Finns also used more appropriate clothing – camouflaging themselves against the ubiquitous snow with comfortable white capes, rather than skimpy khaki uniforms. Their use of sabot power on tanks provided another advantage in left field, as there were few roads in the main combat areas and vehicles were loud and easily upset by terrain. When times got tough, they could always turn to “sisu,” a local form of resilience that involves stoic determination.
At Lake Ladoga, the Soviets were particularly demoralized – many were frozen, and they did not have the same sense of protection for their own land and people. So when the Finnish troops came and lit up the sky with a bonfire of their stuff, they…did nothing. According to a contemporary report in the New York Times, instead of attacking back, the Russian troops ran towards the flames to warm their hands. Later, the captured prisoners strangled one of their own officers – explaining that he had previously shot them from behind, to force them forward into battle.
Within just three months of the first incursion into its territory, Finland had deterred its invaders and managed to retain the vast majority of its land, although the nation ceded 11%, and then allied with the Nazi Germany during the World War. Of them.
Compare this show of patriotic determination with modern Britain, a country with more than three centuries of continuous nationality, which now has some of the lowest love rates of its population on the planet.
Today, only 15% of 18-24 year olds in the UK describe themselves as “very” patriotic, according to a government inquiry. Meanwhile, in another, 51% of young people failed the controversial ‘Life in the UK’ exam, which is designed to assess a person’s knowledge of the British language. values, traditions, culture, politics, history and laws – many things that set the country apart from any other. A pass is required for immigrants applying for citizenship.
This raises some interesting questions. How do people get their national identity? Why are some countries so much more patriotic than others? And are these feelings healthy or harmful?
An abstract concept
One of the reasons why national identities are so important is the very nature of countries.
“If you think about it, all states are man-made constructs,” says Pippa Catterall, professor of history and politics at the University of Westminster in the UK and founder of the academic journal National identities. “They only work because people have some sense of identification with them.”
The areas humanity has designated as states are not based on any kind of universal logic, although they are often rooted in some cultural heritage. Most are also not separate geographical entities, such as a single island. Instead, they are cultural constructs, and they exist because their populations – and in many cases, the international community – have agreed that they do.
As Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari points out in his 2011 book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, if a population collectively changes its mind about a country, or disappears itself – such as through war, famine or migration – sound the nation also disappears. “They exist in a different way from physical phenomena such as radioactivity,” he writes, “but their impact on the world can still be enormous.” He explains that in addition to countries, many of the most important forces in history come in this form, such as law and money.