Tiit Hennoste: The sleep of reason produces monsters
Kaja Kallas tells us that EKRE would lead Estonia back into the cave. Martin Helme suggests that would not be a problem as EKRE's cave will be warm, full of light and safe. Everyone will have their belly full and speak Estonian. Helme in turn describes Kallas' cave as cold and dark, Tiit Hennoste writes in a comment originally published in Sirp magazine.
Propaganda works on and mostly through emotions. Fear is the strongest emotion. A fact known since time immemorial to party PR bosses and the press. And so the pot is kept boiling. Recently, it's the economy at the heart of such efforts. Prices will skyrocket, gas will run out and power will be switched off in people's homes first. Cold and hunger will follow. We will find ourselves back in the cave.
However, a new emotional topic is rising as elections campaigning has started. The Reform Party and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) have fixed one another in their sights and promise us explosive stuff this dreary fall and winter. But the campaign is veering off road already.
The press is making the effort to keep the Helme family in the limelight at all costs. The newspapers are rife with the Helmes, with two full pages on [EKRE leader] Martin Helme's daughter by [tabloid] Õhtuleht taking the cake. Excuse me, but what is the point?
I know the journalists' answer. That there is no propaganda. That they are rather anti-EKRE. And they are, for the most part. However, journalists should know that the limelight can only add to a politician's popularity, even if it includes negation. But they just cannot keep still... and so they go on lying to themselves.
The Reform Party is also busy helping. The [ruling] party has always followed two tenets: everyone is responsible for their own coping, and the people, the wretches, can eat hay. Of course, they never just out and say it, even though Kallas junior (Kaja Kallas – ed.) slips up at times. But that's the gist. As put by Kallas senior (Siim Kallas – ed.), according to whom Martin Helme is developing a political movement for dissatisfied people who refuse to take a look in the mirror. What is the real meaning of the sentence? That you're all to blame for your poverty and wretchedness?
Whereas Kallas starts with praise for Helme: smart, capable, charismatic and a man of his word. What else could one ask for in Estonian politics where stupidity and unreliability run riot? Mr. Kallas seems to be under the impression that people vote for ideologies. Yes, of course. But we always also vote for people. And people who are not directly allergic to Helme's ideology, who should they vote for? A smart man of his word or someone who is both dumb and doesn't keep theirs?
But father Kallas then turns to describing Helme as unprincipled, adding that, morally speaking, he couldn't care less. What does that sentence tell us about the person who uttered it though? That morality doesn't come into it. It is terrifying, really. Also, Helme junior is not really unprincipled. On the contrary. He has very clear principles. It's only that his political motto is that of Stalinist propaganda press: ideology is sacred, while facts are open to interpretation.
This brings us to Russia. The press has laid blame on EKRE for functioning as Putin's mouthpiece and minion. And there seems to be overlap in terms of ideas. However, I do not know of any Estonian party that has ever had grand original ideas. All have been borrowed from Europe or USA. We could even draw up a list of more regular donors. Which is why I think that making too much of this is rather a bad thing.
While it is undoubtedly popular with readers, it hides what matters. The main goal of EKRE is not to support Putin, Orban or Trump. Their goal is to come to power in Estonia.
What then? Kaja Kallas tells us that EKRE would lead Estonia back to the cave. Martin Helme suggests that would not be a problem as EKRE's cave will be warm, full of light and safe. Everyone will have their belly full and speak Estonian. Helme in turn describes Kallas' cave as cold and dark, with people starving and strangers pouring in without pause. Reading it reminded me of the imposing caves in the Helme Manor Park, with the Helme Caves referred to as Hell in folklore...
PS. Things will get very bad very quickly if both politicians and the press are driven by fear. I would ask for reason in place of emotions as the former sleeping produces monsters on the cave walls.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski