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The future human landscape of Finland

June 19, 2008

While we can debate how many foreigners will come to live in Finland in the next decade and if they’ll come to live in the country, what will Finland’s human landscape look like in the next and following decades as the country become more multicultural?

By multicultural I am referring to Canada’s novel immigrant policy whereby everyone is equal – regardless of color, national and religious background – in the job market and has the right to maintain and practice their culture.

One interesting matter that worries me about the whole debate of foreigners in Finland is that it is very one-sided. We rarely pose the following question: How receptive of a society are we to outsiders? Does Finnish society have the ability to accept people from different backgrounds as full members of society?

Or does Finland want to follow the questionable path of some countries like France and the US, where unskilled labor is exploited to the maximum?

So what will the future human landscape of Finland look like? If we are able to attract enough foreigners to live and work in our country, it will mean a lot of changed to how we define and  perceive  Finnish culture. There  will be the majority culture and the so-called minority cultures which,  like subcultures, will have their own distinctive identity in Finnish culture. These new members of our society will speak differently the Finnish and/or Swedish language not because they do not know the language well enough, but because they want to develop their own Finnish identity through language and culture.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 19, 2008 11:42 am

    “By multicultural I am referring to Canada’s novel immigrant policy whereby everyone is equal – regardless of color, national and religious background – in the job market and has the right to maintain and practice their culture.”

    Oh wow. then explain http://www.notcanada.com

    “Or does Finland want to follow the questionable path of some countries like France and the US, where unskilled labor is exploited to the maximum?”

    No, absolutely not, that is why there are the same requirements for everybody to speak the language, understand the culture and obey the laws.

    “Does Finnish society have the ability to accept people from different backgrounds as full members of society?”

    Yes, absolutely. Theres several examples of this.

    “There will be the majority culture and the so-called minority cultures which, like subcultures, will have their own distinctive identity in Finnish culture.”

    Yes, and its a freedom of choice. if you decide to isolate yourself into a subculture like a cross-dressing goth then you can also forget about getting employed. its a freedom of choice and everybody is free to choose their path. The goth is free to wear a black velvet dress and paint his face white and I am as free not to employ him.

  2. Enrique permalink
    June 19, 2008 2:06 pm

    Thanks again for your comments, DeTant. Yes, immigration has an ugly side to it but there are differences from country to country. When my father immigrated to the US in the early 1960s he did find work and built his life and advanced more than he could have ever done in his country of birth. There were also others that were exploited and depict those cases in the website you showed.
    What you are saying in the second comment is normal. People should respect the laws of the country they live in. If they don’t, they pay the consequences. Can you force a person to speak a language? Certainly if they don’t they will have problems finding work and be marginalized by society. Language is not a golden pill, a panacea for the problem. There are Latin Americans in Spain who speak Spanish as their mother tongue and Francophone Africans in France. Respect for culture is a two-way street.
    If you agree with three I am happy.
    Certainly in comment four there are a whole bunch of issues. Are Blacks, Mexican Americans and other groups in the US aspiring to dress and speak like White Americans? Certainly not. They want to identify with their group but are at the same time Americans.

  3. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 19, 2008 7:09 pm

    Yes but this is not America. This is Finland. So if you want to live in America -move there, don’t try to bring it to here.

    Every nation has its right to be unique – but also other nations must respect when they are visiting. Right now it seems the only thing the EU is bringing to Finland is trouble. Look at the travellers now in Järvenpää. As EU citizens the police cannot do much anything – so it seems you can steal, drive drunk, and do black labor without taxes if you are an EU citizen, but if the locals try to do that, they have to face the consequences. That is your “multiculturalism” in action. And that is definitely what is wrong with it. If these people can’t respect the local laws or customs, as in behaving properly at the campsite to start with – then what exactly are we benefitting of their presence? Does it enrich our culture we now know some assholes can freely come and act as they please and we can’t do anything and the police does even less? Hell, if the local people there weren’t anti-foreigner before, they surely are now.

    And what came to my example it was just an example. If you want to isolate yourself into a subculture don’t be surprised if your subculture is isolated. Finland is full of subcultures, but if the boss says you don’t wear a piercing to work then you don’t.

  4. June 20, 2008 7:42 am

    Enrique – Multiculturalism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As Hungarian immigrants in the 50s the expectation socially was that we ‘fit’ the dominant society and not expect it to conform to our habits and expectations. The Japanese populations, pre-Warll, made efforts to also fit themselves to the dominant European-based society, and yet, look what we canadians did to them when Japan declared war. We divested them from rights of citizenship and freedom, confiscated that which they had worked hard to access in life, and sequestered them, much like animals, in ‘Camps’. It seems that a dominant European culture cannot countenance the ‘difference’ presented by another racial group of people, especially if that group determines it has to live within its original cultural practices and not conform to the dominant culture. Multiculturalism, as it is practised here, has changed the nature of Canada, and it will continue to morph into something unique, inspite of bemoanings to the contrary and resentments toward inevitable change. it is the process of this change which provides temporary stress. We Caucasians cannot have our way forever – we have annexed the countries of other races, stripped their countries of their natural resources in order to enrich ourselves. If other races come a-calling to partake of the bounty in our countries, we simply have to suck it up, otherwise the situation will be inequitable. This is a natural consequence of our social and economic behaviour in the past toward other peoples. the Piper must be paid. G

  5. Enrique permalink
    June 21, 2008 7:12 am

    Hi DeTant, my idea of culture is that it is a tool that helps us adapt in society. “Ayything learned” could be a good definition. I remember very well the Finland of the 1960s and 1970s and think how sad that things have changed from those times. It shows two things: 1) I’ve aged and 2) things change. Finnish culture, like any other culture, changes and receives influences from other cultures. There are all types but the picture you give of “multicultural” Finland is exaggerated, in my opinion. Finns do the same things. Moreover, what is the solution? Should Finland close its borders?
    Great to hear from you G, multiculturalism is a complex process no doubt! But what would you put in its place? If we live in a country and world were people from different cultures are interacting, what policy or measure will help those cultures from getting the greatest synergy and benefits from their multiculturalism? In the 1950s Canada was a very ethnocentric country when it came to First Nations citizens. It was as you said every immigrants aim to adapt. Things are different these days. If you disagree with Canada’s multicultural policy, what would you put in its place?

  6. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 22, 2008 8:49 am

    Oh my, I’m actually glad we got rid of Kekkoslovakia. The 1990’s was the time of rapid change. Now back then it was really shocking to see the changes happen in only a few years instead of the normal ten. I guess people are now accustomed to the pace of changes getting faster.

  7. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 25, 2008 7:49 am

    And here we see another example of “multiculturalism” in progress:
    Chinese workers with Chinese conditions: http://www.yle.fi/news/id94173.html
    This is the kind of thing you promote? Importing slave labor? There is no “need for workers” in Finland, there is a “need to pay decent salaries”.

  8. Enrique permalink
    June 26, 2008 8:50 am

    DeTant, I agree with you about the outlandish exploitation of immigrants but I don’t understand what kind of a society you want to promote in Finland. Is the solution shutting off all foreigners from Finland? What about those Finns with different cultural and religious backgrounds? How do we recognize them? Certainly we must act against slave labor and human trafficking but there are many sides of immigration. I do not feel that I am less of a person culturally because I grew up in a multicultural society (USA) and lived a great part of my adult life in a society that had forgotten its multicultural background (Finland). Remember how Finns thought that they weren’t even Europeans because they were from some tribe in the middle of Russia? If you look at the matter historically, Finland has always had a great amount of influence from other cultures, which is what the Finnish culture is made up of like others in Europe. What made Finland more “monocultural” if we can call it that? Our geopolitical place in Europe after World War 2. We were so isolated that we actually started to think that we were detached culturally from Europe. Of course this is a wise tale. Finnish culture has had a lot of influences from many cultures. The problem is that too many people still live in the “cultural bubble” of the post-war period.

  9. June 26, 2008 10:26 am

    “does Finland want to follow the questionable path of some countries like France and the US, where unskilled labor is exploited to the maximum?”
    Simply yes.
    DeTant got it in one.
    The one reason I’ve (and as you know I a foreigner) not been hired in Finland is I have and always will ask for union rate, and conditions.
    I’ve never been approached by the labor exchange even when there was a construction (and I’m a qualified bricklayer) labor shortage.
    The business people in Finland are a bunch of bastards- they have (top business men – like the Nokia head -as you know) have been advising the government for the last 25 years, and have continually cut back on social services; keep the social security payment the lowest in Europe- certainly the lowest up north- Scandinavia. Child benefit has not been increased (I’m not sure of the date) since 98.
    All I can say is thank God for the Irish who threw a spanner in the works last week saying NO! to the Lisbon Treaty. The Business Lobby (were furious) want to democratize the EU countries, and roll through any bill they see fit to carry on the slavery– make the rich richer, and the rest can eat the crumbs off their table.
    … to be con. ……………

  10. Enrique permalink
    June 30, 2008 11:24 am

    Hi Paddy, great to hear from you. One interesting side to the argument of what kind of a multicultural society Finland will turn into could that there will be very little of it in the future. Even though there are many expectations, the reality is that the foreigners that will live and work in Finland will be mostly Poles, Belarus and Ukrainians. Finland is not the only country that is competing for workers. There are many other ones. So, as we face a labor crunch that can hit our economic growth and standard of living, we prefer in Finland to discuss whether it is a good matter to bring foreign workers or not.

  11. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    July 2, 2008 2:19 am

    Why is there this 20% unemployment with foreigners if there is a “need for workers”? Are they all whoppin lazy then?

  12. san permalink
    July 7, 2008 11:02 pm

    dear suburban life. Your romper room approach to morality is chilling . so according to you we europeans owe everyone int the overpopulated third world for what english and french kings did three hundred years ago? wow really? Not that your average european immigrant had a choice either desperate or pressed into dangerous military service. Not to mention when my english and french ancestors came to canada they came humbly, to cold, harsh land. They weren’t the exiting middle class from lebanon or hongkong; coming to a newplace awash with cash so they can more easily own an suv. fuck off get your own country. we don’t owe you shit. stop having so many children if your country can’t provide them with a job. official multiculturalism has ruined canada don’t let it happen in finland.
    the last time I checked the historical record aside from the rush to the american west any large migration of foreign people requires defeating the home army first. Remember the mongols? Turks?
    now because of corporate politenesss they can just role right on in; work our industries build their churches and breed our women? I don’t think the misdeads of a few men should undermine the whole social contract. yes social contract. that has evolved to protect workers rights, cultural security, predetermination etc.

  13. Enrique permalink
    July 7, 2008 11:26 pm

    Hi San, many thanks for dropping by. We can disagree on whether multiculturalism is a good matter or not. What is your answer to how people from different cultures should live together? Should we exclude such people from coming to a society.
    Canadian multiculturalism is as you know an official government policy. It means that people compete and coexist in theory in society but can practice their culture. It is a different approach than in the US, where people from different cultures take part — excuse the 1970s phrase — melting pot. I have asked this question before and never received an convincing answer.

  14. Tiwaz permalink
    August 25, 2008 5:11 am

    Issue of culture is simple.

    You move to area/nation with different culture, then you change.

    You cannot expect natives to change their way of life or their society to fit you, who came there voluntarily. Fact that so many immigrants or Finnish passport foreigners demand such behavior shows how big danger it actually is. Give it a finger, and it will demand whole hand.

    I have no desire to see any parts of my country changed into foreigner ghetto. Finland has always survived due to unity of it’s people and society. To permit foreigners to undermine it would be flat out suicidal.

    In short (as I have said before)… Integrate, assimilate or vacate.

    Canada, USA and so forth are not good examples, as each enjoys large amount of land. There is room to stick those alien groups into. Or that they lack unifying culture as it is. Since there is no dominant, established culture there is less issues with it being attacked by immigrants.

    But it also means lack of unity. As we see from Canada in news, it is not unified. It experiences problems repeatedly for example with Quebec. And Canada is having it easy compared to USA… That is country built on competing, not helping, guy next to you. It lacks unity, leading to extremely divided society which would not survive if it was not located far from any reasonable threats.

    Or Iraq. It is weak society riddled with problems resulting from having various ethnicl/religious/cultural groups in same area. Lack of unity is their undoing. Once military force as unifying factor is lost, that country will go into civil war. Same with Yugoslavia. Though in these cases the “multicultural” society is not due to immigrants but native populations getting stuck with one another.

    But should immigrant populations be permitted to grow, and become semi-native… They would become such problem.

    Finland does not have benefit of having huge amount of excess space, nor do we have blessing of being completely unreachable. We have our threat right next door to the east.

    Finnish human landscape either is Finnish, or occupied.

  15. Enrique permalink
    August 25, 2008 7:41 am

    Your negative view on immigration and its benefits distorts your perception that it is and can be a positive matter. It is not an issue or large or small territorial space. In the Finnish interior, there are wide open spaces. Go up to the Province of Oulu, Lapland or even Eastern Finland. Space is not the issue. I think the real issue is, as Finns put it so eloquently: “korvien välissä.” (in your head/attitude).
    If multiculturalism would not exist in Canada, the Quebec problem would be even greater. As I mentioned, those countries that use force to rule and impose their cultures on others are the most prone to civil wars and forming cultural ghettos. This is a mistake that Finland should not follow. It should think how the society can learn to accept others as Finns (if they wish to be called that) and nip racism in the bud, especially in the schools to teach children that such an attitude is just unacceptable in a modern developed society like Finland.

  16. Tiwaz permalink
    August 25, 2008 8:17 am

    How about just teaching to immigrants that trying to pretend that Finland is anything but Finland is not acceptable and is grounds for having your benefits cut or you deported? In short, when you are immigrating someone would give you flyer “This is Finland. It is not your native country, learn to accept that or leave.”

    You still fail to see inherent weakness of divided society.

    Areas not inhabited in Finland are mainly rather uninhabitable. Or used for area intensive economical practices (reindeers or forestry).

    You try to enforce idea here that Finn is something that could or should be redefined to benefit immigrants.

    I am saying, immigrants have no business demanding such thing. You can be immigrant in Finland. But you cannot expect to be Finn in Finland without integrating into society and it’s culture.

    Canadian problems would be dramatically reduced if they were able to introduce unified population to their nation. There would be no Quebec issue, Finnish swedes are not issue (outside Ahvenanmaa where they unfortunately have been permitted to become problem!) as they easily fit into Finnish society.

    Multicultural society is either weak or transitional. That just does not work with geography Finland has been cursed with. To try to present multicultural abomination into Finland, and undermine foundation of this society, would be counterproductive.

    People want to migrate to Finland because of our functioning society, that society in turn is built on foundation of Finnish culture. Why you people want to undermine that foundation? Don’t you understand that if it is weakened it will not be able to withstand weight of everything built upon it?

  17. Tiwaz permalink
    August 25, 2008 8:19 am

    Just look at history. Last time Finland lacked unity in society, we had civil war which resulted in weakened country which Russia presumed to be easy pickings.

    Only unity of all the people in Finland prevented this from becoming another “multicultural” soviet domain.

  18. Tiwaz permalink
    August 25, 2008 8:34 am

    Sorry, one more post… Found this bit late.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070112.wximmigrant12/BNStory/National/

    As you like to present Canada as some kind of admirable target for societies to adopt (what happened to idea of letting every kind of society exist? If canadians want to sacrifice their country to altar of multiculturalism let us be what we want to be, monocultural) here is little research made recently on how immigrants do not identify themselves as canadians.

    “Visible-minority immigrants and their children identify less and less with the country, report says”

    Sign of divided, and thus weak, society. People have no feeling of belonging. Canada today would be in deep trouble if put under threat by outside force. Chain is only as strong as weakest link, if there is one group (large enough) in society which is not pulling it’s weight in such dire situation… Results are bad.

    “It is also a warning that Canada, long considered a model of integration, won’t be forever immune from the kind of social disruption that has plagued Europe, where marginalized immigrant communities have erupted in discontent, with riots in the Paris suburbs in the fall of 2005.

    “We need to address the racial divide,” Prof. Reitz said. “Otherwise there is a danger of social breakdown. The principle of multiculturalism was equal participation of minorities in mainstream institutions. That is no longer happening.””

    In short, multicultural society is crumbling. If there is no way to define canadian, how can you be one?

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