JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen, conceptual artist and chairman of the Communist Party of Finland provokes us to see that alternatives for cultural and education politics can be found by changing the attitude more than demanding increase of the budgets.
I come from the land of great design, rally drivers and many wonderful artists. We Finns are always asked how we do so well in the international tests for school children. We are really bad in receiving any good news or congratulations. Maybe that’s one reason this prize winning Finland uses only 0, 8 % of State budget for the arts and culture. I am sad to say that the new just this Friday formed bourgeois government is planning serious cuts in the Finnish educational system.
Finns forced to be Businessmen
In Santa Claus and business we trust. We Finns in this April national parliamentary elections voted the Centre party to lead the government with a business idea that instead of unemployment money you will get money to start up a business. At the social security services artists are considered to be private businessmen. You have to be lucky to get any social security if you are an artist. In taxing artists work without any notably sales is considered as an expensive hobby.
We in the Communist party think that work generates prosperity. As a result of growth in labor productivity, people have to spend less working time for the production of their basic needs than before. Advances in technology produce structural unemployment.
My party – the Communist Party of Finland proposed radically in the April parliamentary elections that working time has to be reduced to 6 hours a day and 30 hours a week, without cutting the employees’ pay. This alternative reform would reduce unemployment. It would give people time for self-development, for family life and social activity.
But - We lost in the elections. We did not manage to open the heavy door to the Finnish Parliament. It does not help anything at all to know that all Finnish left parties lost with historically big amount. The Finnish left, we the Communist party, Left Alliance and the Social Democrats – we all lost real badly.
Now, during the talks how to form a new government the neoliberal winners of the elections; the Center party, National Coalition party and the party of the True Finns propose with the initiative of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) to increase the weekly working time.
I ask - What makes Finns to want leaders that force them to work more with less salary? Marx has said that the basic and essential struggle is the struggle for better wages and the struggle for shorter working days.
I am member of the Helsinki City cultural and library board. We are nine members, two from the Green party, two from the Coalition party, two from the Social Democratic party, one for the Swedish people’s party, one from the Left Alliance and I the one and only communist.
We just had budget decision meeting concerning the libraries, arts and culture. Before the meeting all the other parties had done a budget agreement. I Proposed that we need 2, 1 million € more money for the libraries, arts and culture than the city board has proposed (68 million €). My millions were considered by some of the bourgeois members of the board as the crazy millions.
To understand the Finnish problem - the attitude problem it is very healthy to know that behind the all party - expect us the Communist party, agreement, Helsinki has done 188, 5 million € profits. With the agreement of all the parties - expect us the Communist, these huge profit millions are further invested in the market mechanism as they say meaning that the money lie in accounts and funds. That 188,5 million € is cash that politically could be used differently like the Communist party has alternatively proposed for the urgent need of people like investments that create labour, better health care, not cutting in the school network, better libraries and more funding for the arts and culture.
What I proposed – my crazy millions, was only 1, 11 % of the exact profits. Actually form a working class point of view it was a modes proposition. The bourgeois considered it as an utopian alternative and the left said that it was too radical.
I protest - The something being crazy exists in the city structures inside. Namely, business thinking has created a situation where the City of Helsinki collects from itself extremely high rents. We pay almost 10 million € rents from the library, arts and cultural square meters for ourselves.
Finns need Free and Future Oriented Education
Like You know Finnish comprehensive school system has been a progressive and successful reform. It must not be dismantled; to the contrary, our equitable comprehensive school system must be developed and updated. The need for local proximity schools will not disappear. The conditions of the school buildings must be updated in order to ensure safety and health. The new Centre party led government proposes a huge reform with cuts of 600 billion € in the educational system which will put the fame of good Finnish schooling system and its development in danger.
We demand an alternative plan for educational reform. Class sizes must be reduced. Pupils with special support needs must be given adequate and individual support. Education must be free at all educational levels right up to the university level – including for foreign students. Education must encourage responsibility and social activity. Democracy in schools needs to be developed, and employees as well as pupils must be given more power in matters concerning the functioning of schools. Universities and scientific research must be exempt from business control through greater public funding. Small colleges must be maintained to ensure the equity in education. The teaching of Swedish and Sami languages must be guaranteed.
Militarization and growing defense budgets
To understand the Finnish problem - the attitude problem it is very healthy to know that business is doing ok in Finland. The Big businesses listed in Helsinki stock could this year give out 1 billion € more in profits than a year ago – all together 10 billion € this year. This done at the time where the new Finnish Government comes out with new budget strategy with first 4 billion € cuts from the public sector then 1, 5 billion € more if the trade unions, we the workers don´t agree on longer working days, less salary etc. and to make the pressure even more higher until 2020 cutting lists are said to grow up to 10 billion €.
This Finnish problem I so much like to talk stops in one special point. Namely our attitude problem concerning public sector stops only with the help of NATO. The one and only sector getting more funds for the future is the defence ministry. New government will increase military budget with 130 billion € until 2020. This plan is in line with the NATO idea of 2 % of the gross domestic product GDP.
Today as we speak there are huge military air exercises at both sides of our border to Russia. Finnish bourgeois wish to join NATO and make our 1200 km border with Russia a NATO boarder. My party – the Communist party proposes an alternative for militarization and culture of enemies. Instead of increasing military budgets we should cut the use of money to weapons and use the money to education, culture and strengthen civil society, NGO´s and initiatives where neighboring countries find common projects of interest. In this spirit of Alternatives we are happy to host an EL four party initiative called Peace Alert. It will take place13. June in Helsinki. Politicians, artists, intellectuals, activists, peace and environmental organizations share a common platform for Alternatives to militarization and culture of enemies.
Welcome to Peace Alert – Welcome to Helsinki
All the nations ahead with workers and citizens' cooperation
We believe in human being’s ability to make changes and to act on their own initiative in order to improve their position. We want to work harder in finding new ways how to give voice to the working people, students, pensioners, trade union and civil society activists, and others who currently are trampled by big money. I find European left Paris forum for Alternatives highly important for the political work we do in Finland. This forum for Alternatives takes place just few days after we received new cutting lists from our new government.
To break the power of capital we need the joint power of the labor movement and civil society movements, we need class struggle. International class struggle done in Finland finds concrete ideas and collective strength in these talks and in Alliance Against Austerity.
Towards a better future!
Out of the crises of capitalism!
Towards a new kind of 21st century socialism!