Big Trouble in the Little Baltic:
How Capital Wrecks Nations
As the world continues to convulse in economic and military strife, the tiny Baltic nation of Estonia is unlikely to be topping the thoughts of policy makers or the global public. Yet, sometimes by looking at the small details of world politics we can gain huge insights into the coming macro trends. By nature, commentators on the dissident Right tend to think in sweeping concepts such as imperial glory and the battle for global hegemony. But there is another quiet form of nationalism: The simple will of small nations that wish to be left alone to pursue their own destiny, without revanchist ambitions or jingoistic pomp. While great powers struggle for domination, the minor nations of the world seek only to survive in a hostile and ever-shifting political landscape. They have looked on in horror as Russia attempts to redraw the borders of Ukraine by military might, acutely aware that they could be next.
It is thus perhaps unsurprising that Estonia has been one of the most ardent supporters of the Ukrainian cause, donating well over 300 million euros to it, nearing 1% of its total Gross Domestic Product, while also incurring an inflation rate of 21%, in part by refusing to accept Russian oil and gas. At first glance, the reasons for pursuing this policy of solidarity seem altruistic and self-sacrificial: One small nation supporting the independence of another second-tier power, viewing it as a joint struggle against the forces of Russian neo-imperialism. Indeed, prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the “Narva scenario” whereby Russia would weaponize the population of the Estonian city of Narva, which is 90% ethnic Russian, as a pretext to dismember the Estonian state was often discussed as Russia’s logical next step in its expansionist program. It is a common belief that only the shield of European Union and NATO membership has saved Baltic independence — and even this is tenuous protection.
Before the outbreak of current hostilities, RAND Corporation wargaming exercises posited that a Russian invasion of Estonia would be limited only by logistical concerns, with the Estonian capital of Tallinn estimated to be under threat a mere 60 hours after a hypothetical invasion began. With this existential threat in mind, it seems unsurprising that Estonia has been one of the most Europhilic and slavish adopters of the liberal order, with the current Prime Minister Kaja Kallas being a former EU Commissioner, a total embodiment of prim and proper adherence to global norms. At the same time, Estonia now has its first billionaire, as the country markets itself as a glittering tech and banking hub, with a new business district dominating central Tallinn’s skyline. E-Estonia, as the government touts it, is thus a model citizen of the new world order and has become so in part because it believes its survival depends on being such.
Yet, this raises troubling questions about the nature of sovereignty and survival. Both the dissident Right and liberal policymakers view the most pressing threats to survival as external. For the Rightist, it is immigration that destroys nations; it seems irrefutable that changing a nation’s population will irrevocably change its character. And for the liberal, if a nation falls under the dominion of a supposed rogue state like Russia, for all practical purposes it ceases to exist. But I wish to make the case that nations are not destroyed from without, but instead are in fact first destroyed from within.
Estonia is a nation with a history of millennia of invasions and occupations, from Teutonic crusades to Swedish imperial domination, as well as centuries of Russian and Soviet rule which killed in excess of 30% of the country’s entire population, scattering a huge diaspora to the four corners of the Earth. And yet Estonia is still here, free and independent. The bill of nationhood has been paid in blood, whether in the doomed peasant uprising against Teutonic rule on St. George’s Night in 1343, or the equally catastrophic total mobilization of the Estonian population to repel the Soviet onslaught in 1944. To be Estonian is to be imbued with a pathological and irrepressible will to be free, a kamikaze tribe who has again and again thrown itself into battle against totally unwinnable odds, and remarkably endured despite unspeakable hardships. Invasion, then, seems an unlikely final end for the Estonian people, who have demonstrated time and time again an unshakable determination not to be remade, by empires or by ideologies. Amid the vast expanse of birch trees and bogs, a quiet and seemingly unimportant people simply wishes to be left to its insular introspection.
But in every nation, there exists a segment of the population who survive not by resistance, but by collaboration. In each branch of our European family, there are rotten apples, driven by avarice, who view survival not in collectivist, but individual terms. When the invaders come, they accommodate and embrace them, whether those invaders are foreign powers or economic migrants. Estonia may now be free, but sometimes the greatest disaster in life is to be granted what we most desperately desire. Those on the dissident Right often view demographic integrity as the benchmark of a nation’s well-being, assessing changes in the percentages of native and foreign populations as relative indicators of health and sickness. This is a flawed metric, however. Mass migration is the late stage of a disease that has metastasized. It is the outward expression of a culture and people in decay, but the rot sets in long before the first immigrant has ever set foot inside a nation’s border.
It is common to explain away the willingness of some segments of our people to sell out their nations by stating that foreign and malevolent actors control their minds — that the machinations of evil cabals poison the hearts of the weak-willed. This is, sadly, a naïve interpretation of the world. It is true that we have many enemies constantly working to subvert and destroy our people, but they can only be successful because greedy and misguided individuals from within our ranks open the gates for them. And once the gates are opened, it is rarely ever closed again. The resulting change occurs within the relative blink of an eye, catching the patriots off guard and unprepared.
If one were simply to take demographics and national homogeneity as the gold standard of a nation’s health, Estonia could be said to be, by contemporary Western standards, a relatively well nation. Despite its large Russian population, mass emigration, and anemic birthrates, the core population remains Estonian. Mass public displays of nationalism are encouraged, whether at the hugely popular Song Festival held every five years or at the flag-waving celebrations on Independence Day. Those living in Western countries, where such mass displays of ethnic solidary are at best suspect and at worst de facto banned, may be envious. But make no mistake: Estonia has changed.
In 2002, Estonia unveiled a monument to Estonian members of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS who had fought against Soviet occupation, sparking international outrage. In 2011 a criminal case was launched against the organizers of a marathon on the island of Saaremaa that wished to ban black runners, while a year later in 2012, the Deputy Editor of the Estonian paper Eesti Ekspress had to apologize after running a mock ad for weight loss pills featuring images of concentration camp inmates. These disparate incidents are not expressions of hate and supremacy, but rather indicate that Estonians took the notions of free speech and sovereignty in a spirit of almost childlike naïveté, safe in the belief that it was their country and that they could do and say what they wanted. They were time capsules: a nation with no prior experience of liberal thought and speech policing, one which had thrown off Soviet totalitarianism and was joyfully reveling in an atmosphere of unbridled freedom. But no nation is an island.
In 2017 a Wikileaks document revealed that the US embassy there was promoting diversity in Estonia. But this foreign intervention pales in comparison to the de facto coup that was organized in 2020. Martin Helme, then-Finance Minister and leader of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), cast doubt on the integrity of the US elections, leading then-Prime Minister Jüri Ratas to resign on unrelated corruption charges, collapsing the government coalition and thus thwarting Helme’s plans to hold a national referendum on defining marriage as being exclusively between a man and woman, which would have headed off the potential legalization of same-sex marriage in Estonia. In the West we are of course no strangers to deep-state chicanery by now, but for Estonia this represented the crossing of the Rubicon — the conclusive and definitive end to that brief hope that in a free and largely homogeneous country, a people can pursue their own self-determination.
This coup cannot be blamed entirely on the intervention of Western powers, however. To examine what has changed in the Estonian psyche, it is necessary to look at another scandal that was not political, but artistic. In 2019 the video game Disco Elysium was released, proving to be an unexpected critical and commercial success. It was designed by an Estonian, Robert Kurvitz, with the backing of the Estonian ZA/UM cultural collective. Unlike most recent video games, it was a triumph of narrative, originality, introspection, and humor — a piece of art totally Estonian in nature that was a meditation on the human condition, shot through with a deeply Baltic sense of place. While the team that created it are believed to harbor Leftist sympathies, its artistic merits transcend any such reductionist evaluation. Like all great works of art, it is open to interpretation.
In 2022 it was revealed that Kurvitz and his team had been fired from the studio they founded, and there is now an acrimonious and ongoing legal battle between him and the financial hyenas who have taken control of both the studio and its intellectual property. While the full details of the case remain opaque, it reveals that Estonia has reached the apogee of liberal statehood. It not only has a corrupt, homegrown political class willing to topple governments in order to thwart the will of the people, but also now has a predatory financial class who will gleefully crush art for profit. The simple wooden peasant cabins that were the backdrop of Tallinn’s sleepy streets have been demolished now, replaced by modern high-rise buildings. The first immigrants can now be seen working in fast-food restaurants in the capital, while the new tech elite push for a loosening of citizenship and migration rules to bolster the labor force. One must only look to the Republic of Ireland to see how quickly the transformation will take place.
But while the corruption and greed of those who would willingly sell out their countrymen runs deep, their machinations are not yet completed. This is not a lament, but an appeal. The best cure for the scourge of liberal multiculturalism is preventive: to never let the case develop in the first place. Estonia is travelling down a dark path from which there will be no return. Thousands of years of struggle will be lost, more assuredly than in the case of a foreign invasion, if the traitors are allowed to continue to dominate the nation. Do not allow them to fleece your birthright with honeyed words promising security and prosperity. Instead, embrace the raw-boned folkish peasant tenacity of those forest-dwelling Estonians who, since time immemorial, have refused to be remade, and who have refused to collaborate with any occupiers, foreign or domestic, despite the insurmountable odds.
As a dislodged Estonian, the product of centuries of those stubborn and sturdy tillers of the earth, I am calling on the great Kalevic tribe to once again pull off another superhuman act of collective defiance. Together we can sweep the Eurocrats and land rapists into the dustbin of history. They will be righteously judged in the hall of our ancestors, who they have betrayed, valuing our people only in terms of shekels and dollars. And to all those nationalists who are unconcerned with the fate of foreign and tiny nations that are far from their thoughts, it is time to reconsider your duty. The avarice corrupting the heart of the Estonian elite is the same one which tempts Polish politicians to import Filipino workers, and the same that has poisoned the Emerald Island and so noticeably darkened Dublin. If we are true advocates for our people, we stand with them everywhere, united as one unbreakable front, casting out those who would betray us — those who would let their people suffer for nothing more than mere personal enrichment. Capital may wreck nations, but only if the people allow it to do so. We will never allow it. Eestlane olen ja eestlaseks jään!
Reprinted from Transcendental Titans
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