Is America Morphing into Sweden?

Men hold back another man during a riot movement

It’s sometimes noted that America is gradually becoming a socialist/social democratic society like those found in Europe, particularly nations like Sweden.

In that context, Daniel Pipes recently wrote:

Sweden is a special place. One of the richest and most peaceful countries in the world (it has not been engaged in armed conflict for two centuries), until recently it was a remarkably homogenous society where socialism, with its optimistic assumption that people are born good and circumstances make them bad, worked and the government enjoyed great prestige. Swedish pride in the country’s accomplishments translates into an ethical superiority symbolized by the oft-heard claim to be a “moral superpower.”

This heritage has also inspired an intolerance of dissent, however; “Be quiet, follow the consensus, let the bureaucrats carry it out.” The country has become so notorious for its stifling faux-unanimity that I actually heard a Dane recently ask at a public forum, “Why has Sweden turned into the North Korea of Scandinavia?” [Source: “Sweden’s Populist Surge”, The Washington Times 8/26/15]

The problem here is that socialism does not and cannot “work.” If you think it’s working, you’re deluding yourself.

The reason is that human beings are thinking creatures, who can and must form judgments and assessments in order to survive and flourish in life.

The moment you start taking away this necessary part of human nature is the moment you’re on a dead end road to disaster. What starts out as the smiling benevolence of a pacifistic Swede with his government health card will inevitably turn into the unforgiving tanks, troops and guns of an intolerant North Korean (or any equivalent) totalitarian dictator.

In his article, Pipes notes that “far right” elements are gaining ground in Sweden, movements opposed to immigration on principle, hateful of certain social or ethnic groups such as Jews, and favorable towards government censorship. We should not be surprised. Fascism and socialism are two sides of the same coin. Each side — “left” and “right” — shares a denigration of the individual’s right and need to think for him- or herself, and replaces it with their own version of “transformative” collective will. Only individualism will save us from ourselves.

Sweden could perhaps “get away with” its seemingly benign socialism for a time, but ultimately –as Pipes astutely points out — the bureaucratic nature of socialism eroded people’s sense of self-responsibility, self-respect and need to think for oneself.

Socialism also takes away the ability (and eventually the willingness) of people to make sound and rational moral judgments. In daily life or business, in a free society, you’re free to determine whom you like and dislike — approve of, or disapprove of — and vote accordingly, with your words, actions or dollars.

It’s true that individual moral judgments are fallible, and sometimes subject to irrational judgmentalism and other prejudices. But the only alternative a social democratic system gives us is what’s commonly known as “political correctness.” The unspoken premise here is: Don’t think for yourself. Let the learned think and decide for you. Conformity and mindlessness become the rule, not the exception.

Economic management or control takes these decisions away from the individual and places them in the hands of the government. In North Korea, it happens all at once; in a place like Sweden (or now the United States), it happens gradually, over a series of “transformative” elections … but the effect is ultimately the same. In the end, individual human control over one’s own destiny is replaced by collective will in the hands of central government authorities.

Those who oppose socialism or other forms of government control often stress that people have a moral and political right to think for themselves, so long as they respect the same and equal right for others. This, of course, is entirely true.

But we too often forget that individual rights and liberty are not merely the way things should be; they represent the way human beings have to exist, in order to function or survive. It’s not a choice, not if rational human relationships, sustainable economic growth and the basics of human comfort and happiness are to be your standard. (And in America, this is still how socialism is sold.)

It’s true that not everyone is willing or even able to fully function at his or her best potential. However, this strengthens the case for freedom, rather than weakening it. Because how else are the less capable and less motivated to survive if the most capable and motivated are not left free to discover, create, produce, mass market, and do all the other things that routinely happen in a free market where profits, productivity and self-responsibility rule?

Achievers in business and science make the world a better place, whether this is their explicit motive or not. It does not have to be. Because it’s competence, ingenuity and rational self-interest that not only make profits, but also end up helping millions of people. Communism and socialism maintain and control; capitalism, free markets and individual rights permit continuous experimentation, expansion and improvement. Unless you hate life, there’s no comparison.

Sweden’s government did not create the comforts that exist for those living in Sweden. Those comforts were created by the discoveries, work and efforts of the private sector, whether in Sweden or elsewhere (especially nations like the USA.)

Sweden also did not prevent the rise of Nazi Germany, nor the growth of ISIS today, by being pacifist. Sweden’s pacifist paradise will not survive unless other countries — historically, nations like the USA and Great Britain, primarily — protect them. If the USA and Great Britain become like Sweden in their foreign and military policies, as they’re now doing, then it’s only a matter of time before violent thugs (whether ISIS, Iran, China or Russia) take over or simply destroy everything. They won’t even need big armies or bombs; they’ll turn the political correctness and unearned guilt of the citizens against themselves, as is already happening throughout Europe. America is the last domino to fall to the cultural effects of militant Islam.

“Special” socialist utopias like Sweden are doomed from the get-go. The reason is that if people are not left free to think and make decisions for themselves, as a free marketplace enables and requires, then they eventually turn into a helpless, passive sort of sheepish and unassuming people. The sheepish and unassuming are not what made America what it is today; meekness and humility will not save anyone.

In Sweden and increasingly (my fear) in America: The best and the brightest become suppressed or depressed, because everyone is more concerned with what the authorities and civil servants want and permit, than they are with the latest risk-taking or mind-blowing innovation that comes to market. The real crime of our government is not that it’s too expensive, too intrusive or too bureaucratic (although all these things are true); government’s real crime is how it methodically, slowly breaks the spirit of the best within us…only if we let it.

Socialism is not the answer. It never was and it never will be, regardless of how you package it. Not if you want to preserve life as we know it, to say nothing of continuing to expand, grow and progress into the future.

Without capitalism happening somewhere, there’s nothing for socialists to socialize. Sweden would not be Sweden had there never been a United States. What happens when the United States becomes Sweden? That’s where we find ourselves today.


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