by Jukka Savolainen
Monday, 21
February 2022
Idea
14:05

I worry about the Finlandisation of America

I see troubling parallels between my native country in the Seventies and America
by Jukka Savolainen
Finnish children playing on the border with the Soviet Union

When President Emmanuel Macron of France suggested “Finlandization” as a model for solving the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the idea was met with universal consternation among the geopolitical cognoscenti. After all, the term refers to the compromising period of Finnish history when the government, the press, and other elite institutions were bending over backwards to appease Soviet interests. The motive for Finlandization was strategic: cultivating friendly relations with the Kremlin was deemed a necessary evil to avoid Soviet occupation.

Having grown up in Finland during the Cold War, this unexpected re-surfacing of ‘Finlandization’ evoked in my mind disturbing parallels between 1970’s Finland and the contemporary United States. Quite obviously, as a military superpower, the USA has no reason to worry about occupation by another country. Instead, the crisis of American culture has to do with its preoccupation with identity politics and social justice concerns. Similar to the Finnish culture of the 1970s, elite institutions of the United States have embraced a worldview that is selective about facts and intolerant of dissent.

Although the term “cancel culture” was yet to be invented, the few Finns with courage to challenge pro-Soviet liturgy were frequently marginalised as either crackpots or capitalist lackeys. It was not uncommon for the conforming members of the cultural elite to expose private conversations of a dissenting nature to the Soviet cultural operatives. In the contemporary United States, we encounter a steady stream of examples where reasoned dissent from dominant policies aimed at promoting ”diversity, equity, and inclusion” will turn you into a persona non grata.

Widespread self-censorship was another key feature of Finlandization. Members of the press refrained from publishing material criticising the Soviet Union in fear of rocking the boat. Even ordinary citizens would frequently suppress their true feelings about the bully next door. Meanwhile, in the United States, the percentage of Americans who do not “feel free to speak their mind” has more than tripled from 13% in 1954 to 48% in 2015. According to a report by Heterodox Academy, 62% of college students agree that their campus climate prevents students from saying what they believe.

The ideology that permeates American elite institutions is fuelled by its progressive and youthful spirit. Identity politics has been accepted as the way of the future, with college-educated 20-somethings as the driving force. This is another similarity to 1970’s Finland where the culture of fear and intolerance was sustained and enforced by the privileged members of the baby boom generation. Although there were some hippies even in Finland, the hippest thing to do was to join the far-Left socialist movement, the members of which were affectionately nicknamed as “Stalinists.”

It was very fashionable to participate in peace marches that protested American imperialism while ignoring the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. In present-day America, it is considered progressive to attend BLM marches to protest police brutality, while ignoring the enormous loss of black lives caused by the growing problem of urban gun violence.

In my native Finland, the Cold War era distorted the intellectual development of an entire generation. Marxist-Leninist activists dominated academia, media, and the arts for more than a decade, disrupting the nation’s post-war integration into the European mainstream. This cultural shift did not happen because those radical voices represented the majority point of view. It happened because the moderate and rational majority was too afraid to resist the zeitgeist. I worry about something similar happening in my adopted homeland. I worry about the Finlandisation of America.

A dual citizen of Finland and the United States, Jukka Savolainen is a Writing Fellow at Heterodox Academy and Professor of Sociology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
3 months ago

“Marxist-Leninist activists dominated academia, media, and the arts for more than a decade, disrupting the nation’s post-war integration …”

This was the stand out for me. Only a decade, what stopped it? The woke are every bit as entrenched in the West. What’s the trick to rooting out such a thorough infestation.

Stuart Sutherland
Stuart Sutherland
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Yeah, I would like to heard from the author how the tide was turned!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Exactly. Why only a decade?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 months ago

Fellow at Heterodox Academy and Professor of Sociology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.”

Well, Jordan Peterson says about 97% of professors in such disciplines are hard core Liberal/Lefties (Wokes) so this guy should know all about self censoring, and the insidious evil which is post-modernism.

Another thing USA has in common with all Europe is the desire to push mass migration of the unskilled, and not very capable, to swamp their native peoples. I believe Finland resists, but their neighbors to the West seem bent on such self genocide. Pretty much for every Western baby aborted we bring in one unskilled migrant. How is that for policy?

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
2 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

One of the problems of unskilled migration, especially in large numbers, is that the few unskilled jobs that exist in highly developed countries are low paid for obvious reasons. Unskilled migrants’ salary/lifestyle expectations may be far from reality, creating discontent, if not outright hostility for the presumed injustice of having to live on low wages.

Last edited 2 months ago by Katalin Kish
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 months ago

The whole of the west has self-Finlandized. Self-censorship is second nature, as is the careful vetting of your interlocutor before you dare to vouchsafe some less than orthodox opinion. Many who are sceptical of the underlying aims of this orthodoxy now recognise its diktat as established fact and “check their thinking” as our beloved boys in blue might say. This reveals the degree to which the Marxist left – see James Lindsay’s invaluable work – has infiltrated, dominated and perverted our institutions, moving on to the control of language and thought. It has succeeded to such a degree that people will often feel crippled with guilt if they sense any opposition within themselves to the trends and changes being foisted upon us – the young, especially. The left feels no remorse about such ruthless and occasionally deadly manipulation, not only because it is a canting cult dedicated to Utopia, but because it cherishes a relativist view of convention – that it is always unnatural and imposed so why should they not join in the fun? Behind all this there are many who perceive sinister agents and foreign powers. Well, there are plenty of apologists for red genocide – ongoing red genocide – in the high places of our sinking west, so perhaps the so-called conspiracy theories have a point. Whatever the weather, this article, albeit intelligent and sympathetic, carries a strong suggestion of slamming shut the stable door.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I remember some author, I cannot remember who, contrasting the 70 protesters outside the Soviet embassy to protest the invasion of Czechoslovakia with thousands protesting outside the US embassy against US support for the South Vietnamese Government.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 months ago

Perhaps the late Sir Kingsley Amis – he had an unrivalled eye for left wing cant and hypocrisy.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Actually I think it may have been his son or possibly Robert Service

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 months ago

More likely Robert Conquest. Service is a splendid man but not quite as combative and dedicated a cold warrior as his predecessor.

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago

I grew up in the US during the Cold War and I write this from a Baltic capital. I found the article interesting, but even more than Finlandization I fear the US has succumbed (too far along to correct, I see a Civil War coming) the Swedenization of America.
Sweden was pretty nuts in the 70s. Ironically, their economic policies are much more in line with traditional American economic policies from the halcyon days. There is a thriving capitalist economy, true competition (my Swedish friend has many, many more choices than most in the US for internet, the prices are lower and the service is better).
But Sweden, especially the Swedish unis, have unleashed a form of toxic political correctness on the world, and when it spread to the US it went truly viral, and destroyed it. Much of this extreme feminism tosh comes from Sweden. Fun Fact: because Swedish women have more choices than just about anyone, they choose the most traditional professions in large numbers–nursing, working with children, PAs. Few choose to become engineers, factory workers, loggers, truck drivers…..
Sweden attempted to force-feed the plebs a new, non-gendered pronoun, “hen,” which is a bit similar to “they” for transgendered, as it violates logic and grammar. “They” don’t know who they are, and they also don’t know how many they are. Tip of the hat to Dave Chapelle, though I’m not sure he was the first…..
Some American academics have tried, and so far (wait, wait, give them time….) failed, to introduce something similar, “Yo,” which meets the same “need” as “hen.”
Also, maybe 2 decades or so ago, my Swedish friend said that Sweden had accepted 6,000 so-called refugees that year, at a time when that was considered an astounding number, a huge challenge to assimilate. The same year Finland accepted 6.
I always thought–now I’ll have to go back–that Finland and Finlandization had a more RealPolitik approach. Given the long border with Russia it made sense, and Russia was certainly burned in The Winter War.
Yes, Russia could defeat Finland militarily, but at what cost?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 months ago

Here’s a paragraph which I have begun to insert into my correspondence with any organisation with which I have new contact:-
“I should point out that I have recently instigated a policy, standard in all my dealings with public officials, government agencies, and private businesses, of making it plain that I have absolutely zero tolerance for “woke”, and that any attempt to introduce the woke agenda will result in the immediate termination of business between us.”

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago

Very intriguing analysis, thank you. I wish there was something you’d said that failed the logic test, but there isn’t. The real question, is then, how will we get the critical mass of dissent together to stop the lunatics running the asylum?

Steven Campbell
Steven Campbell
3 months ago

My antennae are alerted when I read the term, gun violence. If someone shoots you, stabs you or shoves you in front of a train, they, not the gun or knife or train committed the violence. Can we please get this straight?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

I have no idea what this has to do with the article, but I take this as a coded apologia for the anti gun control lobby.

Your argument is simply playing with language. Both intention and weapons are needed to kill. Although even intention can be questionable – did he intend to kill or perhaps only wound?

Did the Hiroshima bomb kill tens of thousands? No, in your argument! I think most people would disagree. If we had not gun control in the UK, I think it is pretty clear that many, many more people would be killed than now die in ‘knife crime’ *. Exactly as in the US. Plus, by the nature of the weaponry, there would be a far greater chance of innocent bystanders being injured in any violence.

[* Perhaps this formulation could be amended to ‘crime carried out by people with knives’?! How that circumlocution advances our understanding in any way is beyond me..]

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Jacqueline Walker
Jacqueline Walker
3 months ago

Interesting, but hopefully because it does demonstrate that these things never last forever.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 months ago

So long is does not prevent you all driving like wizards at high speed, sideways on ice and gravel…

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 months ago

Kiittos, Jukka, for sharing your experience and your words of warning for us. It is a warning well-taken.
Back in the late 70’s, I was composing songs and recording them. I managed to record a couple of vinyl LPs, Something for Everyone, and Revelation 5:9.
The songs recorded therein carried a serious message, sung and delivered in the “folk” genre. With a little help from me friends in the studio, we were able to turn out a meaningful piece of musical work. A year after the first project, my life took a Christian turn. The second album presents a Christian message.
After that youthful phase of my life, I married, became a husband, father. All the music took a back seat to family and other spiritual pursuits.
Many years later, last year, I received a communication from Anssi Lihtonen, a young Finnish podcaster. He had come across the albums, listened attentively to the messages therein, and acquired an appreciation for my music and the message therein. Long story short, we did an online interview, snippets of which are interspersed between the songs themselves.
Anssi’s ongoing podcast project is Cosmic Turtle:
https://idaidaida.net/episodes/cosmic-turtle-2021-07-05
As a 70-year-old songwriter-turned-novelist, I felt that my life’s work was fulfilled, when a young Finnish podcaster came across the musical labors of my early search for meaning and purpose in life. He then provided for me a www platform to present a significant chunk of my life’s work. Thus did Anssi propel the youthful project to mature exposure at an international level through the Cosmic Turtle.
Thank God for Anssi and for Finland. May the people of Finland stand and prosper, forever beyond the grasp of the Russian bear!