Kategoriarkiv: Kultur

First book chapter of The Swedish story: From extreme experiment to normal nation

This is still a draft so do not qoute. To be published in spring 2013 as a book-on-demand print. Support the book by crowdsharing at Crowdculture or like the book Facebook page.

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Land of extremes
Chapter 2: History of Sweden 1000 – 1930
Chapter 3: Hubris 1930- 1970
Chapter 4: Humiliation 1970 – 2000
Chapter 5: Hope 2000
Chapter 6: Contemporary extremes
Chapter 7: Normal Sweden
Afterword by an extreme Swede

Governments 1876 – 2014
Parties in parliament 2010 – 2014

Chapter 1: Land of extremes

The title The Swedish Story: From extreme experiment to normal nation needs some explanation. There is an abundance of stories and details and many heroes and villains in the follwing pages. Scandals, sex and bodily fluids will occur as well as Soviet submarines, phallic trumpets, film, fiction and welfare art tricksters. Everything has happened as written. No exaggeration is needed in the land of extremes.

The first part of the subtitle, extreme experiment, comes from economist Assar Lindbeck’s 1997 article “The Swedish Experiment” where he wrote:

“Why should foreign observers be interested in economic and social conditions in Sweden? The best answer is probably that institutions and policies in Sweden have been rather experimental, and that some of these experiments may also be relevant for other developed countries. Sweden may therefore be seen not only as a small country on the periphery of Europe, but also as a large (‘full-scale’) economic and social laboratory.”

Note here that professor Lindbeck states in a scientific article that Sweden is an existing social laboratory where planners may try out new utopian and extreme policies with real human beings. The results revealed in this book are as bewildering as the staggering costs.

The second part of the subtitle is from German writer Hans-Magnus Enzensberger’s 1992 collection of essays In defence of the normal . He states that the normal has gotten a bad reputation and surpassed by the abnormal. But by the time, being abnormal becomes the new normal, épater le bourgeois the everyday routine. The Swedish kind of welfare art tricksters will appear with their tiresome provocations that are routine rather than exception in Swedish art and politics. All attitude, no content. Ideology not art. All left.

The two sources of terms in the subtitle, an article on welfare economics and an essay on European decency, cover the areas of intellectual curiosity that make up the arguments in chapters that follow. On the one hand, politics, business, economy and law, on the other ethnology, stories, culture and morals. Together with the strange stories that will surprise most people, the story of Sweden will be told from the outsider, the normal person trying to inhabit an extreme nation. Sweden is not a normal country but may be. Only by reading this book will this fact be understood, appreciated and possibly lead to action. You as non-Swedish reader have an important role to play.

Every country needs to have its self-image criticized now and then. What was normal in apartheid South Africa seemed extreme to the rest of the world after 1960. Today North Koreans live what they believe are normal lives which for all thinking and feeling people seem maddening. During the Balkan crisis, what had been normal divisions between ethnic groups erupted into extremes. Sweden is far from any of these regions but there is a Swedish normality which is extreme by all standards. Some good, some bad. Taken together, Sweden is an extreme country which makes questioning Swedes like me and most visitors question whether it is us that are extreme in trying to uphold sanity and normality or the country? For me there is no question. We are not extreme but Sweden is. We are normal and Sweden is not. The Swedish story will give some clues, but it is not a scholarly work. It is written with a fervor that comes from living and thinking a double life. One life of extremes which is normal in Sweden and another life trying to stay normal by global standards which is extreme in Sweden. Lives that are extreme by any global and sane standards are normal in Sweden and vice versa. National schizophrenia is rampant but not diagnosed until now.

The aim of this book is threefold with two lesser goals and one gigantic:

1. To expose the shortcomings of a large welfare state and high taxation.
2. To show the Swedish conformist and silent national character.
3. To make Sweden into a normal nation, not extreme

The first has been the topic of debate of welfare economics and clientelism since many decades. In some OECD countries, Sweden has been used as a sorry example of those wanting to tax and spend a sclerotic dull welfare state with totalitarian tendencies. Others, including leading economists and newspapers in USA and UK, praise Sweden for what is considered its clever and stable economic policy. Critique of large welfare states from the center-right field of politics will surface in the forthcoming pages, but these conservative or libertarian critical comments will not solely be in focus here. Instead will the steady Swedish support for the welfare state from all political areas including the political parties to the right be discussed. The historical roots for this broad support are much deeper than usually noted when blaming socialist and ambitions welfare state policies. National traits run much deeper than politics and the Swedes like their state to take care of them. They willingly pay high taxes and get something in return, even if they never completely understand how much they pay and what they get back. Still Sweden functions well, even if lower taxes and a smaller government will be needed in coming decades. The current changes of welfare economics go in the right direction, so there is less to worry about, in contrast to the second aim for this book.

The second topic, the dull, conformist and totalitarian streaks in the smooth welfare state, has also been the topic of studies and stories over the years. However, this book gives an updated version of the Swedish conformism and correctness in media, education and policy, among citizens and undemocratic repression of free thought. The last decades of identity politics and dominance from the cultural left play a large role building on earlier traits of rural awkwardness and welfare state social engineering, resulting in self-censorship, learned helplessness and a pathological need for security. While the first aim to change Swedish welfare state foundations are both unwanted and not yet immediate, the aim to stop repression of free thought and open debate is something this book supports strongly. Paying high taxes might do, but silence not. Combination of the two is maddening, to pay and shut up, which is what most Swedes do. The dominance of political conformism and citizens’ fear to speak their mind are becoming worse and going in the wrong direction, especially after the racially and right-wing politically motivated Norwegian massacre of 2011.

The last megalomaniac ambition of writing this book is my conviction that Swedes are unable to change their extreme country into a normal Western democracy. Help must come from immigrants and foreign readers who do not take Swedish extremes for granted. Last chapter will explain how that change may come about.

This chapter is divided into three parts. First, the most common picture of the Swedish, or sometimes called the Scandinavian (or sometimes named Nordic) welfare state Model is presented. Then the strange concept of state individualism is presented, which is an idea of the extreme Swedish identity. Lastly a story from a perceptive Polish writer living in Sweden on his first encounter with the welfare services in the land of extremes.

To the world, Sweden wants to be known for its naturalness, innovation, compassion and openness which can be reduced to being progressive . A slick modern market economy yet caring and equal, the Swedish Model has been described in many ways as coming from strict economy, political ideology or pure nationalism. A common way to analyze the model is to view the successful economic story over a century. Then it is obvious that Sweden has had a successful economic growth from 1870 -1970 based on:

Mixed economy – capitalism and planned economy with strong national control over capital flows, credit and interest rates
Corporativism – good independent relations between employers’ federations and labour unions, organized interest groups and popular movements supported by government
General welfare state policy – universal welfare programs that also benefit the middle class
Rehn – Meidner model – unions support structural change and fair wage policy (wages paid according to agreements, not business ability to pay)

The role of institutions in the economy is crucial to explain the success of poor and isolated 19th century Sweden becoming rich in the 20th century. Due to a homogenous equal population, political mobilization, free trade and emerging un-corrupt government administration after 1850, trust evolved in the emerging popular institutions that became foundations of the welfare state from 1900.

Sweden is split along two sectors, government and private, in ways that are more accentuated than elsewhere. The two make up the capitalist welfare state. Without technologically advanced exporting industries, the welfare state would not obtain enough taxes. But the welfare state also contributes to provide good conditions for innovation, social services and infrastructure. The two sectors work in tandem and understand each other well. Below are the two sectors presented

The modern Swedish welfare state that some view critically, and some with admiration, has some extreme economic and social features:
1. Government spending in 55 % of GDP (EU/OECD average 45 %).
2. Taxes in total more than 50% ( EU/OECD average 45 %).
3. 65 years of last 80 years social democratic labour party has been in power.
4. Almost 20 % of citizens age 20 – 64 wholly supported by welfare benefits
5. More than 20 % of all single mothers need welfare benefits in full or partly
6. 25% public sector employees in work force (OECD average 15%)
7. 9/169 position in UN Human development index

Conclusions from these figures may be that an expansive welfare state is burdensome but gets good UN ratings. But this is not the case when we look at the global market rankings of same country where Sweden is a well-functioning capitalist high-tech country :

1. Position 4/167 Global Democracy Index, The Economist
2. 4/178 Corruption Perception, Transparency International
3. 2/50 Country reputation, Reputation Institute
4. 3/ 142 Global competitiveness, World Economic Forum
5. 2/125 Innovation index, INSEAD
6. 2/134 Knowledge economy, World Bank
7. 1/131 Innovation capacity, European Business School

Sweden is viewed as an ideal for capitalism and innovation, even if indexes of economic freedom are less impressive. Economic freedom of the world 2012 index (Fraser Institute) ranks Sweden at 30 of the 141 countries measured . The Economist looked up to the ‘North star of Sweden’ with ‘The New Model’ as the best student in the tough EU financial class and Stockholm as world number 6 best city to live in. Financial Times followed and selected moderate (former conservative) Anders Borg as best finance minister in EU 2011.

A growing proportion of Swedes have become more faithful to welfare state since neoliberalism appeared in early 1990s. 75 % of polled Swedes by 2010 imagined themselves even willing to pay more taxes if they went to government health services. By 1997, 67 % held that view . Since 2006 when center-right coalition took power, support has risen for government-run welfare services, especially among middle class voters. A paradox since this non-socialist coalition traditionally had stood for smaller government, but won by changing the election campaign to promise better government, not smaller.

Critics of large welfare stateism could argue that the reformed and slimmed welfare state after 1990s has gotten its renewed support because of these changes and liberalizations (school vouchers, health choices, deregulation of government corporations, topping up with private alternatives etc.). Paradoxes emerge. A reformed socialist initiated welfare state works if run by center-right or market oriented socialist governments dedicated to piecemeal social engineering with no red or blue utopias getting in the way. Historical signposts are a kind of low key politics of the European 18th century rational enlightenment, 19th century romantic ideals of equality and 20th century democratic reformism. Capitalism and welfare seem to join hands in beliefs of technology, individualism and secular rationality, resulting in a specifically Swedish modernity. But there is a price to pay even if few Swedes know it.

Regular Swedes contribute to the large welfare state with their daily expenses and monthly wages. Welfare state technocrats are clever in their ways to design new invisible taxes. Of total 46 % taxes of GDP, 25 percentage points come from invisible taxes. The smaller part of 21 percentage points is seen on pay cheques and is often lamented yet tolerated. Few even know about the major invisible part. Suppose an employee costs in total $10/hour by an employer, which means that with the $10, all expenses for this particular employee are included. The table below show disposable income, visible and invisible:

$10 Net salary paid from employer but not seen by employee
-$2,5 Deducted as payroll tax by employer to various governmental social insurance schemes incl. 18 % for pensions but also 9 % to government with no specifications (löneavgift)
$7, 5 Salary seen by employee and agreed to in contract
-$2.5 Municipal income tax for low and medium salaries, but higher for higher
$5.00 Money to spend on services and goods
-$1.00 Value added tax (VAT, 25 %, second highest in EU)
$4.00 Amount to spend out of a total of $10

The $2.5 in payroll tax is absolute minimum. Usually the employer and union have agreed on higher levels, $3 – 3, 5, in voluntary agreements but done under pressure from unions. These agreements are collective and for all, whether union members or not. The payroll taxes for social benefits and agreed minimum salaries are protected by unions who may interfere in industrial disputes outside their union domain. On top of that, 20 % of all citizens pay an extra national tax if the salaries are higher than average. This national tax is progressive so the more you earn the higher tax. With these additions, the sum of disposable income is more often $3 and even less if you use tobacco, petrol, alcohol and other highly taxed goods. Thus Swedes are drawn into collective agreements on salaries and benefits without their knowledge. To volunteer to work for a lower salary or with lesser social benefits than agreed collectively is not possible, not even in theory.

The secret way to tax Swedes to use governmentally administered and mandatory social benefits for pension, sick leave support and other benefits as shown above leaves no option to use that part of salaries for private pension schemes or save or spend at one may wish. With progressively higher taxes on higher wages, incentives for careers and higher education are small. Professionals who chose Sweden for work may come for the welfare services and maybe because their work was relocated, but they seldom come to start a career, work hard and get some money. They might voice their thoughts about how high taxes or how the political system represses any dissent but will be excused. Dissenting Swedes on the contrary face all kinds of repression of thought and silence themselves. Only with more non- Swedes will anything happen as the Swedes themselves are afraid to act, I will argue in the last chapters.

Sweden has been compared to all other nations as being the most self-expressive, rational and secular country in the world according to the cultural map of the world done by World Values Survey in 2008 . Sweden is the absolutely most modern and most lonely country in the world, as there is no country quite like it in its extreme position. Befitting image as it pictures both the extreme and solitary position of the nation and its citizens.


©Inglehart & Welzel. http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org

The diagram should be read as follows : Traditional on the vertical axis values emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook. Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable. Self-expression values on the horizontal axis show the ability and tolerance to stand out from the survival values of the collective, usually family and society. Swedes are then the most self-expressive people in the world. The particular Swedish interpretation of expression is rather independence from family and society, not necessarily expression any certain individual values .

In the upper right corner, Sweden reigns in splendid isolation, way apart from Norway and Denmark. Post-materialist values are more important than careers and material wealth. Organized religion plays little role but government the larger. Developing countries and other industrialized nations in the world go in the direction of Sweden, but there are drawbacks to this position . If other countries could get richer but not develop these disadvantages, the world would see more semi- Swedish, but with better functioning, leaner and more tolerant welfare states. This book is a tale of caution for those countries.

There are correlations between being more rational and self- expressive and economic growth but not all rich countries are as extreme as Sweden, for instance Japan, Australia, USA, Germany and Belgium. Some of these have smaller governments, lower taxes but same or better living standards. The usual defense of a rich welfare state by Swedes does not hold that well as the country has lost its wealth rapidly in the last four decades. Not richest anymore, not getting same welfare, alone and extreme is rather the current Swedish predicament.

Another view of Swedish extremes is the political arena. Policies that are common across developed nations within the OECD and considered normal, mainstream, are usually framed as reactionary, anti-women and ethnic minorities and right-wing by Swedish political standards. If current Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, or any Swedish minister from any party, goes to Washington or London to give a description of some basic and shared policies of his center-right leaning cabinet, he would be depicted as a pinko-liberal or old labour. Why that is so can be seen in this table of political parties from USA and UK:


Letters in italics describe the Swedish Social democrats, Center party and Moderates (formerly the conservative Right party), capitalized the British Labour party and Conservative Tories, and underscored the two American Democratic and Republican parties. This figure is not scientific at all and has no reference, but gives a reasonable view of the global political spectrum that is widely shared by news agencies and newspapers. To read International Herald Tribune or watch BBC news will hopefully be from a political center, mainstream or even slightly left of center standpoint but still sane and normal. The bold and capital headlines on top are supposed to state an imagined political scale with the two established Western news media almost at center.

If these news bureaus and papers would cover some topic which is normal in Sweden, that story would come out extreme, as anything from the political center, mainstream or at best neutral by Swedish standards, is quite on the left in the world. To be politically center in Sweden is left in the world, and to be right or even liberal in Sweden is center in the world. To be right of center in the world, as a Tory or Republican, is considered mad, reactionary and extreme. To state views that are normal in other parts of the world becomes impossible, both in content but also in form as the Swedish establishment and media know what is best for everyone everywhere. The American interpretation of being liberal which means left leaning Democrat in favour of big government is the normal Swedish center-right position. But being liberal in the Swedish interpretation is mostly considered politically right. In this book the Swedish center-right interpretation of liberalism will be used even if it confuses Americans. And of course it is confusing if liberals talk of mandatory preschool for all children from 3 years, which some do and outlaw home schooling which happened. The extreme in the world is normal in Sweden, the normal in the world is extreme in Sweden. Spend an hour or two on the website The Local for news of Sweden in English and read what foreigners think of Swedish news and politics is enough to understand the differences between the land of extremes and normal countries .

If all features mentioned about Sweden are summarized, a new concept is used which sums up all extremes:

1. High taxation and large welfare state
2. Silent conformism and thought repression
3. Extreme secular rationalism and self-expression
4. Left politics
= state individualism

The strange concept of state individualism is used in the book Is the Swede a human being? (Är svensken människa?) from 2006, co-authored by historians Henrik Berggren and Lars Trägårdh. The concept is not well known to regular Swedes, but they recognize it when explained, mostly nodding in affirmative but shyly. State individualism sounds partly egotistic, partly repressive and nothing to be proud of. To be human is to belong to some human community they state, but the modern Swede does not need to nor wants to belong. The welfare state takes care of all needs from the cradle to the grave so the citizens can concentrate of working and pay high taxes. Individualism does not imply voicing individual opinions, but is the same self-expression that the World Values Survey found was common in Sweden. Individuals make decisions on their own and with little regard to community, civil society or public sphere. An example is the proportion of single-households. Sweden has the highest number of men and women preferring to live alone, Stockholm the highest in Sweden and Kungholmen island the highest in Stockholm areas. Yet Stockholm is ranked among the six best cities to live in. How can the extreme also be the best? This book will not answer this question but gives a perspective on how the best and the extreme go together in Sweden with its national features.

Berggren and Trägårdh are quite fond of their vague concept of state individualism that gives room for interpretation and defend this extreme position. With roots in Swedish history before the welfare state of early 20th century, they show that Sweden has fostered independent citizens that lack ability and interest for common purposes outside their small world of friends. The concept of Swedish (and Nordic, where Sweden is the most extreme) state individualism was presented in 2012 by Swedish think tank Global Utmaning at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This positive message of state individualism is what the authors Berggren and Trägårdh stated to the world of international business and governments :

“While much has been written about the institutionalized aspects of the Nordic welfare state, few have paid much attention to its underlying moral logic. Though the path hasn’t always been straight, one can discern over the course of the twentieth century an overarching ambition in the Nordic countries not to socialize the economy but to liberate the individual citizen from all forms of subordination and dependency within the family and in civil society: the poor from charity, the workers from their employers, wives from their husbands, children from parents – and vice versa when the parents become elderly / . . . /

The Nordic countries [are] the least family-dependent and most individualized societies on the face of the earth. To be sure, the family remains a central social institution in the Nordic countries, but it too is infused with the same moral logic stressing autonomy and equality. The ideal family is made up of adults who work and are not financially dependent on the other, and children who are encouraged to be as independent as early as possible. / . . . /

Less tied down by legal and moral obligations within the family, yet still protected from extreme risk by a universal safety net, they become more flexible on the labour market, while as individual consumers they have developed far-reaching needs of products and services that
previously were satisfied within the traditional family /. . .

Economic policies that cater both to our desire for individual autonomy and our need of community and security can be remarkably successful”.

Love for instance should not be based on practical needs or family obligations but romance born out of feelings of two independent individuals. Children should not be born out of accident, needs or for parental desires, but be planned and welcomed for who they are as individuals. The utopian dream of a perfect society seems to have been realized in Sweden, these authors maintain but they do not tell the whole story as this book tries to do.

The two authors asked ‘are Swedes really humans’ in their 2006 book title Is the Swede a human being? Do Swedes understand the value of human dignity? What happens when the welfare state is responsible and not the human beings in it? The next story will tell.

In 1969 Maciej Zaremba had to leave communist Catholic Poland and a good Jewish family for secular, safe Sweden and work at Beckomberga hospital in Stockholm . He started working as a hospital orderly with elderly people in need of daily care. He had three duties; clean the rooms, feed the patients, help with toilet visits. Nothing else. Patients were fed 5 minutes each. If there was not enough time, too bad. Many newcomers lost both weight and appetite, but then a nutritious gruel was pressed fast down their throats.

Morning visits to the toilet were done with movable toilet seats where old women sat naked as they were rolled openly through the ward corridor down to the collective bathroom. There they were all splashed with water from a hose, sometimes lukewarm, sometimes not, by a young man. The women sat all in a row like pigeons. Some cried but were quickly silenced with a slap from a towel. Zaremba protested saying that people cannot be treated like this. No one reacted or seemed to understand his reasoning. None of his colleagues, nor did the head nurse or doctors understand what the strange Pole talked about. Human dignity? This is welfare services administered correctly.

Zaremba understood that what happened each morning to the naked women being run through the corridor was not extraordinary but common procedure, sometimes even in the presence of relatives. He had left a totalitarian state where he witnessed protesting pregnant women being kicked in their bellies by the military police. To be in a democracy and witness old people being treated as barn animals was bewildering, as was the lack of dignity, empathy and self-respect. The inability of the old to keep their bodily functions private was made worse by the inhuman treatment and what only primitive oafs and unkind louts do (cham in Polish). Zaremba was led by his family upbringing and sense of duty. For him there was no question of why all hospital staff should spend more time and energy to make the lives better, respectful and easier for the old. It was pure duty to human dignity and to older people. Period. Impractical yes, even undemocratic (which he was called by people when the embarrassing topic was mentioned), but necessary to remain human oneself he thought. The Swedish idea of rationality led the staff to demand rational justifications for Zaremba’s insistence of respect, duty and dignity and he had none.

Later when he became a celebrated writer in Sweden, he held a speech in 2003 called When will Sweden be European ? The ambition of this book is similar in its search for when will Sweden be normal. In early medieval ages, Sweden was probably most normal and European, as will be told in next chapter the history of Sweden from around AD 1000 to 1930.

Tvehågsen dramatik på Dramaten

Greider till vänster, Segerfeldt till höger.

Den 26 november 2012 gick ett märkligt skådespel av stapeln på Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern, De misslyckade konsumenternas afton. . Till formen var föreställningen ”Spelet om världens framtid” en framgång men innehållet var tveksamt. Miljöförstöring, eurokris och kapitalism var de givna fienderna men även de konsumenter i väst som inte finner mening i att konsumera mer. Allt inramat av sedvanlig kulturradikal dramatik från Dramatenchefen Marie-Louise Ekmans introduktion till Göran Greiders flaxande hår och hundar (ja han verkar ha mer tilltro till dem än oss och liknar alltmer en jycke).

Men det finns få skäl till att vara så misströstande om världens utveckling som dessa vänsterradikaler ville framhålla. De var i majoritet i publiken av applåder att döma och dominerade antal personer som talade och agerade på scen. I vissa fall var dominansen oerhörd till vänsterns fördel som när den programledare/domare som Stefan Jonsson representerade stod för frågor och domar. Jonsson är nog det mest politiskt korrekta den svenska akademiska kulturvänster kan uppbringa.

Varför var skåespelet felslaget från början ? Ja de olika områden som rördes samman har inte med varann att göra och befinner sig i skilda stadier av utveckling, ibland accelererad av politiska beslut, ibland inte. Den miljöförstöring som vi känner av som global uppvärmning har nog fog för sig men Dramatens perspektiv verkade ha stått still sedan Romklubbens misslyckade framtidsförutsägelser 1972. Tom Friedmans Hot, flat och Crowded 2008 har inte nått till kulturvänstern som gärna vill dramatisera klimatförändringarna utan att ta hänsyn till de tekniska och ekonomiska framsteg som gjorts sedan 1970talet. Undergångsstämning är mer dramatiskt.

Vad gäller ekonomin så har 100tals miljoner i de fattiga länderna mycket bättre idag än för 40 år sedan. I Asien, Afrika och Latinamerika minskar antalet fattiga snabbt och levnadslängden ökar pga ökad handel och fungerande marknadsekonomi. I Globaliseringsrådets första rapport 2007 berättar Johan Norberg om dessa fantastiska framgångar som gått vänstern förbi. Att tala om dessa växande massor bättre förhållanden har tvingat en gammal vänsterman och världförbättrare som Lasse Berg att tänka om. Men av detta syntes inte ett spår på scenen där den ena världspessimistiska förutsägelsen avlöste den andra. Den ende som tog upp att fler är rikare och friare idag än någonsin tidigare var Fredrik Segerfeldt men mot den dystra hopen stod hans sig slätt. Ingen vill lyssna på tal om ytliga framgångar när man kan vara djup pessimist. Att ett jobb på HM i Bangladesh inte är det sämsta alternativet är fortfarande svårt att förstå för de som pekar finger och vill tvinga fattiga arbetare till arbetslöshet.

Konsumenterna i fattigare länder har dragit stor nytta av att kunna få kylskåp, rinnande vatten och toaletter vilket vänstern såg som futtigt där de proklamerade på Dramaten. Konsumism ! Att tro att konsumion av varor skulle vara livets mening såg som yttersta tecken på ytlig kapitalism. Men vem vill få medborgare att tro det ? Och för fattiga, och en del andra konsumenter, kan vissa varor och tjänster vara avgörande, särskilt för de mest utsatta som inte har bostad och existensminimum ordnat. Vänstergnället ter sig överdrivet också som livsfilosofi. Att en konsument måste vilja något annat, något högre och gärna kulturellt skapande, sades av elitvänstern på Dramaten som såg sig själva som uttolkare av livets mening. Jag tror få konsumenter är så inbilskt korkade att de ser konsumtion som livets mening, men vänstern verkar tro det.

Eurokrisen till sist. Vänstern tror dels att dess tanklösa expansion av offentlig sektor i Sydeuropa har med krisen att göra, dels att keynesianska metoder fortfarande duger. Filmen Europe’s Debt, America’s crisis? och boken Eurokrasch är betydligt mer relevant än vad Dramatens protesterande (skattefinansierade) kulturarbetare visade upp.

Sammantaget blev kvällen nog ett positivt bidrag till kulturdebatten av flera skäl dock. Dels hade Dramaten fattat sedan skandalen i våras då kulturkoftorna klappade när poeten Johan Jöhnsson deklamerade att han vill sprida herpes på toaletthanddukar hemma hos villaägare i Äppelviken, dels framgick vänsterns villrådighet tydligt eftersom man var minst tre decennier efter i utvecklingen. Men framförallt var formen, att blanda skribenter och skådespelare, domstol och debattprogram (där en kortlek fick vara slumpgenerator), radiosändning av Filosofiska Rummet i P1 (där tre konsumtionsskeptiker mot en konsumtionsvän diskuterade). Om denna form ges ett lika fantasifullt och samtidsrelevant innehåll har Dramaten hittat en ny nisch. Annars förbli dessa kulturvänsterns pessimistiska debatt- och dramatik stycken onödiga, överflödiga och passé för jordens alla fattiga som blivit mindre fattiga.
“Looking back over the past decade the long-run trend towards progress in human development has continued. On average, people born in a developing country today can anticipate being wealthier, healthier and better educated than their parents’ generation. They are also more likely to live in
a multiparty democracy and less likely to be affected by conflict.”
Från FNs UNDP rapport 2006 (som de smyger undan bakom ett storslaget pessimistiskt perspektiv, s. 7)

Återkommande åsiktsregistrering i Sverige sedan Krilonböckernas 1940tal

Under andra världskriget fanns många sätt att övervaka den bräckliga svenska neutraliteten. Pressen fick order vad som kunde skrivas och böcker kunde censurerar. Efter ett tag förstod såväl författare som redaktörer och skribenter vad som gick att säga och skriva.

Eyvind Johnson tillhörde de modiga som berättade om t ex tortyr i Norge under nazister från Tyskland och inhemska men fick paketera berättelserna i de tjocka volymerna om Johannes Krilon. Nu finns ett nyvaknat intresse för den kämpande humanisten Eyvind Johnson.

2010 disputerade Per A Wiktorsson på denna oerhört sammansatta och betydelsefulla trilogi och för några månader 2012 sedan berättade kulturjournalisten Jens Liljestrand om Johnssons envetna kamp för tryck- och yttrandefrihet i essän ”Friheten att vara mänska”. 2014 tryckte NEO en intressant essä av Torbjörn Elensky om Krilon och Johnson.

Böckerna om Krilon är fyllda av patos för tanke-, press- och yttrandefrihet.

I Eyvind Johnsons personliga credo för människovärdet är friheten störst:

”Jag är krigförande. Jag är på den sidan som strider för FRIHETEN
ATT VARA MÄNSKA, för det högsta av allt. Friheten
att leva tryggt. Friheten för varje mänska att yttra sig öppet. (…
) Friheten är inte någonting man får alldeles gratis. Framtiden
är heller ingenting man får till skänks, jag menar den ljusa, den
fria och fina. Jag kan upprepa vad jag lovat er ännu en gång och
vad jag kan lova världen: en ljus, en fin och fri framtid, och
stora ansträngningar, stora offer för att nå den.”

Under dessa år 1939-1945 grundlades säkerhetsregister över de som varit eller kunde fruktas träda över gränsen i den ideologiska kampen mot Hitlers eller Stalins tankesystem. Neutraliteten krävde att svenskarna teg. Exporten fortsatte som vi vet men först när vinden vände 1943 började debatten öppnas något. Men registren behölls och fylldes på under de kommande decennierna, nu mest av kommunister och homosexuella.

1966 avslöjade Björn Kumm, Sven Rydenfeldt och Janerik Larsson att Säpo registerat kommunister eller barn till dessa på ett inte tillåtet sätt. En ung man förvägrades bli polis för att hans far var kommunist och av landets 5 miljoner fanns 300 000 i registren vilket tyder på ett oerhört insamlat material, främst via fackföreningsmedlemmar.

LO och S var naturligtvis inblandade men som vi alla minns avslöjades inte detaljerna förrän 1973 av Bratt och Guillou i IB-affären . Bloggen Tankar om IB har mer intressant.

Underrättelsetjänster har all anledning att hålla koll på presumptiva terrorister med våldsbejakande ideologier. Jag har inga invändningar mot dagens system där Säpo övervakas av riksdagen och ser heller inga hinder för att använda elektronisk kommunikation som källa för bevisföring, sk signalspaning och FRA-lag.

Vad jag vänder mig emot är de utomstatliga organisationernas egen åsiktsregistrering och hur deras företrädare idag vill använda medel för att stoppa öppen diskussion om svensk invandringspolitik, migration, integration och andra avgörande frågor för landets demografi och ekonomi. Här ges några exempel på initiativ till eller redan genomförd åsiktsregistering:

1) Tidskriften Expo har en lista på personer som bör uppmärksammas pga deras åsikter,
2) Transportsarbetarförbundets uteslutningar av medlemmar med sympatier för Sverigedemokrater
3) Svenska Kyrkans beredvillighet att kartlägga teologer med kritiska åsikter och återkommande censurvilja.
4) Advokatsamfundets vilja att utesluta Sverigedemokrater från nämndemansuppdrag
5) LOs kampanj “Alla kan göra något” som ska utbilda 150 000 aktiva medlemmar att kartlägga åsikter så att inte fel personer väljs till poster
6) Oviljan hos regeringen att öppna arkiv hos fd östtyska Stasi där över 50 svenska journalister m fl finns namngivna och som inte kan ursäktas för sina brott mot oss medborgare.

Det finns säkert många fler exempel på åsiktsregistrering än dessa. LO har relativt gott om pengar och Expo anses ha goda huvuden som betingar sitt pris för att hjälpa LO med de bångstyriga medlemmarna. Men risken är att en öppen debatt om rasism och integration, migration och ekonomi, inte kommer till stand och att de med sk avvikande åsikter blir förbannade.

Eyvind Johnsons maning till mod för att bevara yttrandefriheten kallar oss att inte glömma. Hade han levat idag är jag övertygad att han skulle varit skeptisk till Sverigedemokraternas politik men ha slagits för deras och allas rätt att yttra sig. Den rätten ska inte bero på de register som nu upprättas för att hota och tysta ned.

Uppdatering 18 juli 2014

Programmet Danmarks Röst

Mitt föredrag om yttrandefrihet

Socialist scandals 1990s – 2000s in Sweden

1. 1994. Business minister and union leader Björn Rosengren went to porn Club Tabu using union money ($8000 for one night), claiming he did not understand what kind of establishment he gotten into so late at night. Evidence of him being with prostitutes at the time is still around but not substantiated.
2. Fall 1995. Mona Sahlin, labour minister and deputy prime minister by then, later party leader 2007- 2010, had to leave her posts when parliament discovered that she had used public cash to purchase private services and goods, paid nanny services illegally, not paying child-care fees, taxes, 98 parking tickets and TV/ radio fees in time forcing her to the Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden). She had just accepted the post as party leader after Ingvar Carlsson in 1995 but left next year all political positions. She went during her personal crisis on a vacation to Mauritius with three staff members paid by government.
3. 1996. Public municipal employees’ union leader and Örebro county head Sigward Marjasin was charged with mismanaging public and private finances but later freed in court. Leading social democrats denounced him.
4. Winter 1998. Stockholm social democratic leader Mats Hulth had been buying drinks on taxpayers’ behalf for many years media reveals. Municipal rules for alcohol consumption had not been followed. Hulth was supported by the local social democratic club but had to resign.
5. 2000. Family ties within the social democratic party and sphere becomes obvious when the son Thomas of former minister Lennart Bodström and the daughter Brita of former minister Anna-Greta Leijon become ministers too. Families Nuder, Larsson, Toreson, Carlsson, Palme, Holmqvist, Damberg, Marén, Lindh and Holmberg were also using the social democratic party nespotic networks.
6. Winter 2001. Extraordinary rendition of two refugees after 9/ 11 by CIA at Swedish airport to Egypt without guarantees of the men not facing torture. UN, Human Rights Watch and Swedish parliament objected afterwards to the deportation. Responsible minister was the deceased Anna Lindh whom every involved social democrats conveniently later could blame.
7. Winter 2002. Prime minister Göran Persson’s wife Anitra Steen headed suppousedly unaware the Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget when systematic corruption was revealed between suppliers of wine and liquor and the Swedish government buyers.
8. Spring 2004. Party leader Göran Persson bought a mansion with 500 acres for $2 million. Many hard working Swedes did not forget this, even if the purchase was perfectly legal.
9. Summer 2004. Finance minister and deputy prime minister Bo Ringholm was criticized for being lax in illegal wages paid by a sport club Enskede IF where he was president for ten years. Police investigation was started but shut down since crimes were done too long ago.
10. Fall 2004. Metal union officials went to sex clubs, bought liquor and dildos (to give to loyal women) for union members’ money in Trollhättan. One evening in Brussels three union officials spent $7000 on liquor and prostitutes.
11. Winter 2004. Prime minister Göran Persson was made honorary doctor at Örebro University on dubious grounds. The official motivation for his degree in medicine, science and technology (subjects which non-graduate Persson never had studied) could be viewed as a reward for his support of Örebro university college when applying for full university credentials. Earlier attempts had been refused by academic authorities but Persson made way for the new regional university.
12. 2005. Trade union LO fired two officials (Jan Edling and Olle Sahlström) when they wrote about how the union and socialists used false labour statistics (real unemployment 20 % rather than officially 5 %) and corruption in housing foundations meant for poor widows of workers’ families going to union officials.
13. Spring 2005. Gunilla Ekberg expert on sexual trafficking and prostitution at a government ministry threatened female journalist Evin Rubar and other women organisations, but minister in charge Mona Sahlin did not react.
14. Spring 2005. Social democratic parliament member Ola Rask forced to leave his leadership of socialist and union education center due to having two positions, and a pension, at the same time.
15. Spring 2005. Government Employment Agency in Nyköping threatened to withdraw benefits unless unemployed construction workers went to Stockholm to protest against budget cuts in unemployment benefits together with the union. The government Employment Agency official signed the letter together with union officials and both stated that the march was mandatory.
16. Summer 2005. Center Against Racism, created by ministers Jens Orback and Mona Sahlin, did not use their government grants properly and had little activity but many expenses on hotels and restaurant. The anti-racist center got new grants each year without control.
17. Fall 2005. Police used union officials when checking on foreign transport companies after a storm in southern Sweden. Unions checked for collective agreements (optional according to Swedish law) while the police looked at safety arrangements. Unions used the uniformed policemen to obtain secret information from foreign chauffeurs that they had no reason to give to union officials.
18. Fall 2005. Zakarias Winberg was fired from his position at a trade union after writing an article declaring his loyalty to Christian Democratic Party, not to the labour movement.
19. Winter 2005. School minister Ibrahim Baylan stopped a report from National Agency for Schools which had found that private schools made better results and that teacher qualifications did not matter. In Sweden agencies are independent from ministers, but Baylan made the agency remove the report from internet immediately. An edited version was uploaded later and Baylan had to explain his actions to constitutional council at parliament.
20. Spring 2006. Göran Persson was sentenced but with no punishment in court for illegal constructions at his mansion under the care of his brother. Neither of them knew that such constructions must be reported to municipality and a plan for working safety be prepared.
21. Fall 2006. Göran Persson threatened to withdraw government bonds in telecommunication multinational Ericsson because CEO Carl-Henrik Svanberg said that a shift of political power could be refreshing.
22. Fall 2006. Leading lady of Stockholm municipal social democrats Annika Billström lost her political position but used regulations to fund her private business while being supported by taxpayers after her lost election. Legal but immoral many thought.
23. Spring 2009. Union leader Vanja Lundby- Wedin did not act or understand when as board member of the union pension fund AMF, she supported its CEO with $9 million when he was laid off on top of the $6 million salary.
24. Fall 2010. Two local socialist politicians went to Stockholm, got drunk and brought prostitutes to the unions premises. Buying sex is illegal in Sweden and the legislation is heavily supported by the social democratic, feminist, green and left parties.
25. Summer 2011. Party leader Håkan Juholt got parliament to pay for his apartment while his woman stayed there too. He also mismanaged rented cars and travels to Belarus on parliament funds.

Socialist scandals in Sweden 1970s


1. Fall 1972. Croatian terrorists hijacked a plane at Malmö airport, asking for release of Yugoslavian terrorists that had killed an ambassador and occupied a consulate in Sweden and money. Minister of justice Lennart Geijer could not withhold against the terrorists and gave in to the demands.
2. Spring 1973. The labour unions own faltering construction company BPA was saved unconstitutionally by Olof Palme through a foreign aid project for Algeria, a corruption pattern that would unfold later .
3. Summer 1973. Bank robbery in central Stockholm leading to robbers holding hostages for five days. Sympathy arose between robbers and hostages leading to the Stockholm syndrome. Olof Palme emerged as soft on crime, talking to the robbers at their request for 45 minutes that was taped by the police. However 20 minutes remain lost of the conversation. Palme used the tense occasion when tear gas had disarmed the robbers to speak as a politician rather than a statesman and thereby using a crisis before the election.
4. Spring 1975. West German embassy occupied by left wing group Baader Meinhof terrorists which left four people dead and severely injured terrorists. The injured were immediately sent to West Germany in spite of doctors’ recommendations and with no negotiations with German officials. The minister in charge Anna-Greta Leijon was one year later hunted by same terrorists wanting to take revenge by kidnapping her, which did not happen due to clumsy planning by the terrorists. Swedish left wing activist Pia Laskar was sentenced in planning kidnapping the minister but later brought into social democratic and union circles as lecturer on queer and left activism .
5. Oct 1975. A spy working for the social democrat party was revealed at Gothenburg municipal hospital where he surveilled left wing activists. Two leading social democrats, police officer Hans Holmér and journalist Ebbe Carlsson, were involved but not charged. They were however charged later in 1980s for other illegal actions doing police work without legal authority.
6. Oct 1975. Pentti Ketola, Finnish social democrat, was stopped at Stockholm airport with cash coming from Germany to help Finnish unions campaign against communists .
7. Jan 1976. Hans Eriksson, leader of Transport workers’ union, vacationed in fascist Spain paid by employers in spite of the union blockade of Spanish general Franco’s dictatorship. Eriksson would later resign due to mismanagement of union funds.
8. Jan 1976. Ingmar Bergman, world famous film maker, were questioned by taxation authorities in front of actors during a rehearsal at National Theatre Dramaten and left Sweden for five years to Germany.
9. March 1976. Astrid Lindgren, world famous children’s author, had been double taxed with 102 % and wrote a satire in the largest tabloid about the greedy witch Pomperipossa in the land of money.
10. May 1976. Brothels with politicians, royals, judges, military officers and heads of government agencies as customers were linked to the social democratic party. Polish prostitutes associated with the communist country’s Stockholm embassy courted military officers and ministers. Under age girls were involved. Police investigation was hampered by leading socialist leaning police officers. Documents are still partly filed secret.
11. Aug 1976. Female clerk at parliament who took notes for ministers Palme et al. was cohabiting with important drug dealer who was given pardon by minister of justice Geijer. The woman was given new job in the labour movement .
12. Nov 1977. Geijer, by then former social democrat minister of justice, were named among other politicians including Olof Palme in the press for visiting prostitutes. Palme lied about Geijer and the whole affair in parliament and to media.

13. 1973 IB affair. public disclosure of a secret intelligence bureau, IB (Informationsbyrån) that without agreements from parliament and in opposition to routines of secret services, had registered and persecuted left wing activists and others that the ruling socialist party disliked or feared. The bureau did not exist officially in the intelligence services, so there were no laws on military or civil intelligence to follow.

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:


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

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
Foreign policy
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.

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

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.