Aino Sutinen -
Peasant March 1930
I became interested in the various nationalist, quasi-fascist, fascist and national socialist groups in Finland in the 1920’s and 30’s. One of my sources is the fascinating 2016 book Suomalaiset fasistit (Finnish Fascists).
All kinds of charactersThe staunchly nationalist and conservative Lapua movement brought together all kinds of characters, many of which seem to fit the definition of an authoritarian personality. Many had fought with the Whites in the 1918 Civil War and saw that despite the White victory, the Reds were somehow still around and this would not do.
The Lapua movement is interesting because they were so powerful for a few years in 1929–32. They are widely remembered for using kidnappings, beatings and even some killings against their political enemies. The nation was very divided and democracy was young.
I don’t mean to get stuck on labels, the definition of fascism and whether someone should be defined exactly as such. But obviously there were all sorts of anti-liberal and often anti-democratic ideas going around in Europe at the time, and Finland was no exception.
Some dreamed of a strong authoritarian nation-state where everyone ”knew their place”. Communism was the external and internal enemy, nowadays it would be something else.
And why am I talking about fascism and similar movements? I read Timothy Snyder’s new book On Tyranny – Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century and I can recommend it to everybody. It catalogues the tricks of tyrannical and anti-democratic regimes, whether from the Right or Left. It also describes the steps that we can all take to avoid repeating painful history.
Maintaining a working and open civil society requires our active support and alertness. Anti-democratic parties are sometimes elected to power through democratic means.
There is also the haunting list of ”early warning signs of fascism”, by Lawrence Britt, you can Google it easily. Much of it seems to apply directly to Trump, not to mention a few other present day regimes in and around Europe.
PS. Apparently Vihtori Kosola actually said the quote from picture 2 during a night out, although it sounds funnier in Finnish:
"Kuulkaa, sanokaa nyt minkälainen semmoinen tiktaattori oikein on? Onko hän sellainen, että hänen ei tarvitse noudattaa lakeja?”