Polemics & Exchanges

On True Finns

In the December issue of Chronicles, Edward Dutton writes about the peculiar self-censorship that characterizes Finnish political and cultural life (“Letter From Finland: Finland, Democracy, and Those Cartoons,” Correspondence).  This reality was confirmed as the magazine was likely going to press, when the Finnish prime minister told journalists that they should not ask government ministers whether they have paid their TV-license fees or hired illegal workers, since a politician’s lawfulness has to be assumed, and such questions are “hurtful” and “improper.”

Modern political correctness aside, the uneasiness with dissenting opinions in Finland has been a complex phenomenon, relating to national characteristics, political threats, and other factors.  Disagreements have often been more hidden here than in other countries.  There are, however, a couple of objections to Dr. Dutton’s article that I must register.

Dr. Dutton’s attempt to trace the roots of this climate in the interwar period is incorrect.  Historians disagree about whether the nationalist, anticommunist Lapua movement should be defined as fascist.  Only at the end of its existence could this be said of it.  It was not “persuaded to back down” by President Svinhufvud;...

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