Finnish media promoting fascism - again
2019-08-01 10:49:31 -
World News
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Panu Höglund

The ‘alt right’ was able to take possession of Finnish politics long before it came to the fore in the United States. This began around the year 2007, when media stopped treating extreme rightists in a sarcastic way. 

It is quite possible that you could define the exact date of this sea change by researching Finnish media archives. Probably cowardice superseded sarcasm due to online smearing campaigns against journalists, but of course it is possible that those journalists who were sympathetic to the extremist right enjoyed support from the owners and managers of the media companies, while the more critical ones were sacked.

In the general elections in 2015, the racist populists of the True Finns party were able to secure nominations to the cabinet. The support that ‘neutral’ or bourgeois media gave to them was of great help in pulling this particular stunt. 

In the next four years the country was ruled by a coalition of the traditional conservatives, or the Kokoomus party; the farmers’ party or the Centre; and the True Finns, who were able to legislate a lot of their political objectives into existence. Thus, the status of the Swedish language was reduced, and the immigration policy was made into a mess. Attempts by the other parties of the cabinet to weaken the welfare state were actually less successful, because they were often found to be unconstitutional.

In this year’s general elections, the cabinet changed. Now Social Democrats came to rule the country, together with the Leftist Union, the Greens, the Centre Party and the Swedish People’s Party – which is basically a liberal bourgeois party. 

The coalition that ruled the country until now was treated with kid gloves by all Finnish-language media, practically no criticism at all – with the exception of clearly political left-wing publications. Things have changed, however, now that a new cabinet has started working.

Until the first decade of the new millennium, it was mostly the Social Democrats who were in charge of the country. Thus, they were the political mainstream of the country if there ever was one, and if a journalist wrote about the party, he would basically try to make sense of its policies from a perspective knowledgeable of the history of the party. Now, though, journalists are quite happy to accuse the Social Democrats of ‘communism’ and attack the party in other ways that until now have been typical only of openly fascist, extremist polemics.

In today’s Finland you can rely on there being no Finnish-language moderate and liberal media. Such ones can only be in Swedish. One of the main objectives of the extremist right is to annihilate Swedish as a community language in Finland, and thus a Swedish-language journalist would hardly co-operate with True Finns. 

Bourgeois liberalism lives only among Swedish-speakers; among Finnish-speakers there is only the extremist right and the left wing. You must pick one side.

Thus, nothing has changed in a hundred years. Back in 1918, the country was being torn apart by a bloody civil war, and it looks a similar war is threatening us again.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish. His newest publication is the anti-racist thriller Tine sa Chácóin.
TAGS : finnish fascism finnish politics
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