"Anti-imperialism" Swedish imperialist style

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Sun Oct 13 16:12:02 MDT 1996

At 9:14 PM 4/13/96, Jorn Andersen wrote:

>Enough for now. I hope this could provide some background to explain why
>Doug's appraisal of the "Scandinavian model" is not of much help today. The
>point is that the gains of working class struggle during the boom years
>*does count* - but that the attacks on exactly these gains shows us that
>behind the surface of the Scandinavian model is nothing but capitalist
>We should acknowledge the differences between a Scandinavian style welfare
>state and conditions in f.x. the US (like those Jon described) or much
>worse even elsewhere - but as *a model* it has rested on 1) a
>well-organized working class willing to fight for it; and 2) the 25 year
>long boom of the world economy now long gone.

Look, I know all these things. I've spent some time studying Sweden, and
know the various compromises that sustained it. My main point was that
Rodwell seemingly couldn't acknowledge that there were real gains for the
working class in the heyday of the SD model.

Two other points. Yes, the end of the Golden Age has taken its toll on the
welfare state, but it's not as automatic as it's sometimes presented;
capitalists in the social democracies have consciously embraced policies
(like joining the EU, deregulating finance, etc.) that would amplify those
strains. There *is* some human agency involved. And two, Swedish SD began
not during the Golden Age, but in the depressed 1920s and 1930s, when the
country was one of the poorer ones in Europe. That points to a broader
irony - while the Keynesianism practice by lots of Social Democrats in the
post-WW II era was oriented towards managing Golden Age prosperity, Keynes
himself wrote in the midst of the Great Depression. Keynes advocated
state-led, partly socialized approaches towards boosting investment and
controlling capital in the interests of achieving full employment and
reducing speculation and unemployment; what Joan Robinson called Bastard
Keynesianism degenerated into a puerile tool for managing the business



Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
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