Jussi Jalonen, a Tampere University history researcher, asked recently why a populist party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) continues to grow in popularity despite the numerous scandals that have riddled the group. There is an answer: Finland’s lack of cultural diversity.
How is it possible that a party like the PS can win 39 seats in the last parliamentary elections from 5 seats previously? The answer: Finland’s lack of cultural diversity.
How is it possible that the Finnish media, politicians and the general public were swept off their feet by the PS’ anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Islam message up to April 17, 2011? The answer: Finland’s lack of cultural diversity.
Contrarily, if Finland were a country that would have had larger ethnic and religious minorities in the last century and if these were promoted in a spirit of social equality (tasa-arvo), we’d never be in the political and ideological mess that we are in today.
There are many examples of how a society can grow and reap synergies from cultural diversity. Some positive examples are Silicon Valley, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and many others.
Since no society is perfect, never mind one that is culturally diverse, there are poor examples we should avoid. One of these is the former apartheid system of South Africa.
The recent example of the black Mannerheim movie is proof of some Finns’ hostility towards diversity and how we continue to cling at any price to our cultural and ethnic myths.
In many respects, the “one-people-one-nation“ view of white Finland is the making of our own social Frankenstein. We have promoted it from day one when we declared independence from Russia on December 6, 1917.
Even if PS chairman, Timo Soini, claims that his party has 27 “immigrant” candidates running for office in the municipal elections, it reinforces the party’s hostility towards diversity. Thanks to these candidates, PS’ “one- people-one-nation” political message is strengthened as a result.
Immigrants who have little idea about how our open society functions democratically and, worse, have no enthusiasm to throw overboard their baggage of hate and racism, is one of the threats facing our society.
It is surprising to note that many of these immigrants aren’t those with the least education, but those that have good professions and economical means to assimilate into white Finnish society.
Throughout the last century, Finland has been a negative model for cultural diversity despite the fact that 1.2 million Finns emigrated from this country between 1860 and 1999.
Finland’s social and economic life savior is not keeping Finland “white,” but becoming culturally diverse.
If we fail in this task and do not promote modern Nordic values such as mutual acceptance and respect, our society will become ever-polarized. The same Civil Rights Movements we saw in the United States emerging in the 1950s and 1960s will become a reality in Finland this century.
Since we have done everything possible to kill cultural diversity from the last century as opposed to defending and promoting it, we are paying today a high price for our shortsightedness.