Friday 2 January 2015

Sweden: A Home For All Peoples - Or The People's Home?

Premature Celebrations: Swedish Democrats Party members cheer the news that its anti-immigration policies have elevated it to third-largest-party status. Three months after the SDPs election success, however, the centre-left and centre-right parties have come together in defence of Sweden's multicultural dream - thereby excluding the SDP from the mainstream of Swedish political life.

MOST NEW ZEALANDERS are immensely proud of their country’s anti-nuclear policy. So many, in fact, that the National Party, which originally opposed the policy, was eventually required to say “me too”. Indeed, since the late-1980s, such a strong bi-partisan consensus has grown up around New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy that, today, no sensible politician would seriously contemplate knocking it down.
Viewed in this light, the ban on both nuclear-powered and armed warships and on nuclear power generation stands as one of the signal achievements of “progressive” New Zealand. Along with votes for women, industrial arbitration and the welfare state, this country’s anti-nuclear stance is held up as proof of New Zealanders’ political enlightenment. It represents the last unequivocal contribution to our reputation as the “social laboratory of the world”.
What the anti-nuclear policy is to progressive New Zealanders, Sweden’s incredibly generous immigration laws are to progressive Swedes. Conceived and born in the late-1960s, the hey-day of Swedish social-democracy, Sweden’s commitment to the world’s refugees re-iterated the (long since discarded) promise carved into the base of America’s Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
As with our own anti-nuclear policy, there was an “anti-imperialist” (i.e. anti-American) element to Sweden’s immigration policy. While the rest of the West were creating refugees, Sweden, that beacon of freedom, equality and solidarity in a darkening world, was lifting her lamp “above the golden door”.
Sweden’s welcome to “the wretched refuse” of the world’s conflict zones was a source of pride to her progressive citizens. It reinforced everything they believed was special about their country and its internationally acclaimed progressive movement, led by the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SSDP) which had been in office for the best part of forty years.
Not surprisingly, the demands of effective political competition led the SSDP’s centre-right rivals to embrace its commitment to the world’s refugees. Like New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy, Sweden’s bi-partisan commitment to progressive immigration and refugee resettlement programmes became politically unassailable.
Until recently.
As anyone reading Henning Mankell’s Inspector Wallander novels soon discovers, the SSDP’s progressive ideals have never been universally accepted by Swedes. Prior to World War II the country boasted a vigorous and vociferous national-socialist movement, and even the SSDP, in the 1930s and 40s, pursued eugenic policies barely distinguishable from those of Hitler’s Nazis’.
Indeed, some have argued that the SSDP’s extraordinary electoral success was based not upon socialist internationalism but upon the party’s key concept of the Folkhem (literally, “People’s Home”). Swedish generosity was for the Swedes and only the Swedes. Socialist “charity” began, and ended, where it belonged – at home.
Thus it was that as progressive Sweden opened its golden door to the homeless and the tempest-tossed, that other Sweden, the one that saw itself as a single, albeit vast, extended family, recoiled in dismay, and then in anger, at the sudden (and in many locations overwhelming) influx of foreigners.
Far from the metropolitan haunts of progressive Sweden, sprawling, prefabricated refugee camps proliferated. Once naturalised, the inhabitants of these camps moved into the packed social-housing estates of Sweden’s provincial cities. So ethnically and religiously undifferentiated were these immigrant communities that they became effectively self-governing. There are places in Swedish cities where the Police and other emergency services hesitate to intervene. Very unofficially, the Swedes call them “No-Go Zones”.
The inevitable electoral response came in the form of the Swedish Democrat Party (SDP). In the recent Swedish General Elections it captured 13 percent of the vote – and the balance of power.
The SDP promised to co-operate with the minority SSDP-Green government – but only on condition that Sweden’s immigration and refugee resettlement regime be radically overhauled. The SSDP and their Green allies refused, prompting the SDP to, as promised, reject the new government’s budget. Swedes were poised for their first snap-election since 1958 when the centre-right opposition Alliance Party closed ranks with the centre-left parties to freeze out the anti-immigration movement until at least 2022.
This is a dangerous experiment, undertaken by the Swedish political class in defence of the increasingly contested humanitarian ideals of the 1960s. The SDP, now casting itself as the last, defiant, defender of the Folkhem, are rubbing their hands in glee.
Political nostalgia cuts both ways.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 2 January 2015.


Jamie said...

Not just Sweden

"I turned a corner and these three Asian guys were standing just outside their car smoking. They came at me with metal poles and shouted, 'See you, you wee p***k! You're going to be the next Kriss Donald! We're going to murder you!"

Please note the reference to Asian refers to Pakistani

Anyone else got a better plan for victory which doesn't end in mass slaughter I would like to hear it

It's a bit rough and ready and needs a little polish - just like me
Waiting and not holding my breath

alwyn said...

You started this article, in the caption for the photograph, as "however, the centre-left and centre-right parties have come together in defence of Sweden's multicultural dream - thereby excluding the SDP from the mainstream of Swedish political life."
Later on, near the end, you reduced it to "when the centre-right opposition Alliance Party closed ranks with the centre-left parties to freeze out the anti-immigration movement until at least 2022".
Aren't these both a little over the top?
The first would be rather like saying that, with the combination of the National and Labour parties after the last election the Green Party are squeezed out of any place in New Zealand's mainstream politics.
The second is, given that Sweden has general elections every four years compared to our three, a bit like saying that the result of the last election here means that Labour cannot be in a New Zealand Government until at least 2020.
Are you really so sure of your conclusions or are they just a little bit exaggerated?

Barry said...

I think the SDP is the party which makes sense about immigration.

Brendan McNeill said...


Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe, and some basic research will reveal that it is not the indigenous Swedes who are primarily responsible for this awful abuse of women and girls.

Perhaps the Swedes could have done a better job of integrating their immigrant communities, but the numbers are significant and frankly some cultures are not interested in integrating with their godless secular host communities.

Europe including the UK has run pretty much an open door immigration policy now for decades. Indigenous culture has been swamped, crime has risen and people no longer feel at home in their own country. It's not surprising that we are starting to see a growing push back.

Being the cheerful optimist I am, I cannot see this ending well.

jh said...

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me …

Thats o.k for highly paid liberals to say but the reality is that [see Reddell] developed countries take on more labour at a cost to Per Capita GDP and the reality in NZ is th
at in NZ we import people to outbid us for housing on infrastructure and about half of the drivers of tourist buses are from China.

jh said...

The anti immigration parties will only get better because in many ways the progressives are on the ropes:

"He [Spoonley]said he was "deeply disturbed" some saw problems with immigration instead of opportunity."
EG: The Savings Working Group, Australian Productivity Commission, Treasury paper 14-10, Michael Reddell, Greg Clydesdale, Paul Krug man.
AND The gumballs and immigration video, The late AL Bartlett arithmetic and exponential growth, evolutionary psychology and a heap of arguments against multiculturalism.

jh said...

Who are the extremists here?
"The Sweden Democrats Party was founded in the mid-1980s by a mix of neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, racist and ultra nationalistic groups." [AL Jazeera]

I think those who think the Western countries are great absorbent sponge cloths are the extremists.

Anonymous said...

While I generally consider myself progressive I am reasonably conservative on immigration. I think it's better to avoid making rapid changes to the composition of the population.

Our humanitarian efforts, which really ought to be significantly expanded, are best channeled into foreign aid.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Mugger the composition of the population. We should not be filling the country up. Otherwise we become the opposite of what people leave Europe to see. Already the quarter acre Pavlova paradise has disappeared. Try to get a quarter acre section anywhere in the main centres these days...........
I think what annoys me is that it's always been taken for granted – immigration it's a good thing. There are some advantages, but we're definitely importing National voters :-).
Nobody asked me. Ever. It's a legitimate subject for investigation. What we need is a proper debate, and what we need is political parties taking notice of what the people themselves think. Fat chance of that. Except for the populists like Winston :-).

Jamie said...

Forget your foreign aid anon

The UN is corrupt as hell and infiltrated to sh*t!!!

Go read my warning order

I dare somebody to come up with something better

The clock is ticking by the way so no pressure

Victor said...


I don't think anyone thinks of immigration per se as a humanitarian undertaking.

There are rational arguments that can be made both for and against our current immigration levels but these revolve around economics, social cohesion and our long-term population needs.

Refugee resettlement is another matter. We take in around 750 refugees per year plus approximately 100 asylum seekers.

The latter have to apply and most applications are rejected. So we're hardly brimming to the gunnels with refugees and certainly not as a result of misguided benevolence.

Sweden is a different kettle of fish. It's a country of which I'm fond. But it's currently suffering from an over-supply of intolerant (and often violent and racist) immigrants, as well as from a host population that's increasingly listening to the (similalrly violent and racist) siren song of a crypto-Nazi, hard right.

To that toxic mix, we can add a governing caste that's been too petrified about appearing to be "politically incorrect" to govern effectively or to set an appropriate moral lead (e.g. over the unacceptability of attacks on Sweden's long-established Jewish population by some members of the Islamic community).

I think we need to be wary of concluding that a similar situation is likely to arise in New Zealand. Yes, there are some obvious similarities. But there are also profound differences.

For example, we don't have a strong and well-organised, race-based hard right. Nor (unlike Sweden)do we have much of a tradition thereof.

Conversely, you'd find it hard to locate many immigrants here who see themselves as engaged in a cultural/religious war against prevailing values. Nor are they violently picking on other longer-settled minorities, as unfortunately happens in Sweden.

Jigsaw said...

In New Zealand we have really avoided the debate on immigration that we should have had a long time ago. Problem seems to be that every election Winston drags out his policy and dusts it off and the other parties then just try to avoid debating it. All countries have some limit to the numbers of immigrants-especially those who can't speak the language or whose livestyle etc are so radically different- that it can absorb and yet we really have little idea of what that limit actually is. Britain is now so different in places that people feel like aliens in their own country. Limiting immigration is not racist it just makes common sense. When you see what so called aid has done to increase dramatically the population of some poor countries its difficult to see anything but disaster in the future. They couldn't feed themselves before the aid and now with populations more than doubled they certainly can't now. Where will it end?

pat said...

Forget the argument about immigration of any type , be it from asia, the sub continent or the "old country". The main reason NZ has avoided most of the social and environmental problems that afflict the rest of the world can be explained in large part by our low population density....we are putting at risk far more than just racial/theological disharmony with the current singular growth strategy of importing increased demand.

jh said...

One of the issues of multiculturalism is that culture doesn't have a geography and it just happens to be the wealthy(er) Western countries where it is being practiced. It isn't happening in so called "source countries".
In China (for instance) As a large united multi-national state, China is composed of 56 ethnic groups. Among them Han Chinese account for 91.59% of the overall Chinese population and the other 55 make up the remaining 8.41% according to the Fifth National Population Census of 2000. As the combined population of these other minorities is far fewer than that of the Han, they form the 55 minorities of China.
Recently I read this Eastern view of diversity

These cases bring to mind the argument in favour of a diversity of minorities, which are considered the foundation of a pluralistic society. Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation in his Democracy in America.
But this view has increasingly been eclipsed by developments in the West, where minorities have gained political power at the expense of majorities.
Democracy is intended to be all-inclusive, but it is increasingly being hijacked by minorities – robber barons, conservationists, cyclists, unionists, environmentalists, chicken farmers and what not. This is not healthy for an inclusive system.

Richard Wong Yue-chim is Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy at the University of Hong Kong

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"those who can't speak the language or whose livestyle etc are so radically different"

Like Kim Dotcom?? He has a really bad German accent, and his lifestyle is so different to mine it's not funny. Not to mention the AC/DC bloke who gets left by jumping on one of his bodyguards backs :-). Couldn't agree more.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Train the NZ Army{Note the NZ Army is currently run by gutless tin generals} to build roads, housing, infrastructure, grow food crops"

You're not wrong Jamie – just like they did in China after 1949 :-).

jh said...

Chris Trotter, don't you think it strange that a leader dies in a car crash ("brake failure)?
That only happens in novels?

Unknown said...

National Labour and the Greens have combined against NZ First (as seen by WO and DPF's obsessions with WP and the Greens "Our policies the opposite of WP" - Keith Locke.
That is why our productivity Commission was nobbled:b agree that Commission’s second tranche of inquiries be selected on the degree that
• are relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission
(leave certain stones unturned).
Recently Kim Hill chaired a debate on the regions. It finished with "Ecuub says if we stop people going to Auckland those people will just go somewhere else?" "Yes Auckland is a magnet!?.. "and we'll loose the jobs...!" So no doubt people going to Auckland was a good thing.
The Ministry of Business and Innovation gives 5.5 million for a study of "super diversity to Massey and Waikato but nobody knows what "super diversity actulally means

It appears to be a device to deflect the dialogue from "multiculturalism" (post backlash) and deflect attention from the effect within a country; in other words a piece of sophistry by elites determined to move the world towards open borders.
They wouldn't get away with it if the people servicing sector in government weren't behind them.
Massey and Waikato's Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi (NTOM) is a research project led by teams from Massey University and the University of Waikato and is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
In the battle for the public mind it is gold to get the "leading economist" or "professor" on television giving a point of view in favour of your position.
The Savings Working Group, Treasury Working Paper 14-10, Gareth Morgan and ? say it is clear that house prices are affected by immigration - that horse doesn't cross the line but the horse jointly owned by big money/ open borders does:
NTOM team member, Professor Jacques Poot, was interviewed by TV3 about the relationship between migration and housing prices.
Follow the link to view the interview:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus Jamie you're paranoid. I would hate to live in your world – you're scared of everything. People die in car crashes all the time. 17 of them died over Christmas. Michael King died in a car crash – coincidences do happen - all the time. Are you implying that he was somehow assassinated? By whom? For what reason? I think you should perhaps look at employing Occam's razor here :-).

Charles E said...

Most people are very attached to their own culture and so want to retain it and pass it on to their children. The irony is that often it's their culture that is the reason they emigrate, i.e. it's a significantly oppressive culture they are leaving. So why perpetuate it?
So an immigrant should have a duty to give way to their new country's culture where it clashes or where barriers to integration arise. They cannot be expected to entirely reject their birth culture but they should encourage their children to substantially adopt the culture they grow up in. In NZ, most do that. But in Europe .....
Otherwise they should return to where they came from and help the culture they cannot give up do better in this world.
The tragedy is that with many countries that have major problems, much of their talented and educated people leave for the West. That only makes the place they leave even poorer, and more locked into their problems. And if they then set up their 'failed' culture in the liberal and generous West, that is just asking for trouble, as well as being downright rude.

Victor said...


I think we should distinguish between the justifiable demand of host communities that immigrants acclimatise themselves to the predominant civil culture, its values and mores and the (to my mind)infinitely less justifiable demand that they give up all the customs, habits, foods, jokes and pastimes that strengthen family ties and bring joy to people's lives.

A diversity of public ethical norms is not to be desired. But a diversity of most other things enriches society.

This last point seems to me to be without prejudice to arguments over immigration levels or the real or perceived motives of those favouring higher or lower immigration.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus Charles, you're not wrong :-). I wonder what the Maori thought about your ideas around 1840 :-). (And I got thrown off whale oil for saying that!)

Anonymous said...

Chris, you are simply assuming that a large amount of immigration from foreign countries is a good idea, without providing any evidence for this.
There are huge problems with assimilation, which the left either ignore or assume that the very idea is evil.

Read the papers to see the results.