of Muslims who are working.

    “Where just about anyone comes in and can practice their culture”
    -Doesn’t sound like multiculturalism

  19. Screamin' Demon

    I think that Finland should learn from the mistakes of other countries and simply not allow it. Just let in people with qualifications and understanding of your culture, who can appreciate it, who you know will assimilate to your culture. People like that are great to have.

    • Enrique

      –Just let in people with qualifications and understanding of your culture, who can appreciate it, who you know will assimilate to your culture. People like that are great to have.

      Don’t you think that is the aim of the immigration services of any country? Why would they want to let in people who will only be burdens on society? It is like the HS-gallup question: Do you want more immigrants to Finland. Of course not! Can you name me a country that says we want more immigrants or that we have too few immigrants? Moreover, I would not buy all the views out there on Muslims. They are very successful people and have in the United States high education and incomes.
      Are you generalizing?

  20. Screamin' Demon

    Not Generalising, just look at Islam in Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway. Every one of these societies has had a loss because of presence of Islam in their countries. Maybe one part of those muslims work, but the bigger part don’t. Just look at Malmo, or firemen in Gotebord under siege, or beatings of gays in streets of Amsterdam by muslim youths. There is a big problem in Europe and Finland is VERY lucky that they don’t have that same problem. As for the aim of immigration…most of these European countries seem to have lost the aim. They’re being too generous, instead of fulfilling the aim of immigration.

    • Enrique

      –Every one of these societies has had a loss because of presence of Islam in their countries.

      That is a value judgement. An opinion.

      I am not saying that there aren’t serious social issues like among other groups, but what do you think are the reasons behind them. It is not a question that they are being too generous, it is because in each of these countries there are laws and civil rights. It is not our custom, at least since WW2, to round up ethnic groups and kick them out because they don’t adapt to our ways. I think the Germans once called this “liebesraum.”‘

      You still haven’t given me a solution how to deal with the issue. You are only telling me that Europeans are too “generous” and that they have lost their aim. What is the aim, then?

      Certainly it would be fair to place part of the blame on European society. Don’t you think that equal opportunity is a key word?

  21. Screamin' Demon

    To answer the first. Many of these countries have lost so much money by keeping Muslims on welfare payments. As I also mentioned, there are Muslim enclaves, and women, jews and homosexuals are all much more prone to violent attacks from such. The solution to all these problems are roughly what Geert Wilders, Dutch MP is proposing. Increased penalties for crimes. Deportation of all criminal immigrants, outlawing of Jihad and Sharia Law as well anyone who practices or preaches them. Immigrants, upon arrival should read and sign a pledge of integration & assimilation in that country, as well as allegiance towards it and appreciation for its culture and lifestyle. Partly it is the European countries’ fault for not implementing this in the first place. Personally, I would like to move to Norway in a few years time when I have completed my studies and if such rules be implemented when I go, I would gladly and proudly sign such a contract, because I would only move into another country if I appreciate all about it. It would be cool to see if Finland implemented selective immigration with these rules in place, it could work quite well. Anyways, my posting on here has fulfilled my need to express my thoughts and feelings about this. I will read a few responses to this but being so busy I’d prefer to put my energy into my studies which at this time are requiring a lot of attention. I appreciate you guys having a listen to my say on this and good luck with all. I hope that you’re enjoying yourselves in Finland because it is a beautiful country =)

    Cheers

    Lexx

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