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EVERY society has a dark period in its past, a time so painful that people are loath to directly mention it. Sometimes a particular word or gesture is so deeply ingrained with memories of that dreadful time they become taboo. Finland is no exception.

IN GERMANY, the spectre of Nazism is such that it is illegal to perform the "Hitler salute" or to display the swastika. In America, memories of racism are so acute that simply pronouncing the "N-word" will cause shudders among polite society. Finland has its own forbidden word, a word which brings up a dark and shameful past. It is the "F-word."

RECENTLY a politician dared to pronounce this taboo word. What was even worse is that he spoke it not privately among Finns, nor in a historical context, but during a conversation with a foreign newspaper about a current event. This dreaded word, which caused so many newspapers to write stories and so many politicians to issue hurried rebuttals, was Finlandisation.

FINLANDISATION was the process where we bowed to the unsavoury Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was a policy of neutral benevolence towards a nasty senior partner. It is generally believed to be something that happened in our past, but are we still doing it? Some think so.

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David J. Cord
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