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From Siilis (Finnish Hedgehogs) to Joining NATO …

August 4, 2022

A Finnish hedgehog – siili in Finnish

A Finnish hedgehog (siili) originally posted 11 years ago on social media but the photo itself taken in late 1980s close to the apartment complex where we were living at the time in Kaivoksela (Vantaa) a suburb north of Helsinki. It popped up again as old post sometimes do reminding me of those special, culturally and political rich and “challenging” (for me) years. Shy, gentle creatures, the family was always pleased to discover one in the nearby forests close to our apartment complex where we would wander all seasons of the year, cross country skiing in the winter, searching for wild blueberries in the summer and mushrooms in the fall.

Keep thinking how it is that Finland moved politically from where it was when the family left the country after a nearly five year stay – a neutral country between East and West – with a rich social-democratic political economy that was more and more impressive the longer we stayed there – to a nation moving head first into neo-liberal economic spheres with a population in its overwhelming majority supporting the country’s entry into NATO, and a more antagonistic approach to its eastern neighbor, Russia.

Some of it has to do with geopolitics – neutrality made sense during the Cold War and ceased, at least according to some, once the USSR collapsed, when Finland could jettison its more neutral stance and do what it has long wanted to do – become a more integral part of the European capitalist West… Joining the European Union which the Finns thought them might be able to influence in the realm of its creating something akin to a regional social contract (but they failed here) was ultimately a big step to the right politically as was the Finnish military increasingly joining in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program by which Finnish military leadership became addicted to U.S. high tech weaponry … but there’s more to it than this…

Had many Finnish friends – thirty years on, I’m still in contact with many of them (through social media and other means)… Most of them were, like myself, of the Left, politically and even those that weren’t were, by U.S. standards at the time very liberal (in the good sense of the term). Virtually all support their country’s stampede into NATO… Such is life.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Shortell permalink
    August 4, 2022 9:40 am

    Why do they support joining NATO? Have there been any overt acts of aggression by Russia toward Finland (in the last 80 years lol). Do they accept the evidence that Russia has shown no territorial ambitions outside of Ukraine in Europe? (Even in Ukraine, there was, until 2022, no evidence, other than Crimea, of a goal of annexation, only of protecting the Russian-speakers.) Does Finland have today a right-wing government that rejoices in provoking Russia, as does the US? What are those of your friends saying who REJECT NATO?

  2. William Watts permalink
    August 4, 2022 1:23 pm

    Interesting. Love the picture of Ms Hedgehog.

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