Friday, April 29, 2005

Cultural Self-Denial

Our Scandinavian correspondent Rune offers his translation of these excerpts from "Swedish Culture - over and done with?" from a Norwegian newspaper (he doesn't specify which paper) :
    "Is Swedish culture worth keeping?" I put this question to Lise Bergh, the Swedish government representative of immigration policies, on the Nordic conference on immigration in Stavanger [Norwegian city] April 7th. "What is Swedish culture? And then I suppose I have answered the question" answered Berg without trying to conceal her cultural-self disparagement in either words or facial expressions. As you make your bed so you lie [what goes around comes around] as they say. In Sweden, the leadership seems to show Europe's most extensive cultural self-denial, or rather -- a deeply felt self loathing, which many feel is the perfect recipe for driving a peaceful nation to destruction.
My question to Lise Bergh was far from randomly formulated. Half a year ago, from a pulpit in a Mosque belonging to the Kurdish Organisation, and "respectfully" veiled, the former minister for integration. Mona Sahlin, said that many Swedes are envious of the immigrants because they, unlike the Swedes, have a culture, a history, something which ties them together. The Swedes only have some foolish anniversaries and such folly. As the former Danish minister for integration, Karen Jespersen, commented: "Cultural self-denial hardly gets any more disgusting or scary"
This ideology of self-disparagement focused on the Swedes as potential and/or real racists, is also documented by Jonathan Friedman, professor of social-anthropology at the University of Lund. This day, every fifth citizen of Sweden has an immigrant background, i.e. around 1.7 million; of these around 1.3 million are of non-western origin (2002 numbers). Sweden is the most multicultural society of Europe. However to think aloud that the welfare society and nation of Sweden could do with an immigration pause, in light of the massive integration problems, offers you up, according to Friedman, to the following association string: "You are xenophobic. Therefore you are a racist. And therefore you are a Nazi." Friedman spoke recently at the Organisation for Professors at the University of Oslo [capital city of Norway] (April 12th). With his "ethnic" background, he is one of the very few critics whom are allowed to speak without being run out of his home or sacked from his work. Friedman is crystal clear in his assessment of Sweden's future; Sweden is rotting. And it rots quickly.
Sweden is, like Norway [but unlike Denmark], officially defined as a multicultural state. But Sweden has gone far further that our [Norwegian] leaders. The Swedish multicultural state does not have a national history, that would mean structural racism, because immigrants are new citizens -- and what of their history? Sweden has become one of the most segregated societies of Europe. Immigrants integrate themselves more and more into their own ethnic groups. The miserable integration of non-western immigrants into what (was once) the Swedish society both with regards to value and economics, has led to Sweden descending to an economic 18th spot in Europe (BNP pr. capita). The murder rate, Friedman told, is the largest within OECD, double that of the USA (10.5 murder / 100,000 citizens in Sweden, vers. 5.5 in the USA). And in an immigrant city as Malmø 70% of all rapes are committed by immigrants, a town which has 5-6 times the number of rapes per capita than the close, but much larger, city of Copenhagen. Victims are predominantly ethnic Swedish women. The crime rate increases year to year. More than 40% of the population in Malmø are immigrants. In less than 10 years, Malmø will be majority Moslem. Already today the most popular name for newborn babies is Mohammed. Infrastructure is falling apart, especially with schools and hospitals. Something also Lise Bergh mentions, but with the agenda of critisisng the Swedish government of not being up to the job of structural replanning - not a word about there perhaps being limits to the number of immigrants the country can absorb.
Friedman thinks a sort of personal surveillance society has evolved. Everybody keeps an eye on everybody else, always on the lookout for whether a person is "good or evil". There is a striking fear of being apart. Shame and control culture dominate the daily lives and has resulted in people having become very unsafe and feeling insecure. To say what you think has become very difficult in such a society. According to Friedman, you speak vaguely, defensively, not to open yourself for attacks. Actual knowledge is pushed to the back. Motive and suspicion is put the front. Trivialities gets science funds, because they are non-dangerous - first sign that science is dying.
This is a frightening account. Is Sweden the canary in the coal mine for the rest of Western culture?

An interesting question is this: How many Swedes are departing their homeland for more hospitable locales? Readers who have information on this topic are invited to respond.


Foobarista said...

This is scary, and why I am increasingly disinclined to regard much of Europe as truly democratic. Real democracies have the institutional ability to have meaningful changes in government, but much of Europe seems to have drank so much socialist Kool-aid - and declared so many political discussions as beyond politics (ie, calling everything racist, sexist, or homophobic, declaring government services to be "human rights", etc) that real democratic change may be increasingly difficult. People sense their unfreedom and know that they're living in a wierd sort of soft, fuzzy totalitarianism, but don't have a clue what to do about it as the political system is completely compromised.

These types of situations tend to end rather unpleasantly.

elyn said...

Hello, I´m Swedish, and I don´t share this vision very much.
It´s true that we have some issues, but this isn´t the ones.
And we DO have a culture, even if it´s not based on our historical efforts as it was before, thankfully enough. I think we are in the ongoing process of shaping a new, modern self-image that is uphold by things going on in the society, like arts, way-of-living, hobbies, social infra-strucutre etc. It´s very modern, sympathetic and progressive, i think. This is the good side. The bad side is that we are still facing the bad sides of the Information Society and Globalisation; the capitalism and comemrcialism, the individual isolation caused by commercialised media ( isolation from the collective society, not from other people), the stress of our still existing lutherian " work till you drop" -society, AND especially major worries like increased class differencies , for example. But NOT that much from racism! It´s more a structural dilemma, and it´s to bad the goverment doesnt do more about it, I myself grant a major wish that we won´t have any segregated, working-class immigrant area suburbs in the near future! This is a big problem, that immigrants suffer from this system but it´s not something that is due to the socialistic rule!

GeMatt said...

Recursive logic says :

I could sit around and listen to music all day too but that doesn't make aceptal to have a socialogical goal of drug abuse in exchange for happiness. Culture can easily be defined as a society of nothing, where everyone is free to do nothing so long as it doesn't effect the status quoe.

Living in fear of others surely brings about nothing but servitude and servitude is nothing but slavery to other's ideals. You can masquerade net zezo as being an equality but the socialists paraidise described as Sweden is payed for by selling their souls to the squeakyest wheel.

To stand up for what you belive in is honorable, to modify any belief you have as to not offend anyone is slavery.

Ask yourself, if the state is a subsidised cultural project, then doesn't whoever controls the state, control the culture?

To protect the government from overthrow should be a basic concept to any government. But I fear that Sweden has no such ideals. Once a critical mass is reached Sweden will sureley fall.

Whatever, whenever, however, thats the New Swedish Model. Nothing to hold them together, they'll fly apart.