Thursday, October 30, 2008

True Finns in Kauhajoki

Kauhajoki, my birth place, makes the news again, this time as a site where "The True Finns" (this party's exclusionary nationalistic name gives it away!) are making inroads. The True Finns, a populist neo-right party that uses simplistic rhetoric to appeal to folks suffering in neoliberal times, made gains in the recent Finnish elections. Like other neo-con groups (we have one in power in Canada), a major platform is the control of the nation's borders from "them"--the undesirables. Who gets in becomes who do we keep out? Canada, for example, is supposedly fighting to bring democracy to Afghanis, but how many Afghani people could actually fulfil the requirements to immigrate to Canada? Only a handful. Canadian immmigration policy is regressive, one needs $$, education, and a professional career to get in because of our points system.

Neo-cons discourse promotes fears of immigrants, particularly racialized people, Muslims, and the poor --and imagine if you are all 3!-- a problem spreading in Western so-called democracies. Parties like this beg the question, whose democratic rights are we talking about?

..."xenophobia is a real problem in Finland and local leaders will be trained to stop any slanderous speech that may occur during council meetings."

Neo-right populist groups use moral discourse of "how it used to be" to put forth their black and white ideas. How it used to be, however, was loaded with exclusionary practices and ideas, promoting moral fears of the abject. You can't know what pure is unless you know what is abject--it's opposite. Constructing nationalism as pure is nothing new. I am sure Hanna Snellman will have some things to say about that tonight at the talk about constructing Finnish women in photos during the civil war period. Reading the True Finns through this past history can be an interesting discussion of Finnish nation-building discourses.


Anonymous said...

Hi Taina !
The social inequality is bigger than
ever before in Finland and the members of the "True Finns" are from the poorest social class: unemployed, retired and underpaid people and people of landscape. Regional policy is very inequal as well. How can we take immigrants if we can't take care of existing people. It is not very clever to grow the inequality of social classes because the class of poor people is big enough ( 1/3 of the whole nation). Taking more immigrants to Finland means that the privileged class will keep their privileges but you can
take without restriction from the poorest class of people. Finnish social wellfare is only a memory.

northshorewoman said...

so then we must remove the power from the privileged class. However, this does not seem the way things are going; instead the opposite. Nowadays most want to be of the privileged class. Here in NA, one need only to pay the minimum on one's credit card to live beyond one's means. The US government showed the way how to do this!

In Canada, too, the gap between those with a lot of money and those with very little money is growing, too, as those in the middle shrinks, and those with very little increase in number, too.

The question of taking in immigrants will remain in both Finland and Canada because we both have no-growth populations. The births are not growing fast enough. So immigrants must be brought in. So, the question remains, how to do that in an equitable way?

Kiitos for your comments!