In February of 2017 the world suddenly turned its attention to Sweden and its liberal migration policies. The phrase ‘Last night in Sweden’ was meme-magic as soon as it left Donald Trumps tightly pursed lips. ”Sweden? Who would believe this…!?” Trump mused in utter – albeit mock – disbelief… and then a big deal was made about how nothing in particular had happened in Sweden that particular last night. Even though it had (something bad happens every night in Sweden these days…) and every Swede knew it – just like kids with an alcoholic parent know. The Donald was right. Sweden has problems. We’re addicted to the elusive notion of ‘multiculturlaism’ and a lot of stuff has indeed happened in Sweden since the last time you looked. A lot of it bad.
By 1975 the ambitious Swedish ‘folkhem’-project was completed. People had jobs. There were no slums or ghettos. Women’s emancipation was well on its way. Swedish healthcare was among the best in the world and poverty was, more or less, eradicated. This small Lutheran-Christian monarchy, with all its geographical advantages, safely tucked away in the northern parts of Europe, had gotten a colossal head start after the end of WW2. Many other countries were ravaged by war, some literally bombed back to the Stone Age, but Sweden – thanks to a pragmatic approach to the Nazis – had sneaked away unscathed and therefore could take the lead in many fields of industry and science. During the 1960’s companies like Atlas Copco, SAAB, Volvo, Bofors, Ericsson and ABB quietly colonised Asia and Africa. Dams and factories were built, weapons and trucks were exported. From 1960 to 1965 Sweden’s gross domestic product grew by 5% per year. In 1970 60% of all immigrants in Sweden were employed with the manufacturing sector. It was – truly – the land of milk and honey.
And beautiful blondes.
Between 1944-1970 Sweden’s population increased by 650 000 people due to immigration. That’s 25 000 people/year. Compared to 30 000 asylum seekers in 2016, 160 000 in 2015, 120 000 in 2014 and 115 000 in 2013. And yes… that’s a lot of people but it’s important to note that not all asylum seekers are granted permanent residence. Many languish in Sweden for as long as 12-24 months before their cases are rejected by the Swedish Migration Board. The miserable conditions at many Swedish refugee camps/housings are a factor that has been largely overlooked in the acerbic debate about Sweden’s liberal asylum policies. These camps are a veritable breeding ground for oppression towards women and children and not at all in accordance with the rest of the equality-aware Swedish society.
I have personally visited several such places the past three years and I can assure you – you would not want want to stay there for many hours (even if these accommodations are – most probably – better than any bombed out city in Syria och Iraq).
During the post-war era Sweden reaped the benefits of its small, tightly knit society. Its tax-funded basic research, its homogenous population and absence of domestic ethnical/religious conflicts was a recipe for success. Things could probably have continued that way for decades. But then, in 1975, the sociallist-led government had an idea. Or rather – Prime Minister (and international socialist icon) Olof Palme had an idea:
”Immigrants and minorities should be given the possibility to choose how much they want to be integrated into a Swedish cultural identity or (if they) want to keep and develop their own original identity.”
That sentence (lifted from government proposition 1975:26) is what, more than anything else has formed the Swedish ‘multiculturalism’-mind-set. What it means, in no uncertain terms, is that in Sweden anyone can do her or his own thang. You don’t have to be a part of the Swedish cultural context if you don’t want to. You don’t have to adapt. Assimilation is optional – not obligatory.
Fast forward to the 2000’s and to a new breed of altruistically motivated politicians. Politicians born in the 1980’s and 1990’s and thoroughly marinated in the ideology of ‘anti-racism’ and identity politics. They dutifully picked up where Palmes’s generation had left off, and with a religious zeal. Granting refugees asylum was no longer an act of solidarity – it was an end in itself. A way of counteracting any form of fascism – real or imagined.
Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport, mr Gabriel Wikström. Photo: Kristian Pool, Regeringskanslislet.
To these young politicians everything bad that happens can be explained with gender inequality, race or the lingering spectre of 1600th century colonialism. And to be fair: a lot of stupid shit can be explained with those parameters.
But not everything.
Islam, for instance, is what it is. It is a deeply unequal, unabashedly undemocratic, blatantly totalitarian ideology. Still many Swedish politicians/journalist/feminists are religiously convinced (pun again) that islam is completely compatible with a modern, LBGT-certified, secular western society. It’s Orwellian double think at its best. Or worst. (Or perhaps both).
Either way, these well-intentioned cosmopolites have embraced islam in a manner that, at best, can be called ignorant. Especially Swedish feminists seem to love this authoritarian ideology. They praise it. The pander to it. They exotify it. All in order to ‘make a stand’ against ‘racism’. Even though islam is not, by any means, an ethnicity – it’s a political system.
To an outsider looking in, all this must seem absurd, but in Sweden the notions mentioned above have been peddled for many years. Through state media, through the big commercial newspapers, through plays, movies, radio shows… etc. Most Swedes are, consciously or unconsciously, convinced that ‘multiculturalism’ cannot – should not – be questioned. Because what would be the alternative? Monoculturalism? A big wall surrounding Sweden? Mass deportations? Hitler? Are you nazi, Jens? Is that what you’re saying!!? ARE YOU A SOULLESS, BABY-MURDERING NAZI!!?!?!?!
Of course not. That’s a false dichotomy. And a straw man argument. But the Swedish population has been gouded – some (like me) would say even brainwashed – into believing that multiculturalism is a force of nature; a natural state. Xenophobia, on the other hand, has routinely been deemed a purely destructive human trait, even though suspicion towards the unknown (and potentially) dangerous, in many ways and throughout history, have been a prerequisite for human survival.
The Swedish term for xenophobia, by the way, is ‘främlingsfientlig’ and that’s a term that in many ways have destroyed public discourse in the land of boundless promiscuity and sky high suicide rates (one of theses claims is actually a factoid). Being ‘främlingsfientlig’ is one of the worst social and moral transgressions one can commit in Sweden. It is worse that being an ISIS-symphatizer. You simply cannot turn away a stranger (‘främling’) knocking on your door, begging for help or attention.
Unless, of course that person is a Mormon or a Jehova’s Witness.
Just to be clear: all countries and all cultures are multicultural, to some extent. They are the sum of domestic traditions mixed with foreign influences. And just like no man is an island very few – if any – societies can claim to be completely homegrown (apart, perhaps, from North Korea and Arkansas). Everybody needs input from the surrounding world. If you’re not exposed regularly to other systems of thoughts you end up like Hillary Clinton.
Or the Swedish Social Democrats.
The post-modern concept of ‘multiculturalism’, however, is a whole different animal. It is in many ways a political project (communism 2.0 some would say) and few countries has implemented it with such ideological – and practical – fervor as my native Sweden; few countries have undertaken such a complex and precarious endeavour, on such a disproportionately large scale; few countries has deep fried themselves in identity politics the way we have. Don’t believe me? Take a look at any Swedish TV-commercial these days – if there’s a family in it there’s bound to be at least one eskimo, one transvestite, several black children and at some point: a gay kiss. Yes, I exaggerate. But just a little.
The road to hell is, as we all know, paved with pussy-hat wearing feminists marching ‘against islamophobia’. And even if you can’t blame people for wanting all blacks and whites… and Cleveland Browns… to coexist in peace and harmony there is such a thing as trying to cram an ideology down someone’s throat too fast. People are strange that way – they don’t usually like being told that they are morally inferior, or being shamed into having the ‘proper’ moral values.
Board of the Sweden’s ‘Byggnads’ Union (the construction industry).
So why the suspicion towards multiculturalism? Well, my aim is true, as Elvis Costello once put it… Perhaps it’s because ‘multiculturalism’ – in its post-modern sense – is irreversible. Should it turn out not to work, like the Swedish version, there is no reset-button. No matter how much money and ‘integration measures’ you throw at the problem – ghettos tend to stay get ghettos until you demolish it (just like they did in Chicago with the Cabrini-Green public housing projects).
And it doesn’t matter if you choose to call violence and crime ‘unwanted occurrances’ as the Swedish police does in this truly disquieting report (se below) where 53 urban/suburban areas in Sweden are identified as ‘utsatta områden’ or ‘exposed areas’:
Initially the different regional police forces nominated a total of 68 areas but since 17 areas were deemed too affluent (though crime ridden) to fit the socio-economical parameters and in the end the report settled for a smaller number. This is, by the way, what constitutes a Swedish ‘exposed area’:
– high density of residents with a criminal record.
– unwillingness among residents to participate in any kind of judicial process due to a risk of retaliation from the criminal community.
– ‘parallell’ societies.
– pockets of religious extremism.
– exceptional events (such as violence and crime) having been normalised.
Ask any Swedish politician and they will deny, vehemently, that there’s any connection between crime and immigration. Even in areas where an overwhelmingly majority of the residents come from other countries and where crimes rates are much higher than the national average. To these politicians such allegations always comes with a (perceived) racist angle; anyone who points out that there seem to be/could, potentially, be a connection between immigration/cultural criteria and crime is trying to muddy the waters (in Swedish ‘fiska i grumliga vatten’) and steer the conversation towards fascism.
Mixing native Swedes with other Europeans – quickly, over a short period of time – has been done before. Most notably during the Yugoslav Wars (1991 – 1999) when Sweden accepted tens and thousands of refugees from former Yugoslavia. Which, of course, was the decent thing to do. But that was people who held a similar world view and a similar set of moral standards. Most Serbs, Croats and Bosnians had no problems adhering to Sweden’s ideas about democracy and gender equality.
Mixing Swedes with large numbers of people from countries and cultures that has very little in common with the modern, secular western society… well… that’s another ball game. That’s (at best) a whim and a pipe dream, rooted in the peculiar notion that anyone who sets foot in Sweden instantly and organically absorbs Swedish values. Sweden is The Norm an there is nothing Sweden can’t do. Sweden knows best. And ‘multiculturalism’ (in the form of large immigration) is a panacea for everything from a ho hum national cuisine to high unemployment rates in the countryside.
Sweden’s secular political elite has, over the years, invested an ungodly (pun intended) amount of prestige in this idea and therefore we, as a country, simply cannot be wrong. Multiculturalism must work, at any given point in time. No matter what the variables. Accepting illiterate refugees from clan dominated societies in Somalia is the same thing as accepting university educated engineers from neighbouring Norway. It’s all good and it will (hopefully) all mesh well with the modern, secular Swedish society. Should one or two (or 130) poverty-stricken, underprivileged areas emerge – well, that comes with the territory. Cars may burn, night after night after, but Donald Trump was wrong. It’s a minute to midnight and all is well.
Or as former Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, said back in 1991 when asked about the social unrest in infamous Swedish suburb Rinkeby (07.14):
”It’s fun in Rinkeby!”