Yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations were very enjoyable on a number of levels. I’m delighted to have been here for Finland’s Centenary and I couldn’t be prouder of this insanely tough and stubborn little country.
Obviously the day was also a watershed for me, since I decided to do more than just talk up a storm about humanity and bigotry and all that stuff. I’ve said from the start that a time will come when we have to do more, to stand and show our faces, to let them see our numbers before they tattoo them on our arms. Well, for me that time came this Independence Day.
Source. And I know I’m singling dreameling out here – but it’s really just because he’s the most vocal fence-sitter we have on this blog.
It really wasn’t that heroic or amazing. It was actually just a long, enjoyable walk with a few good friends and a few thousand like-minded folks alongside. The point of it all was to stage a counter-demonstration to match, and hopefully outnumber, the neo-Nazi alliance that had decided to march for their values on the same day.
Well, here’s what the news of the hour had to say, lest I be seen as biased (the “leftists, anarchists and students” were the team I was marching and bagpiping with).
Yes, I’m sure there were some perfectly earnest and innocent people genuinely fearful for their beloved cultural heritage in the crowd there. I’m sure they had the best and most noble reasons for marching in opposition to immigration, cultural shift, and all the other things that led them to be marching shoulder to shoulder with actual goddamn Nazis.
Fuck them. Fuck them all. Societies change, or they die. Wear a helmet, precious, because Finland’s culture has changed even since my arrival in 2000, and it’s not about to stop any time soon.
The march went fine, although the crowd was bloody enormous and there were some delays as we crawled our way through the middle of the city. Police lined the way and were quick to step in when there were disturbances. Or so I’m told – I myself didn’t see a single incident, although at the very start of the march there was one old dude who kept adding “DOWN WITH CAPITALISM” to every slogan shouted by the organisers. The police stepped over to have a word with him, and he basically calmed down after that.
Otherwise, it was quiet. Linza told me that, as we probably should have seen coming, the march picked up a bunch of heavily inebriated and no-idea-what-was-even-going-on locals from the central railway station when we stopped, and these people had a few fistfights along the way and were escorted quickly into police vans. I can’t actually remember a time I walked past the central railway station without seeing drunk people getting in a fight and being escorted into police cars, though, so…
The Nazis’ 612 march crossed ours at one point, and we had to pause while they scuttled past. I was too far back to see it but apparently there were some more scuffles and arrests at that point. One of my friends went up to the police line to see what he could see, but reported it was all well shut-down.
Someone drew a dickbutt on this car while we were standing around waiting. And an anarchist sign, so I guess there were at least a few of them. It was madness.
But that was about it. Oh, I did see an Antifa though. All in nice clean black with a shiny Antifa flag he’d evidently purchased on Amazon. I don’t think he did anything, although he might have drawn the dickbutt.
Assorted bullshit clickbait publications predictably underexaggerated the number of ordinary people (I will not dignify the agendas of these corporations by describing myself as a leftist, an anarchist or a student, although I suppose I am a leftist). They also focussed, of course, on the arrests and conflicts that occurred, even though they were pretty vague about it because – well, because they were pretty much making shit up.
“Hundreds”, said one (regarding how many of us there were). “Up to a thousand, according to police estimate”, said another. I’m not sure if that’s their selective quoting or police inability to count past five hundred, but there was a solid two or three thousand of us out there. A thousand people doesn’t fill the main roadway through the centre of Helsinki ten abreast with neither end in sight from where I was standing somewhere in the middle.
My piping was well received, at least until my fingers froze and I decided to quit while I was ahead.
Then there was this. It’s in Finnish but it’s well worth a read. The chairman (I think) of the True Finns nationalist white supremacist party had a few choice (by which I mean paranoid and idiotic) things to say about the demonstrations. Not least of which was that the whole alpaca thing was a leftist conspiracy intended to silence the voice of the people.
In case you were unaware, the alpaca thing was an Independence Day event for young kids, where there was going to be alpacas and bunnies. The event was moved because the poor Nazis had to march through there.
As a result, our slogans and signs were alpaca heavy, and about five thousand people signed up and attended the kids’ alpaca thing to send a clear message to the police, and that message was when you have a double-booking of Nazis and a fucking petting zoo, you move the fucking Nazis you cretinous cunts.
Anyway, Halla-Aho thought it was a conspiracy. And I’m torn between wanting his statement to make him look as dumb and crazy as he actually is, and wanting this to actually be a conspiracy.
I’ll close with a very nice summary of the issues by Janne Korhonen, who I do not know personally but felt his words were good enough to attempt a translation. Of the marches and counter-marches, he, had this to say:
Okei, mulla ois nyt yksi toivomus niinsanotuille tolkun ihmisille, jotka tänään kauhistelevat natsien marsseja vastustavia vastamielenosoittajia ja ovat omasta mielestään tarkan puolueettomia pitäessään “ääripäitä” yhtä pahoina asioina:
Okay, I have one wish for the people who are horrified by the anti-demonstrators opposing Nazi marches – the people who, in their own opinion, are absolutely impartial in their view that “both extremes” are evil:
Voisitteko pliis olla sit ikinä hehkuttamatta ketään natseja vastustanutta henkilöä, George Orwellista Sophie Scholliin?
Could you please never again talk about people who opposed the Nazis, from George Orwell to Sophie Scholl?
Tälleen historiaa jonkin verran tuntevan näkökulmasta kun näyttää lähinnä irvokkaalta, miten monet ihmiset ovat omasta mielestään koviakin demokratian ja ihmisoikeuksien kannattajia, mutta ovat valmiita kuitenkin sitten käytännössä olemaan juuri niitä aidalla istuvia toisaalta-toisaalta-tyyppejä silloin kun ihmisoikeuksia voisi ihan konkreettisesti puolustaa.
From a rather familiar historical perspective, it seems almost irrelevant how many people are in their own opinion hard-core supporters of democracy and human rights, but are completely prepared to sit on the fence and on-the-other-hand when there’s an actual tangible opportunity for human rights to be defended.
Mulle on vuosien saatossa tullut semmoinen tuntuma, että ihan tosi moni nyt “tasapuolisesti” asioihin suhtautuva ihminen pitää yksityisesti itseään sellaisena ihmisenä, joka kuitenkin sitten “tositilanteessa” olisi ihan varman ehdottomasti hyvien puolella.
I, over the years, have very much got the impression that a lot of people who are now looking at “both sides” of these issues privately consider themselves to be the sort of people who, in an actual “real-life situation”, would absolutely be on the side of the good guys.
Newsflash: jos tän todempi tilanne tulee, niin sitten on jo liian myöhäistä vastustaa. Elämä ei ole mitään seikkailuelokuvaa missä on selvästi mustiin pukeutuneet pahikset ja yhtä selvät hyvikset. Totalitarismia ja sortoa vastustaneet ihmiset ovat ennenkin olleet kauniisti sanottuna mielipiteitä jakavia henkilöitä, ja ihan tarkalleen nykyisten tolkun ihmisten kaltaiset ihmiset olivat juurikin niitä, jotka 1930-luvulla käänsivät katseensa ja perustelivat itselleen, miksi juuri he eivät kuitenkaan voineet lähteä mukaan mihinkään “räyhäämiseen,” vaikka ihan tosi kovasti mielensä sopukoissa natsismia vastustivatkin.
Newsflash: If this is the case, then it is too late to resist. Life is not an adventure movie where there are clear bad guys dressed in black and equally clear goodies. People who have opposed totalitarianism and oppression have been outspoken and eloquent in the past, and the “moderate” people were the ones who turned their gaze in the 1930s and justified to themselves why they could not resort to physical acts even though they were totally opposed to Nazism.
Tolkun ihmiset oli just niitä, joiden mielestä fasismi oli kyllä inhottava aate – mutta Espanjaan fasismia vastaan konkreettisesti taistelemaan lähtenyt Orwell oli vaarallinen fanaatikko.
The moderates were exactly those who believed that fascism was a disgusting phenomenon – but in spite of fascism in Spain, to fight outright according to thinkers like Orwell was the act of a dangerous fanatic.
[Google Translate translated “tolkun ihmiset” as “the people of Tolku”, hence my blog tagline. I myself was unsure what it meant, until M.A. explained it to me – we’re talking here about the fence-sitting, self-styled reasonable middle-ground folks who seem to think that there’s some benefit in meeting Nazis halfway, or defeating them in the marketplace of ideas.
And shit, they may not be wrong about that. But in order to defeat them in the marketplace of ideas, I’m pretty sure we’re first going to need to show them that we outnumber them ten to one, or preferably a thousand to one. Because if we let them march unopposed, the next place they’re going to march is right the fuck over us you fucking, fucking morons.]
Tolkun ihmiset oli just niitä, joiden mielestä natsit oli kyllä vastustettava asia, mutta kaikenlainen toiminta natseja vastaan – esimerkiksi kommunistien toimesta – oli ihan vääränlaista sammuttamista, ja vieläpä epäilyttävien tyyppien tekemänä.
The moderates were exactly those who thought the Nazis had to be resisted, but any kind of action – for example, by the Communists – was wrong, and the product of suspicious types.
Tolkun ihmiset oli just niitä, jotka sitten sodan jälkeen julistivat kovaan ääneen, että he kyllä ihan oikeasti olivat natseja vastaan – oli vaan niin monta hyvää syytä miksi juuri he eivät voineet tehdä mitään.
The moderates were exactly those who, after the war, declared loudly that they really had been against the Nazis – there were so many good reasons why they simply could not do anything.
Totalitarismi ei tule niin, että yhtenä päivänä heräämme rautasaappaiden kopinaan, ja sitten tolkun ihmiset heräävät sankarilliseen vastarintaan. Totalitarismi tulee niin, että totalitarismi ja sitä ajavat normalisoivat itsensä koko ajan normaalimmaksi osaksi yhteiskuntaa. Tolkun ihmisten rooli tässä on se, että he paheksuvat, kritisoivat ja epäilevät kaikkea toimintaa – jumalauta alpakoista lähtien – mikä saattaisi jotenkin haitata totalitaristien pyrintöjä. Milloin järjestäjä on väärä, milloin toiminnan muoto on ihan väärä, milloin mikäkin on se syy, miksi juuri tätä – tai mitään – vastarinnan muotoa ei pidä tukea.
Totalitarianism does not happen overnight, waking us up one morning to the sound of jackboots, at which point the moderates wake up and mount heroic resistance. Totalitarianism comes when it, and its driving forces, normalise themselves day by day into our society. The role of the moderates is to denounce, criticise, and suspect all activities – right down to the motherfucking alpacas – which might somehow hinder the efforts of totalitarians. Regardless of whether the organizer is wrong, whether the form of action is wrong, what its reasons might be – the form of resistance should not be supported.
Tällä tavalla tolkun ihmiset normalisoivat juuri itselleen, miksi juuri heidän ei pidä “provosoitua” – eli miksi juuri heidän pitää olla hiljaa. Tämä on semmoinen kehitys, missä askel askeleelta tolkun ihmisistä tulee justiinsa niitä, jotka sitten jälkikäteen kyllä selittelevät, että olisin minäkin ollut kovasti vastaan, mutta mutta mutta.
In this way, moderates rationalize to themselves why they should not be “provoked” – that is, why they should simply be silent. This is a development whereby, step by step, the moderates will become those who then retroactively explain that I would have been totally against it too, but – but – but...
Muistan hyvin, että vielä 20 vuotta sitten koulussakin ihmettelimme, että miten se suuri enemmistö ei liittynyt vaikka Sophie Scholliin. Nyt ei tarvitse ihmetellä: se kävi juuri näin.
I remember well that even 20 years ago in school we wondered how the great majority did not join their voices to that of Sophie Scholl. Now, we no longer have to wonder: it is happening again.
Ei ole ihan sattumaa, että ihan ylivoimainen enemmistö historiaa lukeneista on nykyään aika pirun huolestunut siitä, että natsit marssivat kaduilla. Eikä ole ihan sattumaa, että niin monet historioitsijat yrittävät varoitella, että tarvitsemme tehokkaampaa paheksuntaa natseja vastaan, emme natsien normalisoimista.
It is no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of history students today are mortally afraid that the Nazis are marching in the streets. And it is no coincidence that so many historians are trying to warn us that we need to mount a more effective rejection of the Nazi ideology, not strive for their normalisation.
Tämä ei johdu siitä, että historioitsijat olisivat vainoharhaisia. Tämä johtuu siitä, että historiaa tuntevat ymmärtävät, että vaikka nykyinen tilanne ei johtaisikaan natsismin kauheuksien toistumiseen aivan sellaisenaan, riski isoista vahingoista on todellinen. Ja siitä, että historiaa tuntevat tajuavat, mikä rooli sillä hiljaisella enemmistöllä ja sen hiljaisuudella on ollut aina, kun fasismia on rakennettu.
This is not because historians are paranoid. This is because historians know that even if the present situation does not lead to an exact repeat of the Nazi horrors of the past, the risk of major damage is nonetheless real. And the fact that historians are familiar with the role played by the silent majority and its silence has always been the foundation on which fascism has been built.
And now, back into hiatus I go.