Concerning Sweden, perhaps you need a reality check?
By Jan Oberg
September 5, 2018
There are general elections in Sweden this coming Sunday, September 9, 2018.
If judged by the opinion polls, Sunday could mark the end of an epoch in Sweden’s contemporary history.
Not that long ago Sweden was talked about around the world for its progressive social policies, the welfare state, gender equality, freedom, justice, openness to refugees and for its neutrality, mediation in international conflicts, for its anti-nuclearism, anti-NATO, anti-war (the US in Vietnam in particular).
It had a disarmament ambassador and it spearheaded visionary policies such as the Palme Commission’s common security and the Inga Thorsson (disarmament minister) Report on how to convert military industries to civilian for the UN.
The Social Democratic party was a real internationalist party with others down through Europe and with a strong emphasis on equidistance to the Soviet Union and the U.S. and it had leaders who were clearly operating within the tradition of human socialism and international solidarity.
Of course, the other side of that shining coin was a strong military defence, a domestic arms production out of proportion to the size of its population, and Sweden was one of the largest arms exporters per capita in the world. Neutrality always, deep down, meant “knowing which side we on if the worst happens.” And it wasn’t the Warsaw Pact. Coastal defence installations were found on the east, not the west, coast of this long country.
The mixed economy – a strong state in close co-operation and mutually beneficial common understanding (“samförstånd”) with the largest Swedish corporations – was a basic characteristic of what carried the innovative and globally admired Sweden in those days.
Those days which ended pretty much with the murder of Olof Palme in February 1986 and the murder of everything he stood for rapidly after.
Neo-liberal ideas crept in, the privatization and everything-is-a-market function idiocy crept in with it. Carl Bildt, conservative prime minister 1991-1994 suggested that everybody should start their own company. Stockholm became the spot in the world with most Porsches per capita and “finance puppies” in their twenties made millions.
Out went every sentiment of solidarity, the global outlook and the Swedish idea about a common Swedish people’s home – “folkhemmet” which was patriotic, not nationalistic and did not prevent global perspectives and caring about the fate of the world.
In 2000 the then social democratic prime minister Göran Persson tells Financial Times – quite to the surprise of his citizens – that neutrality is no longer relevant! The general argument brought forward by NATO advocates is that since the Warsaw Pact was gone, there were no longer two blocs or alliances between which to be neutral.
But that’s one for intellectual dwarfs.
Neutrality is not a matter of only positioning oneself – kind of physically, mechanically – outside a two-party system but an attitude, a policy and even a philosophy on which one operates over a wide spectrum of national and international affairs. Look at Switzerland today and Yugoslavia at the time; you could call it a way of living. It would be fully possible even when the Warsaw Pact had disappeared.
It’s a way, if you please, to think independently, analyse one’s dilemmas and choices thoroughly and not just follow the flock in another group of actors.
And following the flock, having nothing innovative to bring to the global table and getting ever closer to NATO – method: incremental stealth association in all kinds of ways with minimum public debate – is exactly what Sweden is about today. And pathetically marketed as “feminist foreign policy”!
Sweden is no longer a force for innovation, peace and other positive visions. With its decade-long, traditional commitment to nuclear abolition it even cannot today decide to sign the Ban Treaty.
This is not the Sweden I came to live in 1971. No nostalgia in that, things change over time and they should. But does it really have to go that fast in a manifest narrow-minded, follow-the-flock direction?
When somebody changes too rapidly – or loses – a large part of his or her identity, the risk that that person turns against others and see the world around as a nasty challenge increases markedly. That applies, one may assume, to nations too – to the soul of the people.
To quite an extent, the Sweden the world outside thinks it knows has to a large extent lost its identity, its soul and its moral compass too. For instnace it has supported all major US-led wars and, at the moment the US had invaded Iraq, decided to continue military trade with the US.
So, on Sunday a very weak Social Democracy will see itself challenged as the still largest party by the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) – a xenophobic, racist and populist party that’s made it on the ticket of being anti-immigration and nationalistic and insisting that it does not have any relations to neo-Nazism.
Changes in small countries – another sad case being Denmark, my native country – often go unnoticed in the wider world. They shouldn’t.
As a transnational foundation for peace with globalist founders and board members, we at TFF have no obligation whatsoever to operate on uncritical solidarity with or serve as ambassadors of any country in the world.
We believe it’s our task too as independent and free-thinking people to enlighten the world out there about just how fast such ideal or model societies – in the eyes of millions actually – have vanished and why, therefore, it is time to re-set the image. It’s not a model to anyone anymore.
The world is discussing the few big guys far too much – and the many small ones far too little.
And remember some of Francois Mitterand’s last words which have been repeated by President Macron: Le nationalisme, c’est la guerre! Nationalism, that’s war!
So we bring you below a series of TFF analyses – new and old – related to Sweden. How it was and how it changed.
Sunday’s elections in Sweden and the immigration debate
Erni & Ola Friholt
Försvarsministern, ÖB och informationen
Shadows of doom
Om Samförståndavtal med NATO om värdlandsstöd
Political instability in Sweden
What submarine in Sweden?
Nothing ever happens in Sweden
The Nordic countries in a world in crisis
Summary of articles such as these
Experience from inside and outside Sweden over years + fact-based academic analyses + informed criticism of policies + focus on aspects that Swedish mainstream media omit = Brilliant recipe for being ignored by those media and MPs (many of whom received all these analyses).
When it comes to peace and public debate about it, Sweden closed down long ago.
One can only guess who orchestrated that change and why.
And why Olof Palme was killed twice: first physically and then politically. And both murders still unsolved.