Monday, February 02, 2009

That´s Me

I love these kind of projects. The Finnish Literature Society calls Finns every ten years to send in their stories of what they did on a particular day. These stories are important material to researchers in history and other cultural studies. Ten years ago they got 23 000 stories of Finnish life on a specific day. Today is that day again. I am taking part and encourage every Finn reading this to do the same. You can send in your story the latest on 28 February, more details here.

I am currently involved in a project where this kind of material would definitely be very handy. With a group of people we are putting together a cultural statement around national identity and self image. More details on that later.

When you talk about a self image of a nation, the last weeks have been interesting in this country. Helsingin Sanomat published a big story yesterday stating that Nokia has threatened to leave the country if legislation is not changed in a way that allows employers to look into the basic information (sender, recipient, form of attachment, time etc.) of an email if they suspect leakage of company secrets. Nokia and the government deny these accusations but it sure is interesting how the constitutional committee of the Parliament sees no problem with a legislative change that according to a great majority of legal experts they consulted is in full contradiction with constitutional rights to privacy of correspondence and freedom of speech. Not to take any stand on the validity of these accusation by Helsingin Sanomat but this is once again an example how the idea of civil rights and liberties is not really high on the Finnish political agenda.

This kind of discussion never really catches fire in Finland. This country has a tremendous amount of CCTV cameras and quite extensive rights to security guards but most Finns still think that this is all good and you have no reason for worry if you have not done anything wrong. It all stems from the idea that we are good and honest people and so are all the people holding these extensive powers. Following the same line is the idea that Finland is corruption-free. I have often wondered why there´s no more discussion about the way power ends in the same hands when a person can be at the same time in the city council, in the parliament and in the cabinet. The arguments I have heard are not very convincing:
1. this allows information to go smoothly through the system
2. people have the right to vote whom they want

Journalist Jarmo Aaltonen of Helsingin Sanomat follows the Finnish mentality disturbingly well in his article about politicians sitting in company boards:

"Of course different obligations influence people, some more, some less. This, however, does not make them automatically corrupt criminals. This is just the price one pays for democracy and open society. The alternative would be prohibiting all human interaction."

Seriously, this was published in the biggest daily of the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For once someone is pointing out the fact that we are so utterly blind to even notice corruption when it's there! But we "good" Finns do not like to question anything...