Masked struggle: Uncivil disobedience on the streets of Finland
Article by Johan-Eerik Kukko
In this article, I examine the messages that are connected to masks and other symbols in the short history of the Soldiers of Odin (SOO). Moreover, I compare the use of masks to the way that another Finnish activist group, Loldiers of Odin, used masks and symbols. SOO started street patrol activity in 2015 to ‘safeguard’ Finnish cities from the alleged threat of asylum seekers. In 2016, the Loldiers of Odin were founded to oppose SOO’s vigilante activity. They carnivalized the anti-immigrant group by appearing at their demonstrations and harassed their street patrols dressed as clowns.
I discuss the dynamics of the two groups and analyze how they used masks and symbols in their activities. Especially in the case of SOO, I will focus on situations where the group uses Guy Fawkes masks, and in the case of Loldiers of Odin using clown costumes and make up. Additionally, I ask if their vigilante actions with masks can be understood as ‘uncivil disobedience’, a term that has been discussed for example by Jennet Kirkpatrick and Candice Delmas. In the end I will also show that both of these groups have two kinds of masks; one to wear and one to hide their real purposes