An Outside View: A very odd kind of nationalism in Finland
2018-05-15 11:09:32 -
Opinion
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Panu Höglund
 
  One of the most disturbing things for me about our Finnish ‘alt-right’ is the way they poke fun at the very meaning of the word ‘nationalism’. 
 
  They see themselves as great nationalists, as they hate Muslims and Africans so much, but at the same time their Finnish is heavily laden with English words. When they speak about, say, their clubs and organisations – and believe me, they have a lot of different organisations, all quarrelling among themselves – they refer to things like “associate kind of members” or “hang around people”, using the English terms.
 
  Of course the words come from the jargon of the One Percenters – criminal bikers – and actually there is little to distinguish the subculture of Finnish ‘nationalists’ from that of biker gangs. 
 
  Bikers are an international bunch, and English is the language of internationalism. But a ‘nationalism’ of international criminals is a strange kind of nationalism. Ridiculous, even. You’d like to laugh at this paradox, but you can’t, for these ‘nationalists’ are patrolling both the internet and the streets all the time, and they don’t like to be laughed about.
 
  They are so bad at their own national language they can’t speak about their organisational life in it. However, they are powerful enough to have any journalist sacked who points out how laughable they are in this respect. As regards the sacked journalist, there will be no venue available for him afterwards to make his view of what happened available to the public. Both within and without, it is commonly believed that Finland is the best country of the world as regards freedom of expression. Anyone who questions this obvious truth will be seen as a lunatic.
 
  Moreover, those English-loving ‘nationalists’ have arguably put an end to the ever-continuing discussion of what constitutes Finnishness that has been the national sport of Finnish intellectuals since I was a young boy. Today, it’s not journalists or historians who define Finnishness, but the self-appointed nationalists, who always take offence when somebody who really knows our history has the audacity to publish an article or a book about it.
 
  Ironically, those ‘patriots’ are quite sympathetic towards Russia and Putin. They see the Russian president as the ‘last hope of the white race’, and anyone they disagree with will hear that ‘Putin is soon coming and he’ll put down your ilk.’ This is a very odd kind of nationalism in Finland, where our war against the Soviet Union, the Winter War, used to be the strongest symbol of patriotism.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.
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