A critique of Scandinavian Social Democracy

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Joined: 1-09-14
Sep 2 2014 09:03
A critique of Scandinavian Social Democracy

(Please excuse my English)

I'm looking for a critique of modern Social Democracy, more specifically Scandinavian Social Democracy. I see that there have been some attempts to start a discussion about these specific social forms, so please feel free to delete this post if it doesn’t add anything new.

The development process of the democratic “egalitarian logic” that has eradicated traditional heteronomous authorities (in school, family, church etc.) has in the Scandinavian societies been carried further than elsewhere. That’s why they are so idealised by the rest of the world (and for that reason, as far as I know, there are very few interesting and penetrating critiques of these societies)

But off course, this same process always creates some "double effects", that is to say, non-intentioned consequences that are perhaps more difficult to detect, but which nevertheless occur. Thus, the main Norwegian (the country I'm interested in) youth researchers have recently found “marked changes” in this age group. Among young Norwegians, who were born between the late 80s and early 90s, there exists now a this point no will to subversion whatsoever against the state order or the parental power established in this country. In all previous generations since the 50s, the researchers have detected some willingness to challenge the status quo. These findings are in that regard historical.

I’m particularly interested in this total pacification of the Norwegian youth. It seems to me that this is a unique phenomenon, even among Scandinavian countries. In most “highly advanced” western nations, there will always be a part of society that is radically opposed to the existing order. This opposition is now completely absent in Norway (apart from a very few extreme Islamists). This society now functions so "perfectly" (Norway is the one of the richest, happiest, most peaceful, egalitarian etc. country’s in the world) that the youth can only indulge in the status quo without ever questioning it. Off course, the truth is as already mentioned much more ambivalent than this first idealised image. The same young people who say when asked that they are so "happy", turn out, according to the same survey, to be "unusually depressed". It's just one of many contradictions latent in these findings that hints at a more complex and problematic picture. It is also striking that the country that has come furthest in combating classical visible authority (in the family, schools, etc.) end up with a totally pacified youth (the dream of every authoritarian regime). It seems that this classical authority has been replaced by a new invisible normalizing authority, which paradoxically emits even stricter ideal requirements.

To put it in very general/naïve terms: The problem in Norway is the opposite of a repressive, negative power. On the contrary, the power in this case is positive and well-meaning. I’m interested in a marxist or anarchist critique of this kind of power. When a conservative thinker like Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents argues that civilization is intrinsically inimical to “happiness” (an official goal in todays Norway) he helps me think about this context. When Montesquieu and Tocqueville show the pitfalls of extreme egalitarianism they help me think about some of the paradoxical outcomes of egalitarian policies. The subtlety of La Boéties concept voluntary servitude seems here necessary. When Tiqqun are writing about “a positive paradigm of power” and “a space polarized by norms” they are also helping my understand this particular context. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Joined: 28-07-11
Oct 3 2014 14:27

http://vimeo.com/16418767 This is a Swedish 2003 documentary about the sentences given to rioters arrested during and after the Gothenburg Riots in conjunction with the European Union summit in Gothenburg 2001