Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Official Truth Of Finland

In his latest Net column, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (of Finland's Social-Democratic Party) criticizes Finnish media:

"In Finland, there is undergoing a clear and systematic campaign to change the social and foreign policies in Finland. One does not have to argument this view with any conspiracy theories, it is enough to keep following Finnish main media to see how its agenda has become harder, its message more right-wing."

Especially Tuomioja criticizes Helsingin Sanomat, the largest morning newspaper in Finland, for actively propagating these views.

The Helsingin Sanomat chief editor Janne Virkkunen quotes on the paper's head column the German leftist playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht who, while staying as a refugee in Finland during World War II, wrote about the Finns being a people, who "keeps silent in two languages".

Virkkunen claims that Finland is still the country of one official truth, which shuns presenting any alternatives and dissidence, just as in the era of Soviet Union, when Finland's foreign and domestic policy were heavily dictated by our Eastern neighbour; making the Western observers come up with the term "Finlandisierung" about this delicate tightrope-walking type of political balance, where the Finns had to nourish good relations with Russians but also prove their being another Western democracy.

Virkkunen also quotes the recent " Roadmap to Finland's Future Success" report by EVA, Finnish Business and Policy Forum. The report summarizes: "The message is clear: Finnish society must finally create an attractive environment for working, entrepreneurship and ownership –- otherwise Finland’s long term success cannot be guaranteed." In Tuomioja's opinion, it is these sort of views, that represent Finland's "Official Truth" at the moment -- neo-liberalist, right-wing, anti-welfare state -- the type of which Helsingin Sanomat and other head columns in Finland are trying to propagate at the moment.

Erkki Tuomioja quotes another poem by Bertolt Brecht: "Wouldn't it be easier to disintegrate the people and elect someone else in their stead?". Tuomioja thinks this is something that could well be directed to EVA and Finnish employees who represent the current powers that be, their message to the people being: "They should work twice as much with a wage twice as small, so they elite could enjoy their own double income, preferably without the disturbing intervention by taxes", as Tuomioja puts it.