Sweden's social democratic mythology

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Spikymike
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Sep 10 2018 17:11
Sweden's social democratic mythology

The latest elections in Sweden have lead to a stalemate between the 'Centre-Left' and 'Centre-Right' coalition political blocks in the face of growing right-wing anti-immigrant populism. The capitalist media proclaim shock and horror at this shift away from the 'most liberal' country in Europe and the decline of Sweden's model social democracy, but in reality Sweden is far removed from it's earlier social democratic model and part of a common growing trend across Europe as this short exposure of the trends in the Swedish economy and it's political management demonstrates:
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/sweden-in-deadlock/
Maybe some of our Swedish comrades could add to this?

Spikymike
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Sep 11 2018 11:35

And a brief comment on the recent elections here as well:
http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2018/09/lessons-of-swedish-election.html

ajjohnstone
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Sep 12 2018 02:15
Quote:
And a brief comment on the recent elections here as well:
http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2018/09/lessons-of-swedish-election.html

Copy and pasted - plagiarised, if you wish - but source links provided ;-p

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Cooked
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Sep 12 2018 14:46

I'll get back later when I've read the texts. Bit busy now but quickly a general comment.

The reputation of sweden has always been greatly exaggerated by left leaning liberals. Over my twelve years in London 2000-2012 I constantly had to argue against utopian myths. During the period I was away from Sweden much of the welfare state was dismantled and sold to private interests. Making things even less utopian.

Despite this however work, housing etc is significantly better than in the uk and many 'quality of life" aspects are better, particularly as a parent. Arguably the stuff related to children has been best retained.

The recent flurry of downfall stories about Swedish decay are generally lies generated by the far right and spread by the usual media logic. As you all know from your own ends the stories about no go zones are hugely exaggerated. The cuts, sell offs, exploitation of sans papier workers, housing shortage etc has however taken a huge toll on areas that were already struggling.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Sep 12 2018 22:49

Good article; thanks for sharing.

I'd love to hear more about busting the utopian myth of Swedish social democracy even in its golden age.

It's so scary the way xenophobia and racism are used to build popular support for dismantling the welfare state. Happens in country after country. sad

Mike Harman
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Sep 13 2018 14:48

Yes I've been wondering if there's a critique out there of the Meidner plan, it's something Jacobin pushes occasionally. Would also be interesting to look at how much was post war consensus and/or petro capitalism.

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 13 2018 16:03

https://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/mar/06/stephenbates

Quote:
Sweden pays for grim past

Up to 63,000 people, mostly women, were sterilised under a racial purity programme approved by the state until 1976. After years of evasion, Stockholm is finally offering the victims compensation

By Stephen Bates

After years of denial, Sweden began moves yesterday to compensate thousands of citizens sterilised in a grim social experiment in eugenics which lasted more than 40 years.

Stockholm's social affairs ministry announced it would pay up to £13,430 to each surviving victim of the 1934-76 programme.

The decision follows the report in January of an official commission set up in the wake of newspaper reports in 1997 that up to 63,000 people - 90 per cent of them women - were sterilised with state approval to improve Swedish "racial purity" as part of a policy of "ethnic hygiene". The commission has received up to 200 calls a month from victims.

Its secretary, Leif Persson, said: "They say they have been haunted by this their whole lives and that it has been a real source of shame for them."
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Teenagers as young as 15 were sterilised, some without their parents' consent, for inadequacies as trivial as shortsightedness or because they allegedly lacked judgment or had "no obvious concept of ethics".

Pressure was put on orphans and children in special schools and reformatories to have the operation as a condition of release.

Pregnant women seeking abortions because their foetus was damaged were told they also had to consent to sterilisation. People could even apply to have problem neighbourhood families sterilised.

Maija Runcis, who studied several thousand sterilisation cases as part of a doctoral thesis, said: "Nowadays people are appalled, but then nobody cared about these people. This was a backyard to the nice little Swedish home. Everyone always talked about the Swedish model, how nice it is here. But no one talked about things like this."

Sweden was not the only country to practise eugenics before the second world war, but it was the first to set up a state institute for racial biology.

The institute was founded in 1921 to identify "sexually precocious or mixed-race types", and legislation was enacted in 1934. Although sterilisation operations waned in the 1960s, the law was not repealed until 1976.

The Nazis are believed to have sterilised 400,000 Germans deemed to have lives not worth living.

Other Scandinavian countries and one Swiss canton had similar policies. Norway is thought to have sterilised 40,000 people and Denmark 6,000.

Canada and 30 American states also practised sterilisation until long after the war: North Carolina alone sterilised 7,700 people in the years until 1973, two-thirds of them black.

Academics say the Swedish programme started as a large-scale experiment in racial biology but after the war aimed to weed out social problems.

As in Britain, where some of eugenics' most enthusiastic supporters were on the political left, liberals and Social Democrats backed the Swedish programme and sustained it for decades.

As recently as two years ago, the Swedish social affairs minister, Margot Wallstrom, refused an application for compensation from one victim on the grounds that the policy had been legal.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Sep 14 2018 22:24

Holy shit that is fucked.

And £13,430 compensation? That's insulting.

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Cooked
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Sep 15 2018 09:13

I lost my proper response to this yesterday. So this is a condensed one.

Taken together the two texts are quite good but I find the deadlock one more useful. As always these short texts leave a lot out, many little strands that contribute to the whole.

I can't of the top of my head link to a critique of the Meidner plan but it's kind of built into all swedish "far left" critique of the "swedish model" (svenska modellen) or just capitalism as it appears here.

The swedish model obviously comes close to corporatism with state, capital and unions in collaboration to prevent strikes and secure the smooth running of capitalism. It has historically provided quite well for workers. With the shift towards neo liberalism sweden is in many ways more vulnerable than say UK o the Netherlands as it's completely lacking infrastructure outside the state to provide any security. Philanthropy, regardless of out views on it, doesn't exist neither does any other means to take up the space left when the state pulls back to levels comparable to other european countries.

In the swedish debate it's common to point to, and adopt, the liberal free market solutions of other countries whilst ignoring all the side mechanisms that make it work thus resulting in even more extreme pro market solutions.

Need to leave again but the way LO a union previously tied to membership in the Social Democratic party is currently trying to kill off independent unions and strikes by collaborating with state and capital in a legal attack on Hamnfyran a small union in the Gothenburg docks is another result of the structure of swedish labour.

With regards to the Swedish Democrats it seems to me that the mechanisms for their popularity are very similar to most other right wing 'populists'. The big difference is the full on nazi roots and branches of the party. I do think fear of falling, straight out racism and anti-establishment feelings are the main ingredients.

I'm noticing this question requires the complete history of Sweden to make any sense sad

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Lucky Black Cat
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Sep 15 2018 23:29

Thanks, Cooked. Even without knowing Swedish history, your post did make sense, and adds to my understanding of the situation.