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I do hope readers do their best to spread this column. Last week it was published in Swedish. Our politicians should not be allowed to continue to spread the image of Sweden as a well-functioning humanitarian superpower, for the simple reason that it is not true.
As is well known, the Stockholm Syndrome refers to the phenomenon of kidnap victims showing solidarity with their kidnappers, against the police who are trying to free them. The Sweden Syndrome means that a nation’s ruling politicians and opinion leaders, on behalf of the electorate, put the interests of their own country and the security and welfare of their own population second. For them it is more important to take responsibility for ”helping the world”, to shoulder the role as a humanitarian superpower. The Sweden Syndrome also means that responsible politicians in general elections are given continued confidence by voters, who have been misled by the media.
The root of the Sweden Syndrome is the same problem as characterizes the Stockholm Syndrome – both are a form of misplaced solidarity. A concrete example:
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 led to riots in Minnesota. In Sweden, too, young people joined in the thousands and demonstrated in Stockholm and Gothenburg, despite the ban against more than 50 people gathering, due to Covid. One has to realise that Sweden has no racist history of the American kind. There is also no comparable history of conflict between Swedish police and Sweden’s black citizens. If the demonstration had concerned Swedish care for the elderly, where mass deaths happen as the result of government incompetence, then I would have understood why the young people demonstrated. Or consider actual crimes against the elderly, a related issue.
Fraud against the elderly is something of a Roma speciality. When I did research for my book, Romany in Sweden (published in Swedish, 2015), I spoke to the outgoing head of the so-called Circa group in Vårgårda in southwestern Sweden, which specialized in combating crimes against old people. The group then had eleven employees, eight of whom were police officers. The ex-Circa head said that if they had had 50 policemen instead, they would have solved twice as many of these crimes.
The situation has not changed since then, but the crimes against old people continue according to the same pattern. It is not known how many such crimes are committed in Sweden annually. Many elderly people who have been deceived are ashamed and do not report the crimes. But it amounts to several thousand cases every year.
The boss who resigned had never had contact with any of the Swedish politicians who most eagerly advocated for Roma, as an oppressed minority: Maria Leissner, Thomas Hammarberg and Erik Ullenhag. Nor had Niklas Orrenius heard from him: In 2013, he was the journalist who used Sweden’s largest morning newspaper to sound the alarm about a police force registry of Roma, which set off one of the major media hysteria campaigns of recent years. I interpreted it that these politicians and journalists were being careful not to contact the Circa group, as it would threaten their ideologically based perception of reality. For them, the Roma are always victims and they absolutely do not want to hear any other point of view.
Even though it is known in the judiciary that it is mainly the Roma who are responsible for these heinous crimes against the elderly, it is a taboo subject among both politicians and the media. Those Roma from Romania and Bulgaria who still end up in court are often sentenced to deportation after serving their sentences, but since identities are not checked at Sweden’s borders, these EU citizens are free to enter the country again.
Free movement within the EU is so important that the Swedish people also are forced to live in a country flooded with beggars. The person who more than anyone bears the blame for the first wave of invasion by beggars is Sweden’s then EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. I have never seen any heavy criticism directed at her. On the contrary, she was and still is much admired for her political skills and language competence.
The Sweden Syndrome mainly affects Western welfare democracies. One question is: why would this self-destructive policy be named after Sweden in particular? The answer is that Sweden is the country where the national political class’s neglect of the national interest has gone furthest, and that the country should therefore set a warning example for the rest of the world. Look, this is how bad it can get.
From the World Values Survey map often quoted in debates it appears that Sweden is a country with extreme individualism. Since individualism and collectivism are opposing concepts, it should mean that Sweden is a country with a cacophony of voices, a country where it is difficult to distinguish a common pattern in what people think of things, because most people seem to follow their own minds, instead of joining in the Swedish collective. But that is not the case at all. On the contrary, Swedes, especially those who have active in the public arena, are extremely similar to each other in their opinions and actions. Roland Huntford, who was stationed in Stockholm as a correspondent for the venerable Observer newspaper, published in 1971 an overlooked book about Sweden, The New Totalitarians. He writes:
The entire Swedish mafia of mass informers, commentators, mentors and educators acts as a collective unit and follows the trends of the moment. They are conformists to excess and only want to promote the general consensus – a tradition that is reinforced by school education. The party ideologues say that the new school system has conditioned the growing generation to think as the ideologues want them to think. Indoctrination in schools has been steadily advancing since the 1950s, and the system’s products now dominate the media.
And this is how the author Karl-Ove Knausgård, Norwegian but then resident in Sweden, with a Swedish wife, writes in part 2 of his autobiographical My Struggle:
Exactly how conformist the country is cannot be described. Also because the conformity proves to be an absence; in fact, there are no other public opinions than the prevailing ones. It takes time to discover such things.
If the Swedes are so extremely conformist, the question arises what kind of individualism does the World Values Survey really show? The answer is that it is about State Individualism. Swedish Wikipedia gives a really excellent definition, where I have put in bold the main points:
State individualism is an ideology founded on an alliance between the state on the one hand and a free individual on the other. The statist individualist principle grew strong in Sweden during the 1960s and 1970s through reforms such as the introduction of special taxation, the construction of daycare centres and preschools, a general student support system, changed family legislation and a radicalized family policy. The relationship between state and individual in the ideology presupposes and strengthens a strong individualism and a strong state, which leads to the citizens having a stronger relationship with the state for their freedom and their livelihood, healthcare and welfare than they have with their own family circumstances or civil society.
Under the democratic surface, in Sweden it is the state that decides and sets the norms for how citizens should live their lives. This applies to child rearing, compulsory preschool with gender pedagogy, punitive taxes on fuel, cultural heritage, immigration, multiculturalism, costly symbolic policies for the climate, politicized research and the exercise of authority, electricity production without nuclear power, freedom of expression, etc.
The list can be made almost endless. A majority of the political parties in the parliament largely agree that it is the task of politicians to regulate the lives of citizens in detail. As the journalist Marika Formgren, among others, noted, it is about creating a new human being, an updated version and Swedish version of Homo Sovieticus.
Unfaithful professional politicians
The classic form of democracy is direct democracy, where political leadership is a duty of honour and politicians are elected for a limited time, directly by the citizens. This form of democracy is technically difficult to implement at the national level. The alternative solution is representative democracy, where the people choose between different political parties and their representatives. The elected leaders gather in a parliament and the political party that receives the most votes forms the government.
Switzerland is a European exception, with its direct democracy and frequent binding referendums, a policy that is essentially linked to the cantons. That form of democracy is more closely linked to the citizens than representative democracy. Italy and Australia are two other countries that have binding referendums. From 1970 to 1995, Italy had as many as 39 decisive referendums, many at the initiative of its citizens. Denmark, Ireland and France also hold decisive votes on constitutional issues.
Since 1922 and the first referendum, on prohibition of alcohol, Sweden has only had five national referendums. The most recent was on the question of EU membership in 1994. Note that, in Sweden, referendums are not binding, which means that politicians, regardless of the result, can decide how they want to handle the political issue that led to a referendum.
Two of the referendums held in Sweden – the pension vote in 1957 and the nuclear power vote in 1980 – were given three instead of two alternatives, to ensure a desired election outcome. No such thing has happened in any other Western European country during the post-war period. Researchers have been very critical. These manipulations have appeared to be a disrespectful Swedish speciality.
If we look at municipal referendums, it is even worse. In the nineties, such votes were arranged in about forty municipalities, but in none of the cases did the municipal council follow through on the referendum questions that had been passed. More than 150 popular initiatives resulted in 15 referendums between 1994 and 2011. In other cases, the council decided to reject the initiative and not to hold a referendum. Note that binding referendums are the most important corrective against the power of political parties. But, as I said, not in Sweden.
In 1975, the Social Democratic government, through prime minister Olof Palme and minister of immigration Anna-Greta Leijon, put forward a bill to make Sweden a multicultural country. The inspiration came from Canada, which later scrapped its multicultural policy. This bill, which would prove to have far-reaching consequences, was adopted without debate, by a unanimous parliament. A referendum to find out the people’s views on such a big issue was never on the cards.
This ignorance cannot be seen as anything other than grave political incompetence. It would not have been difficult to find out how multiculturalism works in other countries, where it be seen that the ethnic groupings do not mix at all into a harmonious or ”enriching” whole. They usually practice endogamy, live segregated, and are also often in conflict with each other as well as with the majority culture.
Here the Swedish ambition to constitute a humanitarian superpower shows itself. To put it bluntly, Swedish politicians are selling out their own nation, for a role in world politics. We see it in many ways. Despite the appalling consequences of the migration policy that has been pursued since 2015, politicians continue to grant residence permits to immigrants from the world’s most dysfunctional countries. In 2021, a total of about 95,000 residence permits were granted. To this must be added an unknown number of people who are in the country illegally. What this means in the form of wage dumping, crime and the growth of so-called residential areas of exclusion, where society has lost its monopoly on violence, is by now well known.
Refugees from war-torn Ukraine are now also showing how politicians and journalists abuse the concept of refugees. Of the approximately two million who have been granted asylum in Sweden since the turn of the millennium, a majority are young, strong men who have sought a permanent future in the Swedish welfare state. Genuine war refugees, such as those now arriving from Ukraine, consist mainly of women and children, with the ambition of returning to their homeland as soon as possible.
Within the Sweden Syndrome, priority is given to the establishment of axiomatically oppressed minority groups, both ethnic and sexual. However, this does not apply to the ethnic majority population, whose pursuit of community and political power is seen as racist, xenophobic and dangerously nationalist. The politicians of the Sweden Syndrome do not understand the connection between nationalism / patriotism and democracy.
For the politicians of the Sweden Syndrome, equality/gender equality is the most important task of politics. In Sweden, therefore, the government, foreign policy and the trade union movement are defined as feminist and have a single task, to provide rehabilitation for women oppressed by men. The politicians of the Sweden Syndrome also believe that the West must atone for a historical debt, in the form of a colonialism, racism and oppression of ethnic and sexual minorities. In theory, these politicians are obviously supporters of freedom of opinion and the press. In practice, they are politically correct and thus they affirm both censorship and oppression of opinion. They understand the world in moral terms and create a national corridor of opinion where only those who have ”right opinions” are admitted. They themselves are good and therefore do not want to have anything to do with ”the bad guys”, especially not in politics.
The ideological moulding of politicians has taken place during the post-war period, since the formation of international organizations, in particular the UN, followed by the EU. Today, there are also a number of politically powerful actors with global ambitions. These institutions and actors compete with national voters for the allegiance of Sweden’s politicians. The Sweden Syndrome means that national politicians draw their ideals from this global arena instead of putting their own people and their own nation’s interests first.
The parties are more important than the voters
During the 19th century, there were in Sweden no political parties. Members of parliament were elected on the basis of personal merit and their position in society. Eventually, various parliamentary groups emerged that cooperated. Gradually, support organizations appeared in the community, which tried to get voters to vote for the various parliamentary groups.
The Social Democrats were formed outside parliament in 1889, to give political influence to the working class, which lacked political rights. Liberals and conservatives, the forerunners of today’s Moderate Party and Liberal Parties, were, on the other hand, represented in the parliament of that time. A few years into the 20th century, the various parliamentary groups and their support organizations merged into nationwide political parties. Both the Social Democrats and the Centre Party’s predecessors had a strong connection to the popular movements of the time. Today, it is mainly the Sweden Democrats, and to some extent the Green Party, who base their policy on living popular movements.
Ahead of the election campaign in 2002, the journalist Anders Isaksson published a small book, which is still relevant today:The Political Nobility, a term he himself had coined. It referred to the transformation of the dominant Social Democratic Party from a political party, led by a popular movement, into a network of political careerists. On the one hand, leading politicians exchanged important and high-paid assignments in return for party loyalty, and, on the other hand, they were happy to let the job be passed on to the next generation. It was not uncommon for ministers’ children to end up in at the top of politics.
The former conservative Member of Parliament Anne-Marie Pålsson published the book The Button Pushing Company (In Swedish: Knapptryckarkompaniet) a decade ago. There, she accuses primarily her own party of top-down government, but also notes that members of parliament of all parties have been reduced to voting fodder for their respective party leaders. They have become “button pushers”. In other words, it is the party’s leaders, with their confidants, who have the power over members of parliament and thus also over their voters. Swedish politics is extremely top-down. For the party that also holds government power, it is a slam dunk.
Being a professional politician in Sweden means that political competence no longer concerns the interpretation of the will of the people but reflects the ability to conform to the ideology of one’s own party, which in turn draws nourishment from international political currents.
A selection of the consequences of the Sweden Syndrome:
- Mass immigration and extensive social security provision
- The growth and spread of Islam
- A demographic development that is problematic in the long run
- Emotional incontinence
- High taxes, slim welfare
- Segregation and areas of exclusion
- Weak and in some places lost state monopoly on violence
- Ethnic gangs and organized crime
- Minorities’ contempt for, and growing violence against, ethnic Swedes
- Low penalties for crime but still full prisons
- Deteriorated school and education system
- A culture of silence within authorities and organizations
- Pathological anti-racism
- LGBTQ activism
- Gender dysphoria
- The Woke movement at universities and colleges
- Limited public debate
- Censorship of both mainstream and free media
- Library censorship
- Growing dissident movements
Karl-Olov Arnstberg (Ethnologist, Ph.D, former prof., Stockholm University)
Translation to English: PNT
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