kolmapäev, november 23, 2005
More on Nordification...
Aleksis K. posted this thought following the last post so I thought I'd address it.
"Being Latvian, I think the Estonians are pretty lucky that they have such close ties to Finland. We have no one like that to help us out on the road to westernization. Of course, I see the danger of Estonia loosing some of its identity if it does not keep the Nordic influence in check."
Well, here are my thoughts. Finland certainly has "helped" Estonia to "westernize" but I actually think that "Westernization" is a favorite discussion topic in intellectual circles, but isn't really that relevant.
Other than the influx of Finnish commercial goods and businesses, I don't see how Estonia is not a "Western" or "European" country. I never knew Soviet Estonia. But to me it seems certainly "formerly communist" yet wholly Western. It;s not orthodox. It uses the Roman alphabet. It looks, walks, talks, smells like the West. How could it not be?
I also don't think that Estonia joining the Nordic area is a loss for the country - rather it's a bonus, because Nordic identity is driven by cultural values that are not at odds with Estonian values. I don't see any "clash of civilzations" here. It's just that Estonia is quite small, and is located in an area with an emerging pan-Nordic identity. One could expect the identity to have the same impact as it has had on another Nordic outpost - Iceland. Small. Distant. Yet Nordic.
As for Baltic identity, I'll say this. There are three different Baltic identity concepts. The first is the one I discussed in the previous post - the "Germanized" identity - the one that Estonia shares with Latvia.
This Baltic German influence can be seen in some fairly obvious German genetic residue, as well as ubiquitous cultural artifacts. There are shared architectural connections, shared Germanic surnames, etc. But that's not inherently Estonian or Latvian. It's German. And since the Germans are gone, it is a historical identity. It lacks a base to propel it forward. That is why it is being replaced by a Nordic identity in Estonia.
The second Baltic identity is obviously the Baltic language group. This belongs to Latvia and Lithuania alone, and excludes Estonia. This is perhaps more significant in creating a cleavage between Estonia and Latvia. Latvia is seen as being pulled southwards by the linguistic influence, while Estonia is pulled northward.
The third and final Baltic identity worthy of discussion is the new post-1991 identity, embodied by the reinstitution of the "Hansa" trademark, most prominently via Hansabank. This is the shared belief in economic liberalism, as opposed to Nordic social democracy.
The only trouble with all three Baltic identities for Estonia is that none of them offer any solution to the cultural dilemma - that being that Estonia is a small country with an educated population that is looking to "graduate" its talents to a larger cultural area.
The Nordic arena provides the perfect setting for Estonians to export its culture and engage in a stimulating and enriching cultural dialogue. Estonia could never do that in the autocratic Soviet Union, and since there is no emerging Baltic cultural identity, it makes greater sense. That is why this is probably happening