The piece below is the English translation of the text of a speech made on behalf of the Marxist Workers’ League (MTL) of Finland at a meeting organised by the MTL on 21st May upon the heels of the recent accession of Finland to NATO.
The video of that meeting is available (in English as well as Finnish) on the youTube channel of the MTL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2IqPvcudmU
Membership in NATO has already resulted in a completely new geo-political and economical environment for Finland. The old world is gone. The crisis in 2008 unleashed powerful forces with independent and destructive agendas. At this point, the strongest economy is in debt five times its GDP, and is on the doorsteps of bankruptcy. Unbearable indebtedness is measured in tens of billions, the threat of an unprecedented depression and uncontrollable inflation hangs like a sword of Damocles above the head of entire societies. Capitalists create new alliances, re-group in trenches and seek the salvation of their capital through war.
The war in Europe has fomented for years and it is by nature one that contains aspects of a world war. It is not merely a war between different nation-states, but the worst form of class war. It is an attack by international capital against the global working class. The collapse of socialism in the 1990s had restored the production and ownership relations of capitalism. The return to capitalism was a process that did not - and could not - come to an end. Because it happened at a time when the old and developed capitalisms in the West were already in a terrible phase of decline. The Western world then concluded that the mere transfer of capital into private hands was not enough for the former socialist countries to be integrated into Western capitalism. The goal was not limited to massive privatizations and letting Russian and Chinese capitalists have their own national markets. Instead, they started to implement the Brezinski doctrine step by step. According to the Carter administration's national security adviser, both Russia and China should be colonized. Through it, western imperialists would have access to rich natural resources and a developed workforce to be exploited. These are the kinds of projects that cannot be carried out peacefully. The same project was also put into action during the war in Yugoslavia, which was the pilot episode of the Brezinski doctrine. NATO is essential for such a project of colonization.
This is the main reason why NATO expanded in such scale and speed to encircle Russia. With the exception of Ukraine and Finland, all other neighboring countries of Russia were lured in with either carrots or sticks. The war campaign in Afghanistan, in which Finland also participated, must be seen as part of this project. Attempts to lure Ukraine followed different phases, from so-called color "revolutions" to the Maidan coup. Their purpose was to quietly annex Ukraine to the west and establish military bases in the eastern part of the country, from which cruise missiles could reach Moscow within a few minutes. These historical facts are enough to refute the first major lie about NATO. The Finnish people should get rid of the illusion that NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO is a weapon of imperialism to achieve global domination. By joining NATO, Finland commits to participate in all NATO-led offensive operations, both financially and operationally.
An important misconception that should be dispelled is that this war is merely a war between nation states. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West are whips to discipline the working people in Western Europe, in a time when growth slows down, unemployment rises and inflation gets out of control. At the same time, Western European capital is dragged down in favor of American capital. The war is not against Putin's invasion, but against the working class. And that includes both the Ukrainian and Russian working classes. It is assumed that the working class in Poland, Finland and the Baltic states are on the side of NATO. This is another illusion. The target of imperialism is the global working class, including the Ukrainian working class. So far the results are the hundreds of thousands of lives that are lost, with more than 10 million refugees and a country turned into ruins.
The war is also against the working class in the US. American workers will have to pay a heavy price, not only by being caught up in the recession but also by financing it. In addition to European support, American financial support for Zelensky is over one hundred billion dollars. The full power of the war industry's production cannot keep up with the losses on the battlefield. The stocks of ammunition are also completely empty. The US working class and other taxpayers finance the imperialist war, but when Zelensky begs for investment in reconstruction, it is the giant corporations who will reap the benefit.
In this proxy-war, Ukraine acts only as a representative of NATO. It is a well-known fact that corporations such as Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, etc. have already signed deals with the Ukrainian government for lucrative post-war reconstruction projects. These corporations practically own Ukraine. The United States, Britain, Poland, Finland and more than 30 other countries are not at war to defend Ukraine's sovereignty, but to crush Russia. This is the third illusion. After Russia, it will be China's turn.
Since the crash of 2008, capitalism has tried desperately to postpone its consequences. An incredible amount of money and other financial assets have been created by central banks to ensure liquidity. The money has been transferred to regional banks at zero and even negative interest rates. Banks did not invest money in any area of productive industry because no sector could yield satisfactory rates of profits. The money was used to buy government bonds; and this is how we got a few more years so far without a total global crisis. Galloping inflation was expected before long. In order to curb the rise in prices, central banks started raising interest rates, which caused the value of government bonds in their possession to collapse. In this way, serial bankruptcies of banks have started, beginning with the United States. Failed banks are being bought out by bigger banks. In this way, the symptoms are covered up while the sickness gets worse. This can go on until the inevitable collapse as it happened in 2008, when Lehman Brothers was too big to buy out. Inflation, recession, unemployment and other scourges of the national
economy are NOT caused by the war or Putin, although the war has accelerated the processes already underway. War as the cause of the crisis is the fourth illusion.
One major lie about the war is that it is about democracy vs. Putin's dictatorship. In this fairytale, Finland stands with democracy. Indeed Zelensky came into power by promising everyone that he would find a peaceful solution to the conflict. But the elections themselves were anything but democratic. Prior to the elections, in 2014 the democratically elected president Yanukovich was overthrown and expelled from the country with a US backed coup. In order to rule ”democratically”, Zelensy has banned 13 opposition parties, including the largest opposition party at the time. There were restrictions on the use of Russian language and, despite election promises, his government oversaw the brutal terror that killed more than 14,000 Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country. Senseless terror has been a common tactic of fascist military units. The well-trained murderers of the followers of Nazi leader Stepan Bandera, the right-wing sector or the international neo-Nazi battalion of Azov terrorized eastern Ukraine over the course of eight years. For the fascists, the government let them access key positions in the state "security" agencies and the Ministry of War. In this way, imperialism has been trying out a new way of transferring power to fascists. At the same time, fascists from elsewhere, including Finland, are being trained in Ukraine. In that way, imperialism is already creating the soldiers with real battlefield experience to be used elsewhere in other conflicts. This can explain why the rime Minister of Finland went with Zelenski to lay flowers on the coffin of a fallen fascist leader. That Finland is trying to create democracy in Ukraine is the Fifth illusion.
NATO did not recruit Finland into its ranks because the country needs protection. NATO's motive is that Finland could be the initiator of the next proxy war if NATO decides to escalate the conflict to Finland or the Baltic region. In Finland and also everywhere in the West, pro-Russian media channels have been closed. In addition to that, absolute self-censorship has been observed in domestic media, which is increasingly uniform. The news in Finland today is full of war propaganda. There is a flow of fake news and false reality. A sixth illusion is that Finland can leave NATO at any time.
Now let us break down the impact of NATO membership. The price of membership could be classified into three levels:
1. There is no shortage of money when it comes to NATO, and aid to Ukraine, but the program of Finland’s new right-wing government includes a record number of cuts. The cuts and savings of six billion could only be achieved by scrapping all the benefits of the post-World War II period. Unemployment insurance is the first to be axed, especially the earnings related unemployment insurance.
2. All parties participating in the government negotiations led by Petteri Orpo are ready for housing benefit cuts. There are around 400,000 families who receive housing allowance. 40 percent of them are students. In 2017, the welfare support for student housing was reduced drastically, and higher education support turned into loans. The number of working students thus increased drastically. Housing allowance is a low-wage allowance for employers. At a time when the general inflation is at 7% and the inflation in essential food products is over 14%, these cuts will have a drastic impact on the livelihoods of working people. In addition, cutting the housing benefits will create an upward pressure on wages, which will strongly impact smaller businesses.
3. Military expenditures are on the rise. Every year, Finland has to pay hundreds of millions of euros more in order to fulfill the two percent of the budget quota, which is NATO's goal. Finnish taxpayers will pay for all of this, the budget will be balanced by cuts. The support allocated to Ukraine alone will rise to well over one billion euros. Weaponry support alone is worth 990 million euros. The Europe aid package includes support worth 37.8 billion euros and Finland also participates in financing it.
1. The war in Ukraine was planned down to the smallest details very early by imperialists, much earlier than when Putin attacked on February 2022. In order to create a reactionary vassal regime, imperialism engaged in interventions, and it was deeply connected with color revolutions including the latest which is the 2014 coup in Maidan Square. The former Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, has later admitted that the two agreements in Minsk were done not in pursuit of peace, but to buy time so that the Ukrainian military could better prepare for the war against Russia. It is now well known that NATO membership was also considered for Finland as early as April 2011, even though at that point the overwhelming majority of Finns were against NATO membership. Yet the US had decided differently on the fate of Finland.
According to Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, during the NATO summit in 2021 before the war in Ukraine, US Foreign Minister Blinken together with the leaders of Great Britain, Germany and France already decided to send a clear message to Putin that Finland and Sweden will become NATO member countries and the Baltic Sea will become an inner lake of imperialism. In October 2021, the United States managed to obtain intelligence about the Russian army grouping near the Ukrainian border. The USA shared more detailed information with its allies at the G20 meeting at the end of October. That's when Sauli Niinistö's courtship with NATO began, according to the Washington Post reporter. In December and January, Biden talked with Niinistö to invite the latter to visit the White House. Then in Washington, Biden suggested Niinistö to call Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. In the same month, both countries announced that they would apply for NATO membership.
2. Russia has begun to invalidate Finnish visas at its border stations. At the Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa stations, Finnish people have been turned away and they have been hinted at the possibility of receiving a prison sentence if, despite the annulled stamp they received, they try to land illegally a second time. The West has previously frozen the accounts of Russians in Western banks. Later, the possibility of using these oligarchs' funds to finance the war in Ukraine. In a war with all the aspects of a world war, nothing is sacred. Even for capitalists, the sacred right to private property is a license to revoke. As a countermeasure, the Russian central bank has now frozen the accounts of Finnish missions in Russia. The accounts of the embassy and consulates are now frozen.
3. The new right-wing government in Finland is planning more than cuts to the welfare state. When people begin to become aware of the true causes of their delusions, they will react. The bourgeois state must be prepared to intervene in time. Suppression mechanisms and legislation must be arranged in such a way that they can defeat the resistance of class struggle. There are trends in favor of censorship, suppressing demonstrations or banning left-wing organizations. Of course, Zelensky's Nazis lead the way on this matter.
Until recently you didn't need permission from the authorities to demonstrate in Finland. Erdogan's acceptance of
Finland's NATO membership mobilized protesters on the streets. The doll representing the Sultan was a prop for the
demonstrators, which was confiscated by the police before it could even be lifted up. A new legal term was invented
for it, "Intention of Defamation". At the Helsinki without Nazis demonstration, all Kurdish symbols were banned, while the Ukrainian flags were abundant in the demonstration as well as on the roof of all the public buildings. Before the
new right-wing government is even formed, all indicators seem to be that the police is restricting public gatherings.
There are similar trends in other parts of Europe, such that small acts of resistance are penalized very harshly.
1. Ukraine is not a NATO country and therefore the fifth article that says an attack against a member state is an attack against all members does not apply. Its accession to NATO is possible only if imperialism wins the war. However, Zelensky has already uttered the magic words of special security guarantees. Not being a NATO member, Ukraine demands additional guarantees and NATO's open interference in the war. In any case, NATO participates in the war in many ways even without agreeing to the fifth article. Efforts have been made to conceal details of the content of this support. At the Lithuanian NATO summit in Vilnius in July, the NATO imperialists will discuss further increasing the support. That's where Pandora's box opens. Because the guarantee package is an adaptation of thefifth article by another name. In Vilnius, Ukraine will be given at least the same status as Finland and Sweden thatthey had before applying for NATO. Zelensky has not demanded Finnish soldiers to fight in Ukraine. However, youcan read between the lines that Finland's more active participation in the conflict can be thought of as the Finnish people participating in the war closer to home, if NATO decides to escalate the war there.
2. In addition to the added cost to Finnish budgets and additional personnel demands, there is another hidden cost to the Finnish army itself. So far, Finland had a sovereign army for its own defense. But NATO accession implies that the army must ”adapt” itself to NATO, which in plain language means it will be absorbed and assimilated. The sovereign Finnish army will cease to exist, and will be replaced by the Finnish branch of the NATO army, which will be utilized in imperialist wars everywhere in the world.
3. Perhaps the most dangerous cost of NATO membership is the fact that Finland will be host to NATO bases with nuclear weapons. If NATO's plans to install such weapons in Ukraine fails, then it is very likely that the next sacrificial goats would be the Finnish people, to accomplish what Ukraine could not. Regardless of the claims to the contrary, these nuclear weapons are not defensive but are directed towards Russia as a threat and provocation. An escalation of the war to Finland would then imply a nuclear world war. This is a fate that we must do our utmost to make sure it doesn't come to pass. This is a fate that NATO membership of Finland brings us within touching distance.
As stated at the beginning of the presentation, this is a class struggle and war between the working class of the world and capitalism/imperialism. All other patterns of confrontation are misleading and spread pessimism and confusion. The subject of history in our times is a class that does not own the means of production and yet produces all the wealth in society. Revolutionary communists should work for the consciousness of the proletariat to grow and develop to the point where it can understand the facts. The conclusion from this is that only the people can save the people. It requires organizations capable of the task at both the national and international level. So what we need is a revolutionary party at home and the International worldwide.