We are witnessing one of this century’s biggest scandals that ends and starts in Afghanistan. The West moved in 20 years ago after the Russians moved out. The West wanted to control the influence of religious extremism that promoted terrorism, sexual violence against women, and other crimes against humanity.
Now the West is pulling out of Afghanistan ,and the same religious extremists are retaking the whole country after two decades where the West has managed to use more than €80 billion on trying to support a weak and corrupt government.
The news is a scandal of huge proportions. The same incompetence of the Western powers is seen also in Iraq where a weak and corrupt government is being held together with money from the West.
The situation in Syria is no better, and look at Iran, Palestine and Israel… in Africa, too, we are seeing China and Russia playing the same senseless power games as the big Western counties like, for instance, the USA, the UK, France, etc.
The pattern behind this senseless activity is clear – old men as Presidents, old men as Army Generals who sit behind their screens and desks while violent and cruel male soldiers do their heinous work.
Few women are holding such positions – the great majority of women can only to be found as young girls, wives, mothers, grandmothers or sex slaves. Few females in the oppressed countries will ever receive a decent education or opportunities to lead.
But in Europe and North America we have serious problems relating to female equality. In a recent article called “In the Politics of Safety” (FT on 14.8.21) Professor Amia Srinivasan wrote: “It is for this reason that there is such a strong connection between rightwing populism and misogyny. The grievance politics of flailing white masculinity that fuels the “manosphere” has served as an ideological and material gateway to the more overt grievance politics of ethnonationalism.”
Even though democracy and equality have concrete meaning for the populations of Europe and North America, we are still bound by rightwing male politicians and an ingrained prejudice against women. This can be seen in fewer women in leadership positions compared to men, lower wages compared to men, relatively high levels of domestic violence against women, and substantially lower pensions for women.
In Finland, a country that has done much more to support female equality than many European countries, women are paid 17% less for equivalent work, and still hold only 30% of senior jobs at CEO level or in company boards. We do have an excellent group of female political leaders, but one still hears comments from older men that tend to portray these women as “lightweights” compared to the “trusted manosphere” grey-haired leaders who wear the same silk ties and dark suits!
… and rightwing populism in Finland certainly gives birth to ethnonationalism. The rise of the True Finns is based strongly on anti-immigration. They claim that it lowers workers’ salaries and the costs of immigration outweigh the benefits! They offer no data to back up these claims, even though the OECD and independent studies have clearly state the contrary. The same party claims that Climate Change is a fact and there is no need to do anything because they do not believe that it can be stopped! Furthermore, they claim that the laws relating to hate speech have resulted in wrong convictions of their party leaders, since it has been applied by the courts incorrectly! They are sounding more like Hungarian and Polish leaders by the day!
It is also of great concern that the Finnish Conservative party, Kokoomus, has started to flirt with the idea that the True Finns are acceptable as a coalition partner in a future government. The avowed policies of Kokoomus will need huge corrections for them to accept such outrageous claims from a coalition partner – alternatively they will probably practice double-talk acrobatics and say that their liberal ideas encompass a wide church of views – just like Boris Johnson…