On 14 January at 16:15 Ago Raudsepp will defend his doctoral thesis “Salvation and Destruction: Democracy's Impact on the Security of Finland and Estonia in 1918–1948” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in History).
Professor Eero Medijainen, University of Tartu
Professor Kari Alenius, University of Oulu (Finland)
Can a country with a constant state of emergency in its capital – as was the case in Estonia in 1918–1934 – be considered a democracy? Or a country where political violence is used against members of a parliamentary committee during a committee meeting – as was the case in Finland in 1930? Why did the Estonian Social Democrats support the 1934 coup and why did the Finnish Swedes defend the Finnish Communists? Why could Estonia not find any allies except Latvia in the 1920s and 1930s, and why was Finland left without allies in the Winter War? Why did Estonia and Finland not behave in the same way in the autumn of 1939, and why did the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Finland in 1941? The answers to these questions lie in the relationships between democracy and security, which is exactly the topic of my dissertation.
Based on the works of different philosophers, it is possible to show that democracy and security are interdependent. The relationship between democracy and security can be reduced to the classic dilemmas between freedom and security, freedom and sovereignty, and sovereignty and security. Although it is not possible to solve these dilemmas definitively, the solution can be improved indefinitely. I argue that the way in which democratic societies resolve these dilemmas does not depend on democratic culture or on the wisdom inherent in people, but on the perceptions of the majorities of democratic societies, which in turn depend primarily on historical experience.
The theoretical explanation proposed in my dissertation helps to understand why Estonia’s and Finland’s quests for security failed in 1918–1948 and why Estonia and Finland made different choices at the turning points of their history. The behaviour of Estonia’s leaders during the events of 1939 and 1940 also becomes understandable. Hopefully, my dissertation will contribute to a fair judgement of the activities of Konstantin Päts and Johan Laidoner, and to reconciling Estonian society on the question of whether they were heroes or villains. However, the most important aim is to contribute to an understanding of just how fragile democracy and security can be, how they depend on each other and, in particular, how they depend on historical experience.
Access to the defence in Teams.