Taistolased – kas sinisilmsed idealistid või ortodokssed stalinistid? The Taistoists – Blue-Eyed Idealists or Orthodox Stalinists?

Sirje Olesk

Abstract


The Republic of Finland’s situation during the second half of the 20th century was unique. The nation which had been on the losing side in the Second World War became strongly dependent on the victor state, the Soviet Union. The situation which resulted from this gained the name ’Finlandisation’ outside of Finland; on the one hand it meant the abandonment of sovereignity in foreign policies in return for the right to preserve the nation’s domestic political base. On the other, it essentially meant becoming a satellite of the USSR. In the USSR, Finlandisation was called ’good neighbour politics’. This article treats the topic of a phenomenon which accompanied Finlandisation – the neo-Stalinist politics of a smaller part of the Finnish Communist Party (the party split after the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968). These Finnish minority communists were called ’Taistoists’ after their leader Taisto Sinisalo. In Estonia, the Taistoists are usually mentioned when discussing the relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union, but even the general concept – taistolaisuus, Taistoism – lacks an Estonian equivalent. Because of this, the expression neo-Stalinists, which they themselves accepted, is henceforth used as a synonym. This group was particularly active in the 1970s; they currently lack an organisation of their own. The chief aim of the neo-Stalinists was to make Finland a socialist state. The neo-Stalinists were particularly active at universities, in the press and at theatres. The main emphasis was placed on the ’peace-loving’ politics of the Soviet Union and monitoring to ensure that that anything of an anti-Soviet nature wasn’t published in Finnish public media. They presented a suggestion for legislative change according to which criticism of the Soviet Union would have become a criminal offense.It was mainly due to their influence that a situation arose in Finnish mainstream media where a large part of the events in recent history were hushed down if they couldn’t be interpreted in accordance with the Soviet spirit (the Winter War, the fate of the Baltic countries, etc.). The Taistoist movement fell apart at the end of the 1980s, and the majority of its adherents abandoned politics. The current Finnish attitude towards them is two-fold: they are either idealised or their importance is diminished. More often than not, it is emphasised that the neo-Stalinists were a marginal phenomenon which fed off the Finnish domestic and foreign politics of the time, where maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union was of ultimate importance. These issues rose to the surface once again in 2008 and 2009, with the publication of Finnish–Estonian author Sofi Oksanen’s novel Purge . Different people purporting interpretations of important issues in Estonian history– the deportations and the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries– appeared in the Finnish media. Knowledge about the Stalinist ideological current that at one time existed in Finland can be an aid in gaining understanding about this approach (ignorance of the history of the Soviet Union and Estonia, etc.). As a narrow and fierce ideological current, Finnish historians have compared neo-Stalinism to the ideology of the extreme right-wing Academic Karelia Society of the 1920s and 1930s, which comprised a component of uncompromising hatred of things Russian (ryssänviha). The main proponents of both ideologies were academics, university students and other intellectuals. The great task of the AKS had been the building of a defence line against the Soviet Union. The neo-Stalinists found their ideal and support in the Soviet Union, who would help build their ideal society in Finland. Both were utterly in error; Finnish society rejected both one-sided hatred of everything Russian as well as blind admiration of the Soviet Union.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v5i7.536

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