Brief in English


HYY Hosts An Eight Hour Farce

Recent gallop polls show the current favorite going into the next presidential election in Finland is Tarja Halonen. Currently serving as Foreign Minister, Halonen is a member of the Social Democratic party. Halonen was a featured speaker on May 12, at the fifth annual General Meeting of HYY, the university student representative organization in Helsinki. But, even a potential future president of the country couldn’t get students mobilized, only about 250 of the over 30,000 or so University of Helsinki students showed up for the discussion.
     After some initial disagreement over the agenda, the meeting opened with its first topic: the situation in Kosovo. Students were quick to condemn the ethnic cleansing conducted by the Serbs, but were also far from condoning the NATO response of bombings. One reason HYY disapproved of the bombings was because they had no approval from the United Nations. University of Helsinki students wanted to see western countries take on more responsibility to rebuild Kosovo after the war, and to see Finland, along with the others, open its doors to more Kosovar refugees. “Bombing does not promote human rights or stop the genocide,” said Perttu Isomarkku. He went on to list America’s previous bombing campaigns in Korea, Libya, Indochina, Panama, Grenada, Afganistan and the Sudan.
     Joachim Stark
, Jyrki Heinonen and Jari Kajas closed the meeting by bringing up their 1994 suit against HYY, which claimed misuse of HYY funds. They had several suggestions associated with the issue: among others, to organize a HYY member vote about the possible termination of Ylioppilaslehti. They also proposed that the student union pay for any legal costs that its members may incur in a suit against them. The 1994 case, in which University of Helsinki student Jari Kajas accused both HYY and the HYY Group of financial wrongdoings is now being considered in the municipal courts. The accusations were found to be without substantial foundation at the last General Meeting of HYY in 1994.

Jack Kerouac – America’s Lonely Beat Writer

Jack Kerouac died twenty years ago and yet his legend is more alive than ever. His place as a subculture hero will never be threatened. The generation inspired by Kerouac has one after the other put a sack on their back and followed the road or the rail to find themselves. Kerouac’s own life was one of self-censorship and alcohol.
    He was born to a French-Canadian family in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922. His childhood was colored by the Great Depression, his brother’s death at ten and his parents’ relentless alcoholism. A star football player, Kerouac let the sport take him to Columbia University in New York, where he met the writers Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. The trio was soon surrounded by a crowd of artists discontent with the elitist conservatism of the 1950s in America. In 1952, the New York Times Magazine did a feature on the young writers in which John Clellon Holmes called the group by a name that stuck: the beat generation.
     The inner circle of the beat generation came to be identified with four phenomena: artistic ambition, bisexuality, intoxicants and, in the early years, violence. Kerouac created his own spontaneous writing style, incorporating an influence from the jazz music of the time. He gathered his material on hitchhiking adventures across the United States and Mexico from 1947 to 1950. His novel On the Road has become a classic of American literature and a bestseller. The sexuality and subculture descriptions broke the taboos of the time and it took six years before the book was published.
    Although the literary community loved On the Road, they weren’t as kind to his subsequent work and Kerouac fell into a apathetic tunnel of self-destruction with alcohol and broken relationships. Even into the 60s, Kerouac could have taken an active role as the leader of the subculture, but chose not to. Ginsberg took the honors himself.
     Kerouac himself was a split personality. A lover of black jazz musicians, he often made racist comments. Although he enjoyed sex with men, he was known to go out with his buddies and beat up gays. He stressed the worth of an independent mind and body and yet he enslaved himself to alcohol. His liver finally gave way on October 21, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jack Kerouac was 47 years old.

Common Explanations For Yugoslav Conflict May Be Inaccurate

Yugoslavia officially broke apart in 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia declared themselves independent. The bloody Balkan play then began and the media has followed it throughout the 1990s. Yugoslavia now means the Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. In addition toCroatia, Slovenia and Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have declared independing from Yugoslavia. During the long Bosnian war, the Western world began to believe in the inevitability of the Yugoslav break-up: the country was destined for destruction already at its birth. Its fate was sealed. History was analyzed in support of the war. The media in particular needs logical, clear explanations when a beautiful, diverse state turns into a raw fighting field. Professor Juhani Nuorluoto who teaches Slavic Philology at the University of Helsinki has followed the situation in Yugoslavia since the 1970s. He explains how the easy explanations are far from accurate.
: Ethnic groups in Yugoslavia have been at odds for centuries. Fact: Serbs, Croats and Muslims may be clearly separate ethnic groups today, but the idea of ethnic groups is a new one. Life in Bosnia is tied more closely to demographics and hometowns than to ethnicity. Also new is the movement for Slovenian, Croatian or Serbian independence. Fallacy: The current Yugoslavia was created by the winning countries of the First World War in their own best interests and the Slavic people never wanted to be a part of it. Fact: After Versailles the world was enamored with the idea of macro-identity. The illyrism movement, whose aim was to unite all south slavic people, had begun in the mid-1800s. Even Croats were ready to give up their own language in order to create a new common literary language with the Serbs.
     Therefore, the Versailles treaty was not at all epochal in the history of creating the Yugoslavia. No country was forced to join to the new state but e.g. Slovenia and Croatia decided to do so in their parliaments.
There was never common identity within the Yugoslavs. Fact: The state of Yugoslavia existed for more than 70 years, without some kind of idea of yugoslavism it could not have been possible. Furthermore there are many factors that created yugoslavism: historical myth of the partisans and the unusually liberal politics of the socialist Yugoslavia that became known as the “third way”. The yugoslavism was also seen in the daily life and in the 70s and 80s many people identified themselves as both: Yugoslavs and eg. Serbs or Croats. The two identities lived parallel.
    The Yugoslav identity vanished as the factors that created it disappeared. After the breakdown of socialism there was no basis for the third way. The breaking of Yugoslavia was an active process fuelled by the power-seeking politicians.

by Pamela Kaskinen