It’s common during economic downturns for this sort of attitude to rise, it’s happening here in the UK (BNP, EDL etc), we can see it in America (Tea Party), and in Finland, it’s led to a far right party with 39 seats in parliament (out of 200).
What the nationalists have in common is an old fashioned and bigoted rhetoric. It basically appeals to shortsighted selfishness, and it makes me angry.
So let’s look at the question in more detail, and see if I can unpack my presumptions and into something interesting.
Immigration, EU dues and development aid. (It’s worth noting, this is all stuff the Tories campaign on, I’m fairly happy to lump them in with the far right). Basically, the idea is to stop giving money to foreign entities, and stop foreign people from coming into the country.
The development aid is particularly wrenching. Basically, there’s a blow to the economy in Finland, (and most places) so life becomes a little harder. This means we/they should stop giving money to support those in absolute poverty on the other side of the world?
Let’s be clear here, there are people dying from lack of access to clean water, sewage, and basic infrastructure. That is what development aid goes on (in theory, in practice, bureacracy sucks, but plenty trickles down). If there is anybody in Finland dying from the same reasons, I would be incredibly surprised.
To say that ‘hard times’ mean a country can ignore the people suffering on the other side of the world is to completely misrepresent the notion of hard times. Economic instability can be brutal, but there is more brutality out than than a westernised economy can imagine. Unwillingness to face that is what makes our society so inhuman.
The EU is complicated, but I generally see it as an opportunity to transcend barriers between people and work together to create a healthy, huge, community. It’s raised standards across Europe and it’s certainly giving Britain a few challenges to actually make itself respectable (I’m thinking air pollution in London, immediately, but that is not all).
The EU supports a lot of people, and raises the bar for a lot of countries. It’s high minded and allows people to meet other people. Which is immense. Last year I hitched to Germany, and met huge numbers of Europeans. National borders were almost irrelevant. I felt free.
And immigration. Again, we’re talking about people. We’re not talking about tides of evil washing against shores. We’re talking about real people looking to make it work in different places. Ignore what rhetoric you hear. There will be huge skill shortages if we don’t let people flow. Borders are terrible.
When you deal with a crisis, the worst thing to do is close yourself down. Nationalism is the equivalent of curling up in a ball an snapping at anyone who comes near.
Whatever happens in the future, I think we need more people working together to deal with it.
Collapse borders. Reach out.
Illustration by Lucy.
This week unstruck discusses the Finland Election results from last week. Nationalist party True Finns gained +32 seats in the parliament, and became the 3rd biggest party. This has been a very surprising and alarming result for everyone, and raises the question ‘why?’.