Thursday, November 10, 2005

A burning shame

A brief note on the times. In crisis situations nations and states are capable of amazing feats: long established political taboos are discarded, good housekeeping is thrown to winds, risks are taken, sacrifices made in order to defend what is most valuable to us. Our living standards are now highest in our history, our economy has never been stronger. Yet we can't afford taking decent care of the elderly and provide public healthcare with necessary resources and adequate salaries. We are defined by what we accept and what we accept is the betrayal of the old, people who have often worked their lives to build the country to get it so wealthy that it can no longer take care of its citizens when they have outlived their usefullness. Do you think Jorma Ollila will touch on this when he quizzes the top presidential candidates on MTV3? We have no crisis, and no shame: a timid, docile nation.


helsinkian said...

It is a difficult issue just how crisis situations and lesser docility belong together. Modern Finland and much of modern Europe was created as a result of bloody wars. The fight for survival brought forth better qualities in people but the price was very high, almost prohibitive and European civilization during the 20th Century was both at its peak and very close to extinction.

I hope you don't take this in a bad way but your reasoning to me is a bit related to Victor Hanson's and other neoconservatives' revolutionary view of crisis as something that inspires people to change. In that context many would say that Iraqis were a docile people under Saddam but the war gave them potential to jumpstart toward progress.

No, but seriously, crisis makes people to strive harder. The knowledge that we might lose everything makes the realization of dreams a more meaningful job. Still, in the context of our peaceful country we need to speak of crisis in other terms. Am I reading you right that you feel a nostalgia for the WWII generation who built the welfare state? I think other generations express themselves in other terms. Now the question is not so much about building a new society but maintaining the one we have and developing it to meet new challenges that are looming in the horizon and are indeed already influencing our lives.

stockholm slender said...

Well, it certainly is the neoconservative method: in crisis atmosphere you are likely to accomplish things that otherwise would have seemed impossible. Good or bad. I am sure methodical political street violence enlarged the scope of possible in Weimar. But the point was that you can also direct this energy towards positive and morally good goals. It has also happened. What we pick as crisis tells a lot about us. It is perfectly possible to take care of these things, in this instance to take proper care of the elderly.

I'm not sure of nostalgia (about the generation), but I respect their work for better Finland. The war generation was harsh and non-communicative and screwed up a lot of their children - and saved the country from unimaginable horrors with unimaginable sacrifices. The baby boomers were in many ways an antithesis, but despite a few collapses of common sense and decency (the Stalinist-Soviet mania being the prime example), they led the country towards the welfare state and acceptance of diversity. We repay them with cruel investment capitalism and understaffed chronic wards. It is not a lovely image.