Finnish Communists and Paavo Väyrynen: a one-sided love affair?
2018-03-01 16:07:00 -
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An Outside View - Panu Höglund

Back when the Soviet Union was still going strong, the Communist Party of Finland was one of Europe’s biggest communist parties where membership was voluntary. Moreover, it was the second-oldest communist party in the whole world. At that time, you could believe that the red ideology was firmly rooted in Finland. Then, though, the party went bankrupt together with the Soviet system itself, and leftists started a new, non-communist party: the Left Alliance.

 

Even after that, a handful of communists clung to the old faith. And when right-wing radicalism started to attract masses with anti-Islamism, young people started to find their way to the party, as they wanted to oppose the resurgent fascism and believed that communists had impeccable anti-Fascist credentials.

 

During the Finnish presidential elections, however, many Finnish communists supported Paavo Väyrynen. I guess I have already written about Väyrynen, and my old readers probably know his name, but anyway, it won’t hurt to say a couple of words about him.

 

Basically, Paavo Väyrynen is the leading zombie of Finnish politics – the man who came back after every defeat. He started his political career in the 1970s when half the population was depending on our trade with Soviets, and Väyrynen was very much in favour of such lively economic relations eastwards, a fact that made him popular even among contemporary communists.

 

Today, Väyrynen is again trying to start fresh. He is the honorary chairman of his old party, the Centre Party, or the farmers’ party, and accordingly, he has an enormous influence on the party’s old guard. Still, he found it necessary to create his own party, the Citizens’ Party. The supporters of that party are quite a motley crew: conspiracy theorists, anti-Islamists, anti-semites and Russian immigrants who haven’t been able to establish themselves in the society of Finland and who have turned into chauvinist Russian nationalists – and of course, old communists with a longing for the seventies.

 

Young Communist activists are not quite that enthusiastic about Väyrynen. One of them is Sippo Kähmi, a member of the central committee, who attracted some media attention when he left both the central committee and the party itself to protest the support that the old guard gave to Väyrynen. As he pointed out, many old comrades in the party see Väyrynen as a ”bourgeois of the well-meaning kind”, who wants continued good relations between Finland and Russia, and those comrades can’t accept the fact that their old hero has joined forces with neo-Nazis. Actually, for them, ‘fascism’ and ‘Nazism’ means simply being opposed to Russia.

 

Therefore it is difficult to say whether communism is about anything more than automatically sympathising with Russia. Being a communist means defending and justifying anything Russia does, and that’s the end of it. You can sell out the workers and ally with neo-Nazis – the most important thing is to stand by Russia. And the natural result of this is young activists, such as Kähmi, leaving the party, while the old guard is staying.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.

 

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