By Christian Thibault, Helsinki, Finland. 1st May 2012
This was supposed to be an integral part of my May1st speech and than a dear friend came to talk to me and I lost all time to write anything more. I was going to talk about the selfishness and structures, that make us forget the real issues before we arrive in the position we wanted for achieving our goals, i was going to talk about a few big corporations invading the whole world and dictatorships using Sports for promotion and kicking human rights in the butt, while so called ´Democratic´-countries have stopped criticizing them for that, because now Dictatorships are economically more successful than Democracy because they are so damn good at exploiting their people and now all i got is this: ´What is the populist new-speech about the ´duties´that are supposed to come with peoples rights? When we speak about rights, we talk about fundamental rights, like human rights, equality and justice.
What do we speak about when we speak about ´duties´? I really don’t understand what these ´duties´are, that people need to be reminded of. Do we believe that people don’t follow laws? Or are we talking about some secondary duties here? How can we compare them to fundamental human rights or even make them a kind of pre-condition before we grant people their rights? I am really not sad for having lost the time to write my speech, because the dear friend that kept me from doing so was in fact a very dear friend I had lost sight of for more than 30 years! Right away we where back on the same level of understanding as before and best of all, it was not all just nostalgia, but we updated back and forth, future past and presence. Thanks to the Internet and all the wonderful tools it is bringing and see how much it is changing our world and our lives.
If I had had the chance to continue writing my speech I would have taken a look back at this point anyway. The role of pretty girls to young men. Another old friend had convinced me to go to my first demonstration. If you read this, do you remember? You where older than me and I could only admire you and the things you did from far. Amnesty international had organized it, I was 14 or 15 and we had to deal with Pinochet. It was a march of silence. For the victims. Nobody spoke a word. We had another march of silence this year in Helsinki and Oulu. 35 years later. For victims of violence here in Finland. The hits are getting closer.
The first time we had a name to hold responsible. Pinochet. Whom do we hold responsible here, now in our own country? Is it just social mechanisms here who produce those killings? Is nobody responsible, or we all? What is the responsibility of politicians, the media? What duties come with their rights? On my view back I would have remembered seeing people like Heinrich Böll, the great writer standing almost alone at our market-square and warning about war. Was it easter, was it May1st? I was a teenager and I had a hang-over because it was a holiday to me and I just crept by the strange looking old man in a trenchcoat.. It was 1978. The next few years I had the luck to meet him in the streets of Bonn, Cologne and Bad Godesberg together with Jutta Dittfurth, Petra Kelly and Gerd Bastian. The somewhat brief discussions we had helped me shape my political mind. The green-movement was being born. Than came the Pershings. We demonstrated against them in Bonn on the Hofgartenwiese. We where 500.000! Heinrich Böll was there, he was not alone anymore, it was 1982!
Also Willy Brandt, the great old man of the West-German Socialists was there to speak. Here the movement was united. In that same year I was drawn into the West-German Army. In those days there was not much choice or options. I was a special vehicle driver in a intelligence-unite. We spied on the Russians. We where also told that our army was a defense Army and that no German soldier ever had to step with even one foot into another peoples land. I could live with that. In this year Nena had a huge Hit with 99 red balloons. She was singing about how a nuclear war was launched because some generals where waiting so much for a reason to start a war, they just mistook 99 red balloons for a rocket attack and got the war going. We where also a part of NATO and in the following year we had a great war exercise with all NATO forces. The Able Archer. We where all very surprised when we were called back into our bases after only a very few days, because we thought we were doing great. They told us we had lost the war. Now we know that ´Able Archer´ almost had triggered a world-wide nuclear war.
The whole world has to thank only one man for it, soviet soldier Stanislav Petrov. He was ordered to launch the first rocket, because the soviet union was convinced that we were planning a nuclear attack. He alone decided that it was false alarm and did not start the war. Petrov did not receive any reward for saving the world. But here we have the story of one man making the difference. So once again, what is all our responsibility today? What is each and every politicians responsibility today? Each and every citizens? Who is responsible for all the hate-speech leading to the killings eventually? By the way the former German Secretary of Defense had said that German soldiers now have to defend the German trade-roots at the horn of Africa and at the Hindukush. Times have changed.
But enough of the peace-talk. That’s for Sundays and Easter, right? It’s May 1st. What does it stand for? Well, here in Finland it stands for a mix of things. The Valpurgis-night. An ancient Germanic thing about witches and spirits dancing in the night. It is coming more and more back into fashion and is great for the fans of Rock Music, the occult and ancient Germanic stuff. Than the students. In Finland people who graduate from high school and qualify for university wear white hats. They let them fly on 1st of May. How does this feel for workers, who maybe have not qualified to this level of education when they see it on ´their´ day? Yes, the 1st of may is supposed to be the day of labor. Or are all the happy hat-swingers the children of the working-class who are now proudly celebrating their rights for higher education?
At this point I would have to ask the statistics. Time is running out and I cant do that. It is anyway safe for me to say that there is a new working-class in the make. People who are kept from higher education. Who are kept from decision-making. Kept from the right to vote or be elected. People who live in their own communities and ghettos. People who do all the hard and dirty labor in our society. A new cast of slaves. Yes, we grant them all the bling-bling that also makes our original laborers feel as if they had improved their standards, televisions and cheap boat-trips to drinking nirvana. But we keep them in a state of lawlessness. They have no security. People talk about them, not with them. Politicians and career oriented social workers use them to promote themselves. Organisations claim to work for them with the sole motive to make money and secure their own employment. Migrants are not employed to work for migrants. Migrants are not running the organizations that work for migrants. They are but mere objects. They have no legal representation of their own. It is a strange situation when a new labor-market is created around migration but here migrants are even cut out more than from other public sectors. It is also often said that they can not be employed because of poor language skills. Not even as cleaners. Because they can not read the safety-instructions on the chemicals they have to deal with. This appears as rather cynical to me. We all know that Finnish is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn.
It appears even more cynical, when we see all the international workers, engineers, managers without any language skills other than English working in high positions in some of Finland’s most important industries. Does the President & CEO for Nokia Corporation, Mr. Steve Elop from Canada speak anything more than a few greeting-lines in Finnish? Did he, when he started in the job? So language is another wall artificially build about this new right-less labor class. Walls and glass ceilings can be found world wide, where people are used to labor but kept out and away from all else. That’s the 21st century Ghettos. If we have to start somewhere, than why not right here, right now in our own area of responsibility. The days are over that our politicians can go out into the world and tell others what to do, when at the same time things go wrong at home, very wrong.
Labor-day 2012, the new global slavery concept
By Christian Thibault, Helsinki, Finland. 1st May 2012