Right-wing populist parties want Europeans to live in their news blackout

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

The job of autocratic regimes is still made easy today thanks to faulty technology and infrastructure. If a military regime usurped power from a democratically elected government, it can literally “turn off the lights” and keep the population in a news and information blackout.

While some may claim that this could never happen in Europe, where access to information is supposed to be our inalienable right, news and information blackouts do take place in many parts of the world. Some countries where this occurs are Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea and in remote areas  where basic infrastructure like electricity and telephone services are not available.

Even if we live in Europe in the dead center of the information highway (an old term but still valid), some of us strangely prefer to treat news in the same way as countries like Syria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia or China.

Things have got so bad in these nations that many of their inhabitants have learned to trust those who have placed their civil rights in cold storage and be   highly suspicious of those who are trying to regain them.

Just because we live in Europe and have access to information doesn’t mean that we are not in danger of falling into the same trap as countries like Belarus, China or Vietnam. Wikileaks is a good example that this problem exists in countries that claim to be open and democratic.

But who are these groups in Europe that want to  switch off the information and news lights?

They are none other than right-wing populist parties. We all know their names: Sweden Democrats, Jobbik, Perussuomalaiset, Danish People’s Party, National Front of France, Lega Nord, Slovak National Party, British National Party to name a few.

Certainly switching off the news and information lights would be impossible in Europe in the same way as Cuba. However, there are many ways to skin the news and information cat. On of the most effective ways is with the help of rhetoric, populism and nationalism used by these parties, which are anti-EU, anti-immigration, anti-minority and anti-Islam.

Let’s take for instance the anti-immigration “switch.” If we accept the arguments of these parties who picture immigrants as social-welfare shoppers, rapists, criminals etc, our fear shuts down our reasoning and ability to register news and information that is well-balanced and objective. We end up living in a self-imposed news and information blackout thanks to our fear.

What these right-wing populist parties haven’t told you, however, is that we are the only ones who have the power to turn on or off that crucial switch.

Our civil rights have to be defended everyday.

  1. Hmmm

    Let’s see… first you talk about “switching off the information and news lights” but you fail to provide examples. You provide a vague example of potential misrepresentation of facts (“picture immigrants as…”) but not really anything about news blackout. If we want to talk about news blackout, I think the blackout has been more relevant in presentation of problems related to mass immigration. This is as counterproductive (if not more) as the misrepresentation you speak of. If obvious problems are not openly discussed, it is a far more effective “tool” than any misrepresentation of facts.

    Luckily this situation has been changing in recent years…

    PS many experts consider PS (and many other populist parties of Europe) as a left-wing party.

  2. Yossie

    I kinda find it outrageous that you claim PS is trying to blackout information. If only proof you have is your perceived image of psycological effect of “propaganda” then we can say pro-immigrant groups want to blackout information too! I cant see your posting any crimes or incidents done by immigrants but only when immigrants get attacked somehow or something is going againts immigrants.

    • Enrique

      Yossie, my point with this blog entry is that nationalism, racism and fear are such strong forces that right-wing popular parties use them to keep people in the dark about the real world. Think about how much information you blackout if you believe some PS politician claiming that he/she will become a minority in Europe due to high birth rates among some ethnic groups. If he/she buys that, you don’t need to live in Myanmar to live in a country where the regime blackouts news and information. Look at World War 2 and all the fairy tales that the Nazi regime sold the Germans who went merrily to war and to their country’s destruction.

      Gertrud Stein once said that “people love what they know.”

  3. Yossie

    So you mean PS uses nationalism and fear to make people believe what they told and then they degenerate into a self imposed blackout that they dont anymore belieave anything contradicting their believes? This ofcourse is possible but like you said yourself, people have power to switch it on or off. It depens on people and that is something PS cant affect.

    This ofcourse goes to bothways. One might get deathset that multiculturalism is awesome and ignore anything contradicting it. Everything else is racism. Also PS is a racist party and nothing they say can be good! Dont need to listen what they have to say! Is this not blackout too in a same way?

    • Enrique

      –This ofcourse goes to bothways. One might get deathset that multiculturalism is awesome and ignore anything contradicting it.

      Yossie, I don’t think you can compare mlticulturalism to the immigrant policy that Suomen Sisu or the PS would want to implement for Finland. It is like asking to accept or not accept human rights. There is no debate because human rights are an integral part of our laws.

      I think some confuse what multiculturalism is. It has been made into a bad word by anti-immigration groups. But look at it this way: multiculturalism in Finland means that we accept our cultural diversity. The state not only defends society’s diversity but does so on a group and individual level. Multiculturalism, or cultural diversity, is our right to be different if we so wish and belong/embrace the society we live in as our home. Those group that promote assimilation like the PS are obsessed by “us” and “them.” I personally believe that this a poor road for us to take because at the end of the day it will hinder people from being Finns.

      Identity is a personal matter. What the PS want to do is to create a divide between them and these so-called New Finns. Poor choice. We are ALL Finns irrespective of who we are. Who decides that? There are legal matters to take into account but at the end of the day it is the person who determines his/her identity.

  4. Tiwaz

    “Identity is a personal matter. What the PS want to do is to create a divide between them and these so-called New Finns. Poor choice. We are ALL Finns irrespective of who we are. Who decides that? There are legal matters to take into account but at the end of the day it is the person who determines his/her identity.”

    Except here you are trying to deny natives their right to their own identity. You are treating Finns like blacks were treated in South Africa.

    Finns identify themselves as Finns through their culture, those claiming to be Finns while failing to be part of that culture and living through this culture cannot thus be Finns, or you are denying Finns their identity in your quest to make Finnishness to mean nothing.

    And remember, multiculti does NOT mean that immigrants are entitled to dictate how Finns should see them. We Finns, despite your hopes for opposite, have rights too.

  5. Yossie

    you are making a good point Tiwaz. I have always wondered how the hell people can come here and then claim we are finns now although we are actually somalians. What if I went to somalia and claimed I´m somali like everyone else in here. Would they think they are I am a somali like them?

    The conclusion to that kind of behaviour would result in destruction of identity of everyone. Saying someone is finnish or somali would tell absolutely nothing. It could mean white guy with certain culture or it could mean something totally different. Only thing which it would tell is the location he/she is living. The reson names like new finns and finns are used because they are more accurate.

  6. Seppo

    – “Finns identify themselves as Finns through their culture”

    Yes but not always. Culture is a very broad term, and many who identify as Finns don’t considered that in the first place. People might feel Finnish primarily because they are born in this country, or because they are born and raised elsewhere but their parents are from this country, or because they speak Finnish as their native tongue, or because they just have a sense of belonging here. There are many elements in an identity and different things matter more for different people.

    People who identify as Finns do it in different ways and for different reasons. The fact that somebody feels Finnish on different basis than you does not take anything away from you. You can still be as Finnish as you want, and the way you want.

    Just like Enrique said, identity is a personal thing. I cannot tell you who you are and you cannot tell me who I am. But I happen to be a Finn and nobody has the right to come and try to tell me something else! That would be a clear violation against my personal feelings.

    – “Saying someone is finnish or somali would tell absolutely nothing.”

    Being something tells about self-identification. It tells which nation or country or culture or language you identify with. Could it or should it tell anything else? And how?

    • Enrique

      –But I happen to be a Finn and nobody has the right to come and try to tell me something else! That would be a clear violation against my personal feelings.

      That’s absolutely right. It means that I respect who you are. This factor, I believe, is what is lacking a lot in Finland. As you know, people clump immigrants into one bag. We don’t respect who people are.

  7. Seppo

    – “The reson names like new finns and finns are used because they are more accurate.”

    What do they, according to you, actually tell then?

    • Enrique

      –What do they, according to you, actually tell then?

      New Finns is a million times better than alien or immigrant. Even though I am not head over heels about the label, it has its positive side: It offers acceptance of immigrants and a chance to embrace Finland has their home. That is important to keep in mind.

      But at the end of the day it is the person, the group, that decides what they want to be called in Finland. Whatever it is must be respected by others. In the US we had a big debate about it in the 1970s concerning the blacks. Identities, like culture, change. They may be one thing now and another thing in the future. A good example is the term “Indians” in Canada. They are now called First Nations people. Why? Because that is what they want to be called. Other ones include Eskimo =Inuit, Lapp = Saami, Araucanian = Mapuches etc. Why do I do this? Because I respect them.

  8. Yossie

    I too would call people whatever they want to be called out of pure courtesy. However would it be right to call someone for something he is not? Taking the name of the other group. If I want to be called muslim is it alright? I dont believe in god let alone allah, I think quran is fairytale and all the stuff is wrong in it(maybe not all, ban on alcohol is actually quite ahead of its time). But hey, there is different ways to be a muslim right? I think most actual muslim would disagree to put it mildly.

    Seppo, I think it goes down to what your wrote, Culture, language and country. What I feel problematic is that if someone is born and raised in somewhere else comes here, behaves like a somali, talks somali then.. is he really a finn? Adopted children to finnish family is ofcourse a finn no matter what, somali’s children raised and born in finland might be finns.

  9. Seppo

    – “If I want to be called muslim is it alright? I dont believe in god let alone allah, I think quran is fairytale and all the stuff is wrong in it”

    It is not about what you want to be called, but what you are. If you don’t believe in allah and quran then you probably don’t identify as a muslim. People want to be called Finns only since they feel they ARE Finns.

    – “Adopted children to finnish family is ofcourse a finn no matter what, somali’s children raised and born in finland might be finns.”

    I am glad you recognize this. To some people in Finland one cannot be a Finn, even if one was born and raised in Finland, just because of darker skin color or some other as irrelevant fact that does not have anything to do with (national) identity.

    • Enrique

      Seppo, you are absolutely right. People choose who they are. It’s their right. Problems arise when one groups tells the other he or she is better or should conform to their ways.

      What is a Finn? Anyone who considers himself one.

  10. Mary Mekko

    I agree with Enrique about news blackout system in our media. Here in San Francisco, the left-wing own and control the newspapers, therefore critical information about immigrants, their crimes and so on are omitted daily. If a white man commits a crime, his history, photo, and name are big and bold in the story. If it is a black,a Mexican or some other nonwhite, his/her photo is omitted. His country of origin is not named, even if he/she is illegal. The rapist or burglar we should be alerted about is not even identifiable without such information.

    If this isn’t a blackout, what is it? Every American knows what I am talking about. If you Finns let it happen in your country, after the decades we have put up with such leftwing media manipulation, you would be fools. Take example from the USA: name the criminals, condemn them in print, photos front and center, every woman and child warned of a rapist, a car thief, a burglar. If he/she is a “true Finn”, so be it.

    Enrique, you are obsessed with the right-wing rising up. Leftwing politics are already undoing the peace and safety of Finland, and people IN FINLAND must protest openly against it, without fear of any words like “racist”. This is nonsense. I maintain to all visitors from Europe on my tourbuses: admit that you are a racist, like every human on the planet. We cannot help but categorize others by race, age and gender, not to mention quick judgments based on the person’s dress, demeanor, health, fitness and economic level. Every black I’ve spoken to in the USA, i.e. born in USA, calls me a “white” before he calls me “Irish”, a “Native San Franciscan”, “smart woman”, “tourguide”, “good driver”, etc. Blacks cannot help but see me #1 as “white”, for they are as racist as the rest of us. Same with the Mexicans and Asians I meet… they lump European-blood Americans into a ragbag, “white”.

    It is the leftwing press across America which is programming people to use these terms. Enrique, how can we be judged as individuals if the press won’t even bother to identify us as “Italian-American”, etc. when we’re “White”, whereas for Asians, here in SF, it’s always specific, “Vietnamese-American of Chinese ancestry”. YES! They think it’s important for a reader to know the person’s CULTURE!!!! But not for us WHITES, heck, we’re all the same.

    Naturally if that “Vietnamese-American of Chinese ancestry” (or “Chinese ethnic” they’ll print) commits a crime, he or she is indeterminate “Asian”, no photo available.

    If you don’t believe me, you who read this, check out http://www.sfgate.com, which is the daily paper of San Francisco.

    Poor Norway: those who begged to keep their country closed to immigration, to let the natives have their say, were driven to the edge. Violence is the end result when the government won’t listen to their own people, putting outsiders’ wishes above their own. But who expects anything from a lying leftwing politician?

    You speak of Hitler. Look at the lies of Stalin’s time, and all the millions who suffered under the Soviet regime for 70 years, to the point where the Soviet people (15 republics of very different nationalities) were afraid to say ANYTHING against the government.

    Finns, speak against your government policies openly BEFORE This right is removed!!! Don’t let precious Finland go commie-leftwing-destroyed by outsiders like our lives in USA.

  11. Tiwaz

    Seppo:
    “Just like Enrique said, identity is a personal thing. I cannot tell you who you are and you cannot tell me who I am. But I happen to be a Finn and nobody has the right to come and try to tell me something else! That would be a clear violation against my personal feelings.”

    You can think yourself as a Finn, but nothing requires ME to accept you as a Finn if you can’t speak or act like one!

    Your right to your identity stops when you demand ME to accept YOUR terms of “identity”.

    That is why identity is collective agreement. People have culture, which comes with certain rules and expectations, and people who manage to fulfill enough of them are collectively seen as part of it.

    Those who do not, are not. Despite their own internal thinking. It is necessity, because else we would not have anything to unite us. Or have you, like Enriqe, missed that humans really cannot see mere membership of Homo Sapiens as “enough” of a tribe?

    To have “us” there always has to be “them”. We can either agree to reasonably peaceful separation or the separation is forced upon us.

    Same way you can either accept that country X has certain culture and demands adherence to it’s rules to achieve social cohesion. Or you can want anarchy where it is violence and rule of strongest.

    I know what I prefer.

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