Kategoriarkiv: Debatt

Swedish self – images, state individualism and my writings

I have written earlier here and here about the book I am writing on about the Swedish self- image that partly will be a reply to the influential concept of ”state individualism” in the 2006 book ”Är svensken människa?” by historians Henrik Berggren and Lars Trägårdh.

Historian Lars Trägårdh has become a source for the new moderate government polices to ensure continuity with the welfare state of earlier leftist years. The Guardian let him explain his views when Cameron was here and as well as the moderate daily Svenska Dagbladet and the very useful web discussion forum Newsmill let him speak for an influential audience recently.

Below is an expanded draft plan of the book that will amount to a critique of Berggren’s and Trädgårdh’s optimism of their coined concept of ”state individualism”, see the links above for presentations.

Draft of writings on Sweden – an outline:

Introduction

Sweden the last century is a microcosm of the affluent West, modernity and individualism. The last decades have been tougher but still the Swedes make it well in most global market indexes, except for primary education.
This study will tell both the success story of the welfare state and its downfall. The two theses I will pursue are that the Swedish welfare state has given rise to an unfettered individualism supported by the welfare state. This statist individualism is cherished by all political parties and has deep national roots. Secondly, radical policies to correct and nurture the Swedes’ behaviour and minds in good directions are sprung from belief in expertise, science and government. The isolation of Sweden outside continental Europe has been crucial for nurturing exceptionalism during the Swedish Empire 16-18th centuries and in its unique leap from a poor rural economy with peasant democracy to a modern welfare state in very short time in the last century.

This study will try to link the welfare state with the unique domineering politically correct policies in 21st century Sweden, where the most embarrassing is not doing and thinking what is correct, from sorting out the garbage to memorizing with ethnic groups could get offended by speaking one’s mind. The Swedes must collectively be made to make the right choices by political campaign, ideologist state apparatuses and benevolent media when buying alcohol, deciding on child care, caring for oneself when unemployed, sick or old and finding a place to live in. The centre-right parties in 1990s and since 2006 have reformed some welfare state mechanisms with great excitement together with the centre-left parties with less excitement. But all parties want to use the enormous state apparatus and its experts to control choices, processes and outcomes.

I will argue that this belief in the good state and its well meaning civil servants was accelerated by leftist policies since 1968. With a vocal intellectual bureaucracy under PM Olof Palme elected 1969 the Swedish welfare state changed from a modest reformist state handing out pensions to an aggressive Moloch that interfered with not only your wallet, taking two thirds to itself, but also your values and self-respect. What distinguish Sweden during 1960s – 1980s from other nations were the ability, need and desire to employ loyal teachers, doctors, lecturers, bureaucrats and PR agencies in municipalities, ministries, government monopoly media etc.

The results are still with us whenever we enter public spaces or deal with the government. We are the children, the government is the adults. The legendary social democratic PM Per Albin Hansson created used national romantic term “Folkhem” (People’s Home”) in 1928 to describe his social utopia. In this national home, everybody should be treated equal. No bullies, no favourites, no downtrodden children. The nostalgia and force of the term Folkhem is still in repressive use after its heydays 1930-1970.

Earlier research and commentary

Earlier research and journalistic commentary has been done successfully by foreigners like R Huntford, M Zaremba, M Rojas, M Alapoeus, A Brown, N Sanandaji, M Karaveli but also by self-critical Swedish scholars and authors like V Moberg, S Rydenfelt, S Burenstam Linder, T Segerstedt, H Zetterberg, J Norberg, B Sundberg Weitman, A Edwardsson, M Henrykson, S Fölster, P Engellau, B Rothstein, A Lindbeck, PT Ohlsson, J. W.F. Sundberg, C Arvidsson, L Trägårdh, Å Daun and KO Arnstberg along with proceedings from Axess seminars on Swedish history and modernity. My contribution will be to condense these findings and draw conclusions that will bring contemporary perspectives. Little has been published in English with a comprehensive narrative of the particularly Swedish road to modernity and individualism. My approach will be to tell the history of Sweden trying to explain how the distinct features of Swedish nationality made the late 20th century welfare state to implode yet without any sound and fury.

The findings so far seem to be that the Swedes wilfully accept living in a state with little respect for rule of law, with little knowledge of individual rights against authorities, paying over 60 % of wages in taxes, fees, VAT and payrolls and succumbing to a nationally correct culture and media. Swedes are simply not interested in much else than consumption, security and efficient government. Humanity, integrity, religiosity, moral values and individual responsibility and courage are not popular issues and make them nervous. I may accept that being somewhat bland, anxious and with few human traits common to other cultures and peoples is the pale Swedish prerogative but then we should not be proud of being sheepish. Swedish politicians and representatives usually take a very high moral ground with little base. Our history of forced sterilizations in 20th century is enough to prove out incapacity to both being the epitome of modern welfare state and an example of scientific rationalisation, eugenics, social conformism and mental hygiene going mad.

The current situation

What has accelerated the inner contradictions of the Swedish welfare state is the inability to speak openly about any of these matters in media and research. Slowly the intellectual debate will change but new areas since 1980s have replaced the older socialist paradigm, e.g. government versions of feminism, multiculturalism, child care, security paranoia etc. With state controlled media, education and weak parliamentary system with little civil society backing, the executive branch of government runs the country like a corporation. No matter if the CEO is socialist or not, the state machinery runs effectively in praise of the meek citizens.

Table of contents

Prel title: Swede land

Introduction
Part 1 History: hubris, humility and hubris again
History 1000 – 1930
Hubris 1930 – 1970
Humility 1970 – 2000
Hubris again 2000 – 2012
80 pages

Part 2 Anxiety, conformism and policies
Schools
Academia
Gender
Immigration
Culture/Media
Legislation
Foreign policy
Business/Economy
Welfare
Anxieties
180 pages

Part 3 Alternatives, ideologies and national mentality

70 pages incl references

Total 330 pages

Part 2 will cover the current debates in these policy areas after year 2000; with some exceptions (the mad 1970s in foreign policy and primary education will not be forgotten). Part 3 will conclude with references to current political philosophy and ideological debate in Sweden. Liberalism and conservatism has been revived since 1980s by liberal minded publishing houses (MTG, Axess) and think tanks (Timbro, Ratio, SNS) and will be considered along with useful studies by young writers like Hadley-Kamptz, Bard & Söderkvist, Norberg, Olsson et al. Little discussion on the particular issues, more on the national character of political culture and thought in Sweden. Debates in UK and USA on communitarianism, civic humanism and contemporary liberalism may be included.

Annonser

Kultur nej, debatt, nej men ganska kul underhållning

I röd täckjacka främst i kön sedan 16.30 kom jag in till teater Brunnsgatan 4 där en utsåld kulturdebatt gick av stapeln. Martina Montelius och Marie Söderqvist vimsade med fyra personer som hade erfarenhet från kulturpolitik, produktion och organisation. Bitvis sade Joakim Berner t ex något vettigt (”Sam Nilsson” – doktrinen och Bosse Strömstedts bredsmala tabloidtänkande) men mest roades jag och säkert många andra av Montelius gränslösa skojigheter. Jag gillade allt som kom ur munnen , även hennes Breivikande som gick som en stöt genom publiken, men inte ledde deras samtal kulturdebatten framåt, bara underhållande. Synd att inte Leif Nylén eller Lars Nittve var med. Lite rustik rebellism och fakta hade behövts.

Dagen därpå skrädde inte Anna Klara Bratt orden i sin än mer surmulma krönika än Svelands. Bratt menade att det hade varit tjänstefel att inte hänvisa till Breivik som Sveland gjorde apropå meningsmotståndare till höger om vänstersossarna. Fredrik Eklund hade just hyfsat DN debatten liksom Bo Rothstein, Gina Gustavsson och Dilsa Demirbag Sten men segt vänstervirke sedan 1970talet (oavsett när man föddes) förgås inte så lätt.

1980 pågick en liknande kulturdebatt, initierad av Jan Myrdal, Sven Fagerberg, Lars Gustafsson och Sven Delbanc. De kritiserade från skilda håll en ”massmedievänster” som inte tålde kritik och som stöddes av offentliga medel och etablissemang. 13 juni 1980 skrev Fagerberg att en opinionskantring var på väg. Alla fyra var ense om att en okritisk samling ”intellektuella”, ”nya herrar”, ”vänsterfascister”, ”politiker, ombudsmän, byråkratier, massmediemän, akademiska lärare” osv dominerade kulturdebatten. Gustafsson betecknade dem som ”Medievänstern. nya klassens vakthund”. Dess funktion var terapeutisk och avledande i syfte att skydda dess ”problemformuleringsprivilegium”.

Idéhistorikern och biblioteksmannen Anders Frenanders avhandling Debattens vågor : om politisk-ideologiska frågor i efterkrigstidens svenska kulturdebatt från 1998 ger en bra bakgrund till vad som skett i kulturdebatten sedan den 4 jan 2012 då Bengt Ohlsson startade allt med sina slängiga ord och starka erfarenheter av kulturlivet på och nedanför Söders Höjder. Tack Benke

Skoldebatt vi gärna glömmer men inte alla kan

Lärarförbundet och Miljöpartiet gick ut i veckan med ett inlägg i DN som vi i skolvärlden helst bläddrade förbi. Jag ska inte orda mer utan i sak eftersom Helena von Schantz och Jan Björklund redan sagt det mesta som gick om denna tunna gröngrå röra. Vi glömmer alltså och går vidare, och tackar Helena för gott tankearbete.

Debatt kan vara bra men forskning kan ibland fördjupa. I nr 3/2011 av Pedagogisk Forskning finns ett par artiklar som partiföreträdare inom utbildningspolitiken bör ta del av. I synnerhet Elisabeth Hultqvists intervjustudie med lärare, ”Om lärares förändrade yrkesvillkor”. De lärare hon möter vittnar om att kommunaliseringen 1991 som skulle innebära ett större frirum och dencentralisering förbytts i ökad styrning. Fokus på resultat har ökat pressen, vilket ökat sedan 2006 med Björklunds alla reformer i ett läge där svensk skola stått stilla sedan 1980talet och sjunkit i alla index sedan 1990talets relationsinriktade skola. Mer resultatfokus alltså, men också mer relationsfokus – det som Richard Sennett kallar ”intimitetstyrranni ” sedan 1990tal, före internet och sociala medier (se Etik i professionellt lärarskap och en ”semiofficiell” krönika om läraretik på nätet)!.

Hultqvist ser det dilemma som inleddes 1962 med en gemensam skolgång för alla barn utifrån vår meritokratiska värdegrund – de som klarar sig premieras men alla ska med. Paradoxalt. ”Ju mer skolan betonar ‘en skola för alla’, desto mer tvingas den följa upp och dokumentera, klassificera och nivågruppera” (s. 209). Franske sociologen Francois Dubets böcker Faits d’école och Le déclin de l’institutions visar på liknande tendenser menar hon. Med ökade krav blir utopien att alla ska klara kraven på t ex godkänt i grundskolan mer ouppnåeligt än någonsin, men få lärare och forskare vill tala om pinsamheten att vissa inte kommer nå ända fram (Björklunds förslag om korta yrkeskurser på gymnasiet fick dessa förväntade reaktioner). Den avideologisering och avstånd från utopier och auktoriteter som skett i postmoderna teorier sedan 1970 har satt sina spår men att helt avstår från hopp om att alla elever ska klara sig leder till cynism.

Johannes Åmans ESO rapport är viktig för att rätt förstå lärarna i Sverige i detta sammanhang men vi lämnar den till en annan bloggpost för tillfället.

Två övriga artiklar i detta nummer är intressanta, om än inte i lika hög grad som Hultqvists. ”Förändringar i kommunskillnader i grundskoleresultat mellan 1998 och 2008 ” av JE Gustafsson och K Yang Hansen analyserar vad som skett med vissa kommuners skolresultat där vissa positiva tecken kan skönjas men mer grundforskning måste göras.
”Den entreprenörskapande skolan” av M Dahlstedt och F Herzberg är dock mest en tradig disciplinärretorisk kritik av reformer och förslag om företagsamhet i skolan. Att se kunskapers och undervisningens värde i ekonomiskt hänseende är en styggelse och gammalmodigt enligt författarna. Astra Zenecas flytt från Södertälje lär följas av fler om de får råda. Helena von Schantz har också invändningar, liksom näringslivet så visst kan idéer om att öka företagandet från dess låga nivå i Sverige förbättras på andra sätt än diffusa skolämnen som entreprenöriellt lärande. Men som son till en småföretagare och en bonusson som utnyttjade UF maximalt för att skapa flera företag, se här och här , tror jag att vi inte ska läsa mer om begreppet governmentalité av Michael Foucault, även om jag själv översatte denna uppsats till svenska artikelförfattarena refererar till, utan hellre läsa Hayek och Henrekson.

Economic freedom index event


Johan Norberg commenting on Swedish economy

Monday 20 feb, 2012, at the liberal think tank Timbro in central Stockholm, the latest world report from Heritage foundation on index of economic freedom was presented by economist and report editor Jim Roberts.
Sweden’s position at 21 was discussed in more detail by Stefan Fölster from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and Johan Norberg.
Both stressed the need for reforms of labour laws and deregulation to stimulate entrepreneurship, albeit Fölster was more optimistic. He viewed the latest polls and voting in southern Europe (sauf Greece) where more moderate calls for tax cuts and reforms to promote business showed that even Europeans are responsible when needed. But Norberg was more pessimistic and saw little action in promoting better business policies and but government spending from the centre- right cabinet.
A good discussion and fun to see Norberg again in his home environment, a former Timbro fellow, now with Cato and an independent writer.

Sweden and its past – a place for ideological innovation

Recently two texts have caught my attention. The first text is the Fokus´ article about the New Moderates usage of Henrik Berggren and Lars Trädgårdh´s thesis about the ”state individualism” in Sweden.The second text is by Nina Samandaji on the Swedish Model reassessed

Both texts try to wrestle the history of Sweden from its social democratic dominance. They seem to say that Sweden was already on its way to the welfare state, building on liberal values, protestant work ethics and market economy. Nima Sanandaji is a young liberal conservative who started his own think tank Captus, while Henrik Berggren is social democrat, looking backwards. Lars Trädgårdh has been associated with the Christian college Sköndal. What divides them is their usages of the new and ideological innovative Swedish history. Berggren and Trädgårdh seem stuck in their preservation of a exceptionalist story of Sweden, even if they broaden the story to be founded on pre-socialist principles. Sanandaji is looking both to the history, but he sees Swedes moving to USA making a better life for them there than other nations. The exceptionalism is not nationalistic. His hope is to the future of Sweden, building on what has changed since 1995 in business life, slimmer government and social reforms to enhance work rather than benefits. Berggren wrote recently a biography of Olof Palme. He has not left him yet. Others have.

Sweden and the Swedes 1900-2010. Outline of book idea

I am currently planning to write a book on Swedish political history and lives in the welfare system. Here is ToC

Table of contents

”Sweden and the Swedes 1900-2010.
The ambition and failure to care for, control and develop bodies and souls”

Preface

1. Samples of welfare state lives and individuals 2011

Part 1 Hubris. 1900-1986.
Introduction

2. History of the welfare state 1900-1986. Myrdals. Statist individualism 19th century. Child rearing, modernity, control.
2.1. Birth of welfare state 1900, 1906, 1932, 1945, 1957
2.2. Critique. Early social democrats, liberals, conservatives. Lindbom, Moberg.
2.3. Olof Palme 1969. LO, wage earners funds. Law 1974. Repressed culture.
2.4. 1976. Centre-right govnt. Crises. Literary criticism (Fagerberg et al)
2.5. 1982-1986. Palme back. Downfall

Part 2 Modern, rational and correct individuals and policies.
Introduction

3. Education
3.1 Schooling
3.2. Higher education and research

4. Gender, families and sexuality

5. Security, clientelism and morals

6. Immigration and integration

7. Foreign policy.
7.1 Säpo, KGB

8. Business and economy

Part 3 Humility. 1986 – 2010
Introduction

9. Economy and politics 1986- 2010
10. Community and individualism.
11. Social media opposition and new liberalisms.
12. Still corrected, still modern, still life
.
Eplilogue

The last part 3 will be hard to picture but little has happend in the lives of citizens that really has given them more freedom. Security is the overall ambition yet. Trying to combine more freedom with individual responsibility is not seen yet.

Debating school legislation in Delhi

 Aug 10, I was moderating a discussion on teacher accountability through the Right to Education Act in New Dehli, India. I had done this last year many times as associate director of the School Choice Campaign at Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi’s best and oldest liberal think tank.

It was good to see friends again and the discussions were familiar matter to me.  Sorry to note, the well reknowed educationist Vinod Raina could not attend the discussion. He was instrumental in shaping the RTE Act. I had already interviewed him last year for the Student First Magazine, but alas could not see him this  time.

From the minutes taken by the new young SCC team:

”Chaired by Jan Sjunnesson, former Associate Director, School Choice Campaign with Surendra Nath Dubey, President of All India Awardee Teachers Association and Shashank Shukla, Teach for India Fellow, Chairman at Gurukul Education Society and member of the National Advisory Council Working Group as panelists, the discussions explored the means through which the RTE Act addresses the issue of teacher accountability and looked at possible solutions. Jan outlined the major problems in relation with teacher accountability before introducing the panelists. He summarised the principal problems in India such as the absence of teachers and the shortage of educators that the government is facing while trying to implement RTE Act. In addition he mentioned that the RTE Act is vague on the issue of teacher accountability. He commented on the lack of a direct correlation between teacher salaries and student learning outcomes in India.”

Keep up the SCC spirit guys and gals  : )