Saturday, 26 May 2018

Something Rotten in Scandinavia

Paradise Lost

For many long years the New Zealand Labour Party has been fascinated with Scandinavia.  The previous Labour politician, Helen Clark--Prime Minister for three parliamentary terms--was besotted with an ambition to make New Zealand more like Scandinavia.  One did not need to be a genius to understand the attraction: in Scandinavia the State provided all--at least all that was needed to live a comfortable life.  Clark and others wanted New Zealand to be remoulded into being the Scandinavia of the South Pacific.

One can understand the Left's fascination and enthusiasm for the Nordic utopia.  Tony Judt, in his magisterial Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (London: Vintage/Random House, 2010) summarizes the attraction of Scandinavia as it was in the 1970's:
To many foreign observers and most Scandinavians the results appeared to speak for themselves. . . . Scandinavians lived longer, healthier lives than most other people in the world (something that would have amazed the isolated, impoverished Nordic peasantry of three generations before.)  The provision of educational, welfare, medical, insurance, retirement and leisure services and facilities was unequalled. . . . By the mid-1960's, Europe's "frozen north" had acquired near-mythic status: the Scandinavian Social Democratic model might not be replicated readily elsewhere, but it was universally admired and widely envied.  [Judt, p.367.]
And so it was that the Left in New Zealand turned away from a slavish adulation of communism to the kind, gentle, non-authoritarian, inclusive democratic paradise of Scandinavia.  No labour camps in sight.  Socialism with a kind, human face.  What was there not to like?

But something was not right.
  Nordic playwrights and movie directors produced works about profoundly uneasy, uncertain, melancholic characters.  In popular terms this manifested itself as a propensity to depression, alcoholism, and high suicide rates.  But there was a darker side still.
Between 1934 and 1976 sterilization programmes were pursued in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, in each case under the auspices and with the knowledge of Social Democratic governments.  In these years some 6,000 Danes, 40,000 Norwegians and 60,000 Swedes (90 percent of them women) were sterilized for "hygienic" purposes: "to improve the population".  The intellectual driving force behind these programmes--the Institute of Racial Biology(!) at the University of Uppsula in Sweden--had been set up in 1921, at the peak of the fashion for the subject.  It was not dismantled until fifty-five years later.  [Ibid., p. 368]
What gives?  How could this be?  To be sure, eugenics was widely popular amongst the intellectual establishment from the United States to Europe and Great Britain in the pre-WWII years.   But the exposure of Nazi racist depredations was supposed to have corrected all that.  Not so in Scandinavia.  The state was happily trying to perfect the Nordic races by means of eugenic purification through to the 1970's.  There was indeed something rotten in the State of Denmark and its neighbours.

Thankfully, the lustre of Scandinavia has faded somewhat.  To modern ears, Prime Minister, Helen Clark's eulogies over Sweden and its neighbours seem strangely antiquated, if not ignorant.  Meanwhile, it seems that Scandinavia has no back-bone to resist the imperialism of Islamic militants within their countries.  It also seems that the Scandinavian State persists in not telling the truth to its citizens regarding the threats and crimes now faced by Islamic migration.

But then again, not telling the truth to citizens has a long, established pedigree in Scandinavia.

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