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Ghostbusting national identities

December 6, 2008

Linda has posed an interesting question: What is Finnish culture? Even though the answer to the question is more complex than one would think, it brings forth some very important points about our identity and who we believe we are.

One of the biggest problems with “national identities” and “cultures” is that they are built with heavy doses of myths. Other national cultures, such as the Germans, British, Brazilians, Japanese also use myths to build the pillars of their national and cultural identity.

One of the biggest myths about Finnish culture is that it is a tribe; Finns are honest; Finns love nature; Finns have Sisu etc… In every country the children are breast fed and taught that their culture and language is the best. We speak of internationalization but, in fact, we are brought up to be very povincial and ethnocentric beings. In order to hide our myopic views of ourselves and others, we allow ourselves to be spoon-fed with a heavy dose of myths about ourselves.

National identities have got the world into a lot of problems. It has been responsible for sparking wars, internal and external, and mass murder as happened recently in the former Yugoslavia and Nazi Germany. It continues to be the fuel that racism runs on.

I am certain that if we do not end up destroying ourselves, humankind will look at this period 50 to 100 years from now and feel sorry for us. They will say in disbelief: Didn’t they understand that cultural differences are human made and maintained with the help of myths.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiwaz permalink
    December 7, 2008 10:48 am

    You forget that in Yugoslavia and Germany actual conflict took place along lines of CULTURES.

    If there had been no such division, there would not have been war.

    Cultural differences are made to make sure people belonging to one group are not at each others throats all the time. Attempt to pretend that cultural traditions do not hold any use or value in modern world has been proven failure.

    As you see with Yuguslavia.

    I predict that in 50-100 years current delusion of multiculturalism has gone the way of communism. They were social experiments which relied on humans not being humans. And as such will fail.

    In 50-100 years there will no longer be multicultural France or UK. Natives will have had enough of foreigner oppression and have done something to reclaim their society and country. And it might very well have been bloody. But such is the way of fixing failures of social experiments.

    Cultural differences are not myths, else there would be no culture shock when moving to another country. But there is, and that is due to people doing things differently. Believing in different values. Cultural differences are real, and they must be accepted as real.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 7, 2008 11:05 am

      This is exactly what worries me about you: you justify what happened in Yugoslavia (ethnic cleansing) and in Nazi Germany (Holocaust) because you blame it on diversity. What about if we switch the argument around: In this diverse society some madmen got power and attempted to destroy everything that was different from them. There is a new book written by Peter Longerich, the first one ever, on Heinrich Himmler’s biography. It show the personality and life of the man who was responsible for the worst genocide in known history. So you are telling me that we should not have provoked “poor” Himmler?! That he lost his temper and murdered over 6 million people in human slaughterhouses?! Too many justify silently indirectly and directly the Nazi regime because they are unaware of the horrors they committed.

      –Cultural differences are not myths, else there would be no culture shock when moving to another country. But there is, and that is due to people doing things differently. Believing in different values. Cultural differences are real, and they must be accepted as real.

      Of course different cultures exist. However, they are BUILT on heavy doses of myths. They are not real because they are confined in manmade borders. If you really think about it, there are not great differences between cultures. The differences we create are in part true (language, custom) but mostly in between our ears.

  2. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 7, 2008 10:57 am

    Actually at this moment we can see for example in bigger cities new “cultures” arising. Also theres sub- and supercultures that surpass any lines, like those in the internet. So it is a totally ongoing process. Theres cultures that have survived and evolved for thousands of years in say the rainforests and jungles surviving even theres been other, stronger cultures sweeping over them. Then theres been new, artificial cultures some of which have fallen, some which have survived… cultures evolve, they’re not stagnant, not even the ones 1000’s of years old, though they might evolve slowly. Even if there would be an artificial global monoculture one day, it would soon collapse into subcultures. Thats the human way.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 7, 2008 11:08 am

      I think we are getting a bit melodramatic with your character assassination.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 7, 2008 11:25 am

      Exactly, DeTant, much of our history has been characterized by myths and the right for bigger cultures to devour smaller ones. Despite this way of doing things, we still have wars, strife, hunger and environmental disaster. It is because we have NOT learned to respect and appreciate other cultures. When you speak of “natives” in the jungles being steamrolled by “white men,” aren’t you talking about the same things when someone demands in Finland that all foreigners do not have a right to practise their cultures?

  3. Kristian permalink
    December 7, 2008 5:46 pm

    Quick! Undermine traditional identities, attack traditional family values and replace it with artificial, state-based ‘indentities’, consumerism and ego-centric hedonism (call it a celebration of individuality).

    What about us who see traditional identites as important, who would like to keep Finns from disintegrating into a rootless mass of “cosmopolitans”*.

    *In the old days, when people spoke of cosmopolitans, they usually meant people who were well educated and knowledgeable in several different languages and cultures and could switch between them with ease. Nowadays anyone with a rudimentary grasp of Broken English and the right values is a “cosmopolitan” and a “citizen of the world” because the ideal world for these people is monocultural..

    People like you are the useful idiots of those, who form the biggest threat to existence of cultural diversity on this planet of ours, that is to say multinational corporations in cahoots with the political class and the media.

    But hey, anything in the name of “progress”.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 7, 2008 6:59 pm

      Hi Kristian, thank you for your comments. Why do you think somebody is attacking you when a person who does not come from your background wants to live with his culture and identity? What is artificial about that? I thing it is not only sensible, but totally justifiable.
      If you like traditional identities (I sort of understand what you mean) then it is your right to enjoy and practice them.

      –People like you are the useful i**** of those, who form the biggest threat to existence of cultural diversity on this planet of ours, that is to say multinational corporations in cahoots with the political class and the media.

      That, Kristian, is called paranoia and it appears that you are inflicted with a heavy dose of it.

  4. Tiwaz permalink
    December 8, 2008 5:17 am

    DeTant, but point is that subcultures still share the core of original culture. It takes extremely long time and usually geographical isolation for them to become two different cultures. Issue of multiculturalism, and it’s failure, is assumption that several totally different cultures without common base would somehow get along.

    Subcultures which are born from same original culture tend to work together as they share the foundation in their original culture. And as long as they are not separated from that foundation, they remain very close alike.

    I have never said cultures do not change, I have tried to point out that totally different cultures cannot work together just fine without one having dominance over the others. Attempt to cultural “equality” will only lead to conflict.

    -This is exactly what worries me about you: you justify what happened in Yugoslavia (ethnic cleansing) and in Nazi Germany (Holocaust) because you blame it on diversity. What about if we switch the argument around: In this diverse society some madmen got power and attempted to destroy everything that was different from them. There is a new book written by Peter Longerich, the first one ever, on Heinrich Himmler’s biography. It show the personality and life of the man who was responsible for the worst genocide in known history. So you are telling me that we should not have provoked “poor” Himmler?! That he lost his temper and murdered over 6 million people in human slaughterhouses?! Too many justify silently indirectly and directly the Nazi regime because they are unaware of the horrors they committed.

    Explain to me Enrique. How could these conflicts have taken place if there HADN’T been division in society?

    If we look at any conflict in the world, where do we draw the lines? Exactly! At the division lines. It takes immensely stupid person not to see this.

    In nazi Germany jews sought to separate themselves from native population. Cultural and religious division, which made them easy target for propaganda of Hitler. In Yugoslavia we have cultural, ethnic and religious divisions which splintered country in civil war.

    War and conflict requires more than one side, and sides are decided by divisions. Someone coming to Finland and refusing to integrate to Finnish society and Finnish way of life is creating division. They demand that their ways should be accepted by Finns, when at the same time refusing to respect Finnish ways. They form their own little clique and division which can act as border when sides are decided on some future conflict.

    That is stupid, that is idiotic. That is irresponsible. If you want to live like you would at home, never leave home. If you want to live in Finland, learn to live as people live in Finland. Because this is not Wahabbistan. Wahabbistani ways do not work here.

    We do not pretend to be windmills when we talk like some South European cultures.
    Our concept of time is not that 13:50 today means anything from 7:00 to 22:15 today, yesterday or tomorrow (slightly radicalised) like in certain cultures.
    Woman wearing miniskirt and tank top is not invitation for any man to use her sexually like is thought in certain cultures.
    We do not embrace you and kiss your cheeks when we meet like some cultures do. We shake hands and that’s it.
    We are NOT your friends 5 minutes after we meet you, like Americans tend to think.

    List could go on and on.
    When you assume that you could live in Finland like you would at home, you will fail. And then you become miserable and whine how Finns are racist. And at that point you annoy us Finns. And then you demand that we Finns must appease your immigrant ass and you annoy us even more!

    Stop annoying us. We did not bring you here with gun on your head. You came voluntarily. So how about less bitching and more integrating eh?

    • Enrique permalink
      December 8, 2008 7:27 am

      –I have never said cultures do not change, I have tried to point out that totally different cultures cannot work together just fine without one having dominance over the others. Attempt to cultural “equality” will only lead to conflict.

      But isn’t this the basis of Finnish society — social equality? I believe that attempts to force others to conform is what causes conflict.

      –Our concept of time is not that 13:50 today means anything from 7:00 to 22:15 today, yesterday or tomorrow (slightly radicalised) like in certain cultures.

      You cannot generalize. Multinational/cultural(?) companies in Spain, Portugal, southern France never mind Italy understand cultural differences. If you pointed out to people, or especially businessmen in Italy that they have not concept of time, they would be highly offended by your remark. Many of the things you point out are cultural things. You misunderstand them as well as the other culture. That is why it is IMPORTANT for people from both cultures to make an effort to understand their business partner’s/friend’s culture.

      –Stop annoying us. We did not bring you here with gun on your head. You came voluntarily. So how about less bitching and more integrating eh?

      Why is debating and discussing an issue like racism and labor integration in a society “bitching?” Silence does not solve the problem.

  5. Kristian permalink
    December 8, 2008 9:37 am

    First of all, I see no value in introducing foreign cultures on a large scale in Finland. As for the whole multiculturalism aspect, give it up already. How well have minorities in other countries preserved their identities? With varying results. Turks in Germany are more likely to listen to 50 cent than the Quoran. That’s what I call artificial Americanization of old, once vibrant ethno-cultural identities, that provide a sense of place direction in a collective sense. These people don’t know who their ancestors are, they don’t care about their descdendants if they choose to have them (more trendy to adopt a rainbow family from Africa and Asia). They are rootless consumers who build their identities around PRODUCTS. If that is not artificial, I don’t know what is.

    But you don’t see it and that is why you multiculturalists are the useful idiots, in the words of Lenin. Big business needs more meat for the machine. Since our own countrysides have already been sucked dry of their living material, next is the thirld world, who are still having kids, unlike the “cosmopolitans” living in world cities. At the moment there is strange alliance between the humanist multiculturalists and the capitalist interested in cheap workforce and breaking down traditional identities that have previously formed barriers for markets and business. They want to do away with them. Non-materialist and anti-materialist values, like patriotism, family, are not good business.

    Calling me paranoid only reveals that you have not thought it through this far, and for that, you really deserve the title of useful idiot.

    I can only hope that our pitiful civilization undergoes a thorough collapse, soon.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 8, 2008 10:56 am

      –First of all, I see no value in introducing foreign cultures on a large scale in Finland. As for the whole multiculturalism aspect, give it up already.

      This is determined by pragmatic matters such as economic growth and maintaining our high standard of living.

      Cultures always change and mold themselves to the times and challenges.

      –These people don’t know who their ancestors are, they don’t care about their descdendants if they choose to have them (more trendy to adopt a rainbow family from Africa and Asia). They are rootless consumers who build their identities around PRODUCTS. If that is not artificial, I don’t know what is.

      I agree but what about if you base your culture on half-truths and myths? Isn’t that “artificial?”

      –I can only hope that our pitiful civilization undergoes a thorough collapse, soon.

      I agree that our way of life is not only fed on a lot of greed, but destroying our planet. I don’t agree with you that all of our civilization is bad and that bringing its total demise would be a good solution.

  6. Tiwaz permalink
    December 9, 2008 8:32 am

    -I agree but what about if you base your culture on half-truths and myths? Isn’t that “artificial?”

    So why should we accept your myths to replace ours? At least our “myths” have built this society. What have your myths done to benefit us? Nothing!

    -Cultures always change and mold themselves to the times and challenges.

    And idiots who kill their culture end up without their own one. We do not want to kill our culture just because it would make you feel good Enrique.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 9, 2008 10:59 am

      –So why should we accept your myths to replace ours? At least our “myths” have built this society. What have your myths done to benefit us? Nothing!

      This is one of the best questions you have asked. It shows that you are not a lost case.

      –And idiots who kill their culture end up without their own one. We do not want to kill our culture just because it would make you feel good Enrique.

      Doesn’t this show low self-esteem about your culture?

  7. Tiwaz permalink
    December 9, 2008 12:34 pm

    -This is one of the best questions you have asked. It shows that you are not a lost case.

    So how about answering? Why should we replace our culture which makes our very identity with bits and pieces of your foreign culture?

    -Doesn’t this show low self-esteem about your culture?

    No. It shows that I understand what you want. You want to destroy Finnish culture and replace it with your multicultural failure. Most likely because you are too lazy to integrate to society around you. And instead arrogantly demand society to integrate to you.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 9, 2008 1:16 pm

      –So how about answering? Why should we replace our culture which makes our very identity with bits and pieces of your foreign culture?

      Do you take yourself seriously?? Come on! Who is replacing what culture?

      –No. It shows that I understand what you want. You want to destroy Finnish culture and replace it with your multicultural failure. Most likely because you are too lazy to integrate to society around you. And instead arrogantly demand society to integrate to you.

      I think it would be more effective to write to your kansanedustaja.

  8. Kristian permalink
    December 9, 2008 12:38 pm

    Our demise is inherent in our civilization. Its all very Faustian. I recommend Spengler.

  9. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 9, 2008 4:00 pm

    “They are not real because they are confined in manmade borders.”

    Ah, but cultures and languages are not. Especially as we have global subcultures that spread in the internet which is not confined in any way. You can have teddy boys in Finland and Japan…

    “When you speak of “natives” in the jungles being steamrolled by “white men,” aren’t you talking about the same things when someone demands in Finland that all foreigners do not have a right to practise their cultures?”

    Yes, we are the natives and the “white man” is the glovbal cultures comein to steamroll us.

  10. Tiwaz permalink
    December 10, 2008 7:03 am

    -I think it would be more effective to write to your kansanedustaja.

    What do you think they would do? Only one party, small that is and without other agendas, has taken the issue and put it on table. And since I do not like rest of policies of PS I do not vote them

    -Do you take yourself seriously?? Come on! Who is replacing what culture?

    You are. You want to bring foreign cultures to Finland, where there is no room for them. To have little Mozambique in HKI area, you have to destroy and replace Finnish culture to make room for Mozambique culture. Because attempt to put both in one area will not work.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 9:51 am

      –You are. You want to bring foreign cultures to Finland, where there is no room for them. To have little Mozambique in HKI area, you have to destroy and replace Finnish culture to make room for Mozambique culture. Because attempt to put both in one area will not work.

      In first place, these so-called “foreign” cultures already exist. Secondly, I think a “Little Mozambique” in Helsinki would be cool. Can you see it now at a restaurant: “May I please have a karjalanpiirakka with some Mozambique sauce (whatever that is but someone could invent it)?!” In the background you would hear a band mixing Finnish sounds with African. What a nice mixture. I wonder how it would sound.

  11. Tiwaz permalink
    December 10, 2008 11:48 am

    “In first place, these so-called “foreign” cultures already exist. Secondly, I think a “Little Mozambique” in Helsinki would be cool. Can you see it now at a restaurant: “May I please have a karjalanpiirakka with some Mozambique sauce (whatever that is but someone could invent it)?!” In the background you would hear a band mixing Finnish sounds with African. What a nice mixture. I wonder how it would sound.”

    Yes, it would be cool because you are either idiot or you have desire to destroy Finland.

    What you would find in Mozambique, you would have crackwhores, gangwars, civil unrest, riots, poverty and as whitish guy you would not dare to go there because you would be beaten to death for your wallet.

    That is multiculturalism for you. REAL multiculturalism. Not your fantasy version which does not exist anywhere except between your ears.

    And yes, those foreign cultures already exist. Which does not mean we Finns should accept them in OUR country. Let foreign cultures stay where they are. I enjoy visiting them as much as anyone else, but I do not bloody want any of them at my home. Because at that point it is not my home.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 12:21 pm

      Your opinions about “riots and wars” sound very much like “white power” sites in the US. Why is there such a similarity?

  12. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 10, 2008 11:58 am

    *Sigh* this “multiculturalism” has nothing to do with ethnic restaurants or cultural diversity.

    “Multiculturalism” is not having a dozen kebab restaurants selling kebab. “Multiculturalism” is having a dead man on the sofa in the kítchen and a chicken thawing on the floor covered in flies. (happened in the UK)

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 12:12 pm

      That’s a little extreme, don’t you think so? Savoring food from other lands and mixed to adapt to our taste buds is a part of multiculturalism.

  13. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 10, 2008 12:19 pm

    No, multiculturalism is when you don’t play with the same rules nor standards as everyone else. In that UK case it was extreme. However in Finland they just checked the pizzerias in Turku and found hygiene problems, last year they found an ethnic restaurant using produce taken from a dumpster. in Savonlinna they arrested an ethnic restauranteur that had hired people “from back home” and used them as virtual slave labor… Savoring food is one thing – but does it taste as good if its done by a slave from dumpster-diven materials? That is “multiculturalism” – I rather eat food that is made by a cook that gets a salary from fresh materials. The food tastes much better – I do not care what cuisine it is – that is irrelevant if its chow mein, kebab or pizza…

  14. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 10, 2008 12:21 pm

    Oh, and the “mixed to adapt to our tastebuds” – I rather have them also have available to use “original” recipes rather than selling the “extra bland”. Then there is “fusion kitchen” like they do in California which is a totally other kettle of fish.

  15. Tiwaz permalink
    December 10, 2008 12:39 pm

    Oh, could it be in fact that those things come with multiculturalism?

    Wand riots on this side of pond? Paris. And Montreal in Canada.
    Civil wars? Iraq and Yugoslavia.
    Massacre? Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
    Every single time it has multiple totally different cultures/ethnics in same area to act as starting point for conflict. And no integration into single cultural set of rules.

    It is not my fault if american white trash is more open eyed to reality than you Enrique. Shame on you.

  16. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 10, 2008 5:46 pm

    Is the BBC a “white power” site? Do you read the news Enrique?

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 7:17 pm

      Just do a Google and you will find tons of them.

  17. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    December 12, 2008 5:40 pm

    Unlike you I have some source control.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 12, 2008 8:59 pm

      Nice try, but no cigar.

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