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Sweden – A socialist state or not?

Sweden – A socialist state or not?

I often see a bit of confusion regarding the Nordic model and whether Sweden has been a socialist country or not. And I see people who are against socialism actually arguing both. This confusing right wing stance on whether Sweden is socialist or not depends on whether Sweden is regarded as successful or not. Those on the right who regard it as a socialist state, claim it is a failure, which is common among right wing Swedes, and especially so in the far right. Those on the right who instead recognizes it as successful do not however recognize socialism as being the reason, but tend to emphasize the things they see as in opposition to the socialist aspects.

And it is different to what you find in many other countries for sure, not quite the stereotypical idea of socialism, but certainly not a libertarian free market either, especially not if we look at the period that really defined Sweden. It is one modern definition of socialism though, being a variation thereof.

 
It is sometimes argued that a free market made Sweden what it is now, with its social benefits, and it is partially true, but we can’t really ignore that many very vital markets were not free at all, and others have been heavily regulated. And in those free markets, those who “produced” had lived under extremely poor circumstances, for generations, with very few rights, not even being allowed to vote, and sometimes literally robbed of what little they had by businessmen who were free to set up schemes to do so. Until the “socialist” changes, that is.
Some “socialist” policies were implemented out of fear that the Russian revolution would spread to Sweden, given the growing socialist movements of the late 19th cent and early 20th, in turn boosted by extreme exploitation of and starvation among workers, especially in the north of Sweden. Many of these socialist ideas also came from returning emigrants from the US who were shocked to see how backwards Sweden still was, when it came to how workers and women were treated. So claiming that the Swedish success with great social benefits was due to free market success, kind of ignores how badly the majority suffered at the time. It was of course also part of an already progressing change, with ideas spreading through society, and internationally, climaxing already with the French Revolution and the related shaping of the early USA.
 
When Sweden grew strong, it did so with a mix of partially “free” (still regulated) market, but also state owned and with perfect monopoly of, national telecommunications, railway, electricity, liquor stores, pharmacy, and free public education and healthcare, partly financed by natural resources like mining and wood. The state also owned banking, wood, steel, and liquor making & distribution companies, arms, subway, and food companies, and municipalities offered public/social housing with possession of substantial amounts of apartments, and ran municipal housing agencies.
 
Since 1917, we have had Social Democratic governments, often in minority government, working primarily with the communist party, during the years of
 
1920-26
1932-1936
1936-1976
1982-1991
1994-2006
 
And of course in close relation to the labour unions which drove the changes originally, although in the end also becoming bloated.
 
Since then, and especially during particular periods in the 1980s and the -90s, under right wing governements, there has been a hard push towards privatization and deregularizing, but with maintained free public healthcare, education (including university) and a number of social benefits. This gave a temporary financial boost with the profit from the sales of these State owned companies, but that profit was equal to what would have been gained in just five years, i.e. a continued potential for profit that is now lost for good.
 
In some ways it is better, but there are also issues that come with it, and it can be a bit difficult to separate the causes here, like radical technological breakthroughs like IT, but also within healthcare and materials, some of it creating great possibilities and less of having to wait in line for real, but also great issues, not least financially, especially in healthcare.
 
Even today, the absolute majority of the actual rail is owned, overseen and maintained by the state, and a majority of our population reportedly support the state taking over the whole railway again. And of course, even if the state has become less restricted with alcohol policies, there are still severe restrictions, and the state owned liquore stores remain, as do public healthcare, schools & universities and more.
 
Financially, there have been no drastic changes in the financial development, regardless of what block has governed the country, although that may of course have been different with other makeups of government (although I doubt it). Also, some comparisons show that, when compared to some other rich industrial nations, the growth slowed down somewhat, although still continued, in the 50s, although that of course also relate to other things, like priorities regarding social systems, but also the heavy war industry, and the industries involved in restoration, in countries directly affected by the WW2, etc. In the last 35 years we have for a majority of the time had right wing governments, and a majority of our population has identified as right wing, although commonly liberal right.
 
We do have our issues though, with great challenges ahead. I am pretty convinced we are up for them though, being as rich, strong and well-equipped as we are.
Fascist soup

Fascist soup

“The problem with reactionary conservatism and fascism is that it is a bit like a soup made from pickled herring, roquefort cheese, liver paté, banana, spinach, garlic, caviar and marshmallows. Most of the elements are good on their own and can be quite tempting, but when combined it’s pretty bloody awful and tastes like shit when you are forced to eat it.

And here we again have people who love those ingredients, like so many of us actually do, hell bent on trying to make that soup again, not seeing how they do not fit together, not understanding the properties of the ingredients, and not caring about the failures of earlier attempts, thinking if they just tweak the proportions a little bit, it will work this time around.”

On reactionary conservatism

On reactionary conservatism

“It is curious how the reactionary conservatist and fascistoid obsession with tradition and culture never really focuses on the actual, living and near traditions, never on the ambitions and hopes of those living two, three, four generations back, who worked hard at making society better, often living under very harsh and oppressive circumstances, making great sacrifices in the process.
 
Instead the focus is on timewise quite distant cultures and traditions millennias or at least several centuries back, predating the French Revolution and “modern society”, completely rejecting democracy and strive for equal opportunity. In that it literally is against the dreams, traditions and culture of our closer ancestors of the last 150 years or so, and against their hardwon legacy, rejecting them as not part of tradition, while in reality it is very much a consequence of our history, our culture and our traditions, and something which has been constantly debated and fought over for millennias in our societies, not least in the past times these people choose to look to, even in the Talmud, the Bible and the Koran, and certainly in Greek, Roman, medieval and Renaissance philosophy.
 
It is a pure fantasy of a time with no connection to anyone alive, outside of theory and book reading, and often quite ill-informed, built on romanticized stereotypes and cherry-picking of pretty and cool pieces of times which for the majority were very far from what most of us would want or desire. It is more a reflection of a very human and here quite modern desire for an ideal world different from the now, than a true ambition to celebrate and continue our actual tradition and culture. And it is at its core quite false, but still deeply dangerous to society, seeking to tear it apart and rebuild it according to that fantasy. It is ideological extremism, pure and simple, only masquerading as love of culture and tradition, but in reality seeking to break with it. And something which would have been fiercely fought against by our closer ancestors.”
What to fight over and what is at stake

What to fight over and what is at stake

‘Any ideological “war” has to also be fought in the same arenas as the ones chosen by the opponent, using the same tools, tactically and with consideration. Focusing on single issues, like e.g. racism, is doomed to fail simply because it just doesn’t affect the majority or move them deeply enough.
 
This ideological war is not simply on fighting the opponents of the extremes, or about convincing those on our side, but more so about influencing all the ones caught in no man’s land, all the ones not committed or even particularly aware of what or how much is at stake, or how they are being manipulated and deceived by the reactionary. It is primarily over them that this war is fought. And while the minorities will benefit greatly from this, this is really not a war of minorities, but one of the majority, just as it was for our ancestors who sacrificed so much to leave us this great legacy.
 
So, it is necessary to broaden the scope, to show how a move towards reactionary conservatism and fascism fundamentally changes the lives of everyone, deeply, at its core, literally removing democracy, removing the right for everyone to vote and the opportunity to have a little influence on their own lives, and a chance to a dignified life, replacing it with a rule by the very elite, replacing it with a separation of people who already live together and have done so for generations. It would inevitably mean losing many hardearned rights as a citizen, as an employee, as a student, as a parent and as a life partner, and would put society even more in the hands of the elite, in the hands of those who have simply been born into a family with the right connections, and with a chance for higher education, having been streamlined into positions of power and influence over generations, just as has been the case for millennias before, and is blatantly evident even now.
 
And the propaganda machines of the reactionary, the fascistoid, the identitarian and outright nazis have been active for years in reversing the common perception of political beliefs, seeking to associate antiracism with being racist, feminism with being sexist, antifascism with being fascist, politeness and decency with being “politically correct”, associating being a white male with being an oppressed minority, being reactionary with being pro-workers, and being extremist with being moderate or even apolitical, etc, etc. And of course portraying any reaction to any of this as being a snowflake and a “social justice warrior” worthy of nothing more than ridicule and complete disrespect.
It is absolutely vital to reverse this process, showing how in reality, with a rare few exceptions, it is false and nothing but crude propaganda, as is easily proven by both historical record and actual statistics.
 
So, if they speak of tradition, show your love and understanding of our traditions. If they speak of culture, show your love and understanding of our cultures. If they speak of history, show your understanding of real history, with all aspects of it, if they speak of honour, decency and pride, show how you also value these things, and if they speak of nationalism, show what you love about your country and the legacy we have been given by our ancestors and benefit from today, because the majority of us do know and love many of these things and we mustn’t let them be stolen by extremists.
 
Social media is the arena, and information and love are our weapons. And we need to learn to employ our weapons with control and with a tactical mind and long term strategy, not acting rashly, or carelessly, out of emotion or frustration, not just targeting the obvious opponents as that will have little effect outside of possibly changing the common perception of them, although the likelihood of them using any such attack for propaganda, portraying themselves as martyrs and victims is very strong, and a negative blowback quite likely, especially when aimed at already respected opponents with influence. Most importantly, we need to mind how to safeguard those in the middle, with their perception of things constantly in mind, showing how the emperor is indeed naked.’
On hypermasculinity

On hypermasculinity

“It is curious how we have come to a time of idealized hypermasculinity. Now more than ever, media shows us men very muscular, toned and fit, and capable of withstanding and delivering more and more brutal violence than ever before. Looking back to the idealized decades and centuries before, people were in reality, in some ways likely more resistant, while in other ways likely less so, but the concept of manhood was quite different to how it is perceived today, and quite a bit less focused on muscles and raw violence. Just going back to the 60s and 70s shows how even the hero at times is knocked out by a single punch and by comparison is commonly quite skinny or chubby compared to today’s ‘heros’.

And the violence was commonly extremely tame in comparison to the extended scenes of blood and assault of even standard dramas of the current time, now constantly pushing the edges. Of course one aspect of hypermasculinity peaked already in the 90s with the new bodybuilding and martial arts subcultures, but other aspects continue, not least with a hypermasculinity tied to never displaying emotion, and not shying away from the most brutal of violence or even cruelty. We seem to, with a few rare exceptions, be moving away from the clever and witty hero, who acts with compassion and solves issues using his intelligence, as opposed to the simple, brutal and violent nature of the evil and criminal protagonists. It’s a move away from inner greatness, to outer one. From the strength of the righteous, to the righteousness of the strong.

And while it is true that for a large part of our history, a certain readiness for violence has been part of some aspects of idealized manhood, especially in burgher and aristocratic context, it was a tempered and controlled violence, to be governed by noble judgment, and only used with just cause, and not more than required, and in real life hotly debated as this commonly failed. In contrast to that, we have now for decades seen a shift towards an admiration for the capacity of violence and cruelty itself, both in media and in real life, with street gangs seeking to humiliate their victims rather than robbing them, with the cruelty being idolized.

Likewise, the male touch is now mostly restricted to across the genders, and to close family, and while it for a time has been changing and is different with some younger generations, there is also a backlash against it. Going back some 70 years however, men touching male friends in what would now be considered quite intimate ways was a common thing. Today, many generations of men struggle to even touch or comfort a male friend who really needs it. Touching is primarily sexualized. And combined with the much greater awareness of pedophiles, even touching a child in need is something which a man can now hesitate before.
And the same is true for male crying in public. Male crying was for large parts of our history even regarded as a noble and good thing, and admired and celebrated, not seen as something to be ashamed of or to hide, but rather be proud of, and something to display in public, as it showed passion and compassion.

Part of this is of course a counterreaction to the changing views of gender and roles, with a growing need for men to publicly define who and what they are, out of fear of becoming perceived as something they don’t want to be perceived as. It used to be far simpler, with pretty much only one option, while today, things are more complex.
This counterreaction is also part of ideological and political changes, seeking to rewind the tape to ‘simpler times’, removing the cause for this need of definition.

In a way, with the broader acceptance of a wider range of accepted lifestyles for both men and women, we appear to also have lost something vital in the move towards hypermasculinity, i.e. the softer and more humane manhood that we had for centuries, a manhood not revolving around muscles, violence and brutality, but around compassion, bravery, cleverness, knowledge and fortitude. And this loss is a result, not of the change, but from the fear of the change. It is sad and worrying, but also something quite certain to change again, as our perception of what it means to be a good and decent man and woman has always been in constant change.”