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Contribution of the Communist Workers' Party – For Peace and Socialism (Finland)

May 14, 2024

Dear comrades,

I will first say something about history. Studying the rise of the fascist system in Finland in the 1930s provides valuable insights for us to understand the fascist threat today.

Finnish fascism has its origins in the White Guard of 1917 and 1918 and the nationalist AKS (Academic Karelia Society), an organization of reactionary university students, teachers and army officers. These forces were always funded by the capitalists and their focus was to stamp out the workers movement, and wage war against Soviet Russia, in order to conquer Soviet territories. Racist arguments were used in order to try to justify these plans.

The AKS claimed large amounts of Soviet territory formed the ancient Finnish homeland and contained ethnically Finnic people. The capitalists supported these plans to destroy communism, and to steal Soviet natural resources, particularly timber and mineral wealth.

Since 1918 the Finnish White Guard government had banned the Communist Party and countless other revolutionary and workers' organizations. Full bourgeois democracy never existed in the country until after 1944. In the 1930s the fascist Lapua movement, funded by bankers and capitalists, began a campaign of terrorism against workers and even bourgeois democrats.

The government greeted the fascist movement as “patriotic” and “constructive” and did not punish their countless acts of terrorism. Instead the government accepted many proposals of the fascists, such as dissolving the central organization of Finnish trade-unions (SAJ), stripping countless leftists and workers of their electoral rights, banning nearly all left-wing and workers' organizations with only few exceptions, and closing countless workers' newspapers.

The 1930s signified the setting up of a fascist system, a terrorist regime of finance capital. However, a number of significant differences exist between the Finnish fascist system, compared to those in Germany and Italy:

In Finland there was no fascist dictator, though various candidates for dictator were posed. In Finland the parliament remained in existence as a facade of bourgeois democracy. Many bourgeois parties and even the social-democratic party continued to exist. However, those parties were forced to collaborate with fascism, their left-wings were often arrested and terrorized.

The fascist forces of the AKS and Lapua movement constituted themselves into the IKL nazi party, which joined in a parliamentary alliance with the leading capitalist party Kokoomus (this translates to “Coalition” Party).

Because the IKL party was never among the biggest parties in the parliament, it is often said by capitalist propagandists today, that there never was a fascist system in Finland, and that Finnish fascism reached its peak in the early 30s, culminating in a failed coup. However, this is a misrepresentation.

The Finnish bourgeoisie adopted the policies and proposals of the open fascists, and kept them in force until the complete military defeat of Finnish fascism in 1944. The Finnish capitalists found it useful to retain the nominal trappings of democracy, and to extensively utilize social-democratic reformists to paralyze and liquidate the workers' movement. The Finnish Social-Democrats were arguably the only Social-democrats to directly collaborate with Hitler. The fascist terror kept ramping up throughout the

1930s, including mass arrests of peace activists.

During WWII social-democrats participated in the government leadership and helped subjugate our country under the occupation of Hitler's forces. During and after the war the reformist social-traitors invented “theories” to justify this nazi-collaboration, saying that Finland “had no choice” but to accept Hitler's “help” in defending itself from supposed Soviet conquest. They claim this successfully protected the “independence” and “democracy” of our country. Such arguments are used by the Finnish capitalists today and have become practically the official narrative.

In the 1930s the communists utilized proletarian united fronts and anti-fascist popular fronts, participated in various anti-war and democratic organizations, such as the League of human rights, which succeeded in preventing the implementation of the death penalty and the execution of the communist leader Antikainen.

The communists had learned to an extent how to combine legal and underground work under the White Guard regime, but underestimated how much worse things could get under genuine fascism.

Communists were caught off guard by the suddenness and the extent of the fascist terror and had parliamentary illusions. Once the fascist onslaught came in 1930, the communists mistakenly believed that fascism had reached its peak, and again underestimated how much worse things could get.

The communists were not able to create a strong enough underground organization, instead the party usually operated as factions inside legal or semi-legal workers' organizations. This wrong understanding of combining public and underground work was a very serious weakness.

The sudden fascist onslaught destroyed nearly all legal workers' organizations, thus severing the party's links with the workers. Due to these reasons, communists were not able to protect the party adequately from repression. It was smashed, and the communists were not in a strong position to organize an anti-fascist movement during WWII, though they still performed significant and heroic work in that regard. Lessons should be learned from this past experience, which is often analogous to our current day.

Now to our current day. There are significant and worrying signs of rising fascism in modern Finland. Among the most important ones are the rising militarism and increased military spending, Finland's NATO membership, increasing war-mongering propaganda by the media which is concentrated into the hands of a small number of corporations, all working towards this.

There is increasing repression towards the revolutionary workers' movement. Lenin statues and similar monuments have been toppled on the orders from the state, the Lenin museum is being closed down this year, the government has agreed to discuss the banning of communist symbols by equating them with nazism. Various restrictions have been imposed on workers' right to strike.

The pro-Palestine protest movement has been banned from protesting at the Israeli embassy. The most important anti-fascist gathering of 2023, “Helsinki without Nazis” was deemed illegal by the police and dispersed after a street struggle lasting for hours. The police clearly took the side of the fascists.

These are not isolated incidents, but signs of the crisis of capitalism, which has continued during several governments, not merely the current one. They do not mean that Finland already has a fascist system, but they point towards further fascization.

Our party participates actively in the anti-fascist movement. We organized a demonstration against the government proposal to ban communist symbols, and will organize others. We have participated and will continue to participate in “Helsinki without Nazis” and other similar movements. We congratulate the organizers of that movement and especially the participating masses for their growing militancy and firmness under the increased pressure from the police.

We will continue to work with other anti-fascist and working class forces against the rising threat of fascism and war. We will earnestly support anti-fascist movements, even if they are non-communist, but we will continue to advocate for our own line, will continue to push for the most consistent anti-fascist line, which is a struggle for socialism, and to oppose compromises with social-democracy, the government and police.

We will do our best to unite the struggle of the striking workers, the peace movement, the Palestine solidarity movement and the anti-fascist movement together, as well as the other significant contemporary movements such as the environmental and student movements.

Lastly, I would like to say that despite the intense anti-Russian and war-mongering propaganda, our party proudly upholds anti-fascism and proletarian internationalism, friendship among the nations by celebrating Victory Day, the day of the defeat of fascism, and by explaining to the people the continuing relevance of that day.

We honour the heroic Red Army, and the anti-fascist fighters of all countries, including our own, and are proud of such anti-fascist heroes as Veikko Poysti, a communist organizer who died in armed combat with Finnish fascists in 1942.

Bravely onward to new struggles comrades, the people will be victorious!