Pentti Linkola
Biography Ecofascism Writing

Interview with Pentti Linkola 10-2-2004

All the parts of the interview were done at the international bookfair at Turku 2.10.2004. Interviewer is Virpi Adamsson.

Part 1: Reformer

Pentti Linkola listened to his speech from Jyväskylä summer's environmental protection discussion from year 1967.

What does he think about his old texts? Is it possible to stay behind one's message after nearly forty years?

"When these mistakes and failures have been repaired, and these improvement-programs of economical production finished, we have nothing else left but a handgun or a noose. I had a comparatively openminded and positive and happy youth, after which may kinds of bruises, not personal but general ones, bruises regarding the treatment of this land have caused a premature, bitter oldness. I recall how ten years ago on the first noon of springtime heat wave, at the finest Häme, at Kalvola's Heinuinlahti, on the open waters of Vanaja I rowed my summertime rowings observing and admiring nature. Cuckoos were cuckooing and divers howling, and that was the kind of life which gave the content for afriend of nature. And then a top class outboard motor, which started out from a beach, of maybe fifty, maybe hundred horsepower started talking, and drove rounds all that noon, circles at that bay making tight turns, roaring for hours. Then I understood that there can't be any possibility of brotherhood between men, and that I will hate and detest and loathe this kind of person and similar people till the end of my life."

Adamsson: Fisherman Pentti Linkola, that was a piece of the year 1967's Jyväskylä summer's environmental protection discussion. How do those thoughts from 37 years back sound like?

Linkola: Familiar, and it makes you wonder, that how long, in two ways, how long that has lasted and generally how I have stayed alive. I did speak there about these thoughts of the end, my own end, thoughts of suicide. And it is peculiar in that sense too, that there's always something to lose, because nature is so tough, that there's always some unfortunate small one left. Some bird, not cuckoos even in the slightest, at least not there at Häme, Heinuinlahti, which we reminisced about there. They are surely gone from there, and most things are gone, but there's always something left and it is like that some Association of Environmental Protection has first made a preservation program for ridges, and after ridges have been laid as gravel on roads, yards and beaches, then comes the preservation program for rocks. That we are losing all the time, but still we notice that there's something left and then we begin to protect and speak for it. Environmental conserver's course of life is akin to this. The targets for protection change, grade is constantly dropping, but trying to not let something go yet.

Adamsson: We just listened to those times from thirty, or almost fourty years ago, so do you feel you have been wrong on any occasion as you have been a reformist through the decades?

Linkola: Well, maybe only there, that I haven't succeeded in stripping all the empty optimism from myself, that I have more like believed things will turn out fine. I have almost never been wrong with these situational surveys, world's, or this country's, or society's mappings and analysis, so I will sign all matters like these, even if I would happen to hear or read things from sixty years ago.

Adamsson: How have you endured your career of a reformist, when the disaster is inevitably ahead, then how does one always just have the strength to talk about it?

Linkola: Well, of course it's a fact that the destruction is happening all the time, but that it's not a total one, is a really big difference. But one just clings, like I've said, clings to the little what's left, and from there gains the minimal lifeforce, but the point is that the will to life is biologically so strong in humans, that one nevertheless makes up some explanations as to why not leave by own hand, so to speak. Something like that maybe you can after all reduce with your teachings the load and consumption elsewhere by the amount you cause. Or you think that what will happen, if those only ones, or not only ones, but the few seers, who then see where we have come, where we are, and where we are going. Those few, who see it, if they all leave from here either through suicide or some so severe psychic illness following depression, then there isn't anyone left here, who would even know what it's about.

Part 2: Family's father

Pentti Linkola applies his ideology to his own life.

In what way it shows in his own children? And what does he think about prevention, which isn't natural to human?

Adamsson: You have children too. Does a father-Linkola exist because of that with maybe a softer way of thinking?

Linkola: Well, there are just two children. And that was the population politics of that time. If I was making kids now, there would be only one of them. But during that time it was thought that it is, like it was, a formula for decreasing population, two children, because some don't have any. And of these the other daughter doesn't have children and the other has two. That is clearly a formula of declining population.

Adamsson: You try to advise your own children to have only one?

Linkola: Well, when the other doesn't have any then the other one has a right to two. Somewhere surely are people, who make these decisions solely according to the explosion of population, but I don't know anything else about these than it is clear that they both have not wanted to make that large swarm of kids.

Adamsson: I have to ask, as you are a supporter of natural life, that what do you think about prevention, which is needed in controlling the population explosion? It isn't natural to man, though.

Linkola: Yes, it is unnatural, but man must compromise naturality on many other matters as well, because also in that connection, in many relations, man is of course an animal among animals. Sociological laws like these are just like the same as like the large age classes after the war, or got anxious after it, is a shared feature, or a phenomenon, between all animals. But if man fully follows nature in this reproduction case, had followed, then we wouldn't exist at all anymore, so if we want that life continues, then humans have to compensate that, the co-operation of brains and hand is so overwhelming which is the primary explanation for the enormous expansion of this species, so it's secondary if our basic goal is not to let life be extinguished, at least not as fast, so then we have to resort to such unnaturalities such as this.

Adamsson: Pentti Linkola, you've had this harsh pain for mankind, have there been any happy moments in your life, so could it be said that your life has been a fairly happy one?

Linkola: To my regret (laughter) I can't say that. Of course it has had happy moments, "Thank you for the moments, Lord", as is said, and still has, but it has mainly been that I define life as "Life is the sum of disappointments", and it has been terribly much more then... Not at the beginning, of course school-period was minus-signed. It was awful, especially for me, that lack of freedom back then, but after school there was, say, ten years or maybe a more, which were happy time. Then the ruin of nature wasn't rapid at all, especially during the 50s, and then was the founding of Finland, old and good, and horses and plowmen and Finland was so splendid, and then I familiarized myself with Finland from every angle, and it had a kind of, more or less, rapture. But then when it got going the speed it started to go, when industrialization begun and when everything fell apart, so after then the disappointments have been much larger than reasons for joy.

Part 3: With the media

Preaching ecophilosophy has brought a lot of publicity to Pentti Linkola's life.

In what way he adjusts to publicity? What are the pros and cons of the brand called 'Pentti Linkola'?

Adamsson: Has the publicity belonging to the role of a reformist been a chore or a pleasant task?

Linkola: Well I have somehow been used to it enough so that it disturbs me less than it would someone other. But I have nevertheless preserved that peace in personal life, simply because of the profession, which is a profession of a lonely man due to the place of residence. And that publicity isn't around me or lying around most days of year, and I do these trips lasting the whole summer, where publicity doesn't, or, somewhere in the birdislands of Ahvenanmaa, publicity wasn't there, earlier back then, around at all, so it is like periodical, that publicity, then sometimes it's funny, some amusing, amusing things happen from it. But it is not on any occasion, not in a positive nor negative sense, a notable matter, this publicity.

Adamsson: Have you always got publicity with your message when you've wanted it?

Linkola: Well yes, and even in such a way that when comparing to how similar, so similar things pretty many others would have to say and I think I've got too much, that this personalization is too much nowadays, that then some won't get publicity when it's said that Linkola has already said that although surely there are different flavours and a bit differently discussed texts, which won't then with this excuse, well they don't want to print them much, that those who like little reluctantly publish and printed my texts, thought that "Well that one there can show his alternative but no more is needed." But it does disturb me that way. And there is the consequence that if there is strongly the one and same name, then people will dismiss it, "That's again that Linkola," just like personalization which affects disturbingly many other public persons on different fields, so there is the dark side.

Adamsson: You are unwillingly a brand named Pentti Linkola?

Linkola: Yes, it isn't. Of course, as I write and speak publicly, and not just to friends by mouth, or on a village street or a shop, so of course I do want that it's read and heard.

Adamsson: I'd like to ask Pentti Linkola, that when the message is wanted to get through in the world, so a kind of exaggeration is needed. Have your declarations had any of this or that you've wanted to wake people up or is everything hundred per cent what you think?

Linkola: Well, I don't have that problem. I am in a way, how was it by old classification, quick-tempered or impulsive person, that I think sharply and strongly. Rather, I've always had that I don't even have these synonym-dictionaries that I don't quite have these attributes so powerful, that I could interpret my feelings, and thoughts and views and so my judgements as my praises, so, so fiercely as I'd like to, that it's more like so that I can't overstate as much as I'd want to and language becomes a barrier.

Part 4: Population, progression and intelligence

The explosion of population and progress are the worst problems of the world according to Pentti Linkola.

Why Finland's progress at the field of IT is a bad thing and how intelligence should be measured?

Adamsson: This explosion of population, it has been in your eyes the worst problem of the world. Have there been any comparable, as large a problem even in the slightest?

Linkola: Well there are those two, which are the globe's living layer, biosphere's main problems, or one is thus human, but it's then divided to the count: mindless, senseless, absurd, enormous, over six billion at the moment and more are coming. But the other one is then this material standard of life, which then appears as a load to nature and as outrobbing of natural resources, so from these, the two, which affect together, from these the only real problems consist of, the inner problems of human species: wars and torments and alike, terrorisms and such, they are then wholly second-class problems.

Adamsson: Finland is being advertised as a leading country at progress Nokia and such in mind. In your opinion, Finland is an example about how original natural culture has been destroyed, and our original own has been given up too easily, let go under the american consumer culture. Are there any cultures in world which could be an example?

Linkola: Well, I'd presume, although I don't know, that bushmanns at the Kalahari desert, they'd definetely be very exemplar. But there does exist other slower cultures, Africa is full of them, they are happy of life in their clayhuts and they still build the same kind of clayhuts and wouldn't without, that europeans or americans, this western culture getting involved into their matters, wouldn't want change, or progress, so from there, from these the lesson should be learned, but we finnish people could learn from almost anything. I now have from almost every, or lets say from most, European country first-hand experiences from long, month-lasting cycling trips from countryside, so it's like slower and more peaceful, and less machinized and less like "raging" the way of life in every European country, so countryside is a different thing altogether. Finland really is, like you said, at the lead of progress and it's upsetting, that one has been born to this country.

Adamsson: You apparently disagree with Tatu Vanhanen's thought about who really is intelligent and who's not. Intelligence quotient would probably be a little different by "Linkola scale": could these western countries place a little lower?

Linkola: It probably refers to these IQ tests, so they likely have been done, but apparently they measured this mathematical-technical intelligence there, and I'd assume the results are quite right. But then that Tatu Vanhanen begins to interpret that it's negative, that they haven't created societies like this and positive, that in western countries these societies have been created, well there he has of course an opinion completely opposite with mine. So the less there is mathematical-technical talent, and above all the less it's being used, then of course the better it is. Tatu Vanhanen's scientific results are likely quite right. It's rather obvious, that different populations have, evolution's principle is that selection, that the traits fitting the conditions become as prevailing in that population, so it's clear that there are great differences between populations at these, that in other one a different talent is favoured and a different in other, but here then, here at western countries and especially the north, the most unfortunate type of talent has been favoured, this technical-mathematical talent.

Part 5: From a academic to a fisherman

Pentti Linkola is from and academic family, but still chose the career of a fisherman.

He got to study biology at an university, but left his studies to become a fisherman. From what starting points he chose his profession?

Adamsson: You have an academic family background, father was a professor, if I recall right?

Linkola: Yes, my father was not only a botanist, a professor of botany, but at Helsinki the head of the university's botanical garden, and I grew up my childhood there in grand solitude in the middle of Helsinki, inside tall fences with my two siblings. And then he was the founder of Finland's Association of Conversation of Nature, and regions of environmental protection, the first one's, 1930's region's, borderline traveller and definer of borders, so he was a unusually remarkable man of environmental protection, and maybe more than he was a scientist, but he was that nevertheless. But I was just nine years old, when my father died, so he didn't have a direct influence on me, and mother was pulled in as a housewife in the middle of her studies, with my father, studies of biology though, but a even a little nature- or biologist-oriented person (he means his mother here), but no exactly a forest- or nature-enthusiast, but surely through her deceased husband and herself a natureperson, so the background does have it's effect, but not as much as it could have had my father lived longer.

Adamsson: One could've presumed, that one with that background would himself jumps off to the academic world, but you chose this career of a fisherman. Was it a ecological choice?

Linkola: Yes, well, it was, wasn't really. My school's biology teacher was my father's student, and at high school classes I instantly gained his favor, and taught making essays about nature and things like that and then organized, very young, immediately after I graduated high school, editing of a large bird-book when 19-years-old, which was quite rare. And he assumed, and my mother and family assumed, that I'll of course become a biologist, and I did begin studying at university after one year in between, when I got a permission from my mother to just go after birds after I got through that school so that I was only 17 years old when I graduated, so I got that gift-year in between, but then I started studying zoology, botany, geology and chemistry, but it was a surprise and a disappointment even to me that it wasn't my thing at all, and I then had to discover, that I am after being set free from that school, so outdoorsy man that I couldn't sit through an exam of animals and not read that much, and there wasn't really anything else left. I could've been a hunter, but there are no hunters, professional hunters, in Finland, and weren't then either. There wasn't really anything else left but this fisherman, which was then really an outdoors-profession and being in nature all the time. I can't still regret that, I didn't have any other choice. Then I can't say what had been then if there hadn't even been the option of a professional fisherman, then I'd have probably died somehow. It was hanging (Adamsson: Would've been a solution?) by a hair. Yeah, it would have solved problems on my part earlier than they are now.

Adamsson: Pentti Linkola, how do you feel you have succeeded at ecological way of life?

Linkola: Well quite, because I am sort of a realist, that I fish with nylon nets, and a car transports fishes to the market, or transported, during most decades. Now I have advanced towards better at it: the most I sell myself and I travel with a horse to sell them, so it even has improved ecologically and then I haven't ever had a motorboat, I mean motor. Well, on construction I have had to build these household centers for fishing, so there those workers have surely used chainsaw and electric saw and so on. And I use raw materials, I have an electric lamp, that wasn't, or a part of my life I have lived on oil lamps, but now I have had an electric light for a long time. Then I have two large freezers, which is a noticeable minus here, that there are even two of them and they are big. Apart from those, I don't own any more electric machinery. There's no television or no household machinery and a mini-sized travelradio, so by that way I do have gone quite far with this ecological saving economy and have stayed there all the time.

Adamsson: Do you have a secret vice, of a kind which you could give up, but you can't? Which consumes?

Linkola: Yeah, I don't have anymore. I had chocolate, but then seven years ago I got type one diabetes, and that too was taken from me, and now I am a perfect man. *laughter*

Part 6: Writer and a proclaimer

Pentti Linkola has published his thoughts on many books. The last one is 'Voisiko Elämä Voittaa (translated: Could Life Win)' published at 2004.

How Linkola got on to the career of a writer and what it has given to him?

Adamsson: At least something has happened in the world. For example, there is a educational program for lasting progress here at Turku, and there are overall (two of them) and there's another one at vocational colleges. Are you satisfied?

Linkola: Yeah, they are, the minor, they are towards the right direction, of course. And knowledge has grown, probably not more than a per mil's, per cent's worth because of my proclamation, but generally, because this kind of knowledge about environmental problems has been spreaded and researched extraordinarily much, and we do have the whole organization of environmental protectors, back then when I started, we had a state's overseer of environmental conservation, one person in Finland, who was the equivalent of today's environmental ministries and environmental centers in separate provinces and environmental protection secretaries at counties et cetera, this whole group of a few thousand officials and elected officals, it has expanded enormously from that single person during my lifetime and they do get something done as well but this destruction, a flood of ruin is so terribly stronger and faster, so they'll be overrun in such a way, that only some delay is achieved, which is a great thing, even that.

Adamsson: This is maybe like the devil reading the bible but I caught this from somewhere, that you had said: "'Progress'- and 'advancement'-words shouldn't even be used, they usage should be forbidden." Does this mean that lasting progress shouldn't be talked about?

Linkola: Well if it isn't talked about, it would mean that it would be forgotten or would exist as a concept and not as a phenomenon. I mean that there shouldn't have been any progress even for decades on any occasion, and there must not be this kind of advancement at any profession. For example science, or art shouldn't go to madness. And the only wisdom would be in that it was admitted that "This way is good," and wouldn't in any way strive for the change, but there is perfectly enough change in the changing of seasons, that life is interesting enough when different springs and summers and autumns and winters come, so no (change?) is needed in this human culture and requisite. Of course reasonably sized works of art could be made and a few good books, although there are enough of them, truly. World literature lasts from time to time, and that too is enough, but this should be, somewhat, as an activity, but I don't mean by that it either would be progress, isn't at that field. Under no circumstances has culture ascended from it's level. There are bigger music halls and more gigantic art galleries and so on, but then again art didn't, and music, compositions, they didn't even keep up with those great times.

Adamsson: Now that we went to art and you mentioned literature, what does literature mean to you? Is it a kind of a way to see outside yourself and your family?

Linkola: It does too be one of these pleasures of life for me, from which you get pleasure from, when you read a good book. Of course literature does always teach, it teaches mostly about man, as much as there's left to learn, I feel I know man quite well already. But it is such a interest which I don't view entirely as a bad habit, I then read and follow this literature a lot, and somewhat, although a lot less, lyric. And it is the form of art which is close to me, and closer than music, and painting and sculpture and film and especially comics, which is horrendous to me: horrid regression, that things aren't said with letters anymore, but return back to the picture, which was letters before. Well, it was just an aside, worthless. Well, anyway.

Adamsson: You have released your first book for fifteen years, it's called 'Voisiko Elämä Voittaa (translated=Could Life Win).' It is a collection of essays, what kind of book is it?

Linkola: Well it's quite a mishmash. There's of course this pondering about world and Finnish society and it's state, and analysis and thought, and then prediction, or description, what is the way of the world and the society and by this speed and manner, where's it going to. But then there are quite a lot of other, some other matters where I have described those which are still on a good shape, on of course other stances of just the human world and some prevailing features of this surrounding society. Everyone of them is, so (there was a unknown word here at the original interview) either something is praised or something is criticized, but it is not all just about these grand things, doomsday declarations, but much more else as well. Somebody did say in his review, or could say, that "they are 'Linkola's Select'."

Adamsson: Pentti Linkola, I just have to ask in conclusion that could life win?

Linkola: Yeah, there's a condition already on the title page, that could life win, and on what conditions. And those conditions then, actually throughout the book, are revealed one by one, and then there's the concluding article in the end, where by different professions a little dull example of a way of life of an alternative society is told. And they are extremely harsh, and then, they aren't rigid at all, when thought in that way, but they are harsh compared to what we have now accustomed to, all this wrong and bully-like wastefulness. But on that condition, that we'll start going to something like it, an entirely different direction. Then life would surely win, but I'd say as the most likely prediction, that probably we won't change and then life will not win.