Will the new centre-right government in Sweden be able to succeed in shaking off the “soft totalitarianism” that the Social Democrats established during its record long political dominance. Or will it succumb to the left-wing activists on every level in the Swedish society?
In October Sweden got a new government containing three centre-right parties (EPP, Renew) and with support of Sweden Democrats (ECR). The people gave these four parties the majority in parliament in an election in September.
But the country’s big government with high taxes isn’t ruled foremost by democratically elected politicians, but by a “soft totalitarianism” in state ministries and authorities. Earlier non-socialistic government in Sweden haven’t been able to root out the Social Democrats domination in every state founded institution in the country.
A new book provides guidance on how it works and how deep this tendencies goes, titled Betongväldet (in English: “The Concrete reign – The social democratic apparatus of power and how it eroded our democracy”).
For those who want to take part in conservative criticism of the Social democrats’ radicalization of Swedish politics and contemporary history, I can really recommend this book by th conservative writers Jakob E:son Söderbaum, Carl Johan Ljungberg and Christian Swedberg.
In approximately 250 pages, an unusually concrete analysis and criticism is given here of how Sweden got a state that increasingly seems to have a life of its own with activist civil servants who are driven by their own ambitions rather than implementing the policies that the Swedish people voted for in elections.
The authors rely on a sharp analysis of Sweden made by the British foreign correspondent Roland Huntfors in the book “The New Totalitarians” from 1971, where he describes the long social democratic hold on power in Sweden and the “soft totalitarianism” that the party stands for.
It’s a brilliant idea to take observations made from the outside during Social Democracy’s zenith and update them to today’s Sweden in the 2020s.
Soft totalitarianism means that a small political elite has extensive power over society regardless of how voters vote and without having to use tanks and soldiers on the streets.
How is that possible? “The Concrete reign” shows how the Social Democrats, through luck, coincidences and a conscious power strategy, have achieved an incredible dominance over Swedish society since they first came into government in 1920.
Between the Catholic Church and the Soviet Communist Party
To make clear the magnitude of the Swedish Social Democratic Party’s power, Huntfors writes in 1971: “It is a colossal organization, which in its control and penetration of society resembles the Soviet Communist Party and, in its aspiration to be everything to everyone, closely resembles the Catholic Church.”
In the new book, the authors highlight a series of Swedish phenomena that all lead to the Social Democratic party gaining an advantage that goes much further than their voter support. Yes, the authors point out that the only time the Party had 50 percent of the people behind it was in only two elections, 1940 and 1968. At all other times, they have ruled in a minority, but still wielded enormous power.
The one-party state
The most debated reason for this dominance is that the party during its 40-year uninterrupted government tenure (1936-1976) “social-democratized” the state administration. “Only an S-government can make it work effectively”, the authors write, which means that another democratically elected government “is doomed in advance to succeed noticeably worse”.
It is this challenge that the new non-socialist prime minister Ulf Kristersson (EPP) now has to face. If his government is to succeed better than the former non-socialist prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who capitulated completely through “triangulation”, Kristersson must realize what forces he has against him.
If the course for Sweden is to be changed, the new government must take up the fight against the social-democratized state administration, as it was, for example, concretized by a statement from 261 so-called non-political Foreign Ministry officials who publicly refused to give up the Social Democratic policy regardless of the election outcome.
For my own part, I think Kristersson’s government stands and falls with its will and ability to challenge the social democratization of the state administration. If they bow down, they will be as unsuccessful as the last non-socialist government with prime minister Reinfeldt. And equally condemned by history.
Continental ideas came late to Sweden
So why has this party gain such enormous influence over the Swedish society?
It became a great advantage for the Social Democrats that both industrialism and enlightenment ideas came late to Sweden. These currents coincided in Sweden with the rise of the labour movement in the second half of the 19th century. Thus, the higher prosperity that industrialism brought and the new freedom that the Enlightenment offered, were linked – completely undeservedly – to the new Social Democratic movement. It was able to ride the zeitgeist.
Uncorrupted civil service played into the party’s hands
Also, the fact that the Kingdom of Sweden – since it heydays during Gustavus Adolphus 17th century has prided itself on having a non-corrupt state administration – was playing into the hands of Social Democracy when they come to power. The honourable and respectable Swedish officials, i.e. unbiased, immutable and objective, had not create the mistrust, dislike and contempt for the functionaries of the state power that emerged in other countries.
The officials were the face of the royal power to the people, and Swedish kings were wise enough to consolidate their power against a demanding nobility by having the support of the peasant population.
The Social Democrats thus inherited a well-functioning state power that already had a good reputation among broad sections of the population.
Forced absence of history
Even though the Party’s authority rested to a large extent on continuity from Gustav Vasa’s state power, “the social democratic neo-totalitarians have sought to erase Sweden’s history from the people’s consciousness”. It is a well-known method of all revolutionaries, that you must condemn everything old to be able to build a new society, a new man.
“An important step in social democracy’s creation of a people without history has been to phase out traditional Swedish culture step by step”, the writers conclude. And the Party was successful.
Until recently, academics and researchers have claimed that “there is no Swedish culture”, everything is borrowed from abroad. The fact that S-leader Mona Sahlin considered Swedish culture “stupid” is therefore not so strange. And how deep the social democratic dogmatism can be proved by the fact that non-socialist leader and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also promoted this view of society: Swedish culture is “only barbarity”, he stated 2006. Change of government? Doesn’t matter – Social democracy was controlling the thinking.
The authors also point to how the Social Democrats have succeeded in distorting morality away from the individual’s striving to be good, to turn morality into a collective view achieved by politics. This has happened because the party managed to get everyone to turn their eyes toward poor and distant countries. The authors write: “In Sweden, the word conscience has thus come to mean global responsibility in solidarity, rather than responsibility for one’s personal actions… Conscience has gone from being an individual concept to becoming a collectivistic one.”
Christianity was replaced with party politics
The Social democratic penetration of all parts of Swedish society can also be illustrated in the fact that Christianity and the Bible can be said to have been replaced by the Party’s politics. Secularization in Sweden has gone faster and further than in other Western countries. They made “priests and theologians to let go of their Christian moral sermons”, write the authors. Again, a shift from ourselves as individuals and our own responsibility for our lives, to focus on rights and constantly put demands on what politics and the collective should do.
By marginalizing Christianity, “Social Democracy could in many ways inherit the unifying function of the church and take advantage of the psychological consequences of the Evangelical-Lutheran faith.” The party realized how “a political doctrine” could fill the void that the religious one had filled. In this way, the labor movement became something much more than a party – it came closest to being “likened to a religion”.
Tough time for a new non-socialistic prime minister
The book thus provides a very justified reminder of the difficulties the newly installed non-socialist government will face.
Having a majority in the parliament, the Riksdagen, is of course a first condition for the formation of a new government. But how much power to change the society it actually has, does not depend on formal titles and positions, but on the willpower of the government’s ministers. Do they dare and want to challenge the Social democratic hegemony in the state apparatus?
It is quite obvious that the last non-socialistic government did not dare, or wanted, to take power for real.
The difference now is that the Sweden Democrats (ECR) will push on from their side. This time, a bourgeois government will not get away with refusing to fight for non-socialist and conservative reforms on crime and migration.
Those of us who want to break the S-hegemony must lie down, push the government into activity. But it is important to also have insight into what the resistance actually is. How deeply rooted left-wing radicalism is in the state apparatus.
Here, the book Betongväldet provides a timely and urgent reminder of how deeply the Swedish state power is impregnated by left-wing radical thinking.