Interview by Francisco Martínez (EHI, Tallinn Univ) & Larissa Vanamo (Dept of History, Univ. of Helsinki).
“A democracy where there is freedom of consumption is the worst thing possible”
“The worth of an individual is smaller when there are a lot of humans”
“Force and oppression are needed because life as such is a value”
Pentti Linkola is a Finnish fisherman and ornithologist. He was born in Helsinki in 1932 and lives in a 30 square meter wooden cabin in Sääksmäki (Ritvala).
We visited him together in March 2011. Despite our awareness of some general gossip about his temperament, he kindly attended to us for several hours. During this time we talked and took a walk. As a curious anecdote, he seems to have a particular notion of order and disorder. On the wall of his cabin hangs a sign that says: ‘a house which is not dirty is not a home’.
Linkola has two daughters and until not so long ago he had no electricity at home. He lived from what he earned, selling on horseback the fish he caught in the lake Vanajavesi. His father, Kaarlo Linkola, was Rector of the University of Helsinki and his grandfather was Chancellor there too. Regardless, he chose to leave his zoological and botanical studies after one year in that same institution.
For a long time, his family lived in the main building of Kaisaniemi’s Botanical Garden, which was planned as a castle for the king of Finland in 1918. Nevertheless, most of the family heritage that Linkola received he donated to the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation, an NGO created by him to preserve the forest for the Finnish society. He has also been writing for Finnish journals with a certain frequency; added to which he has published nine books in Finnish and a book in English compiling some of his articles (see here). As a curiosity, he asked during our interview which of his articles were translated into English (one search engine reveals over 180,000 hits when entering his name).
Linkola is not totally isolated there in Sääksmäki. He appears occasionally on TV and from time to time he visits his family in Helsinki or goes to listen to certain seminars (for example about Dostoevsky). He is also known for his legendary expeditions -walking for weeks throughout the forests of Finland or riding a bike in continental Europe (he has never gone lower than the Pyrennees). Besides literature, one of his favourite hobbies is to study the migration routes of water birds.
Linkola encourages the concept of an integrated nature of life, besides the intrinsic value of nature. For that he proposes a set of radical mesures: to return to a smaller ecological niche, to reduce human population (licensing procreation), to abandon “the quasi religious” pursuit of economic growth implanting subsistence economy, and to abolish democracy and the distribution of energy (electricity, gas, oil, etc). To sum up, Linkola takes the idea of environmental balance as a base for the organisation of society (we should turn from anthropocentrism to eco-centrism).