Sunday, October 30, 2005

Is Sweden Superior?

An American friend of mine once noted that Swedes actually seem to believe their own propaganda about being the world's model nation. She's right. Here are a couple of comments on my blog from a Swedish reader who is puzzled about why I write so many critical posts about the situation in Sweden. His conclusion is that I do this because I suffer from an inferiority complex vis-a-vis Swedes. Notice that there isn't even a hint of irony in this thinking:

Reading your comments on Sweden it's pretty obvious that you have a serious inferiority issue vis-a-vis Sweden. I though most Norwegians had put this behind them. Proof that not only many Norwegians, but also many Danes, seem to have a serious complex of some kind vis-a-vis Sweden. Here in Stockholm no one cares one iota about Norway on Denmark. And if we have something to say about either of them, it's mostly nice neighbourly things.

First of all: I decided from the outset of this blog that Fjordman would be a Scandinavian blog, not a Norwegian one. I did this beacuse Scandinavia encompasses both one of the strongest anti-dhimmi nations in Western Europe, Denmark, and perhaps the most pathetic dhimmi nation of the Western world, Sweden. This makes it more interesting for outsiders to read my blog. Besides, being Norwegian, I can easily read Swedish and Danish newspapers as well as my own. I won't bother my international readers with Scandinavian family fights. They date back centuries, as is usually the case in Europe. I could for instance point out that Norway's national savings now exceed Sweden's national debt. Put in simple terms, Norwegians can buy Sweden, one hundred years after our independence. Not that we would want to, of course. Who wants to buy Malmö, anyway? You guys can keep it. Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian countries, and usually the one that outsiders know best. That is true. Unfortunately, I suspect that the days of Sweden being a model for the rest of the world are long gone. Today, it is more an example of dhimmitude, immigration insanity and politically correct repression of free speech. The "Swedish Model" has become something negative, not something positive. That doesn't prevent leading leftists from clinging on to their now collapsing system:

“Sweden is fantastic!”

“When will Swedish business and the Swedish right feel proud of Sweden?” - Helle Klein, writing on her Aftonbladet-hosted blog under the headline “Sweden is fantastic!” It is, I have always maintained, the Fox News of Swedish print journalism. This is the second time in just over a week that Klein has accused the Swedish right of not possessing sufficient ‘pride.’

Some visitors may still believe the propaganda, too:

Nordic welfare states working just fine

Sweden is home to one of the world's most generous social-welfare states. Here, each parent will get eight months off from work per child, at 80 percent of salary. That's just one of the gold-plated social benefits available to Swedes, who pay some of the world's highest taxes in return. The Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland are thriving, despite having even more generous government benefits and higher taxes than their European peers. This is not to say that the Nordic systems are problem-free. Sweden, for example, is grappling with huge abuse of its generous sick-leave policy. In recent years, it also has admitted large populations of poor, uneducated immigrants, many of whom are failing to assimilate and living on public aid.

But even the official numbers show that the Swedish economic model is in serious trouble:

New Study: 80’s Generation Worse Off

Young adults born in the 1980’s have an appreciably lower standard of living in Sweden than older generations. That’s according to a report published by Statistics Sweden. The report suggests that main reasons behind the gap in living standards are a general demand for higher qualifications, a lack of cheap available housing and mass unemployment during the 90s and early 2000s when the number of available jobs shrunk some 10%. The statistics show that fewer young adults can afford to own a car or take overseas holidays compared to previous generations. More of them are in debt and suffer from symptoms of stress - brought on by low job security.

“Official figures do not tell the whole story”

Sweden had the second highest growth rate in the world from 1890 to 1950, but since the tax rate rose from 20 % in 1950 to 50 % in 1980 we have fallen behind. For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Sweden was the fourth richest country per capita in the world in 1970 whereas now it is down to number 14.

I believe what triggered the tirade about an inferiority complex was my suggestion that Norway should impose stricter control over our shared border with Sweden, to prevent that country's problems from dragging us down, too:

Swedish Welfare State Cracking?

Are we seeing some major cracks in the Swedish welfare state, with its 25% real unemployment rate? If so, what happens when it collapses? Isn't it likely that this will trigger a flood of "welfare tourists" to neighboring countries? Given that Finland is beyond political correctness and hardly accepts any immigration at all, and that Denmark is increasingly fed up, the weakest link among Sweden's neighbors is Norway. We share a very long border with Sweden, which is among the least protected borders in the world. Our significant oil wealth and naive politics make us an attractive destination. How are we going to respond to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people suddenly moving here? This question hasn't even been asked, much less debated, by a single political leader in this country.

This isn't just something I made up. In Denmark, right-wing politicians are already debating the problem of immigrant "welfare tourists" from Sweden. Some even claim that Sweden poses a threat to Denmark as large as that of a possible Turkish EU membership:

DF wants to fence Sweden out

The Danish People's Party (DF) wants to downsize the expansive cooperation between the Nordic countries in order to protect the Danish welfare system, national broadcaster DR reported. DF MP and spokesman on foreign affairs Søren Espersen said Danish emigration to Sweden was pressing the Swedish welfare system, just as many Swedes had moved to Denmark to receive social benefits there. Espersen said DF should work towards having Denmark withdraw from Nordic cooperation, which allows any citizen of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland or Iceland to move to any of the other countries and gain full access of their social security systems. Espersen said he would take the matter up in the Nordic Council, a government-level organ supervising the nations' cooperation. The Liberal Party' representative in the Nordic Council, MP Kristian Pihl Lorentsen, said he agreed with Espersen. 'It's obvious that if Sweden runs a much more lax refugee and foreigner policy than Denmark, we can't live with foreigners moving to Denmark after an obligatory stint in Sweden,' he said.

I hope Swedes enjoy your superiority. Something tells me you are going to need it soon.


At October 30, 2005 5:34 PM, Blogger tefta said...

It's a fact that socialism can't stand on its own, there must perforce be some source of outside income, so don't be surprised if some kind of Scandinavian federation is proposed with Norwegian oil funding it all -- at least until it runs out.

Just neighbors helping neighbors. Doesn't it give you a warm glow

At October 31, 2005 2:41 AM, Blogger Runnymede1215 said...

As a swede I guess I can say that it's true thats swedes generally feel superior to, well.., everybody. Not sure why.

The leftists likes to take credit for the efforts of our comparably large internationally successfull companies, they seem to think it has something to do with them and "folkhemmet". I don't understand the reasoning, but obviously most people believe their claims, that our high taxes have made us rich, hmm..

I guess swedes have a nice tradition of competitiveness and effective cooperation, leading to the formation of big export oriented companies, but I can't see the connection to our holy welfare state.

Sweden as a pathetic dhimmi nation, true. It's strange that the sanity in Denmark doesn't seem to influence the political climate in Sweden at all, I guess we are too obsessed with our superiority to take danes seriously. What happened to our survival instincts?

It's difficult to assess the costs/benefits of immigration, and muslim population growth in Sweden. There are no statistics, and problems are not reported.

The media proudly censor themselves, refusing to write about ethnicity when they decide it's not "relevant" (good for us). They assume that the ignorant public would go nazi if they actually reported anything else than the age of a criminal, if he happens to be of non-european descent.

We read a lot about the terrifying dangers of ""islamphobia" though. Strange, since there is almost no media personality or politician who talks about Islam (that's unthinkable), and no debate about the risks of muslim immigration and demographic growth, except of course at FOMI.

At October 31, 2005 3:39 PM, Blogger oskar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At October 31, 2005 3:41 PM, Blogger oskar said...

As the first quote was from me I though I'd respond.

I don't think Swedes think they're superior. We're far to international a country for this. In fact, today most Swedes have a very relaxed attitude about the country's place in the world. The welfare state proletyzing you're referring might have been true in the 1970's and 80's but hardly today. Nowadays Sweden is very open to ideas from other countries, including its neighbours (epecially Finland and Denmark).

No, I'm not being ironic when I say that I does seem that Fjordman seems to be suffering from some kind of inferiority complex vis-a-vis Sweden. It's strange why, since Norway, with it's oil wealth, and Denmark, are both richer then Sweden these days. But still, it seems, Sweden occupies a big place in these countrie's national psyches.

Talking of family fights. Maybe it's like when the little brother remembers every insult and beating from his childhood while the older brother can't remember a thing and goes on with his life. Norway and Denmark would be like these younger brothers who, although today successful and rich, can't quite get over their old rivalry, while Sweden, the older brother, can't remember a thing and doesn't care.

So, what I'm saying is that Sweden isn't superior and most Swedes don't think they're superior, or care much about Norway or Denmark, while, judging from your tirade above, this doesn't seem to hold true for our neighbours.

At October 31, 2005 11:40 PM, Blogger fabianpal said...

As an American (ie USA) student who's lived (studied) in Norway for over a year and visited Sweden many times (and know many Swedes living in Norway) I agree that many Norwegians seem to have some kind of hang-up regarding Sweden that you don't find amongst Swedes.

When I say I've been to Stockholm or Gothenburg and that I really liked it, it seems to flip some kind of switch among a lot of Norwegians and they can't keep themselves from putting down Sweden or, at least, cracking a few 'Sweden' jokes. It's like they're insecure or something and they hide behind all these jokes, flag waving and talk about all the oil wealth.

On the other hand, when I tell people in Sweden that I'm studying in Norway almost everyone will say something like "how nice", "it's such a pretty place" or something similarly friendly. I've never heard anyone tell a 'Norwegian' joke.

Although I really like Norway, and Oslo in particular, I have to say that Stockholm feels more comsopolitan and Sweden maybe a bit more part of the rest of the world compared to Norway.

My two cents.

At November 01, 2005 12:19 PM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

I stumbled on this blog post by chance and found it interesting.

The thing is, lately I've read several articles on Sweden in British press - they are all quite wistful about our old socialist utopia...

A link if you're interested:,5673,1599939,00.html

It's written by Polly Toynbee, who I normally admire. But here I thought "she actually doesn't know what she's talking about..." Your post helped me with arguments as to WHY Sweden isn't the utopia is made out to be!

I realise that I'm supposed to feel superior, since I'm Swedish, but I really don't and never have.
And I think quite a lot of people in Sweden are like me, really.

If Swedes think that an inferiority complex is the only reason for anybody to criticise our country, well, then I'm not sure if you can have an interesting debate!

Sorry for this long post!

At November 01, 2005 4:21 PM, Blogger oskar said...

I'm not saying that Norwegians or Danes should feel inferior or are inferior to Sweden/Swedes. What I'm saying is that Norwegian and, to a certain extent, Danes, love to talk about and criticize Sweden while the opposite is not true. I though this site was an example of this.

Why is this I ask myself. There are no territorial issues or other serious disputes. Sweden has never invaded either country (for the past 100 years or so), so it can't be that. Swedes don't say nasty things about Norway or Denmark but, to the extent that we talk about them at all, are generally quite positive towards them. So it can't be that.

My conclusion is that it must be some kind of historically rooted inferiority complex. Norwegians were once the junior partners in a union and Denmark lost land back in the 17th century and that this still lingers.

At November 01, 2005 6:05 PM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Don't you think that Oskar has a point? I do.

It's like the old Scotland/England divide, isn't it?

At November 01, 2005 9:26 PM, Blogger fabianpal said...

One very obvious reason is that Norwegians have to drive through Sweden to get to just about anywhere else in Europe (right, they can take the ferry directly to Denmark), while Swedes don't have to go through Norway to get to any place at all. It's a dead end for them. Likewise, I guess Danes have no reason to go to Sweden so all they know about the country is Malmo, which I understand most Swedes aren't very fond of either. It's like judging the US based on New Jersey or, for that matter, Norway based on Drammen.

Once again, my impression is that Swedes are very unnationalistic compared to Norwegians and Danes. From my experience, Norwegians are very fond of waving their flag (almost as much as in the US) and talking about how rich their country is. It's probably Norway's least attractive trait.

I agree with Oskar that this probably comes from being a small country that was once very poor. Maybe it's the same thing with Denmark, I don't know the country well enough to judge.

At November 02, 2005 3:26 AM, Blogger Runnymede1215 said...

Hmm.., sorry Oskar, but you don't seem to be much into irony or subtleties.

I didn't write that "swedes think they are superior", I wrote that they generally feel superior. There's a big difference.

Swedes tend to take their "superiority" so much for granted that they don't think or talk about it. We think those little norweigans and danes are so darned cute and friendly, but we don't take them very seriously.

I don't find it surprising that this well.., patronizing attitude can be regarded as slightly annoying by our "little brothers and sisters", and this alleged "inferiority complex" somehow proving my point.

For example, the discussion about Islam in Denmark is a lot more open, frank and based on reality, compared to the wishful thinking that completely dominates the swedish mindset.

But hey, they don't make any cars or planes over there, so what do we care about their opinions?


At November 02, 2005 9:48 AM, Blogger oskar said...

I've had Norwegian girlfriends and have lived there for shorter periods of time as well. Grown up Norwegians actually like telling 'Swedish' jokes (in Sweden, it's really only children who tell 'Norwegian' or 'Danish' jokes). Norwegians can't stop talking about how they could 'buy' Sweden with their oil wealth, etc. Likewise, Danes love their picture of Swedes as uptight and naive fools and themselves as easygoing realists.

I find these attitudes annoying and, frankly, a reflection of some kind of inferiority issue vis-à-vis Sweden. Otherwise, why would they care?

Swedes don't say they are superior or think that they are superior for that matter (don't bring up the old 1960s and Olof Palme and all that, that is history, I'm talking about today). In fact, we're very fond of our Nordic neighbours. We admire Norways prowess in winter sports and beautiful fjords and we're looking at Denmarks 'flexicurity' and other economic policies in the welfare area (and Finland regarding energy and education policy).

All in all we're very open to ideas from other Nordc countries. And there's definately none of the snide remarks you'll find in Denmark or Norway.

Yet, still Norwegians and Danes have this issue regarding Sweden. I can' explain it other than that it must be an inferiority complex.


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