To the Editor:
I would like to comment on Walter Laqueur’s “A Reply to the Finns” [Letters from Readers, May]. . . . At issue is whether there has been an erosion of political rights in Finland. Two further questions are involved: what is Finlandization and in what direction is democracy in Finland headed? The article in which Mr. Laqueur discussed these matters, “The Specter of Finlandization” [December 1977], . . . touched a nerve in Finland. Yet Mr. Laqueur should not be expected to recant simply because he uncovered an unpleasant truth—namely, the plastic quality of Finnish democracy—or because of unpleasant grumbling from the North. Finns, after all, are not divided into those who approve of the erosion of democracy and those who do not, but into those who disapprove of it silently and those who disapprove vocally.
There has been a widespread assumption outside Finland that the Finns are skillfully handling massive Soviet pressure by cultivating (and thereby cleverly outwitting) the Soviets. Mr. Laqueur seems to have discovered otherwise, as some astute observer was bound to do eventually. To paraphrase Bacon (“Of Seeming Wise,” 1615): “It hath been an Opinion that the Russians are wiser than they seeme, and the Finns seeme wiser than they are.”