Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Is it not strange that the world's top prizes for all the things that are really civilised are given in the name of an arms manufacturer who invented dynamite? So maybe the Nobel Peace Prize should be given to ISL in recognition of their use of dynamite when blowing up the ancient ruins of Palmyra

At last, at last, and it has taken fully two hundred and forty-four country-pages to get there – a land that I can write about, without resort to bile or irony, spleen or satire (not that this will stop me!).

Described on practically any website you might choose as “one of the world’s most highly developed post-industrial societies”, it has extremely low unemployment within a strong economy, has developed public-private partnership as its way of doing Capitalism (anathema in the United States of course), and the seventy-year long reign of its Social Democratic government has espoused all the great freedoms and all the great rights, while also believing in all the great responsibilities as well. Taxation ensures that the welfare state (socialised medicine, socialised care for the elderly, but also socialised schools, police, courts, roads, military, just as in America which tends to forget that it also has these latter because they are inconvenient to the argument) is available, and effective, for everybody, and I really do mean everybody.

Sweden has done all this, and maintained the highest median standard of living and life expectancy of any country in the world, while keeping its doors open to refugees and asylum seekers – 10% of its population today. Is this model of human civilisation a fantasy, or simply my mis-reading of the web-information? Have I got my facts from Wikipedia, and they are therefore, as so often in that well-intentioned but incompetently edited resource, wrong? To answer this, I went once again to the CIA World FactBook, the ultimate source of unchallengeable knowledge in the world:

“Sweden's long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system intermixed with substantial welfare elements was challenged in the 1990s by high unemployment and in 2000-02 and 2009 by the global economic downturns, but fiscal discipline over the past several years has allowed the country to weather economic vagaries.”

Neutralish, though it feels as if it hurt to write it, as if it wanted to say something negative after “challenged”, but was prevented by reality from doing so. America cannot like Sweden, in principle, because Sweden challenges all the rhetoric and all the delusion of the American right, and advocates a position well left of the Democratic Party. It demonstrates that public-private works far more effectively than the baronial two-class system of corporation versus employee; it demonstrates that “socialised” is not an evil, unless you have decreed altruism to be an evil, and society to be non-existent, as the American right since Ayn Rand has done (Reagan, both Bushes, Rand Paul).

There are negatives of course, if one wishes to look for them. It is cold and dark in Sweden for much of the year, there is little to eat but herring, and they play Abba constantly on the radio, but compared, say, to Equatorial Guinea, or Swaziland…and don't forget that Sweden gave the world Alfred Nobel and Greta Garbo, August Strindberg and Raoul Wallenberg, Ingmar and Ingrid Bergmann, and very nearly Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 - his mother was a Swedish immigrant to the USA.

Marks for: 70

Marks against: 4 (one each for Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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