Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sweden: Bad habits die hard

"We are a people who allow ourselves to be insulted by the government on a daily basis. We are not expected to be capable of thinking for ourselves, of deciding what we will read, or managing our own money. We pay up and smile in deference to the “better schools and healthcare” slogan, only to be met in the autumn of our lives with a shrug of the shoulders and the final humiliation. So we direct our outrage instead towards gender hierarchy and pornography. Swedes are as co-dependent as an alcoholic’s wife. Yet we do not hurry to the ballot box to remove the prevailing systems. Not because we don’t want to but because too many of us have painted ourselves into their corners. Sweden is a beautiful country with a compliant populace and cynical politics, surrounded by sensible neighbours."

Sweden is not a dictatorship in any meaningful sense of the word but articles such as Ekelund’s are necessary to remind us of the dangers of a soft totalitarianism engendered by the electorate’s stubborn insistence on voting the same party into power time and time again. The Social Democrats are past masters at asserting their own moral superiority and deflecting blame, but there eventually comes a time when the wife of an alcoholic detects the patterns of dependency and breaks the cycle of abuse. Anna Ekelund is right to point out that arbitrary battle lines, such as those drawn between the sexes, only serve to divert our attention from the site of real power, which in Sweden is a bloated state constructed by the Social Democrats. It is perhaps time for Swedes to show some tough love and instigate a trial separation.


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