Why They're Rioting in Sweden

May 23, 2013

[Economic inequality is increasing in Sweden, as shown here.]

["Sweden has ironically developed a more unequal wealth distribution than the US. The Gini coefficient for ownership is almost 0.9 in Sweden, compared to slightly above 0.8 in the US."]

[The Wall Street Journal is very happy about what's happening in Sweden, as it writes about here]

[Sweden sends troops to Afganistan in support of the U.S. government's civilian-murdering war, as reported here]


 

The Guardian article here describes rioting in Sweden against "unemployment and poverty." The article reports that:

"After decades of practising the Swedish model of generous welfare benefits, Stockholm has reduced the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy."

Sweden is often held up as an example of "good capitalism" [a.k.a. "democratic socialism" a.k.a. the "Nordic Way"] in which there is relatively little economic inequality and there is a comfortable living guaranteed to all. The "good capitalism" of Sweden is offered by some as evidence that there is no need to abolish capitalism to achieve a good and decent society.

The problem, however, with "good capitalism," (or what I sometimes call "Mom and Pop" capitalism, which people like Ron Paul and Alex Jones seem to hanker for, and which I discuss here) is that the people who act in accordance with capitalist values are, just as in "bad capitalism," allowed to do so. This means that the people who aim to make employees work for the goal of making a profit for the employer rather than to produce goods and services to be shared with others according to need--these people have a free hand in a "good capitalist" society.  What happens over time, then?

These people acting on the basis of their capitalist values, grow richer and thereby become more powerful than others. These people protect their wealth and power by doing what such people always do--by using divide and rule to control people, by using lies and manipulation to make people accept the rightness or naturalness or inevitability of economic inequality. Eventually these people gain so much wealth and power and privilege that it is no longer "good capitalism" but "Goldman Sachs" capitalism like what we have in the U.S.A.

The working class did indeed win very substantial gains in Sweden after World War II.* They made Sweden a "good capitalist" nation. They did not, unfortunately, abolish capitalism. They did not challenge, and certainly never denounced as morally wrong (as they ought to have done) capitalist values--inequality instead of equality, competition instead of mutual aid, top-down control instead of democracy--that legitimize the power, wealth and privileges of the capitalist class.

Now we can see what "good capitalism" turns into in the absence of an egalitarian revolution [a.k.a. democratic revolution] to abolish capitalism and class inequality. It turns into what we can see Sweden turning into before our very eyes. It's time to start Thinking about Revolution. To read more about what egalitarianism is and why we can indeed make our society that way, please visit www.PDRBoston.org .

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* Israel Shamir, who knows Swedish history better than I, writes: "John, the greatest achievement of Swedish socialism was obtained in 1930s, not after the war. That was Saltsjobaden agreement between capitalists and workers. Though probably it is a taboo subject, but that was connected with national socialist victories in Germany. Dismantling of Swedish socialism took place only after long and sustained immigration which undermined ethnic quasi-family unity of the Swedes."

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