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.

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)

Mitt kall – lärarutbildningen

Jag och några pedagogprofessorer intervjuades i Lärarnas Nyheter i veckan. De var kloka och artiga, jag arg och sur.

Själv fick jag in en drapa med liknande utgångspunkter i Pedagogisk Forskning 2012. Min text bygger huvudsakligen på forskning vid Uppsala universitet och tryck i danska Praktiske Grunde 2009

När jag var rektor var jag ibland förbannad då med, se från min tid i Tensta. Men annars analyserar jag den svenska skolans nutidshistoria och kunskapssyn.

Erik Almqvist och Cecilia Wikström – en jämförelse

Erik Almqvist

Ekon pol talesman för SD, riksdagsman i parti utanför regeringsallians och inte i den organiserade rödgröna oppositionen

Kallade kvinna ”hora” och ”blatte-lover” vid bråk som kvinnan ingrep i

Berusad och trött

Sen natt, tidig morgon för 2 år sedan

McDonalds, Kungsgatan, Stockholm

Smygfilmad. Bevis läckt till Expressen.

Attackerad av redlös man som försökt ta Eriks mobil


Drev med krav på avgång, vilket skedde dagen efter publicering.

Cecilia Wikström

EU parlamentariker, ingår i regeringsalliansen

Kallade politiker från Malta för ”dinosaurie” pga hans värderingar inför hans utfrågning i EU parlamentet. Hans ev utnämning kallas ”stor fet präktig råskandal”

Nykter. Kan tala på inandning

Nov 2012. Kontorstid

TV studio med utfrågare vald av Cecilia W

Cecilia Ws YouTube kanal, visad av SVT.

EU Kommissionen har kallat maltesen Tonio Borg för att ersätta Maltas representant


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Sverigedemokraternas socialkonservatism utesluter den goda mångkulturalismen och missar väljarstöd

Videoklipp från den indiska förskolan Nishkam i norra England

Att kritisera svensk invandringspolitik utifrån SDs principer är att blunda för de fördelar socialkonservativa invandrare från Mellanöstern och Asien men även Sydamerika och Afrika för med sig till Sverige. De kommer hit med familjetraditioner som innebär att yngre hedrar äldre, att man respekterar auktoriteter och ibland i kampen för överlevnad finns viktigare saker utifrån goda grunder att bry sig om än att respektera lag, regler, byråkrati och osunda märkliga svenska vanor. Sin familj, sin heder, sin tro, sina värderingar från hemlandet.

SD inser inte att just de värden som partiet vill bevara i sin kamp mot brottslighet och bidragsfusk, asylbedrägerier och brist på civilkurage, försvaras oftare av sk traditionella invandrargrupper än moderna svenskar. Sverige är ett extremt land i sin övertro på förnuft och planering, individualism och modernitet. Svenskarna är visserligen i majoritet här men de värden landet står för är i stark minoritet i världen. Mitt inlägg 2011 om hur Sverige kan lära av dessa normala invandrarkulturer förklarar min hållning.

Att låta tonåringar ha sex obehindrat är visserligen lagstadgat i Sverige men det betyder inte att det alltid är önskvärt. Svenska familjetraditioner som hellre lämnar unga åt sig själva kan vara nog så känslokalla som de hederkulturer som svensk rättapparat, skola, socialförvaltningar och media ondgör sig över. Att tro att den svenska tillåtande hållningen alltid är bäst leder fel. Familjesammanhållning och tilltro till äldres råd är inte alltid fel, vad än skolsyster, ungdomsmottagning, lärare och kompisars föräldrar säger.

Det finns en god sida av mångkulturalismen som försvinner i allt elände. Den indiska förskolan Nishkam i England visar sig trygg för barnen och fler engelska förskolor och familjer skulle vinna på att ta efter deras metoder och exempel. I videoklippet ovan berättar indiskfödda förskoleforskaren Amita Gupta om varför barn i Asien växer upp i trygga familjemiljöer. Samma goda familjer finns nordvästra Stockholm, Rosengård och runt om i andra sk utanförskapsområden. Att bekräfta deras goda traditioner är en bra sida av mångkulturalismen, som statsvetaren Andreas Johansson Heinö idogt försöker berätta om i sina böcker och på sin blogg.

Sverigedemokraterna har inte kraft nog att reda ut dessa frågor och stå upp för sin socialkonservatism utan spelar ut ett främlingsfientligt kort som stöter bort de utlandsfödda väljare som sympatiserar med traditionella värden. Skulle partiet inse detta och komma bort från att sammankopplas med rasism, vilket media, de 7 övriga riksdagspartierna och offentlig sektor gör oupphörligen, skulle partiet växa snabbt och reducera Kristdemokraterna.

Nuvarande SD inser dock inte sina möjligheter utan faller själva i farstun för de infama islamkritikerna i och runt partiet som bara ser problem med religionen islam och inte de kulturtraditioner som stödjer ett gott familjeliv utan teknisk rationell välfärdsstat och självgod modernitet. Majoriteten av svenska muslimer är moderata och skulle liksom många andra kristna invandrare stödja ett svenskt socialkonservativt/liberalkonservativt parti av amerikanskt republikanskt snitt.

Återkommande åsiktsregistrering i Sverige sedan Krilonböckernas 1940tal

Eyvind Johnsson, författare till Krilontrilogin

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 Johnsson 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 Johnsson.

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 Johnsson.

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

I Eyvind Johnssons 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 Johnssons 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

Richard Rorty on John Dewey´s unwanted metaphysical pragmatism

(paper from New School Univ, NYC 1993)

”For some years, when ever I thought I had found something general and useful to say, it sounded like an echo of something I had once read. When I tried to run it down, I was constantly led back to Dewey.¨
Richard Rorty, 1985

Richard Rorty’s indebtness and fascination of John Dewey are too vivid and complex to summarise in one short paper like this one. Rorty’s commentaries and theoretical expansions range from Dewey’s epistemology to his writings on politics, theology, art and much more. Since I have neither read all the Early, Middle and Later Works of Dewey, nor all the relevant books on the history of pragmatism, but read about all Rorty has written on Dewey, I can only give an overview of what Rorty says in this matter. The accuracy of his Dewey- interpretation is something I must leave for another occasion, although I will state some criticisms of Rorty from other Dewey scholars together with some minor personal remarks.

In the first part I will concentrate on Rorty’s use and critique of Dewey’s efforts to rewrite metaphysics in a new philosophical kind of mixed thought, ’naturalistic metaphysics’. This theme in Rorty’s writings occurs mostly in the 1970s, with the 1977 essay ”Dewey’s metaphysics” in focus. In the second part, I will bring up some of Rorty’s considerations on Dewey’s political, social and ethical writings. These aspects of Dewey corresponds with Rorty’s voluminous writings during the 1980s. Third part deals with the hope for social change that Rorty sees in Dewey.

I. Rorty’s critique of Dewey’s metaphysics

Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Dewey are the three most important philosophers in our century, Rorty claims in Philosophy and the mirror of nature. All three had had an early dogmatic period when they tried to build systems, and a later when they abandoned their attempts and turned to edifying thought (or so Rorty claims). In Dewey’s case, he tried to construct a naturalised version of Hegel’s vision of history, without foundations on the glassy essence of mind or need for certainty.

This occurs most clearly in Dewey’s 1925 lecture series and book Experience and Nature. Dewey had distinguished earlier in the essay ’An empirical survey of empiricism’s’ three conceptions of experience; the classical antique concept empeireia, depreciated by Plato as habit, custom and thoughtless action, 2) Locke’s new empiricist version of experience as fresh, personal, coercive, sensational forms and 3) 19th and 20th century practices of science, experimentative, hypothetical, objective and verificationist. But this third view of experience was still ’more or less inchoate’, as Dewey himself said .

Rorty sees both merits and failures with Dewey’s holistic notions of experience, recollection etc, but in the end views the whole project of a naturalistic metaphysics as barren. He finds good things to say, though, on Dewey’s way to the metaphysics of experience. There are lines that can be developed Rorty maintains, in other directions than Dewey saw. Where Dewey went wrong, Rorty have even construed a successful imaginary Dewey, a ’hypothetical Dewey who was a pragmatist without being a radical empiricist and a naturalist without being a panpsychist’, to show that Dewey was not totally all off the track to a new kind of anti- foundational reconstructive thinking, although the price might have been too high. The question in the following debate seems to be whether Dewey actually reached that goal or not, as new kind a metaphysician or failed as a traditional one with hopeless premises.

Rorty states the main problem with Dewey’s metaphysics as the failure to merge evolutionary biology, Locke and naturalistic empiricism with socio-historical narratives like Hegel’s. Dewey, along with other early 20th century thinkers as Bergson, James, Whitehead etc, had tried to view mind and matter, idealism and materialism, culture and nature, as a matter of degree rather than two distinct areas of terrestrial life. Dewey’s ’holistic naturalism’ stressed the continuity of existence between organic and inorganic ’events’. No ontological breaks are to be seen in nature. The distinctions between the physico- chemical, psycho- physical and mental are rather ’levels of increasing complexity and intimacy of interaction among natural events’.

Rorty views this strategy as problematic. ’The problem with this way of obtaining continuity between us and the brutes is that it seems to shove the philosophically embarrassing discontinuity back down to the gap between, let’s say, viruses and amoebae’. The contrasting effect of ’experience’ with invariant nature is thereby lost. Where should the contrasting line of the experiencer and his/her experience be drawn ?

Dewey could have taken the linguistic turn à la Rorty, contrasting language-users with non-language-users. ’He could then have gone on to note that the development of linguistic behaviour – of social practices which used increasingly flexible vocal cords and thumbs to produce longer and more complex strings of noises and marks – is readily explicable in naturalistic Darwinian terms’. Language is a more suitable notion than experience, Rorty thinks, for pragmatic uses.

The attempt to find a definition of the word ’true’ that seemed to haunt both James and Dewey was better served, Rorty holds, by making truth to be a predicate of sentences, rather than something experienced. This is not because formulating philosophical problems in terms of sentences rather than in terms of psychological processes is clearer. But that the malleability of language is a less paradoxical notion than the malleability of nature or of ’objects’.

R.Westbrook however, finds a lot of linguistic emphasis, elaborated and made essential to man, just in Experience and nature, the very book Rorty thinks hopelessly idealistic and too heavy laden with metaphysical questions and answers. But in this study of experience, language is the ’peculiar form’ for human beings, and stands according to Dewey, as communication, as ’a wonder by the side of which transsubstantiation pales’.

Dewey actually said that communication is ’infinitely more amenable to management, more permanent and more accommodating, than events in their first estate’, thereby granting language more coherence than experience, I believe. The question is whether one should leave all ’events’, and ’the world well lost’, using words and meanings as the only guiding principles in a Davidsonian-Rortyan way. Problems of solipsistic idealism and linguistic relativism arise and Putnam’s realism gets a point, though . . .

In the essay ’Dewey’s metaphysics’ Rorty makes some claims as to why the project failed, and some meta-philosophical claims. ’It is easier to think of the book [Experience and Nature] as an explanation of why no one needs a metaphysics, rather than as itself a metaphysical system’. The kind of philosophy that Rorty praises Dewey for, are books like his Reconstruction of Philosophy and The Quest for Certainty, which were valuable ’historico- sociological studies of the cultural phenomenon called metaphysics’. By taking the best out of previous systems of thought and then after serious detailed intellectual work view their problems as not much of use, Rorty grants Dewey status as a ”first-rate” philosopher. Only similar meta- philosophical parts of Experience and Nature get praise from Rorty. The rest is too bland and idealistic.

Dewey himself agreed to a certain extent with Rorty’s comment that he was at his best bringing up internal problems in philosophy and rereading its best attempts in a new light. ’If there is any worth in Experience and Nature, it is not, I should say, this ”metaphysics” which is that of the common man, but lies in the use of the method to understand a group of special problems which have troubled philosophy’. Rorty brings also up Dewey’s later characterisation from 1948 of Experience and Nature where Dewey wrote that it should be understood and rebaptised as Experience and Culture rather than anything naturalistic in metaphysics. The interpretation of this later passage is not without doubt from other commentators, e.g. Sleeper.

The heavy anthropocentrism in Dewey’s metaphysics that his contemporaries (especially Santanya) saw and criticised does not bother Rorty, rather the opposite. Dewey gives almost too much to naturalism, where he should gone ’Hegelian all the way’ instead. Dewey’s positions towards the tasks of philosophy are important here for Rorty who claims that Dewey oscillated between two views on his profession; a ’therapeutic’, like helping Wittgensteinian flies out of bottles, and a scientific, empirical, important and constructive. Dewey had to be helped from getting too scientific.

In an introduction to a volume of Dewey’s Later Works, Rorty points out the strategy of Dewey the professional philosopher and theoretician of social science, and Dewey the activist and social reformer. The volume consists of Dewey’s popular writings on education, philosophy, and ’inquiry’, where a tension surfaces between ’pragmatism’s conception of inquiry (in any sphere, not just philosophy) as a response to particular historical circumstances, and the traditional conception of inquiry as the discovery of eternal ”objective” truths.’

Dewey himself was happy with both positions, one where he openly stated his preferences, another where he neutrally used ’scientific method’, ’reflective thinking’ or ’psychology’ to promote certain goals in social or cultural thought. Rorty sees the latter scientific strategy as ’an unfortunate aftereffect’, and due to Dewey’s upbringing where certain topics such as ’the nature of judgment’, ’of reasoning’, or ’ of science’ were suitable areas for professional ’philosophical research’.

The problem for Dewey was, according to Rorty, that his recommendations of certain lines of thinking must be wide enough to leave room for free play of the mind but narrow enough to point to certain social and cultural goals. He wanted to praise certain (radical liberal/social- democratic) ways of thought, but feared to fall into an empty formalism and continued therefore to search for a middle ground in between a well- defined procedure, a recipe, and an uninteresting recommendation to be open- minded, critical, experimental. Rorty finds here several incoherencies in these attempts, e.g. Dewey’s almost Feyerabend- inspired passages ’against method’, along with many ’pro- method’ passages . But the optimism in Dewey’s own time and his status as an academic philosopher did not seem to make the different positions he held too far from one another. Like Rorty, Dewey did not want to put one audience before one another, and certainly he did not think of his fellow philosophy professors as his ’real audience’, in contrast with today’s self- marginalization of philosophy by logical empiricists.

Dewey’s mix of experimentation in science and metaphysical thinking leads to banalities Rorty thinks and refers to an old debate between S. Hodgson and Dewey in the 1880’s, on the metaphysics and the psychology of experience. Hodgson thought already then that Dewey’s notion of experience was too blank and transcendental. Rorty joins this critique. Who needs a discipline on ’the basic types of involvement ?’ – he asks. Rorty sees too much idealism, transcendence, and Kantianism in Dewey’s efforts (inspired by T.H. Green) to uphold that intuitions without concepts are blind. Dewey wanted his notion of ’transactions with the environment’ to sound both Darwinian and Kantian (p. 84), Rorty holds in his critique and continues with criticising Dewey’s anti- dualism.

Dewey seems to confuse two ways to revolt against dualism. One way is the Hegelian holistic notion of the Absolute, the other one is to describe phenomena in a non- dualist way of continuous ’raw feels’ as Locke did. This is only possible if Locke and Hegel are kept separate .

To do equal justice to Hegel and naturalism is a contradiction in terms, Rorty (and Santayana) claims. No man can serve both Locke and Hegel and cross the line between physiology and sociology. ’Nothing is to be gained for an understanding of human knowledge by running together the vocabularies in which we describe the causal antecedents of knowledge with those in which we offer justifications of our claims to knowledge’ (p. 78). Rorty refers to Dewey’s thinking of knowing and the known. To constitute the knowable by the cooperation of two unknowable as the events ’ unknown’ and ’unknowable’ is unintelligible Rorty argues.

Summary of Rorty’s critique:

1) The ’empirical method’ Dewey uses is unintelligible. 2) Dewey’s critique of the implicit social bias in other metaphysical systems contradicts his own ’observational’ and proposed neutral method. 3) His own ’naturalistic metaphysics’ is a rival instead of a complement to the sciences. 4) Only way out of problem 3) is to generalise from facts, but this leads to banalization. 5) If naturalistic metaphysics yields important knowledge, other cultural and intellectual areas besides philosophy benefits too.

But Rorty thinks all in all that what Dewey accomplished was not little. He opened up new avenues for cultural developments, by helping us put aside a spirit of seriousness which artists traditionally lack and philosophy are traditionally supposed to maintain. This (almost ironic) theme is echoed in the Jamesean style of Rorty’s later writings. But Dewey, who came down with the disease he was trying to cure by (re)constructing a metaphysics, was a common- sense philosopher after all. The merits of Dewey was not his reconstruction of new systems of thought or methods, but that he had a ’sharp nose for what was going on, and a genius for describing it’ in terms which broke conventional standards, Rorty exclaims with praise.

Now over to some Dewey scholars – Edel, Sleeper and Boisvert – who’ve discussed Rorty’s interpretations of Dewey’s metaphysics.

A. Edel claims that Rorty does not see that Dewey’s ’guiding principles of the conception of intelligence’ were more fully worked out . Edel’s critique relies on the importance of Darwin behind Dewey.

Edel claims that intelligence as shown in modern psychology and biology are active in experience in a way that builds a new kind of epistemology for Dewey, a non- Aristotelian, non- rationalist, non- empiricist, and pragmatic. But pragmatism is not a total overcoming of traditional epistemology or philosophy, Edel says, but overcoming of certain (Cartesian, dualist) problems. Not all conceiving of metaphysics is foundational, Edel argues with Rorty and we should not deny Dewey the right to try. Dewey’s own metaphysics as ’theory of interaction ’ deals ’concretely with how the study of human life should be carried on’. Interaction for Dewey is not mysterious, but based on his work in close cooperation with social and natural scientists. What was lacking for Dewey was a new vocabulary. He worked within sets of beliefs and presuppositions that was not well suited to his purposes .

Edel brings up an interesting discussion of the merits and disadvantages of knowledge v. self- formation/Bildung, where he tries to show that when Dewey always emphasised learning, new knowledge (intelligence in action) he also and foremost put forward habit- formation and growth of knowledge before any self- formative goals.

R. W. Sleeper applies Dewey’s critique of James’ sloppiness also to Rorty. The seriousness and sense for the tragic in human finite life are lacking in Rorty’s writings on Dewey. Dewey was giving up a vocabulary, not what the words of that vocabulary had stood for’ Sleeper argues and finds evidence in the a fore- mentioned later note Dewey wrote 1948. ’And while I think that the words [metaphysics, metaphysical] used were most unfortunate, I still believe that that which there were used to name is genuine and important’.

In interpreting Dewey’s metaphysics as an explanation of why nobody needs metaphysics at all, Rorty himself fails to see that what Dewey is explaining is why nobody needs a metaphysical system of the traditional (foundational) sense. He misses Dewey’s proposal of a new use for the term metaphysics and the anti- foundational meaning in such a innovative use. Dewey’s metaphysics is more a question of perspective (’generic traits’ as a precarious perspective) than a matter of categories or first principles.The logical writings are what could save Rorty for viewing Dewey as a naive optimist and too scientist, Sleeper argues.

R. Boisvert believes that Rorty does not understand Dewey’s thought of the constitution of knowing and the known. He describes Dewey’s attempt to focus on the not yet known in defence. ’The solution is not yet known, but it is certainly knowable’. Dewey can assert with perfect consistency that events or aspects of events are unknown, but that they are knowable, Boisvert argues. Dewey did not try to develop a philosophy that would allow a ’clear-cut manner for justifying knowledge claims’. Like Heidegger, Dewey realised that only by a radical reworking of the tradition could philosophy break away from the now sterile generative ideas of modernity .

Such a radical reworking involves addressing questions about the nature of experience- which has always been the province of metaphysics. And metaphysics is not something we can dismiss, Boisvert says, with Ortega y Gasset and Dewey. ’Dewey realised that some orientation is 1) always present and 2) important for those concerned with living well. Such a [metaphysical] orientation may either go unrecognised and uncritically assumed, or the attempt may be made to formulate it carefully so that it can be evaluated thoroughly. Experience and Nature is an attempt to accomplish the latter’. Rorty, however, does not appreciate the unavoidable presence of metaphysical assumptions, viewing it more as an illusory itch that does not need to be scratched.

If we are to overcome the overcoming of metaphysics, Dewey’s writings are a good place to begin, according to Boisvert. And Dewey himself even claims that the arch- philosopher Plato is a good beginning, not the systematic Plato that Rorty saw as ’the pioneer of a mistaken path’ (a boring ’original university professor’, as Dewey said), but the Socratic Plato, who had a passionate concern for important contemporary issues along with the recognition that this concern is linked inevitably with First Philosophy. Boisvert’s defence of Dewey stresses the importance of these links between the philosophic and the political thinking in Dewey, which I will bring up in the next part.

Now I will here note some remarks by Rorty on Edel’s and Sleeper’s papers. Rorty does not want to preserve any high-brow notion of Dewey, pragmatism, or even philosophy. ’Making use of Dewey as an instrument for our present purposes seems to me hindered rather than helped by preserving Dewey’s idea that there is something called ’philosophy’ which needs to revised and revitalised by new ideas in the rest of the culture’. He does not agree with Dewey and Sleeper that philosophy have a constructive task to fulfil. The Deweyan notion of ’an indeterminate situation’ is nothing stronger or more metaphysical than a situation in which we do not know which words to use, Rorty says, again turning the discussion linguistic.

Rorty defends himself in the pragmatist camp by telling how he tries to adapt pragmatism to a new changed environment, bringing John Dewey into the 21th century. He thinks a poetic intelligent practice, or whatever keeps conversation fertile, instead of a experimental scientific, is more align with our time. I do not think Rorty really cares if one calls this attitude pragmatic, or as coming from pragmatism or even Dewey at all .

II. Rorty’s liberalism and Dewey’s.

Dewey’s did an immense and constructive effort to work through problems in the present. His attack on the mirror- imagery was bound together with a hope for and vivid sense of a new society. The two sides hang together for both Rorty and Dewey; a fierce attack of old dogmas in traditional epistemology together with a plea for edifying thought/metaphysics of experience, and a concern for the contemporary social, political and moral problems. The difference between them is that while Dewey still believed he sometimes had to construct something in theoretical terms more aligned to his mundane efforts, Rorty just wishes that he should have abandoned metaphysical and traditional philosophical language altogether, especially in politics. How Rorty sees Dewey’s use of anti- metaphysics in practical matters as something worthwhile is stated in a (Hegelian) quotation from Dewey’s Reconstruction in Philosophy, in Rorty’s ’post-political manifesto´ Contingency, irony and solidarity:

’When it is acknowledged that under disguise of dealing with ultimate reality, philosophy has been occupied with the precarious values embedded in social traditions, that it has sprung from a clash of social ends and from a conflict of inherited institutions with incompatible contemporary tendencies, it will be seen that the task of future philosophy is to clarify men’s ideas as to the social and moral strifes of their own day’

What Rorty tries to save here is the articulation of Enlightment liberalism (in its better 20th century version in the West ) while dropping the foundations for Enlightment rationalism that have grown stale and ineffective (unless one is fighting German conservatives as Habermas did and still does for which Rorty only has praise). As for Habermas and Bernstein, Rorty thinks that they both refrain from loosening the intellectual and epistemological foundations for democracy, but not Dewey:

’That shift from epistemology to politics, from an explanation of the relation between reason and reality to an explanation of how political freedom has changed our sense of what human inquiry is good for, is a shift which Dewey was willing to make but from which Habermas hangs back. Habermas still wants to insist that ”the transcendent moment of universal validity bursts every provinciality a sounder”’ .

Dewey tried to ’blow up’ (Rorty’s term) the flexibility and optimism of the American life- style to a philosophical system, by replying to critical commentators that ’any philosophical system is going to be an attempt to express the ideals of some community’s way of life. Dewey was quite ready to admit that the virtue of his philosophy was, indeed, nothing more than the virtue of the way of life which it recommended’, Rorty argues.

What other merits does Rorty see in Dewey’s quest for democratic liberalism more specifically ? The practical and humble attitude where Dewey himself stood back from theoretical considerations is foremost. Like ’. . . in the period 1920- 1960 – the period in which American social democrats nodded briefly and respectfully in Dewey’s direction and the got down the details of reform and reeducation’. That Dewey’s politics boils down almost to the later ’end-of-ideology’ – thesis from the 1950’s is a conclusion that Rorty does not hesitated to draw, which led to strong critique from other more radical Dewey scholars like Bernstein.

Bernstein sees this as a ’gross distortion’ of Dewey’s radical democratic liberalism and ideal of political freedom and community . Bernstein echoes actually Adorno’s critique of pragmatism as being too narrow and limited because it hypostasizes situations as eternal, along with similar critiques from the left. Dewey’s politics grew out of a need to reconstruct democratic communal life and was certainly not a ’an aesticized pragmatism’, as the kind Rorty promotes according to Bernstein which is against Dewey’s primary inner social and political concerns.

This ’apologia for status quo’ is a misreading of pragmatism that not only Rorty makes, but it is the everyday notion of ’pragmatic’, and unfortunately also pragmatism. Blended together with liberal democracy, it does not excite anyone as pragmatic liberalism did for Dewey (and his time) and still does for Bernstein, who evokes Dewey’s radicalism. ’If radicalism be defined as perception of the need for radical change, then today any liberalism which is not also radicalism is irrelevant and doomed’, Dewey wrote as quoted by Bernstein.

If we step down from Rorty’s meta-philosophical discourse, there are lots of practical decisions to make but where Rorty’s interpretation leaves us with few clues, except for the values of ’instrumental rationality’, ’accommodation’, ’science when not controversial’, ’common sense’, etc. The different competing conceptions of the self, of society, politics etc., which ones that should become pragmatically relevant are not without importance. If social practices and not theoretical are decisive, which shall we choose or give room to? After one has gone beyond the Either/Or of the Cartesian Anxiety, one still must struggle with questions of policies and problems of men. If appeal is only to the current social norms of the present, pragmatism does not make a tempting alternative

However, in contrast to Bernstein, Kolenda on the other hand sees a conservative and anti-utopian strain as already inherent in Dewey, which Rorty unfortunately takes over. ’In the end justification for Dewey stops at seeing what other do, at appealing to the de-facto norms of the day. To the extent that Rorty is prepared to follow Dewey in this respect, he is unnecessarily accepting serious constraints on the scope of the conversations concerning social and moral matters’. But this interpretation is too general, unsophisticated and would not stand a substantial critique I believe. Dewey himself argued against the status quo thesis, of course. Rorty quotes him affirming art before the present social codes, saying that the inhabitants of a liberal utopia instead would ’agree with Dewey that ”imagination is the chief instrument of the good/ . . . /art is more moral than moralities. For the latter either are, or tend to become, consecrations of the status quo. [and] The moral prophets of humanity have always been poets even though they spoke in free verse or by parable”’.

One other radical Dewey scholar besides Bernstein that most recently criticised Rorty and brings up the social criticism of Dewey is Robert B.Westbrook. The distinction between public practical/non-ideological life and private ironic/theoretical life is one that Westbrook finds at ultimate odds with Dewey’s conception of democracy as a ’way of life’, not merely public life. The communitarian side of Dewey, that Bernstein also emphasised, is lost when experience is not viewed as shared, which is central to the whole theory of experience. ’It is simply dead wrong to read Dewey’s liberalism, as Rorty has done, as celebrating a politics centered on ”our ability to leave people alone”’ , Westbrooks argues forcefully.

III. Rorty’s Deweyan hope

Not the metaphysician, not the liberal but the inspiring and hopeful social reformer John Dewey is what Rorty likes to praise most (along with Cornel West). In a stance between rigid left – and right-wing camps of current American political debates, Rorty views Dewey as someone who both was loyal to and critical of his society. ’What is most admirable in Dewey, what makes him a paradigm to be imitated, is not his criticism of a stitched-together monster called ”liberalism”, but his tone – that extra-ordinary combination of courtesy and passion, decency and romance, loyalty and skepticism’.

Rorty’s reflections of the public figure John Dewey, being ’The Great American Public Intellectual’ tells us something of this power. Dewey had the same position as Russell had in Britain, Sartre in France and, perhaps, Jürgen Habermas has in present Germany, Rorty writes. ’Not since Dewey has a philosophy professor in this country become a moral exemplar, a source of inspiration to generations of idealistic young people.’

The romantic but moral, Jamesean side of Rorty is less emphasised, but very important. He is a moralist like William James. He wants the intellectuals to stop worrying about ’what goodness is’, but start using their energies to fighting the ’thugs’ of former Soviet Russia, Paraguay, and South Africa, or the ’band of hypocrites’ that run American national politics. In this he sounds very much like Dewey, Bernstein writes with sympathy. ’When Rorty writes in this manner, when he calls upon journalists and intellectuals ”to function as citizens, to use the mechanisms of democratic gust, to help prevent the rich from ripping off the poor, the strong from trampling on the weak” and to help keep alive the social hope for reform, he is echoing the radical democratic impulses of Dewey’ .

IV Final remarks.

Richard Rorty does not believe that pragmatism can survive as a philosophical tradition without being transformed. Its visions of a new better society, of an enhancement of common people’s lives, of an experimental attitude in theory etc. may be best served by reconstructing pragmatic figures like Dewey without paying too much attention to preservers of tradition. Maybe that’s a position Dewey himself would have taken was he Richard Rorty trying to breathe life into an olde tyme pragmatist.

Jan Sjunnesson skriver om politik som om det fanns en frihetlig patriotism och om kultur som om det fanns ett liv bortom politiken.

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