Finnish far-right thinking for dummies: The Wave

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

This true movie below took place in 1967 Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California. The experiment shows how easy it was to convert the class of high school students to become far-right followers that supported the Nazi régime in Germany during 1933-45. What would happen to our country if we embraced the ideology of associations like Suomen Sisu,  Suomalaisuuden Liitto or allowed the worldview of far-right politicians like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari to be taught at our schools?

The answer to that question is the movie The Wave.

Below is a trailer of the newer version of the original movie.


There are already a number of Cubberley High Schools in Finland that are not classroom experiments. Check out Hommaforum and Scripta, where they call their absolute leader, Halla-aho,  “The Champion.”

Our ability to deny the atrocities of present and past generations is a quality that permits us to commit the same outlandish crimes again.

The teacher, Ron Jones, who carried out the experiment told the students at the end of the movie: “You thought you were so special better than everyone else outside this room. You traded your personal freedom for the luxury of feeling superior. You accepted the group’s will over your own convictions no matter who you hurt. You just thought you were going along for the ride and could walk away at any moment. But where were you heading? How far would you have gone?”

He continues: “But if the (Wave) experiment is successful, we’d learn that we are all responsible for our actions and you must question what you do rather than blindly follow a leader. And for the rest of your lives you will never allow a group’s will to usurp your individual rights. (The Wave) is a lesson we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”


Special thanks go to Hans Zwaga for bringing this movie to my attention.

  1. Enrique

    Even though I did not mention the Perussuomalaiset party in the leader, I wonder where their type of nationalism and ideology is taking Finland. How far do they want to go?

  2. JusticeDemon


    No surprise that the epähiket need someone to do their thinking for them, but how does this square with all of that pre-election anti-elitism rhetoric?

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

  3. Jaakko

    JusticeDemon, what is “epähiket”? I have only heard you using it and for my understanding it is not any official Finnish word.

  4. JusticeDemon


    Epähikke: a school student who generally sits at the back of the class paying little or no attention to schoolwork. Contrasted with hikke (or hikipinko): a school student who generally sits at the front of the class and is passionately interested and absorbed in schoolwork.

    None of these words are listed in the 8th edition of Nykysuomen sanakirja (1983). I did find hikipinko in the second printing of Suomen kielen perussanakirja (2004).

    Hikke is most certainly in common usage at schools throughout Finland. Epähikke is simply the opposite of this word. It is my contention that a substantial majority of PS supporters fall into the epähikke category.

    If you have another expression that is an official Finnish word and the opposite of hikke, then now is your chance to share it with us, though I find it amusingly servile that you require some official sanction before you can express an obvious concept in your native language. Shades of George Orwell and newspeak?

  5. pun the librarian

    JD: I find it amusingly servile that you require some official sanction before you can express an obvious concept in your native language.

    And we all know, that juvenile slang and insults are the sure marks of original thinkers and progressive individuals everywhere.

    Also, I am sort of confused at your comment about how these epähiket need someone to do their thinking for them. Only explanation is that this is a reference to calling Jussi “Master” and the concept of self-deprecating humor is an alien concept to you.

    Which is quite an amusing thought, considering your outburst to Jaakko.

  6. JusticeDemon


    Ah – so this is more PS humour. Just like the proposed military dictatorship in Greece and sexual orientation questions in job interviews, the speaker is only putting his foot in his mouth to make us laugh and another Finnish village has issued an APB for its resident idiot.

    We really need a guidebook to explain when the PS are only joking. There is no internal evidence to suggest that Mestari was anything other than a new term for Führer or perhaps Rabbi.

    What is your suggestion for an official term meaning epähikke? You very clearly understand the concept. Or is the Finnish language so rigid nowadays that it depends on immigrants to coin new expressions?

  7. pun the librarian

    JD:Ah – so this is more PS humour.

    Indeed it is. Jussi Halla-aho didn’t actually feed hundreds of people with five cups of coffee and two doughnuts, flatten some hills in Tampere with his words or send telepathic messages to his disciples. And if you can’t tell that those were humor without a guidebook I don’t think I can help you although maybe you could answer one of those APB’s.

    As for the term epähikke, you can keep enriching your language freely, I can stomach that much multiculturalism although I would say that opposite of “hikipinko” is “takarivin pojat”.

  8. JusticeDemon


    Are there no girls in the back row of a school classroom, or is your suggestion merely a gratuitous sexism?

    Oh no, sorry, I get it! This is more PS humour.

    So the stuff about a military dictatorship in Greece and job interview questions concerning sexual orientation was obvious humour?

    Do you know what an all-points bulletin is and who answers it?

  9. Niko

    I agree with Pun, “takarivin pojat” sounds better. Epähikke doesn’t mean anything and I have never heard anyone using it. Yes, “hikke” is slang, but I think “epä” cannot be used to get the opposite of the word.

  10. JusticeDemon


    1) Why do you assume that they are all boys?

    2) Where is the connotation of making no effort to understand challenging ideas (and seeking to ridicule those who do), uncritically accepting superficial solutions, refusing to acknowledge obvious analogies or failing to compare and criticise sources of knowledge?

    How would you form the direct opposite of hikke? Epäjumala, epämetalli, epäsopu, epätapa, epätoivo and epäusko are all used, so epähikke seems to be in good company.

  11. eyeopener

    JusticeDemon has ONE law: HIS!!. What he considers “humour” is not his to decide. It’s who it matters to decide. There is a confusion in his mind I guess that allows him to paraphrase the Bible to picture Jussi Halla-aho as a Messiah. What does it matter what name you give to a leader who is determined to “eradicate” foreigners from Finland. You have a queer notice of humor. The slogan “Kauf nicht bei Juden” started as a joke also!!

    Besides reading one book of Orwell (1984), you might read also read Animal Farm or Ira Levin’s book This perfect Day to get more acknowledged on the consequences of totalitarian societies. You probably will come up with The Gulag Archipelo of Solchenitsin. Very well!! It says exactly the same thing.

    Even better: Der SS-Staat from Egon Kogon. When you really want to be acknowledged about the consequences of “HUMOR”.

  12. Niko


    “Takarivin pojat” is widely used expression of the people you are referring to. There are also paloMIES, tykkiMIES and other words which are referring to men, but those words are still be used for women as well. Ok, how about “Takarivin pojat ja tytöt” then? Or “takapenkkiläiset” / “takariviläiset”?

    I wouldn’t form the direct opposite for hikke, because hikke is a slang word. Wouldn’t it be better to use English instead and words like, a “slacker”? Then even people who can’t read Finnish can understand it. There might be some better options for the word, but that came to my mind.

    Anyway, this is not the topic of this blog. Thanks to Enrique (and Hans Zwaga, my old teacher) for sharing this clip. I think I will watch “The Wave” this weekend.

  13. pun the librarian

    JD: Are there no girls in the back row of a school classroom, or is your suggestion merely a gratuitous sexism?

    Oh no, sorry, I get it! This is more PS humour.

    Apparently you really do need that guidebook. As Niko points out, “takarivin pojat” is well known expression, not something I made up. As a “kympin tyttö”, you really ought to know this stuff.

    As for PS humour, tanks and Greece was a (bad) joke, the one about sexual orientation was not.

  14. JusticeDemon


    There you go again.

    Please explain exactly how you can tell – before the general public reaction – that recommending the regime of the Generals in Greece was a joke but recommending job interview questions about the applicant’s sexual orientation was not a joke. We really need specific guidance on how to tell the difference.

    If the proposal concerning job interviews was not a joke, then why has Mika Niikko not been similarly suspended by his party? Or is this a party that suspends MPs for telling jokes about military dictatorships, but not for using parliament as a serious forum for homophobia?

    It seems to me that these hommaforum types only claim that such excesses are a joke AFTER the outraged public response, which suggests a lack of willingness to take responsibility for their words. The serious politician then suddenly wants to be the tabloid clown, because the political consequences of being taken seriously are too costly.

    The obvious parallel is with the attempt to evade responsibility by claiming intoxication. This is another standard epähiket strategy.

    Part of frank political discourse is having the guts to stand behind your words and to apologise when you say something that is stupid and offensive.

    Now there are various standard and empty hommaforum ripostes to what I just wrote. Which one will you deploy this time?

    • Enrique

      –It seems to me that these hommaforum types only claim that such excesses are a joke AFTER the outraged public response, which suggests a lack of willingness to take responsibility for their words.

      Well put, JusticeDemon! It’s incredible the lack of sensitivity and common sense when they “crack these jokes.” Funny sense of humor but a pretty cruddy mistake to stick one’s foot in one mouth and then claim it was a joke. That means I can say just about anything and then hide to the cover of it-was-only-an-innocent-joke-that-nobody-gets excuse.

  15. pun the librarian


    I recognize this sort of humour because I know what kind of sense of humour the person making the joke has. The reason we have to explain this after public outrage is of course that for us, it was clearly a not meant to be taken literally so we are always kind of surprised at the outrage. In this case, nobody was really surprised that Jussi got heat for what he said, only that journalist refused to understand that it was a joke in bad taste.

    I don’t know why Niikko was not reprimanded by Soini, I hope he will.

    “Part of frank political discourse is having the guts to stand behind your words and to apologise when you say something that is stupid and offensive.”

    Even when what you said is being dishonestly reported as something it was not? “I boldly stand behind the straw-man argument you built for me”. As for offensiveness, I’ll consider apologizing for offensiveness when your side stops being constantly and conveniently offended about everything.

  16. Antonio

    Protesters being crushed by the military, jobless homosexuals and immigrants being rounded up by highly trained and heavely armed bikers… a great backdrop for a comedy!!! Come on…

  17. JusticeDemon


    What you just said is that only the epähiket understand this “humour”.

    We have all seen this at school. There are some kids who think that everything is a joke. Giggle giggle and you get an F on your final papers and now you can’t get a job, so it must be the fault of those immigrants, because after all statistics clearly show that some of them were prosecuted for overstaying their visas and residence permits and no Finn has ever been found guilty of that. Statistics don’t lie and you can’t turn black into white, can you? Giggle giggle. That’s logic.

    There is neither humour nor glamour in being as dumb as the Palm Sunday equine.

  18. Antonio

    To JUstice Demon

    I am at the brink of starting to see you as a dumbist (prejudiced against those of us that are a bit mentally challenged)

    – That was another joke

  19. pun the librarian


    That is one excellent straw-man.

    It might be true that some people don’t get these wry in-jokes and representatives should not use them in Facebook. But only journalists and the constantly offended see those as serious statements.

    I’ll leave you for now so you can freely fantasize about the stupid and unemployed epähiket opposing immigration because of overstayed visas. I’ll pop in again unexpectedly to burst your private bubble when I need some laughs.

    Giggle giggle.

  20. Enrique

    There are big differences in right-wing and left-wing “terrorism.” See Che Guevara’s Bolivia campaign and the Oklahoma bombing by Timothy McVeigh. Certainly any type of violence has the ability to turn into mass murder irrespective of ideology of those that carry it out.

  21. JusticeDemon


    What’s the mass murder record of the liberal Nordic democracy that you oppose so passionately? You might be better informed, but it seems that liberal Nordic democracy has not yet inspired any serial child killers, whereas Breivik was quite obviously one of yours.

    • Enrique

      JusticeDemon, I asked Hannu who would the people see as a “terrorist:” Breivik or Che Guevara. He said Che Guevara. By the way, I haven’t seen Hannu condemning what Breivik did. Maybe he thinks like James Hirvisaari.

  22. Hannu

    Would be easier to comment if not “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
    Social democrats == left == stalin, do your count.

    • Enrique

      Hannu, do you know who Stalin was or are you parroting what others are saying on Hommaforum and Scripta?

  23. Hannu

    Enrique do i have condemn it? do i? I had nothing to do with it so i dont have interest to specially condemn it. I do condemn all killing if its not a war. And in Breiviks case it wasnt a war.
    Do you condemn Che Guevaras murders?

    • Enrique

      Hannu, what do you think is the difference between Ernesto Che Guevara and Anders Breivik? Here is a clue: Breivik committed his acts of barbarism in a democratic country like Norway. In other words, he killed 77 people and terrorized a nation even though he had other democratic channels to express his grievances. Che Guevara grew up in Argentina and lived in Latin America when there was NO democracy. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of USAmerica, stated the following: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government… ” Jefferson meant that the People had the right to change government by pacific or violent means if necessary. In Europe, we live in a democracy and have the means to express ourselves. If someone throws bombs here it is an act of terrorism like what happened with Breivik.

      What is the difference between Che Guevara and Eugene Schauman? Did he “murder” Nikolai Ivanovitš Bobrikov? What that an act of terrorism? How does it differ from what Breivik did?