The political program
The Left Youth of Finland is a political youth organization and a civic organization. Its central values are socialism, democracy, feminism, red-green environmentalism and internationalism. These goals are not considered to be separate, but rather form a comprehensive view of a freer, more humane and more equal world.
The roots of the organization are in the democratic socialist workers’ movement and other popular movements, and its mission is supporting the development of young people to become active political operators. The Left Youth of Finland believes that politics takes place everywhere, not merely within the official structures of representation. Thus, the organization supports labour struggles, civil disobedience and other direct action as a part of the process of making the world a better place.
The Left Youth of Finland continues the work of the socialist movement. We believe that the whole society is defined by the contradiction between the labour and the capital. Within a capitalist society, the people form classes. Most have to sell their labour to make a living, while a small minority are able to live on the profits they receive from their ownership and investments.
The contradiction between the labour and the capital also defines the lives of the people that do not clearly belong to either one of these categories. Our political project is creating a society where the capital is no longer in the ruling position and the most important services and infrastructure are in the hands of the public.
The Left Youth of Finland believes in democracy and operates democratically. Democracy, as a social reform, has been an achievement of the left-wing movement. Lack of democracy was also been one of the most important reasons for the failure of the authoritarian states implementing the policy of the so-called actually existing socialism. For us, democracy is not only about voting every four years, but requires the construction of structures that are able to support the people’s ability to affect their surroundings in the society, as well as maintaining and improving those structures.
Democracy is under threat from the all-encompassing rule of capitalism. Decision-making, which earlier belonged to the sphere of politics and representative democracy, is increasingly moved outside of the political sphere. The Left Youth of Finland support increasing the amount of democracy in the society. We want direct democracy for national and regional decision-making and other social institutions, so the citizens can participate in making the decisions that concern themselves.
The Left Youth of Finland is a feminist organization. Currently, our society is defined by a heteronormative, patriarchal gender system. This means a view of two natural genders that are juxtaposed to each other and connected by heterosexual desire. In this view, anatomy-based gender and the social meanings of gender are understood to be one and the same, which sets constricting norms on peoples’ self-definition, self-expression and activities. The gender system affects both women and men, particularly those who do not fit in either of these categories. The effects of the gender system are reflected in matters like the social distribution of work, wages and gendered violence.
The Left Youth of Finland is a part of the red-green environmental movement. The world is facing an environmental catastrophe, its effects becoming increasingly harsher year by year. The most dire forms of the environmental catastrophe are climate change and the destruction of the diversity of nature, but it also includes matters like our natural resources running out, seas being polluted and overfished, the ongoing desertification, particle emissions and the more local environmental problems.
The most essential problem is the capitalist economic system, which subjects the environment to profiteering. Building a more ecological world requires commonly agreed, binding goals, governmental energy efficiency and mass transit programs, and subsidies for renewable sources of energy and carbon taxes and duties.
The Left Youth of Finland is a part of international Left. One of the most central features of capitalism has been its tendency to set states and groups of people against each other. National welfare state projects and operations aiming to fight against the environmental crisis have been struck down due to the pressures of international competitiveness. Borders have been created between the people through national, ethnic, racist and religious bigotry.
We are building a world that is not defined according to nationalities, cultures, religions and other similar differences between groups of humans, but according to the equality of whole humankind. We oppose war, though we recognize that there have been periods in history where oppressed people have had to take up weapons to fight for their freedom.
Ecomic system and taxation
Capitalism is based on oligarchy
The capitalist system is based on the accumulation of private property. This process does not answer to human needs or take the environment’s carrying capacity to account, but rather subdues these to profiteering. Capitalism divides the people – some have to sell their labour to live, while others live on the profits that they receive from the labour performed by other people. Due to this, the wealth of the society concentrates to a small elite.
The worker’s movement has, especially in the Nordic countries, succeeded in advancing several reforms that have offered benefits to the citizens, such as the construction of a strong welfare state, increases in public ownership and the improvement of the status of the workers. Right-wingers have, however, aimed to tear these welfare state structures down to increase their own power. Continuous international competition in the reduction of the status of the workers and the power of the trade union movement has boosted this determined right-wing policy.
The current phase of capitalism might be termed ‘financial capitalism’. This means that households, companies and states are at the mercy of the financial markets and the power of the society has been concentrated largely to the hands of the investors and the banking sector. Instead of investments that support employment and sustainable development, investments in financial capitalism are credit-fueled and speculative. This leads to a constant instability of financial markets and creates financial crises, also increasing the indebtedness of individuals and households.
The financial crisis of 2008 and the euro crisis of 2010 have once again reminded us of the unsustainability of financial capitalism. Through such repetitive crises we can see how, in financial capitalism, the profits are privatized and the rest of the society is made to pay the losses. An example of this is the European austerity policy, which has led to cuts in wages, pensions and social benefits, privatization of basic welfare services like education and health care, sales of state properties and the privatization of common resources like ground waters and the production of electricity. Simultaneously, central banks have concentrated on printing money to stimulate the financial markets.
In the so-called developing countries, the power of capitalism is expressed in a more naked form than in the developed countries, taking the form of corruption, violent oppression of the labor movement and unequal trade relations. Such trade relations form a neocolonialist world-system, where the domination and robbery of developing countries takes the form of trade flows. More money flows from the global South to industrialized countries than returns in the form of development aid. Thus, the developing countries provide the wealth of the industrialized countries.
In a welfare state, taxation must be based on taxing the rich more than the poor, thus levelling socially harmful income differences. This is called progressive taxation. Furthermore, a welfare state is defined by a high rate of taxation, guaranteeing sufficient funding for the services needed by the people. At the moment, the progressive system of taxation is generally only evident in the taxation of earned income.
From 1990s on, however, changes reducing this progressiveness have been introduced to the tax system, particularly for capital incomes. The taxation reforms have led to a situation where the wealthy can set their own tax rates by utilizing tax restructuring and changing their earned income to capital income. Progressiveness is also decreased by the basis of taxation increasingly being based on naturally regressive consumption taxes like the VAT, increasing the income gaps. Being flat, the consumption taxes affect those with low incomes more than those who are rich. High VATs make the everyday life harder for the poor and the small entrepreneurs.
Tax cuts, the main used form of economic stimulus used in Finland, do not work for this purpose, as the domestic economy’s consumption does not change if the people do not trust their economic situations to improve. Thus, lowering the corporate tax does not improve the situation of labour, but rather functions an income transfer from the state to the large corporations. Corporate tax cuts also form a part of international tax competition, where different countries attempt entice companies to move to them by offering them lighter taxes. This leads to a continual reduction of the levels of taxation and creates a weaker basis for funding the public economy.
The economic system must be changed to a socialist system
Instead of capitalism, we need an economic system based on democracy, joint ownership, the fulfillment of human needs and respect for environment. The most important functions for the health of the society and the environment, such as social, health and education services, energy production, and the infrastructure, should not operate according to the whims of private profit-seeking, but should rather mainly be organized by the public sector. Trade union funds, co-operatives and non-profit organizations compliment the production of services in these fields.
Banking and financial operations must become a public service to meet the needs of the people, the enterprises and the states. Wages must continue to rise, particularly in female-dominated fields, as people should not be required to get indebted to live. The basic income system and welfare services ensure that no-one is left without a safety net. An expansionary financial policy is used for combating unemployment and poverty.
The system of taxation must be increasingly based on taxing wealth and environmental problems rather than working and consumption. The taxation system must be simplified by cutting the amount of tax deductions related to, for example, living and domestic services, and replacing them with income transfers. The current consumption tax system does not take the environment’s carrying capacity into account. Instead, we need an environmentally based VAT.
Finland should not participate in tax competition but instead operate against it at the European level and throughout the world by demanding, for example, a minimum level for corporate taxes. Finland must operate actively to close the tax havens and work to make corporate accounting country-based.
The intent of taxation is, in addition to funding the welfare state, reducing income differences and stopping the accumulation of capital to the hands of the few. For this reason, capital income and earned income must be taxed at the same rates. Uniform taxation also makes legalized tax avoidance, or tax restructuring, harder.
Steps towards a socialist economic system:
- To reduce power of the banks, the debt burden of the countries affected by the euro crisis is reduced using debt rearrangement and writedowns.
- The people’s cycles of debt are stopped with pay rises and sufficient basic welfare.
- The power to create money is transferred from private banks to a democratically managed central bank.
- A financial policy goal of 3-5 percent employment rate, or removal of involuntary unemployment, is set, with the funding also used to support employment independently of the upturns and downturns of the market.
- Investment banking is separated from financial banking. Central banks are brought under democratic control. Their task is maintaining financial stability by combatting unemployment in addition to inflation.
- A publicly owned, non-profit people’s bank is established to meet the needs for bank services and financing for small enterprises and individuals.
- To solve the economic crisis, public investment projects are started, meaning investment in green technology, renewable energy, production of housing, research, and repairing the infrastructure.
- New public enterprises are established by the Finnish state and the municipalities for infrastructure, mining and the production of energy.
- The focus of taxation is moved from consumption to wealth and pollution. The level of progression is increased and flat taxes reduced.
- Taxation for capital incomes and earned incomes is made uniform.
- The VAT system is transformed to an environmentally-based VAT, taking the level of pollution and the carbon footprint required to produce various products and services into account. The environmental tax must not be overtly burdensome on people with low incomes. The VAT for factory-farmed animal products is raised to the level of the general VAT, and similarly the VAT for plant-based food products is removed.
- The VAT for prescription drugs is removed.
- A transnational financial market tax is taken into use. An uniform tax band of 0,5 percent is set on shares, derivatives and currency trading. This tax is intended to reduce speculative risk investment.
- The wealth tax is returned and the inheritance tax maintained at a sufficient level to limit the accumulation of wealth to certain families.
- Participation in international tax competition is ended and corporate tax level returned to at least 24,5 percent. International solutions are sought for minimum levels for taxes such as the corporate tax.
- Tax deductions are reviewed regarding what is important for work and what is not. In general, tax benefits are removed and income taxes simplified.
- The municipal taxation system is made progressive.
Work, entrepreneurship and the trade union movement
The workers are continuously struggling for their rights
Work means people’s active, goal-directed operations for securing their own human needs and those of their communities. Independently of social systems, work, together with the resources of nature, forms the basis of our well-being. In a capitalist system, work generally mainly means wage labour, which has developed to become the most important factor of our social and economic relationships.
In a capitalist system, the compensation for wage labour can never be equivalent to the true value of work. This leads to accumulation of capital and the formation of differences in incomes and wealth. Globally, the contradiction between labour and capital is currently particularly gruesome in the developing countries. The employers in developed countries must also constantly attempt to keep wages down and increase the amount of performed work by weakening the conditions of work and lobbying the state to achieve various tax benefits and subsidies, as they compete with the employers in their own country and the other countries. This development can also be seen in Finland during each annual round of budget negotiations and central income policy agreement negotiations.
The leading idea of the current labour policy is solving the unemployment problem by increasing the supply of labour by, for instance, increasing the requirements for social benefits and raising the retirement age.
At the moment, the unemployment crisis is driven by an exceptionally rapid technological rupture. Additionally, the nature of labour market is becoming more uncertain, as part-time work and self-employment become increasingly common, making it difficult for a person to plan their own life and future, due to the constant changes in income level and the working situation. This process of change has also been called the precarization of the society. The situation of the immigrants, women, sex and gender minorities, students, youth and the elderly is particularly precarious.
Together with wage labour and self-employment, entrepreneurship is an important form of work. Most Finnish companies are small enterprises of under ten people. The majority of all entrepreneurs operates as one-person enterprises. One in five of these self-employed persons operates as an entrepreneur due to the force of circumstances, not out of their own will. Most such persons are in a weaker labour-market position than persons with a contract of employment, due to their incomes and labour market positions. The main part of the income received by such small entrepreneurs may also be assumed to be the result of their own labour and risk-taking.
The most important factor of labour policy should be equality between the workers
The starting point of a left-wing labour policy is that as technological development advances and the need for human labour is reduced, free time must also increase and wealth be divided more equally. Currently, robotization and automatization may increase unemployment in many fields. The extent of robotization and automatization from industry to the service sector and information sector requires reforming our models of wealth and work, thus preventing the unemployment problem from becoming increasingly worse. Concretely, this requires reducing the weekly working week instead of prolonging work careers by, for instance, raising the retirement age and limiting the length of studies.
The workers’ ability to cope with their workloads is an important question of working life. Improving it requires dividing work more equally, respecting the contractual conditions of work, offering a possibility for retraining, increasing occupational welfare, ensuring well-functioning and equal services, increasing the employees’ participation in decision-making affecting them, and making sure that the end of a work relationship leaves a worker without protection. An equal, respectful atmosphere must be created in the workplaces, with no discrimination or bullying based on, for example, gender or ethnicity.
The precarization of the society requires stronger labour unions to defend the workers’ interests. The trade union must be better able to take the new, existing forms of wage labour and work into account, and Improving the status of immigrant workers, students and self-employed persons must become a larger part of the political goals of the trade union movement.
Self-employment, co-operative enterpreneurship and social enterpreneurship offer concrete possibilities for surpassing the limits of capitalist wage labour. These forms of work offer a possibility to make production-related decisions more democratically, ensure that the remuneration for work matches the workers’ needs better, and use the increasing independence to make work more meaningful. The financial well-being of the entrepreneurs can be guaranteed with a basic income. Earnings-related benefits cannot end automatically when an unemployed person establishes a company. It should be possible to convert the earnings-related benefits to a subsidy for starting an enterprise.
When creating rules for companies, the rights of the workers, the environment and the fluency of the system must be taken into account, among other things. Onerous regulation processes may place small enterprises in an unequal position in comparison to large ones.
Due to global capitalism, international trade unionist solidarity is needed more than ever before. Expanding and strengthening the international links of solidarity is absolutely essential for improving the status of the working class in developing countries and nationally.
Steps towards a good working life:
- The working week is shortened, first to 35 and then to 30 hours. Experiments of the effects of shorter working hours can be initiated in the field of care, for example. The reduction of the working week must be agreed through special central income policy negotiations, which also decides how the reduction will affect the earnings.
- The demands for a mechanical raise of retirement age are refused. Instead, the retirement age system is made more flexible and suitable for the people’s life situations so that the age of retirement is affected, in addition to the worked years, by the physical and spiritual harshness of the performed work, for instance.
- In wage-policy negotiations, euro-denominated, equality-increasing wage raises are preferred to percentage-denominated raises. A separate agreement is used to lift the mainly female fields from their wage gap.
- The labour market organizations commit to centralized income policy solutions only when the general quality of the working life is improved.
- The employers are required to operate against exclusion and harassment that takes places due to gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability and religious affiliation more efficiently.
- The 6+6+6 model for the parental leave is taken into use.
- The trade unions are given the right to initiate class-action lawsuits to guard the implementation of the workers’ rights.
- It shall be possible to appeal the judgments of the labour court to higher judicial institutions.
- The erosion of the right to strike is stopped.
- A third labour category is created for freelancers, artists and other self-employing workers – an intermediary work status, between the statuses of an employee and an entrepreneur.
- Flexible forms of labour organizing are enabled for part-time workers, freelancers and self-employed persons to allow them to organize for their rights.
- Whenever the use of public procurement leads to an individual service provider being used, the procurement process is planned to also enable the participation of small enterprises and co-operatives.
- Co-operative entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship is supported using, for instance, low-interest-rate loans, tax relief and training.
- When legislating corporate regulations, the effect caused by bureaucracy to the small entrepreneurs’ use of time must be considered. The regulations are constructed so that they do not favour the large enterprises and disfavour of the small ones. The bureaucracy that is related to the monitoring of regulations must be made more fluent, using, for instance, new technical solutions.
- A minimum wage of 12 euros is mandated in Finland.
- Internal democracy of companies is increased by requiring the participation of representatives of the workers to the boards of all the major companies.
- The lowest limit of business income for defining an enterpreneur’s responsibility for making VAT payments is increased to 20,000 euros. This improves the financial situation of small entrepreneurs and self-employed persons and reduces unnecessary bureaucracy.
- The organization of labour of workers in developing countries is supported.
- The position of immigrant-background workers and immigrant workers is improved in the trade unionist movement.
- The underpayment of wages is criminalized and more efforts are taken to end the chaining of part-time contracts of employment.
- The right to strike is guaranteed as an elemental worker’s right.
- The monthly wage for corporate management shall be at most 12 times the monthly wage of the persons in the lowest wage class of their corporations.
Social welfare and basic income
The current social welfare system has been built to meet the challenges of the past
The right-wingers like to present the unemployed as work-shy freeloaders. Worsening the position of the unemployed will nevertheless undermine the position of all workers. As the possibility for living of a wage labour relationship grows more difficult, the negotiation status of the employers grows stronger and they can use the large mass of the unemployed people to bring the level of the wages down. Wage labour easily leads us to ignore all other socially productive, often necessary work, such as domestic work, voluntary work, self-guided information and culture work, NGO work and peer-to-peer production.
The Finnish social security system has been built to answer to the conditions of the era of welfare capitalism, which has meant regulating demand using financial and employment policy to make unemployment low and temporary. Previously this system has operated well, but it is too rigid for the conditions of the current working life. The system has also been deteriorated by lowering the level and reducing the duration of unemployment benefits, increasing the amount means-testing, and using various work, study and practice requirements and moral codes. Due to the focus on the supply of labour, it has become harder and harder for increasingly larger number of people to receive unemployment benefits.
The cornerstone of the new social security system is a basic income, paid for all
The single most important possible social policy reform is basic income, which would have long-term effects for employment and labour policy. Basic income means that the current social security system, based on means-testing and tailored benefits, is replaced with a non-means-tested benefit paid for all. The amount of basic income must be sufficient to cover the basic costs of living.
Basic income enables the workers to refuse unreasonable work conditions, offers a remuneration for production that happens outside the wage labour relationship and takes the distribution of income to a more just direction for workers. Basic income also enables a more equal distribution of wage labour. This reduces the unemployment and workload of the employees. The self-organization of labour must become a serious option for reducing the related poverty risk. Entrepreneurship must not mean having to surrender to work despite all other life, for instance. The use of basic income will also improve the possibility of the personnel in social welfare offices and the employment offices to concentrate on customer work, as the reduction of bureaucracy frees up working time from processing the benefit decisions to meeting people.
The labour movement must also make a basic income guaranteeing sufficient income one of its top priorities, as it allows the precarious work force to use the strike weapon personally, changes the distribution of income for the benefit of the wage labourers and allows the people to select between wage labour and the self-organization of labour. Basic income allows a more equal division of wage labour without the levels of income being endangered. It also improves the students’ welfare, as the development of the level of student benefits has been slower than the development level of prices. The employee pension system and the earnings-related benefit system need to be maintained alongside basic income. Additionally, income support and means-testing-based labour support that takes housing costs into account are developed inside the country. Basic income should be paid to everyone permanently living in Finland.
Steps towards a left-wing basic income:
- The current basic benefits of social security are brought to an equal level and their level is raised to the level required by the European Social Articles, approved by Finland (at least 50 percent of the national median income).
- This uniform social welfare benefit is indexed to the price level, like the current benefits are.
- The earnings-related benefit system is maintained alongside the new system. The aim should be that the earnings-related benefit can be paid to all unemployed workers, including self-employed persons and freelancers.
- The reconciliation of benefits and wages for work performed during the benefit period is changed so that the worker is paid 66 percent of each euro of wages, instead of 50 percent.
- A comprehensive assessment of the effects of basic income on the social security system and the benefit-receivers is initialized, also including studying the changes required to the tax system.
- Regional basic income experiments are started in specifically selected areas representing the capital region, a small town and a rural municipality.
- The level of social security is raised.
- Plans to make the basic income system more means-tested are rejected.
- A social lending system is taken into use in the whole country.
Environment and natural resources
Environmental crises threaten the whole of humanity
In addition to the people, striving for continuous economic growth exploits the nature and leads, among other things, to rapid climate change, a considerable reduction of the environments’ carrying capacity, increasing levels of pollution, and – related to all of this – the extinction of various species.
Climate change is one of the most difficult challenges threatening humanity and the diversity of the nature. The historically unprecedented emissions have been predicted to raise our planet’s temperature by several degrees. This causes unpredictable, self-feeding phenomena. Other global ecological catastrophes include, among other things, the pollution of seas and water areas which then become uninhabitable, the extinction of species, and hundreds of thousands of deaths due to particle emissions. The already-visible consequences of climate change are the food crisis and the rises in the prices of basic goods. The situation is made even worse by the current agricultural system, which favours environmentally burdensome factory farming, particularly the factory farming of meat. In addition to the global climate and environmental crisis, the specific diversity of the Finnish nature is under threat. A number of plant and animal species are endangered due to, among other things, the eutrophication of water areas, factory farming and fishing, one-sided management of forestry and the hatred of beasts like wolves and bears.
The largest reason for the current environmental crisis is the capitalist system and its continuous profit-seeking. Huge profits are made by exploiting the environment, and its protection is not financially profitable in the short run. For this reason, businesses continuously lobby the states for less regulation and environmental legislation that would affect them. Most environmental crises are caused by the overproduction of goods.
Profit-seeking is not the only reason for this mandatory requirement for constant growth, however. In a system based on limitless growth of consumption and production, all environmental improvements brought by ecological and energy-sustainable technology become meaningless in the long term. The solution of the environmental crisis requires temporarily stopping or even reducing material-production-based economic growth. In such a situation, the welfare of the people must be secured by distributing the income, work and wealth equally.
When the nature is seen only as a source of resources and exploitation, it is difficult to see it having a non-economic value. Animals are also only seen through their use value, and, for example, the exploitation and the bad treatment of productive animals is not considered to be problematic.
Many of the current environmental policy operations have been designed to be market-based, which makes them inefficient and insufficient. Emissions trading, for example, is currently mainly a means for profiteering. It is an uncertain method, exposed to financial speculation.
Natural resources policy is being handled unsustainably. A good example of this is the Nordic mining boom. The local communities have to suffer from the problems of the mines, forcing the state to step in to fix cases like Talvivaara. The local communities do not receive the full benefit of the mine’s operations, with the profits being passed on to large mining companies. Finland’s forestry policy is not conducted according to the criteria of sustainable forestry, either.
An ecological society must have a durable basis
The Left Youth of Finland aims to create a society where the use of the environment is at a sustainable level and welfare of the nature and animals is not subordinated to profit-seeking. This requires state action and the raising of consciousness related to environmental questions, but most of all, it requires international solutions.
Fighting climate change requires limiting emissions. An ecological society will tax climate emissions and air pollution. Such a tax must be taken into use in every country of the world. Before its global implementation, a tax solution in an individual country requires a system of duties aimed at preventing the transfer of the corporate operations to countries with no environmental legislation that would limit the emissions.
The state must ensure that the use of natural resources and the pollution do not get out of control. Taxing environmental waste is not enough – climate policy and environmental policy also require strict regulation. Furthermore, state investments should be used to support clean, renewable energy production, advance ecologically efficient construction projects and reduce factory emissions.
Energy production must be based entirely on renewable, low-emission energy sources. The state must end its subsidies for non-renewable, high-emission energy production and invest in renewable energy and related research. Nuclear power plants must be decommissioned as soon as it is possible to replace the energy they produce. Nuclear power is an expensive form of energy production, causing considerable environmental problems both during the process of uranium being extracted and the disposal of radioactive waste. The use of peat power must be ended and the continued existence of important swamp biomes with considerable natural values must be secured. The construction of further dams for water power must be terminated and fords that are important for fish migrations or landscape values must flow freely.
The primary goal of food security is securing food safety and self-sufficiency and constructing an ecological and sustainable food system. This requires supporting the production of cereals, vegetable proteins and, for instance, the sustainable care of reindeer, and utilizing alternative means of farming instead of fertilizer-intensive factory farming. Animal rights must be taken into account in all policy and the animals must not be seen as tools of production. International cooperation is also required for protecting the variety of fisheries and the nature.
The sustainable use of natural resources, such as forests and minerals, means a stricter natural resources policy. In addition to a natural resources policy, the protection of nature and the variety of the nature must be taken into account. Natural resources must be seen as a limited common, and their utilization must mainly benefit the local inhabitants. A comprehensive environmental policy requires keeping environmental governance separate from the requirements of the economic management, agriculture and forestry, allowing it can operate independently and actively. Protected areas must be expanded and the network of protected areas must be based on research.
Steps to ecososialism:
- Sufficiently high taxes are set on emissions to achieve 90 percent emission cuts in comparison to the levels of 1990s by 2040. Taxation must be focused on both production and consumption, considering the Finnish inter-regional differences. Additionally, a carbon duty is placed on imports.
- Public facilities should move to offering ethical and ecological, sustainable vegan food. This is used to increase the approval of vegetarian and vegan food among the people.
- Overfishing is reduced through using stricter international fish and seafood quotas. Excessive fishing must be punishable everywhere. The commercial utilization of endangered fish and seafood species must be banned.
- Finland needs a new national mining company and a mining tax, whose profits are used to create a sovereign wealth fund. The state must have the power to close any mines causing major environmental problems, with the mining company being fully liable for the costs. The state must also be able to nationalize any foreign mine operating in Finland.
- In energy policy, by 2040, all energy produced in Finland should be produced using renewable, low-emission production methods. Households should be able to feed the extra energy they produce to the electrical grid and receive a reasonable remuneration.
- Strict energy efficiency limits are set for new construction, also noting the effects the buildings have on the health of the people. One of the goals for a national state-owned construction company is participating in ecological repair projects.
Finland takes a clear stand for strict international emission limits in international climate negotiations. This must also be the European line.
- The privatization of the forests, and their sales below the market prices, is ended. The National Board of Forestry must start a policy aiming at sustainable forestry. The National Board of Forestry must remain a state office. More forests become protected areas.
- Fur farming is be banned and the production of fur products ended, after a transfer period.
- The developing countries are offered environmental development aid to deal with the consequences of climate chance and achieve reductions in emissions through a climate fund, which is separate from other development aid.
- Nuclear power is ended after a transfer period.
- The nesting seal of the ringed seal is secured and fishing with nets banned on the areas where the Saimaa ringed seal is present.
Democracy and opennes
The construction of democracy is not yet finished
The Left and the democracy have always have a common antagonist, the rule of the capital, which aims to centralize power instead of distributing it. Common, equal suffrage has come to Finland as the result of an extensive left-wing movement. No democratic rights have been granted to the people from above. The people have struggled for these rights, historically and now.
The fact that the crises of left and democracy are currently being experienced simultaneously is not accidental. National decision-making processes can only function well in societies, where the decision-making process is open. At the moment, the society is, however, characterized by decisions being moved from the public sphere to institutions where the political process cannot reach. The institutions of representative democracy have relinquished their power to corporations and supranational operations, such as the EU. At the same time, false participatory mechanisms are used to offer the people indirect chances to affect socially minor matters, as real decision-power slips even further away from their hands.
In Finland, the structures of local decision-making continues to be based on the municipal system of the early 1900s. The lack of democratically managed counties and regions has led to the power for organizing the health services being transferred to confusing organizational entities, further removing the ordinary people from being able to make decisions concerning their own lives and leaving the powers of practical decision-making to the bureaucrats.
Openness and the availability of information are essential parts of democracy. The Internet and the social media democratize and communalize the production of information, but may also make it harder to find out where information has been produced and whether it is factual. The production of information is also affected by social hierarchies and economic and political interests.
A formal democratic system does not automatically guarantee the real participation of different groups in the decision-making process. Politics in Finland is still practiced mainly by ethnic Finns of average or above-average incomes, who are middle-aged or older.
Towards direct democracy
Democracy has always been intended to be more than mere representative decision-making. As far back as a hundred years ago, the Left demanded that power must be given to the people through direct and binding referenda. We need a democratic system where the people are the leaders of their representatives.
The powers belonging to representative democracy have been passed to bureaucracy, but the power of the bureaucracy is also leaking onwards to the consultants. Strengthening people’s power to organize binding referenda offers a way out of the power of the consultants and increase the importance of politics again. Democracy must be expanded to cover the whole of society by, for instance, allowing the people to participate in the decision-making process at their workplaces, as the life of the economy and the operations of the corporations are currently insufficiently covered by sphere of political regulation and thus by the democratic use of power.
Local democracy is strengthened in Finland to ensure that all public affairs are handled at the most fitting level. In practice, for health services, for instance, this means transferring power to regions, which would form an intermediate step between the state and the municipalities. The decision-makers of the regions should be selected in regional elections, which are organized jointly municipal elections. Regional planning, the organization of health services and the tasks currently handled by regions and local management bureaus also need to be transferred to the regions. The regions are given the power to set regional taxes and the government’s system of local subsidies is changed to offer the regions a meaningful share of state subsidies for organizing their tasks.
One condition for a functioning democracy is the radical openness of information, which is expanded within a system of direct democracy. The information being open only when the state so separately decides will move on to publicly produced information and political decision-making happening behind closed doors only when there is a particularly important reason.
Steps towards a strong democracy:
- Democracy is expanded. The goal is increasing the citizens’ real decision-making power through direct democracy.
Referenda are organized on the basis of citizens’ initiatives. If a citizens’ initiative is rejected in the parliament, a direct, binding referendum must be organized regarding its issue. A similar method must also be taken into use in municipalities. Citizens’ initiatives cannot be used to abolish basic human rights.
- The citizens are offered monitoring power with civil decisions. A parliament-approved law must be subjected to approval or disapproval in a referendum, if the citizens demand this through an initiative.
- The presidential institution is ended. The presidential elections do not support democracy, but rather weaken it by personifying and depoliticizing policy. The power must neither be concentrated to the prime minister, however, but must be shared even further among ministers and decision-makers.
- The parties are democratized with proper legislation. Party conventions should be organized more often, party organs need to operate openly and the participation of the members in decision-making must be secured. Party subsidies must be distributed according to the amount of votes in the elections, not according to the amount of representatives.
- Representative elections are reformed. A system of leveling seats is taken into use, fixing the case of representation for small parties caused by hidden voting tresholds.
- Local management is reformed using a two-tier regional management model.
- Local democracy is secured using organs of political representation. In a regional model, the cities and the municipalities may be divided to smaller entities, with such subregions having elected councils.
- The municipalities start using the mayoral model of city management, with mayors elected for fixed periods replacing hired city managers.
- The voting age is lowered to 16 in all elections and referenda. The youth must also be allowed to participate in all elections and be legally responsible for their actions as members of communities and other organs.
- Democracy must be extended to cover various different sections of the society. In the state and municipalities, and the public enterprises these institutions own as a whole or partially, the workers must have the right of initiative and a vote in the company’s decision-making process. Their operations of these enterprises must comply with the Publicity Act, ensuring the citizens’ right to receive information on the operation of publicly owned companies.
- The information used to support public decision-making must be available to everyone for free. When procuring information, the possible interests of the information producers are taken into account.
- The various groups of people must be able to participate in producing, evaluating and applying information on themselves in the decision-making process. Data storages must be used as a tool for democratic decision-making.
- The ILO169 agreement, which increases the self-determination of the Sami people, must be ratified.
Feminism frees us from hierarchies
Hierarchies define the lives of everyone
The society is defined by various power structures and practices. People are located in different positions in hierarchies formed on the basis of such structures and in comparison to other people. Such hierarchies may be based on, for example, gender, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation or ability.
An individual’s possibilities in different ways from birth, as their parents’ social class, by which we means training, wealth and professional status, affects their hobbies, health, education and choices of profession. The right-wingers claim that everyone has the same chance to succeed and that poverty is caused by laziness or other worthlessness. The right-wingers deny differences between classes, even though the meaning of social class changes all the time as income differences grow.
In addition to class, the factors affecting the individuals affect the people’s status in societies. Such factors include gender, ethnicity and age. Even though these different factors are central to a person’s social status, the neoliberal view that focuses on individuality wants to define them as parts of human identity. This view forgets the hierarchies between and inside groups of people.
The society has various ideas on normality. Concepts like heterosexuality and whiteness define our assumptions about people and our expectations for how they function. Thus, norms affect decision-making in all sectors of society, from the raising of children to the planning of public structures and the casting of the people in TV series.
Even though the gender system might be considered to be particularly oppressive for women and gender minorities, it also sets unreasonable expectations and pressures for boys and men. A good example of this is admiration of violence, very much related to the myth of masculinity. Other equality problems affecting the men include, for instance, high suicide rate, criminality, marginalization and substance abuse.
The values of a free society are solidarity and equality
The Left Youth of Finland believes that the society must be developed to serve the welfare and the opportunities for operating for all individuals. All decision-making must take the people and aim to end the normative assumptions made on the basis of, for instance, gender or ethnic origin. The goal of Left Youth of Finland is a society where each individual is emancipated. The people living in such a society would not be limited by the society’s views on how they should be treated regarding gender, ethnicity or other similar factors.
The way how people experience their own gender and sexuality must be respected at all the levels of society. Even during elementary education, children must have the right and an actual possibility to self-define and express their own gender identity without being limited by external pressures. A particularly urgent goal is removing the limitations related to the lives of the transgendered people, who still have to experience legislative human rights abuses due to their gender.
The individuals’ freedom and possibility for self-actualization is a central goal of left-wing policy. Left-wing freedom is not only freedom from force and regulations, but one essential part of it is being free to do things and express one’s self, without this freedom endangering the other people’s rights to do the same.
An example of such a limit on rights is the poverty of a poor person. A person who has to hide their own identity has their freedom limited by the other people’s prejudice and intolerance. Taking a left-wing feminist point of view, we wish to expand the individual freedoms in a society without believing the current liberties to be sufficient.
The society must note the needs of language and cultural minorities, such as the Sami. They must have the liberty and sufficient resources to maintain and advance their own language and culture. In particular, the cultural sensitivity of early education and health care must be increased by, for instance, offering the workers training and information on multilingualism and minority cultures.
Religious freedom is a basic human right and includes every person’s right to practice or not practice their religion. The state must be neutral: it may not set give any religions any special legislative privileges, for example. The public authorities must also support the people’s real possibilities to practice their own faith. The people’s right to use religious symbols must be secured.
Steps towards a non-hierarchical society:
- The personal ID is made gender-neutral.
- A person’s juridical gender is based on notification, which also applies to changing their name. There shall be no other requirements contrary to the concepts of protection of privacy or bodily autonomy, such as medical assessments or mandatory sterility.
- The third gender is made official.
- The right to an abortion is guaranteed until the 18th week of pregnancy. Abortion must be based on a women’s own will and announcement, and it should not be required to justify it through health reasons or social reasons.
- The respectful encountering of people differing from the norms forms a part of each public official’s training.
- Positive treatment, such as quotas for public functions where they are necessary, can be used as a tool for creating an equal society.
- It is easier than currently to establish a religious association. Religious associations should be treated like other registered associations, as applicable, and their establishment should not require a creed, sacred texts or regular services.
- Persons who are 15 or older must be able to decide by themselves whether or not they belong to a religious establishment.
- Education in daycares and elementary schools must be gender sensitive.
- Proper sexual education should be a part of school education from elementary schools onwards. Sexual education must take into account the variety of sex and gender and make an effort to increase sexual self-determination.
Social and health policy
Social and health services are being demolished
The basic purpose of a welfare state is providing everyone equal social and health services, based on the concept that basic human rights belong to everyone. The welfare state system has been slashed, purposefully under-resourced and partially sold to private owners and investors. Due to this, the Finnish health care system is one of the most unequal ones in the OECD states. Instead of this, the goal should be a welfare system where it is possible to receive care whenever needed.
Right-wing politics create a continuous pressure to cut public services, concentrate services to large units and outsource the services to private companies. These cuts have particularly struck preventative services, and this has directly affected the people’s spiritual and physical welfare in a negative way. In the end, the cuts have increased the total costs of health care.
The privatization of social and health services has created a growing company sector that aims to use lobbying to transfer a larger and larger share of social and health services to the private sector. The use of service vouchers is one particular way to channel taxpayers’ money to private profiteers.
The competition required by the capitalist society and the process of increasing efficiency at the cost of workers’ welfare lead to those who cannot meet these challenges being marginalized. The current mental welfare services no longer meet the needs of all those that require aid.
Social and health services are a basic right
The starting point of social and health policy must be ensuring the needs of each population group, community and individual, as well as their economic, social and educational needs. These rights belong to each person in Finland, independently of their citizenship, ethnic background, class or other individual attributes. Everyone must have the right to be treated as full citizens and actors, independently of the possible limitations due to their physical or spiritual capability of operation.
The reduction of socioeconomic and regional health differences must become a focal point of social policy. The state, the regions and the municipalities must commit to reduce the health differences through strict cooperation between the politics and the bureaucracy.
The goal must be constructing a comprehensive social and health care services model, both regarding achievability and quality. The development of services must happen by noting the needs of those using them, not mere efficiency. The state and the municipalities must play a strong role in organizing services, while the third sector and the private sector may a complementary role. The money intended for organizing social and health services should not be directed to profit-seeking companies in the form of Kela reimbursements or service vouchers, for instance. When private services are used, however, competitive tendering must apply the suitable human criteria. The current criteria of competitive tendering, which focus on economic efficiency, are not suitable for services intended for social purposes.
The goal of Left Youth of Finland is ensuring that the functions of public health care are also be equally able to offer services such as occupational health care and student health care. This would mean that structures like the private occupational health care system and University Student Health Association (YTHS) could be ended as unnecessary.
Social and health care must be comprehensive and organized in a way that ensures that a person suffering from several problems can receive all the aid they need in one place, as well as possible. Small unit sizes and the personal doctor system enable the effective, humane fulfillment of the patients’ needs. In addition to treating diagnosed illnesses, low-treshold conversational aid and psychosocial support for life’s crisis and burdening situations is needed. Mental health problems require suitable therapy, without a requirement for starting medical treatment. The basis of drug policy should be solving substance abuse and dependency issues through social care, not through criminal law.
The starting point of all social care and health care is social equality. Functional services and income transfers may be used to reduce and prevent the peoples’ differences in incomes, wealth and health. Well-functioning services are also an important way to advance gender equality and everyone’s right to a secure childhood and youth. The right to municipal daycare is a basic right for all children, independently of the parents’ employment situation.
Steps towards a covering social and health care
- The power of the users of services regarding service production is increased. Municipal decision-making must apply the views of both the workers and the users of the services, in the form of experience experts and user panels.
- New tools are created to evaluate how much money precautionary services save. The economic estimations by municipalities must take the view of gender-related effects and childrens’ rights into account.
- The privatization and outsourcing of health care is stopped. A point is made to start returning the services under public power.
- To bolster human rights and national health, paperless immigrants are guaranteed access to public health care to the same extent as those domiciled in Finland. The lack of payment ability should not prevent one from accessing care.
- Health care center fees are removed. The daily fees for hospitals must be reasonable.
- The concepts of juridical paternity and maternity are replaced with a concept of parenthood. It is possible to register more than two parents for a child.
- Finland needs a separate mental health guarantee, offering all those suffering from mental health problems help and free therapy within a reasonable period from the problems being diagnosed.
- Psychiatric treatment resources are increased considerably. At the same time, it is ensured that there is enough spaces at mental hospitals.
- The drug policy moves towards a model where the use of drugs is not defined as an illegal act and the addicts are offered medical treatment. Cannabis is also legalized and sold in state-owned stores. Alcohol policy is based on harm reduction.
- The amount of substance abuse support points that can be accessed by a patient while intoxicated is increased.
- The amount of substance-free night houses for the homeless is increased.
- The main point of education concerning intoxicating substances should be scientific information and harm reduction, not scaremongering.
- Condoms and female contraceptives must be available freely through public health care institutions and schools. STD tests must be easily available in the whole country.
- Daycare should be free. As a step towards free daycare, the income limit of zero payment class for day care needs to be raised.
- The subsidies for home care of children are raised to sufficient level to make taking care of a child at home economically possible for all families, even without the extra subsidies paid by the municipalities. When a parent takes care of a child at home, the payment of the subsidy must not depend on the parent’s gender. Child subsidies should not affect the amount of income support.
- Everybody facing violence in a relationship needs proper support services. Those guilty of violence must be aided in breaking the cycle of violence. Safe houses require access independently of gender, even though gender-specific safe house places should still be available.
- Finland must immediately ratify UN’s general agreement on the rights of disabled persons. The self-determination of disabled persons in the choice of a domicile, for instance, is respected. Instead of facilities, independent living is supported and homelike housing provided.
- The peoples’ legal right to receive social and health services in all domestic languages is actualized. The right linguistic minorities to receive services is ensured by, for instance, enabling them to receive interpretation so that they can use their mother tongue to receive social care and health care.
- The availability of services for disabled persons must not depend on a municipality’s financial situation.
- The cosmetic surgery of intergender children’s genitals is ended.
- Active euthanasia is legalized in situations where a person is suffering from serious physical or mental pain that is not possible to reduce by medical methods and where the person can announce their own will themselves.
- Municipalities offer more free cultural and sport services.
Housing, transit and regional policy
Expensive housing and transit makes living more difficult in the entire country
Policies related to questions of housing, traffic and living form a part of a general development where production, services and governance is concentrated in large units for reasons of presumed efficiency. This development has led to people in less-inhabited areas being left without services. At the same time, many cities, the capital region in particular, are troubled by an acute shortage of housing. At the moment, it can be said that Finland does not have a proper housing and regional policy.
In the cities, mass transit is often expensive and the mass transit networks do not always function well. The utilization of rail traffic in Finland has been insufficient. This is caused by social planning that favors private cars, private homeownership, real-estate investments and the growing differences between the urban areas. In less-inhabited areas, the amount of mass transit is low or non-existent, so personal cars are needed for transit. Work and school journeys may take several hours per day. Obtaining a driving license is more expensive in the less-inhabited areas than in large towns, even though it is possible for people in the cities to live their daily lives without a driving license and a car.
Due to insufficient public construction of rental apartments, The Finnish housing markets have become controlled by real estate investors and large companies. The debt burden of the Finnish domiciles has been growing strongly during the last decades, and a noticeable amount of the income of renters is spent on housing costs. Youth homelessness has been particularly on the rise. Dysfunctional housing markets have become a problem for the entire Finnish society, as they make it harder for the people to move due to work or studies.
The concentration of public services in large centres of habitation takes both jobs and services away from the less-inhabited areas. When health services are concentrated in large units, for example, some of the people have to make unreasonably long journeys, while others have to stand in lines of unreasonably long periods. Village schools being closed lead to families with children moving out and, thus, villages emptying.
A socialist society takes care of the entire country
The goal of the Left Youth of Finland is securing the social welfare services in the whole country. Comparing and evaluating centres of habitation solely in terms of economic profitability is not the way to go.
An equalizing, supportive regional policy allows for flexible low-cost transportation for everyone and everywhere. Extensive, energy-efficient mass transit serves all groups of people and helps fight the environmental crisis. Making services more efficient, creating areas of free mass transit and transferring from road transit to rail transit increases the desirability and use of mass transit.
Social planning and town plans must be connected to the design and construction of the mass transit networks. Cycling and its infrastructure must be developed everywhere as its own way of movement, which can be connected to mass transit. Public power must support the development of car co-operatives and intelligent mass transit services that reduce the need for car ownership.
All of the possibilities offered by IT infrastructure have not been applied in Finland. By expanding data networks everywhere in the country, it becomes possible to move to a system where visits to authorities can increasingly take place online. The development of data system infrastructures must be steered by the state, however, so its benefits extend everywhere. The possibility for personal visitation must be secured.
Everyone must have a subjective right to a house, secured by the public authorities. Public production of rental apartments needs to be increased, thus improving employment and offering the people low-cost housing. When public housing production is sufficient and the absorption principle is used, the rental markets are levelled and the rise of rents slows down. Municipalities also need to operate as active purchasers and renters of land and ensure a sufficient availability of plots and the reasonability of price rates.
Steps towards a Finland that is built for everyone:
- The state subsidy system for localities is maintained such that the organization of basic services throughout the entire inhabited Finland is secured. Additionally, investments on renewable energy and mass transit, for example, are directed to all parts of the country.
- State and municipal business facilities are established to produce low-cost rental apartments.
- A housing guarantee is used to make home a subjective basic right, meaning that everyone is guaranteed an apartment in their domestic municipality within two months from them becoming homeless.
- The tax deductions for housing are cut, so the tax deduction for profit made for housing sales is ended after a transfer periods. Tax deductions of housing loans are ended.
- When drawing up transit policy for cities and urban areas, low-emission mass transit, preferably electricity-operated, is favoured. In large cities, the possibility of free public transit is assessed.
- Social planning and public investments are used to implement new and supplementary construction, connected to mass transit corridors. The expansion of mass transit, the public production of housing and the equalization of housing areas all support each other.
- Cycling and its infrastructure are developed as their own means of transit, suiting mass transit in all social planning.
- During the process of constructing infrastructure, rail transit is favoured instead of road transit. VR is returned to being a state bureau and rail transit is developed using a strong political ownership policy.
- A goal is set for a data transit network that covers all places in the country. Data transit connection is truly actualized as a basic right.
- The agricultural subsidies are focused to support small farms more than large ones.
- State mining policy is implemented by taking the local peoples’ opinions into account and by ensuring that a mining fee, which is saved to a sovereign wealth fund, is collected for mining profits. A quota is established to use some of the profits of the fund for improving the local people’s economic activities.
- The state must create a database for personal information and patient information, based on open-source coding, which is taken into use everywhere in the country, ensuring the protection of personal data and the patients.
- Accessibility is increasingly noted in mass transit and construction projects.
Equality with education
The education system is under threat
The Finnish educational system is one of the most progressive systems in the world. Education, from the preschool to the universities, is a major public service and one of the most important parts of the welfare state. Common pre-education and elementary education, as well as free higher education, are among the most important political achievements of the Left. Education may still also be used to maintain the society’s power structures, however.
For businesses, education has become an important tool to mould people to their own needs, particularly as the country’s economic structure has changed so that it has become based on technologically developed industries requiring high levels of expertise. The struggles for people’s lives and social power take place inside the systems of vocational training, education system and educational policy.
Even though the concept of formal equality of opportunity reigns within the Finnish educational system, the vocational level of the parents and their class status remain generally inherited by the children. The system currently creates divisions between the people, based on hierarchies between areas of education and professions, not the needs of the people, economy and culture.
Despite its form as a comprehensive schooling, the elementary school cannot offer all the students uniform possibilities for further education. This is caused, among other things, by the basic education system’s inability to respond to different readinesses for learning and culture, which increases the differences between different professions and fields of training. When the elementary school promotes the idea that girls and boys perform well in certain fields, this affects the choices made by the people regarding their further education directly.
The secondary education system strictly divides the students to academic and vocational students. Despite combination degrees, the choice made when moving to second degree defines a person’s future in the training and education hierarchy for a long time into the future. The strict division to general education and vocational training does not match the current realities, as all fields require certain general educational qualities.
The number of schools organizing vocational education has been cut, forcing young people to make long journeys to study. The social differences of various vocational fields also affect the times of study. Some of the students may live more securely through debt, expecting a good level of future income, or get paid to work in their own fields during their studies. Some, on the other hand, will have to live under the threat of future unemployment and operate as cheap labour.
The cornerstones of the Finnish education system are its lack of tuition and the sufficiency of basic funding from the state. The plans to collect tuition for a second academic degree, as well as the degrees for students outside the EU and ETA countries, are also steps towards a higher education that is not fully free. Likewise, there are plans to make the status of the universities and the polytechnics uniform. In practice, these plans aim to achieve considerable cuts at higher education.
Elementary schools, second-degree institutions and high schools suffer from lack of funding. Due to a lack of resources, they cannot solve bullying, the lack of study aid, or the fact that some spaces are dangerous for health or the specialization of staff. In addition, the student subsidy meant for social welfare of students has been cut and the conditions for receiving it have been made stricter, thus increasing the gaps between the students. The situation of people with families and single parents is particularly dire.
The Left’s educational system starts from the possibilities of the people
Education must become an agent of societal change, helping and strengthening people in creating a better life and society. Against the power of business organizations and those defending the benefits of the elite, the possibilities for independent public education must be enhanced.
The educational system must support common rights for all people, as well as their opportunity to educate themselves as they want. As a general goal, people must learn to know their own strengths as well as possible – despite the limits placed on them by their environment, domestic background, culture or gender norms. School discipline must be less punishment-based and more supportive of strengths and good self-esteem. Changing fields of education must be easy. Educational choices and failures made early on must not lead to paths being blocked from the students.
Education and training has an important effect on the individual’s possibility to be employed, live well and have an effect on the society. By expanding the education requirement and guaranteeing a second-level degree for everyone, we can also advance the actualization of individual freedom.
Student subsidies must be developed so, that the progress of the studies no longer forms a condition for aid. The aid must be offered fully as a subsidy, not a loan. Student subsidies must make possible the student’s financial independence at both the second degree and the highest degree, and people with families and particularly individual students must receive extra support. Studies on other forms of support must be enabled. The student subsidy system should no more include a separate housing subsidy system – the students must receive the general housing subsidy. This will, in part, support the progress towards the basic income. The basic income system will replace the student subsidies.
The regulation of fields of education, degrees and professions must be reformed to remove unnecessary hierarchies. The strict dual model for the second degree should be ended to reform the contents of education from training people in only one form of expertise to offering them a possibility to view the world and the society more expansively and critically.
The university exams, in their current form, measure performance instead of learning and force the students to specialize during the early phase of their high school educations. The dependence on matriculation examination of the high school for deciding on university entrance must be ended. High school education must support independent thinking and criticism and maintain its function as general education.
Steps to reform the school system:
- The elementary school is developed as a comprehensive school that aims to offer students equal possibilities for further education. The resources are secured using quotas set in law and limits on class sizes. Different learning styles are taken into account with a variety of teaching methods, and study difficulties are answered with special teaching.
- In second-degree education, cooperation between institutions of study is increased, particularly in organizing study services and spaces. The performance of studies or the changing the field of study between different institutions of study is made more flexible, keeping the studies separate.
- The subsidies granted for practicing in different high schools must be equal to each other. It should not be possible to use the students as a free workforce. Study aid must be of a good quality.
- A new law is passed concerning study aid for basic education, second degree and academy. The resources for study aid are strengthened. In elementary school, alongside the study aid performed according to the teaching plan, an independent study aid service that concentrates on serving the study aid needs for school drop-outs, those that have been marginalized, and the immigrants, must be established. The new study aid mechanism extends beyond the borders of education.
- The distribution of hours and the study plans of the elementary school and second degree education are developed, so that teaching that extends beyond the traditional limits of study subjects is increased and a common shop class and faith class are established. Programming is added to the study plan as a subject. The teaching primarily aims to strengthen the student’s good self-esteem and offer them sufficient skills in IT and communications. Critical media reading is taught more than currently.
- The status of student and university organizations is secured, as well as their means of operation. The student boards of vocational schools are offered a similar juridical status, based on automatic membership, as the student boards of universities.
- All education leading to a degree must be completely free and public at all levels.
- Employment-supporting special training, partial degrees, supplementary training and other separate studies must be free.
- Universities should follow the principles of democratic decision-making at all levels of governance.
- The selection for higher education is mainly organized using entrance tests. Secondary degree study success may not prevent the seeking of high education at any level. Matriculation examinations are ended. Instead of learning by rote to study tests, the students are supported in critical thinking throughout their high school education.
- The requirements for lifelong learning, changing of one’s field and retraining are improved. The current limits on study times for higher education are ended.
- Sufficient basic funding for universities and trade schools is secured. University centres shall supplement the high school network. The strict separation between the universities and polytechnics is made more flexible by making the switching of fields of education easier between different types of academic institutions and allowing earlier studies to count towards the current ones. The current academic institutions should not be merged in their present state, as this would lead to narrower educational possibilities.
- The autonomy of higher education is strengthened. In funding different fields of education and, for instance, establishing and disestablishing university chairs, the inherent value of comprehensive human education is taken into account, instead of merely considering the factors of production and economy. Instead of managerialism and hierarchy, higher education is based on the concepts of freedom of science and art. The logic of the marketplace should not be a part of the education.
- The universities must grant the students a direct right to study for a Master’s degree, and no wall should be constructed between a candidate’s degree and a master’s degree.
- The student subsidy is increased to enable studying in the whole country as a main activity.
- Gender sensitivity and criticism of norms is the basic starting point for education and pedagogy in both the schools and the day cares. The gender perspective makes up a strong part of student training.
- The minority groups and their languages, cultures and history are taken into account in designing study plans and contents.
- The prep courses are regulated to ensure that the organization of the courses is not based on profit-seeking.
- The social role of elementary school is strengthened with democratic education, including civil rights and the possibilities for making a difference, becoming more extensive than before. Democracy education and representative models of effectivity need to be a comprehensive theme in the everyday life of the schools.
Art and culture
Culture has been made to submit to the capital
The economic importance of art and culture has increased in our information society. In discussions about ”creative economy”, the role of art is creating added value to the economy. Culture has been seen as a factor that increases welfare, for example, which in turn has been considered to reduce the financial burden on social and health services. Both of these concepts are brought together by a concept of art as a tool. In such thinking, art and culture are not seen as being valuable in themselves but due to their economic role.
The concept of art being created according to the demands of the economy has been defended by claiming that it brings new money flows to the cultural field. Despite the stress on positive economic effects, the art and culture sector has faced considerable cuts, implemented in the name of balancing the public sector. The importance of these cuts for budget balance is non-existent, but the monetary amounts involved are nevertheless important for the operators of the cultural field. The gaps caused by these cuts have been intended to be replaced with tax money, which affects the uncertainty of the funding for public art and culture.
As public money is reduced, private operators, such as foundations, have more power regarding the funding of art and culture. The growth of private funding is problematic, as it is not necessarily steered by the principle of peer review being used for distributing art subsidies, or by other art-related policies.
Many artists have a small and uncertain income, with many gaps. The current social welfare system, built on the basis of division between the employees and the employers, does not meet the needs of the artists and cultural workers. Within the field of art and culture, various intersectional differences, such as gender and ethnicity, affect the positions of the artists. Access to an artists’ organization may be prevented on the basis of language skills, for example. The increasing commonness of project-based funding increases the uncertainty of the artists’ positions.
Creativity is based on the circulation of thoughts and ideas – by borrowing from the old, new things can be created. In a capitalist society, creativity and people’s spontaneous thinking is limited by the fact that information is often reserved for the purposes of private profit-seeking. Patents and strict immaterial rights are an example of the capital’s way to capture human ingenuity as a part of the market economy, limiting the people’s rights of self-expression and creativity.
In an equal society, all have a right to a culture
Everyone has a right to art and culture, both as a participant and a creator. Guarding the identities that are a part of a culture and ways of doing, and their respect, are important basic pillars of an equal, creative civil society. Each person has a right to define what part of culture they feel to be their own. The public authorities must guarantee the actualization of this right.
The public funding of art and culture production must be based on variety. Public funding must be used to particularly aid the forms of art that cannot compete on the commercial markets. As the funding for art and culture is reduced, funds must be primarily be directed to non-commercial and small operators. As a starting point, however, the government must aim to increase the funds. The public sector must also support the creation of art by performing art purchases. Various forms of art and culture must be reachable by all. Regional and financial equality and access must be taken into account both for services and hobby possibilities.
The artists’ right to a decent income and their possibilities for full-time work must be secured. The best way to implement these goals is a sufficiently large basic income. Basic income does not replace artist subsidies, and the subsidy system must be maintained alongside basic income. The employment of those operating alongside art and culture must be advanced by supporting the establishment of co-operatives and the offering of sufficient help services. The funding must be based on long-term support for basic functions, instead of the current project-based model. The artist organizations must operate for the benefit of the entire range of their fields – the language criteria for membership must be ended, for instance.
The requirements of artistic work must be developed by offering the artists free work spaces and tools. Free and democratic urban space can offer everyone a possibility for creating their own culture.
In a democratic society, information belongs to all. The immaterial rights system must be developed to better take the various creators’ rights into account. The system must be developed according to the needs of the content producers and the users, not large media companies. Uploading files for private use must be legalized and the artists’ right to their work secured. The status of the library network must be strengthened and publicly funded research information must be open.
In an information society, it must be ensured that everyone has the right to use and produce information with the necessary equipment and data connections, whatever their socioeconomic status. Finnish Broadcasting Corporation’s role as the producer and distributor of non-commercial culture must continue to be maintained, including the use of minority languages.
Steps towards cultural freedom:
- The public funding of culture is increased and directed to support a wide variety of art.
- The welfare of artists and cultural workers is secured with basic income. Basic income secures the income for precarious part-time workers and self-employed persons in the fields of art and culture and allows them to concentrate on artistic work. The current system of artist subsidies is maintained alongside basic income.
- The artists are offered support and visibility by securing a part of the public-management construction project funding to art projects. The percentage of the budget used for procuring art in public construction projects is raised to three percent.
- One of the largest individual cost batches is formed by space rents. The municipalities and cities must offer empty spaces for the free use of artists and cultural operators.
- Public funding is supported and subsidized to increase support for non-commercial cultural projects.
- Artistic institutions built and maintained on public money must aim to increase the variety of art and use their status to strengthen the financial position of the artists of the free field.
- The immaterial rights are used according to the wishes of the artists, not the large media companies.
- The libraries operate as the common living rooms of the citizens, important for both civil functions and education. Library networks are maintained extensively. Library services remain free.
- The protection of privacy must also be actualized online.
- The lowered VAT for paper books and magazines is also applied to electronic books and magazines.
The international system is built on old structures
The period after the collapse of the so-called actually existing socialism and the end of cold war has been characterized by political uncertainty caused by new and rapidly changing concentrations of power and the global expansion of the capitalist method of production.
The global setting has been particularly moulded by the increasing financial-political power of rising economies like China and India. The importance of traditional multilateral forums of foreign policy, like UN, has been reduced, as international relations are handled during top-level financial-political meetings and in smaller meetings of groups of countries.
The global political status of United States has been shaken by the financial crisis of 2008 and the internal political tensions of the country. The rising economies of the era have challenged the United States by establishing, for example, a new global bank.
The redistribution of financial power has also meant the strong concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. The concentration of wealth has become one of the most central problems of development policy, despite the increases in the global living standards during the last decades. The incredible growth of income differences has created a situation where the hundred richest persons on the planet have four times as much wealth as what would be necessary to remove global poverty.
The development of inequality also affects immigration. Strict border controls and the creation of different categories for habitation permits and immigration lead to a situation where many people have to live without an official permit. The lack of legal ways of immigration means that many immigrants have to move through hazardous routes and expose themselves to human trafficking. Tight control and monitoring is not only practiced at the outer borders of the states and the EU, but also inside of them.
The Mediterranean is one of the sad frontlines of global movement. A considerable amount of people are killed each year at Europe’s outer borders due to the fact that the EU does not want to receive them safely. Of the more than million global refugee applicants, few thousand attempt to reach Finland each year, and a majority of them receives a negative decision.
The immigrant controls and the strict immigration policy show on the labour market as a situation where a group of people have to earn their living without a chance to demand their rights or receive help from the authorities in problematic situations. The employers who are in need of cheap, flexible labour abuse the possibilities caused by the nonexistent juridical protection for undocumented immigrants. They form a class of workers without any rights or possibilities to form work relationships, meet the minimum requirements for employment or obtain a minimum wage. Those living without a permit can also rarely access schools or social and health care services.
Tax havens have operated as the central enabler of the concentration of wealth. Secrecy regulations and low tax rates attract companies, criminal organizations and private persons to hide their wealth and avoid the payment of taxes. Each year, more capital leaks from the developing countries to tax havens than what other countries receive as development aid. Tax haven economy has made developing countries dependent on development aid and the politically oriented development aid, instead of their own tax profits.
The European Union is also a central forum of Finland. The EU is a market-liberal project instead of a left-wing project. During the last years, the union’s decision-making has become more and more undemocratic, as its power in various important financial-political questions has been transferred to undemocratic organs, such as the Commission. From the Left’s point of view, one of the largest threats faced by the European democracy is the development of federalism, which takes place according to the conditions set by the capitalist system.
In addition to Nordic countries, Russia is and remains a central regional operator, whose solutions in foreign policy and trade policy affect Finland’s finances and security directly. Developments in Russia towards an increasingly authoritarian policy also pose a particular problem to Finland. From the point of view of Finland and the West, the largest threat is a situation where Russia is economically, and thus politically, completely separated from the other states of Europe.
Poverty can be removed through an international policy
Advancing left-wing goals requires cooperation between the states and strong international institutions, but also supranational decision-making and regulation. Instead of regional organizations and bilateral agreements, the primacy of UN, in particular, as a foreign policy decision-making organ, needs to be increased. In addition to the UN, central global operators include the international court of justice and the international criminal justice court.
The main point of European and Finnish immigration policy must be human rights and the right to free movement and asylum. Channels of legal immigration must be increased, the asylum and visa criteria must be lightened and the integration services improved. The victims of human trafficking must be offered protection and asylum.
As an international movement, the Left realizes the need for decision-making at the European level. The most important goals of the Finnish Left are mobilizing the people to achieve political change at the level of European Union and working towards the democratization of the union. At the level of the European Union, operations must be made to democratize the banking system and reform the monetary union, tax finances and emissions, close the tax havens, set minimum levels on, for instance, community taxes and work conditions and prevent the depression of wages and tax competition. The goals for emission reductions protection of nature, the use of renewable energy, human rights and the setting minimum levels for welfare services must be agreed internationally, but member states must be able to conduct independent foreign policy.
The basis of Finland’s Russia policy must be supporting the country’s development of democracy and reducing Russia’s political separation. Instead of building cultural confrontations, Finland must build a communicative relation that supports the democratization of Russia. The Left, as a movement, must stay in touch with the Russian democratic left, which at the moment, means, above all, the oppositional movements.
Steps towards a just world:
- Finland commits to using at least 0,7 percent of its GDP to development aid. The goal of selecting development cooperation targets must be supporting the development of a model of society built on solidarity, not using development policy as a tool for trade policy or other policies designed to benefit the West.
- Finland will renegotiate its multinational and bilateral trade agreements containing investment protection. Investment protection in international trade agreements must be ended.
- Finland has to aim to reform the UN so that the permanent membership of the security council is ended and the institution democratized, including the World Bank.
- In solving the crises and contradiction on Europe, it is better to get operate through ETUC and the Council of Europe than EU.
- Finland must campaign for monarchy to be ended in Nordic countries.
- The EU’s citizen’s initiative must be changed so that the commission, the Council and the parliament are required to process the citizens’ initiatives made to the European Union. The time for collecting the signatures must be increased.
- The members of the Commission must be selected via direct elections and the Parliament must have the right to fire a single commissioner. The Parliament must be given the right to offer legislative initiatives independently.
- A regime of visa freedom is constructed between EU and Russia to help people interact with each other and support an open civil society. The negotiations may be started when there are no acute ongoing crises between the operators.
- The Finnish decision-makers must continue to take a strong stand against the authoritarian development, human rights violations and power politics in Russia, even if this does not offer short-time economic benefits.
- Immigration and the free movement of the people are made easier by making the visa and residence permit criteria lighter.
Finland must advance the use of a humanitarian visa in EU. Applying for asylum is made easier by allowing those seeking asylum to obtain refugee in the countries they originate from. In addition, legal routes to reach Europe must be created.
Refugee quota is increased to at least two thousand persons a year.
- The resources used to integrate the immigrants are increased. Integration does not mean assimilating to the native culture to the detriment of the immigrant’s own identity. The weight must be on language education, the official practices of Finland, and individual rights and duties.
- Paperless immigrants are guaranteed a free access to public health care, and their children are guaranteed a right to education.
- The responsibility for receiving refugees is divided more equally between EU member states. The Dublin regulation, which requires the first country of registration to process the application, is removed. The EU regulations for the economic rights and justice security for asylum applicants during the application process are made uniform. This means, for instance, that people with a residence permit in one member state may, if they want, study or obtain a work visa in another member state.
- All refugee applicants may work or study during the asylum process. The criteria for a work visa are reduced. The possibility for a work-enquiry visa is taken into use.
- Finland must operate actively to end death penalty worldwide.
- Finland must operate to end international espionage and protect its citizens’ data security for national and international information traffic.
Peace and security
The global political situation is framed by crises and threats
The world has become a more complicated place for security policy after cold war and the so-called war on terrorism. Next to traditional military threats, new questions related to climate change, the diminishing of the natural resources and new, cyber-warfare-related threats to the peace of the society have come up.
The recent experiences in Europe show that traditional power politics have gone nowhere. Additionally, civil uprisings, civil wars and other combat conducted by various armed groups, either against other states or inside individual states, have changed the field of security-policy essentially from an era when most conflicts were internal.
The changing security-policy environment must also be considered in the field of defence policy. The current conscription system is problematic on several fronts. The first of these is its clear inequality, based on the traditional concepts of gender roles, the social distribution of labour and a masculine culture of violence. Secondly, particularly those performing the civil service option are punished with longer service times, with the remuneration for work not meeting the level set in the collective agreements. The system punishes those who refuse to bear arms or perform civilian service the most extensively.
The Finnish foreign policy has traditionally focused on neutrality, diplomacy and the construction of peace. During the last decades, Finland’s military neutrality has been eroded by increasing the cooperation with the NATO.
Through arms trade, Finland has been involved in the human rights violations of Israeli, Syrian and Bahrainian governments and the wars fought by the United States. Expensive trade in arms consumes governmental resources everywhere in the world.
The Left’s security policy is based on peace
The world continues to need a foreign policy which advances the cause of peace, instead of being based on power politics or military competition between the great powers. The goal is creating a world based on multilateral relations, where each country has in its interests to refuse to engage in military operations. The central goal of peace-building politics is the progress of social justice. Large wealth and income gaps are also a security risk.
Finland must remain neutral in military matters. NATO represents sphere-of-interest and superpower politics that increases global political tensions. Trying to obtain NATO membership in a situation where the relations between Russia and the NATO countries have worsened considerably would make Finland a party to this situation. Finland should not weaken its status of security policy in such a position with its own actions. Defence policy must rely on the country’s own, credible defence.
The general requirement to defend the country has meant a system where Finnish defence relies on a people’s army, not a paid army. Left Youth of Finland strives to reform the conscription to a system based on a readiness requirement that affects all the genders. Those performing armed service should be given offered more expertise in civilian crisis management, data security and the management of environmental catastrophes.
Finland’s international trade relationships should also be viewed from the points of view of foreign policy and security policy. Trade with occupying countries should be ended. Finland must stop arms trade with countries that are guilty of human rights violations and violations of international justice or that are parties to armed conflicts.
One of the most extensive still continuing occupations in history continues to be maintained in Palestine with the political and economic support of United States and the member states of the European Union. To end the human rights violations related to the occupation and achieve peace, Finland must strive for the end of Palestinian occupation and the encroachment on Gaza and demand for the wall on West Bank to be taken down. Israeli Palestinians must be offered an equal position and full rights as Israeli citizens. The right of Palestinian refugees to return must be implemented according to the decision 194 of the UN. Left Youth of Finland also opposes the occupation of Western Sahara, Crimea and Northern Cyprus, for instance.
The self-determination of small nations and peoples, such as the Sami, the Scots and the Catalonians, must also be respected inside the European Union.
Steps towards world peace:
- Finland does not seek NATO membership and pulls back from its current agreements with the NATO.
- During peacetime, Finnish armed forces must operate outside of the country’s borders only on the basis of strictly delimited humanitarian operations of the UN.
- The current conscription system must become a readiness requirement system, where there is a requirement for civil service for the entire age class. The civil service may also be performed as armed service, so that some of those performing the military service are offered extensive training and others are trained as soon as international crisis situations happening in nearby areas take place.
- The defence budget is focused on basic training and defensive solutions, not flashy and expensive projects that suit NATO operations.
- Finland advances the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
- Arms trade to warring countries and countries participating in human rights violations is ended.
- Finland takes a clear stand against the illegal occupations and blockades of Palestine and Western Sahara and recognizes the independence of these states.
- Finland works towards financial sanctions aiming at the end of illegal occupations in cases of Israel and Morocco, for example.
- Finland must support the autonomy and resistance of Rojava against terrorism and military attacks.