Kategoriarkiv: Kultur

Att vilja men inte våga sticka ut hakan

folk

Dramatikerföreningen Nationella Dramaturgiatet lanserade en liten antologi förra veckan på Stockholms Stadsbibliotek. Boken Vågar du sticka ut hakan ? har ett lovvärt syfte, att visa ”texter om strukturellt betingar feghet inom kultur och utbildning”. Jag beundrar folk som verkligen sticker fram sina hakor i offentligheten och riskerar karriärer och försörjning, familj och vänner.

Men skribenterna i denna volym med några undantag visade sig vara vänsterfolk som ogillar marknadsorienteringen av välfärdstjänster som pågått sedan 1980talet med stöd av samtliga partier utom V. Fd kulturminister Bengt
Göransson, professor Sven-Erik Liedman m fl ganska välsedda debattörer som Dror Feiler blandas med yngre kvinnliga förmågor som vill visa sig radikala genom att kämpa för mer politisk teater, dvs. vänsterpolitisk teater. Jag kan hålla med om att det finns en berättigad kritik av ytligt marknadstänkande inom högre utbildning och förvaltning, som skribenterna Shririn Ahlbäck Öberg och Michael Gustafsson vittnar om, liksom den i antologin märkligt nog frånvarande Bo Rothstein. De visar alla hur illa lärdom och forskning kan skötas av de universitetschefer som säger sig värna om dess värde och kall. Kvalitet, oberoende och akademisk särart ska känneteckna högre utbildning och forskning, inte kvantitet och institutionell likriktning.

Men för att skriva i denna antologi krävs inte mycket mod annat än att ställa upp de gängse vänsteranalyserna av kultur och utbildning. De senaste veckorna har jag lyssnat till presentationer av betydligt modigare analyser av kulturliv och svensk akademi, som Fredrik Segerfeldts Befria kulturen och Johan Lundbergs Ljusets fiender. Jämförelsen haltar naturligtvis då dessa böcker är genomarbetade studier av samtidshistoria och kritiskt analyserar de gängse vänsterpositionerna i dessa områden.

Nationella Dramaturgiatets lilla antologi framstår här snarare som diverse nostalgisk tillbakablick av ”rödskägg ”(Gävlesociologen Lasse Ekstrands egen beteckning) och yngre ivriga som gärna vill gå i samma kollektivistiska fotspår för att tjäna folket, eller kanske folken i ett mångkulturellt perspektiv. De äldre och yngre är överens om att Alliansen, New Public Management och det borgerliga (teater)etablissemanget är roten till allt ont. Bara Backa Teater och de fria teatergruppernafrån 70talet kunde regera över landet igen, så ordnar sig revolutionen.

Men i väntan på den förblir statsmonopolets Radioteater det näst bästa alternativet (och tänk så väl att man både kan vara radikal och bli försörjd av skattebetalarna) – som när Dmitri Plax radioteaterpjäs Anne Frank och konduktören tillåts håna en SJ anställd som liknas vid nazist i ursprungshistorien när hon kontrollerade en biljettlös flicka från Afrika i Örebro förra året. Dramatikern Plax gottar sig olustigt i att DNs ledarskribent Erik Helmerson ogillar denna analogi och att licenspengar stödjer det illvilliga tanklösa lilla radiodramat.

Inte så värst farligt att sticka ut haken när man säger vad kulturvänstern alltid sagt och får betalt. De som verkligen sticker ut hakan betalar betydligt högre pris och denna antologi lär inte öka toleransen för Lars Vilks, Ingrid Carlqvist och de svenska dissidenterna. Se den som marknadsföring av unga sk radikala dramatiker/ debattörer för en förlegad vänsternostalgisk analys med några guldkorn, främst fd professorn Michael Gustafssons bidrag om Gävle Högskolas tanklösa ”tänk”, och av författaren Bengt Ohlsson och historieprofessorn Ylva Hasselberg. Våga mer vill jag säga till utgivarna men tror inte de förmår mer. Synd.

bok

Sara Sarasvati: An Indo-Swedish story

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00059]

This political thriller is set in 2020 in Delhi and Stockholm. Sara Sarasvati, a girl of 20 learns that her Swedish father whom she has had little contact with, is assassinated in Sweden. She flies to his funeral there, finds herself in the midst of media attention due to her father’s controversial political views. While in Sweden, she is persuaded to start study mining engineering there.

But her studies are interrupted by her unknown Swedish brother. Suddenly she is involved in international terrorism, ideological struggles and domestic Swedish politics. The new Swedish Prime Minister in year 2020 is a nationalist woman, born in Kurdistan who loves Sweden. A new kind of Swedish crime fiction with an intercultural twist and a racy daring plot. First chapter (scroll down for English).

Here is a review in Swedish at page 3.

This novel is a fictional sequel to the non-fiction The Swedish story/ Sverige 2020.

English edition

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Mina två sannolika berättelser

Min polemiska samtidshistoria Sverige 2020: Från extremt experiment till normal nation som kommer ut i dagarna i svensk översättning har en fortsättning. Titeln 2020 syftar på år 2020 då Sverige kan börja bete sig mer normalt om man så bestämmer, vilket naturligtvis är omöjligt men icke desto mindre önskvärt. Kunde Olof Palme radikalt förändra Sverige under 1969 till 1976, så vore väl den motsatta utvecklingen lika möjlig, eller i vart fall tänkbar.

Men titeln syftar också på det år min politiska thriller Sara Sarasvati utspelar sig. I denna framtidsberättelse om den unga indiskan Sara Sarasvatis liv är Sverige år 2020 lett av folkpartisten Birgitta Ohlsson i en koalitionsregering med S och M för att hålla ett SD på 25 % utanför. Sverigedemokraterna har bytt partiledare 2016 till Lena Barzan, en svenska född i irakiska Kurdistan.

Sara Sarasvatis svenska far mördas på grund av politiska motiv. Under sin tid i Stockholm för att läsa på KTH dras hans indiska dotter in i en våldsam historia med terrorism, spionage och kulturkrockar. Hon försöker leva ett vanligt studentliv men tvingas återvända till New Delhi när hennes svenska halvbror börjar förfölja henne. Boken slutar dock inte där men ni får läsa slutet själva. Boken utkommer på engelska i tryck och som ebok nästa vecka. På svenska senare i höst.

Boken skrevs i februari 2013, några månader innan upploppen i Husby, en plats för unga terrorister enligt berättelsen. Böckerna hänger samman genom att fackboken Sverige 2020 ger en bakgrund till berättelsen Sara Sarasvati. Jag argumenterar i Sverige 2020 för att svenskar har svårt att förstå och ens hjälpa sitt land. I den korta romanen Sara Sarasvati reser en ung begåvad svensk-indiska för att studera till bergsingenjör, något få svenska studenter klarar av. Mer om boken här.

Båda berättelser är möjliga att tänka sig. För mig är de även rimliga och snart när sannolika. Fiktiv realism.

Framförallt frihet. Festskrift till Lars Hedegaard 70 år

20130206_081741

Frem for alt frihed. Festskrift til Lars Hedegaard
Trykkefrihedsselskabets Bibliotek 2012

Den svenska pressens undfallenhet efter mordförsöket 5 feb 2013 på en av denna tidnings redaktörer, Lars Hedegaard, förklaras bäst med dess okunskap om vem de har att göra med. För att råda bot på detta rekommenderas läsning av den festskrift som utkom sommaren 2012 till Hedegaards 70-årsdag. Till de som hyllar Hedegaard finns danska ministrar, partiledare, internationellt kända intellektuella inklusive meningsmotståndare från hela världen och från Hedegards studietid vid Århus universitet på 1960talet.

Fokus i de 21 bidragen ligger vid yttrandefriheten och dess fiender medan ämnena varierar från bibelexeges till frikännandet av Hedegaard av danska Högsta Domstolen i april 2012. Bland bidragen finns många som ser paralleller mellan andra tiders förtryck och dagens politiska korrekthet i västvärlden, särskilt inom EU och i Skandinavien. Några historiska bidrag står ut bland de många samtida betraktelserna över islamisering, yttrandefrihet, intellektuell repression och jubilarens framgångsrika insatser sedan 1960talet med historieforskning, publicistisk och opinionsbildning i Danmark i synnerhet men även utomlands.

Kai Sørlander beskriver motsättningen mellan diktkonst och filosofi i Platons antika Grekland. Temat är välkänt och hans genomgång traditionell, men slutar i att påvisa den protestantiska kristendomens betydelse för att kunna bedriva verklig rationell analys och tillåta fri diskussion, även om sekulära ting. Hotet mot denna rationalitet är den relativism som brett ut sig och låtit samhällsfrågor behandlas som vore de upp till litterära smakomdömen.

Prästerna Søren Krarup och Jesper Langballe går i närkamp med det kristna begreppet om kärleken till sin nästa, respektive skillnaden mellan den statiska guden Allah och den kristna Guden. Bibelns ord om att älska sin Gud och sin nästa som sig själv är en uppmaning menar Krarup. I 1968 års version blev den till en lag, en regel om löneutjämning och solidaritet enligt vänsterns påbud. Att älska ett oändligt antal nya och anonyma invånare till Danmark via skattsedeln är inte meningen. Langballe visar hur Allahs lag alltid ger muslimen rätt, medan Gud tvärtom visar människans otillräcklighet och inbjuder till självkritik. Den kristne är desillusionerad om sin förmåga och behöver syndernas förlåtelse. Muslimen kan tvärtom med Allahs hjälp gå emot alla andra med svärdet i sin hand för jihad.

Katrine Vinkel Holm skriver om 1770 års danska tryckfrihetsman, Johann Friedrich Struensee (som fö skildras i svensken PO Enquists roman Livläkarens besök). Avskaffandet av censur blev kort, 3 år. Sedan fick det danska enväldet nog av de tusentals illa skrivna, uppstudsiga, ofta anonyma skrifter som hade givits ut. Folk med ”de mest ytliga kunskaper gav sig in i allt möjligt”, suckade en historiker några decennier senare. Som om de ville delta i samhällsdebatten, tänka sig.

David Gress skriver om upprinnelsen till det spanska inbördeskriget där den sedvanliga glorifieringen av vänsterns republikaner ifrågasätts. Gress hävdar att denna förenklade marxistiska tes inte räcker till för att förklara vissa historiska händelser som misskrediterar de framryckande kommunistiska och anarkistiska styrkorna. Tyvärr råder sedan 2007 yttrandefrihetsinskränkning i Spanien om inbördeskrigets orsaker, inte olikt det turkiska förbudet om utrotningen av armenier 1917-21.

Jens Gregersen skriver om en annan myt, framgångslandet Sovjetunionen, som lockade och förblindade många europeiska intellektuella under sina första decennier (i Sverige hyllades diktatorn Stalin så sent som 1947 av svenska Författarförbundet under ledning av akademiledamot Artur Lundvist). Danska författaren Karin Michaëlis resa 1934 avrapporterades i den bolsjevikvänliga liberala dagstidningen Politikken, som kunde visa upp mönsterfängelser och glada sovjetmedborgare. I nutida biografier och uppslagsverk om Michaëlis förtigs detta. Även Bent Jensens bidrag behandlar kryperi för Sovjet, t ex vid en konferens 1975 om dissidenten Andrej Sakharov.

Festskriften är obehaglig i ljuset av mordförsöket. 2013 lade danska sk anti-fascister ut Lars Hedegaard adress med en karta där hans hus var uppmärkt. ”Vi måste värna om de orädda, som hotas till livet av rasande islamister” skrev Bent Jensen och Frørup Vestergaard i bokens förord i maj 2012. Nio månader senare besköts Lars Hedegaard med två kulor vid sitt hem. Svenska journalister bör ta chansen att förstå vad som sker genom att läsa denna utmärkta skrift och agera.

Bokens motto, ”Frem for alt frihed”, är taget från britten John Miltons Areopagitica (1644), “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties”, vars ord citerades i domstolen 24 januari 2011 av Lars Hedegaard.

Det mörka nätet- om norsk högerextremism

Det mörka nätet

Det mörka nätet. Om högerextremism, kontrajihadism och terror i Europa
Av Øyvind Strømmen. 200 sidor.
(Molind & Sorgenfrei förlag, 2012)

När den norske anti-rasistiske bloggaren och frilansjournalisten Øyvind Strømmen förberedde sin bok om norsk högerextremism och anti-muslimska nätverk i Europa sommaren 2011 mördade Anders Behring Breivik 77 unga och gamla i och utanför Oslo. Boken blev därför en aktuell kommentar till den ideologiska bakgrunden till det besinningslösa dådet och en journalistisk bragd som premierades med titeln ”Årets Frilansare 2011” i Norge.

Boken är en katalogisering av en mängd extremhögergrupper- och partier i Europa sedan 1900, moderna internetkampanjer mot invandring, kontrajihadistiska nätverk och aktuella idéer som Bat Yeors tes om ett islamiserat Europa, Eurabia. I detta sällskap sägs bl a Lars Hedegaard ingå tillsammans med förespråkare för serbiska nationalister som Milosovic och ungerska pilkorsare under andra världskriget. Dagens English Defence League ges stort utrymme eftersom Breivik själv sade sig ha kontakt med dem, liksom den norske bloggaren Fjordman som refereras noga i förbindelse med Brevik.

Boken driver tesen att förföljelse av judar har numera ersatts för förföljelse av muslimer som metod för de sena högerextrema rörelserna under 1900-talet, även om viss anti-semitism lär finns kvar i vissa högergrupper. Sverigedemokraterna sägs inte vara ett fascistiskt men väl ett högerpopulistiskt missnöjesparti i stil med norska Fremskrittspartiet. Några resonemang varför muslimer blivit måltavla ges inte annat än att rasism och lögnaktig propaganda om hög kriminalitet och sociala problem bidragit till deras utsatthet.

Vad gäller inventering av olika nätverk på internet och i verkligheten är boken självfallet läsvärd, men någon vidare argumentation mot några av de idéer som t ex denna tidning står för, yttrandefrihet och invandringskritik, ges inte något stort utrymme. Att begränsa kritik av yttranden och press i förhållande till islam tas för självklart. Muhammedteckningar är att skapa osämja, rasism och missbruka yttrandefrihet osv. Alla resonemang om att media skulle undanhålla nyheter om invandringsproblem och vara politiskt korrekta är groteska konspirationsteorier som bara finns i vissa högerideologiska hjärnor.

Likaså avfärdas begreppet Taqiyya inom islam som kan betecknas vara en tillåtelse för muslimer att ljuga för icke-muslimer om det är till deras fördel. Norsk undfallenhet inför islamisering reduceras till böneutrop och badhustider medan den i Norge bosatte amerikanen Bruce Bawer visar i Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2010) att problemen är mycket större än så, redan innan Breviks illdåd 2011 lett till än mindre yttrande-och pressfrihet i kritik och behandlingen av islam. Den norska dokumentärfilmen Frihet, likhet og Det muslimske brorskap av norsk-irakiern Walid al-Kubaisi och sänd 2010 i norska TV2 (och på YouTube), ger också en helt annan sida av den norska kritiken av islam än den som Øyvind Strømmen vill visa upp, de ensamma männen vid datorn som indoktrinerar varandra och sjunger nordisk reaktionära sånger innan de går ut och slår ned värnlösa invandrare.

Den svenska utgåvan har ett efterord av tidskriften EXPOs redaktör Anders Dalsbro som gör en än snabbexposé av svensk högerextremism, nationalism och invandringsmotstånd från Per Engdahls Nysvenska Rörelsen och rasistiska organisationer över till Vitt Ariskt Motstånd och Ultima Thule m fl under 1990talet.

Det mörka nätet är en början till en sansad diskussion om invandring, ideologi och politik som bör få ett svar från de som inte godtar bokens tolkningar av deras åsikter och engagemang.

Islam, väst och liberalismen

Omslag-Islam-och-liberalismenEn kort recension av en kort skrift som presenterades på Timbro i veckan

Islam och liberalismen av Carl Rudbeck
(Timbro. Stockholm 2013)

Den liberala tankesmedjan Timbro har givit den liberale kulturskribenten Carl Rudbeck i uppdrag att kort beskriva islams relation till liberalism och demokrati i västvärlden. Rudbeck är särskilt lämpad som kunnig i arabiska och med en vass penna, bl. a som redaktör för den nu nedlagda kultursajten Smedjan.com.

Den tunna 70 sidiga skriftens mål är att introducera svenska läsare i en internationell debatt som förts sedan invandringen av muslimer till väst skett i stor skala sedan 1945. Rubrikerna Reformeringen av islam, Globaliserad islam, Lögner och fiktioner om islam, Verkliga problem, Fundamentalism och Tama imamer (utbildade av svenska staten) är några av de teman som snabbt skissas, lärt och översiktligt.

I den debatt om reformeringen av islam och huruvida den ens är möjlig verkar Rudbeck ställa sig mellan vad han uppfattar som två ytterligheter. Dels de imamer och islamologer i väst som inte ser några större problem, dels de kritiker som ser islam som själva grundproblemet. Tariq Ramadan hör till den första skaran medan Robert Spencer den andra. Rudbeck nämner dock bara Ramadan, vilket är en stor brist eftersom Spencers islamkritik är betydande. Ramadans tvekan att fördöma Koranens stening liksom hans godkännande av våld mot civila israeler noteras men inte tillräckligt.

Att Rudbeck inte starkare tar ställning för yttrandefrihet och demokrati vad gäller islams ställning i västvärlden är huvudintrycket av skriften som försöker balansera mellan de två lägren, men han smyger in stark och klar kritik i alla faktauppgifter om vad hårdföra islamtolkningar ställt till med i form av självförvållad segregation, våld, offerstatus, sharia rättskipning, problem i skolor och samhällsservice osv.

Det finns två sätt att läsa denna korta skrift; en ytlig som uppfattar Rudbeck som en försiktig och balanserad tolkare av dagens heta debatt om islam och demokratiska värden, en djupare som ser att alla fakta han drar fram tyder på att reformationen av islam är en betydligt svårare fråga än att försöka finna en medelväg mellan islamvänner och islamkritiker. I detta påminner Rudbeck tyvärr om de svenska s.k. ”tredje ståndpunktare” som under kalla kriget vägrade ta avstånd från Sovjets våldregim med hänvisning till USA:s övermakt. Dessa supermakter var lika goda kålsupare ansåg det svenska etablissemanget
Rudbeck skriver att ”Det finns också stora och goda möjligheter att muslimen inte längre är ’den andre’ utan vem som helst, du och jag. För det krävs att man skiljer mellan islam och muslimer, bara för att en handling begås av en muslim så behöver det inte bero på hans muslimska tro”.

I kontrast till detta överslätande läste den muslimske terroristen Taimour Abdulawahab upp sin motivering som han sände till Säpo innan han sprängde sig själv i sitt misslyckade terrorattentat 11 dec 2010:
”Tack vare Lars Vilks och hans målningar av profeten Muhammed, fred vare över honom, och era soldater i Afghanistan och er tystnad på allt detta så ska era barn, döttrar, bröder och systrar dö lika som våra bröder och systrar och barn dö. Nu har islamiska staten uppfyllt vad de har lovat er. Vi finns nu här i Europa och i Sverige, vi är en verklighet”.

Men Rudbeck skriver strax därefter. ”Att integrationen av en så stor grupp med en ny religion, som ju länge sågs som kristendomens fiende /…/ skulle gå helt utan problem är en tanke så naiv och befängd att det är märkligt att den alls har kunnat uppstå”.

Skriften är en bra introduktion som bör läsas av alla samhällsintresserade men den bör kompletteras med svenska utgåvor av Bruce Bawer, Robert Spencer och Geert Wilders böcker för att fördjupa diskussionen och tydliggöra alternativen. Rudbeck hyser förhoppningar om dialog dock med viss reservation. ”Muslimerna måste argumentera för sin sak – helgdagar, matvanor, umgängesvanor – och de måste finna sig i att andra argumenterar emot. Ansvaret vilar också på dem. Framtiden är inte skriver utan vi får skriva den själva och då helst tillsammans”.

Vid skriftens presentation på Timbro var Pernilla Ouis, docent vid Malmö högskola och fd muslim, den enda som verkade kunna debattera islam och väst med klarsyn (lyssna själv här). Läs Rudbecks skrift själv, en bra början som måste fortsätta.

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

Preface
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
References

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.

THE CAPITALIST WELFARE STATE OR THE SWEDISH MODEL
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 WELFARE SECTOR
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 :

THE PRIVATE SECTOR
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
salaries
$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.

EXTREME VALUES, LEFT POLITICS AND STATE INDIVIDUALISM
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.

WVS

©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:

LEFT CENTER RIGHT
“BBC/IHT”
SOCD CEN MOD
LAB TORY
DEM REP

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.

A STORY FROM WELFARE LAND
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.