Thursday, November 24, 2005

Finland my Finland

I consider myself to be a Finnish patriot. Not a nationalist: genes, cultures, skin colours are totally irrelevant here – I feel loyalty and pride towards the Republic of Finland and its historic democratic and liberal structures. Their precarious birth in the early part of the last century and their unlikely survival between Hitler and Stalin is one of the miracles of the recent Western history. Our peculiar Sonderweg last century ended only with the EU referendum in 1995, and some last vestiges still remain: one of those is that we still remain outside of Nato. For a nation of 5 million people we are have had a very quixotic self-image, not a Belgium us. This hubris was based on the war experiences and the successful continuation of the struggle for independence by Paasikivi and Kekkonen – and quite an illusion in reality, there never was this imagined self-sufficiency. But what great nation has not based its belief in its greatness on illusion? Of course, I still am a lukewarm EU supporter but increasingly worried about the anti-democratic and supranational European structures. A genuinely democratic and rooted United States of Europe would be fine for me, but I don’t think that is in the offer. So, I hope that we still will retain an independent judgment and that our elites will continue to represent the Finnish nation in Brussels and not the other way around


helsinkian said...

I'd like to see a genuinely democratic United States of Europe. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist but I truly believe that European unity is the way forward. The end of the Cold War provided a unique opportunity in bringing free nations together and helping to secure that development.

So I see myself much more as a pro-European than as a Finnish patriot. I'm very proud of the Republic of Finland and the nation's history, that's not the issue at all. I just embraced the entry to the EU very warmly and never saw the loss of the national currency as an issue at all, even if those who first and foremost identify themselves as Finnish patriots probably did feel hurt about that.

When it comes to feelings, Europe is closest to my heart. But I don't support a Europe that is too bureaucratic or centralized. Being a pro-European doesn't mean being uncritical of the EU. I think one needs to be rational about the critique of both the EU and of Finland. There is plenty of room for improvement.

I think Europe is in crisis and as always, a crisis provides both an opportunity to renew and regroup and the spectre of decay and downfall. To me the Eastern enlargement was such a huge blood transfusion for Europe that it's hard to see why Europe wouldn't be able to reform and drop some of the bureaucratic structures that work in a club of ten countries but feel too much for a club of 25?

stockholm slender said...

Well, I just don't see any true European spirit around. Maybe between France and Germany and some other core nations. Lately Europe has been more about imposing structures on reluctant or hostile populations. It is probably the Burkean in me that would require grass roots traditions and common spirit to come first and only then followed by political actions and institutions. Not vice versa. The European project seems very dangerously elitist to me at the moment. What we have in Finland are genuinely popular and rooted liberal institutions - why should we exchange them for elitist and anti-democratic European ones? This is not to deny our cultural common Western home, but that has not much to do with geography or specific political structures.

petteri said...

The basic thing with us humans seems to be the fact that we resist change. We fear the new ways of doing things and desperately cling to the mystical and romantic past which by the time passing gets better and better in our minds, never mind if it's true or not. It is such a short time ago when we Finns were separated into diffrent clans and same goes with the rest of Europe and this naturally created almost perpetual warfare amongst us. The fear that we melt into some kind of sameness and loose our identity is false, look to US and Canada for examples. You can't tell me that the Quebecois and the British Columbians don't have their own and very different...well everything. They have lived under the same federal government the past 100 years. How about compairing The New Englanders to the folks from Alabama. I bet they don't even understand each other's lingo. Since we can't go back into the forest and start hunting and gathering again maybe the only sensible thing is to join the rest of progressive Europe. We have to really start moving away from the tribalism which has served us in the past but is getting hopelessly outdated.

stockholm slender said...

Well, yes but my worry is not about nationalism - it is about democracy. I would not mind to be a fully integrated member of a democratic and progressive Union. An ethnic nationalist would oppose - and they do oppose - the mere principle of being ruled from elsewhere. I just see that at the moment more and deeper integration means more and deeper integration away from our democratic structures towards faceless, un-democratic technocracy. This can't be healthy.