4 thoughts on “The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism”

  1. Posted 26/02/2016 at 16:49 | Permalink

    If you look at his policies, Bernie is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist.

    As you say, “Scandinavian countries are not in fact archetypes of successful democratic socialism”. Correct, they are examples of successful social democracies. This is what Sanders is campaigning for – not a system where the means of production are owned by the state (a socialist system), but a system where wealth is redistributed fairly and not concentrated so drastically at the top (a social democracy). This is what Scandinavian style welfare states have achieved, and they have the lowest rates of wealth inequality in the Western world.

    While as you say Scandinavian countries have largely adopted more free-market systems since the 1990s, they have kept the welfare state due to the strong welfare consensus among citizens and governments. This means that even right wing parties in Scandinavia support the welfare state to a degree that would be considered very left wing in the US. Access to free education and healthcare ensured that all citizens in Scandinavian countries, regardless of what income bracket they start are born into, have a genuine chance at success.

    You say “Sanders has convinced a great number of people that things have been going very badly for the great majority of people in the United States, for a very long time.” He hasn’t had to convince them of anything, the great majority can feel and see that things are getting worse for them. They are, in relative terms, getting poorer and poorer by the year, whilst watching bankers and CEOs bring home millions in bonuses that cannot possibly be justified by their individual productivity. It’s not some myth he is spinning. This is why his message resonates with so many people and why people are excited about him.

  2. Posted 27/02/2016 at 20:03 | Permalink

    I have to correct you, “income” inequality is low in sweden, not “wealth” inequality which is rather average among developed economies and growing particularly fast in comparsion with other countries. This is largely to do with the fact that swedes have incredibly low savings rates, which is in its self due in part to the fact that their all encompassing welfare state acts as a disincentive to save and for people to build up capital for themselves.

  3. Posted 28/02/2016 at 19:24 | Permalink

    I guess Sanders labels himself and Scandinavia as socialist as a way of disarming opponents from the right. The likes of Mondale were crucified for being Liberal but Sanders has set the agenda instead of capitulating. Of course, social democracy can mean different things t different people as well, and certainly can include quite a lot of state ownership or support for cooperatives. The point about Trade Unions is fine- but it would require legislation and government encouragement to increase sector-wide bargaining in the US. Don’t see the IEA pushing for that somehow…

  4. Posted 01/03/2016 at 14:05 | Permalink

    Interesting piece, and highlights the semantic difference between the US perspective of socialism (anything left of Obama) and Europe (left of Corbyn?)

    I can see why Sanders wants to use the Scandi model, whatever its called. It’s not scary for the Americans, who would never accept socialism as we understand its meaning. In fact Sanders isn’t really much left of Obama, who was unable to get his social packages past the Republicans.

    I do wish the IEA would stop taking every opportunity to take a swipe at minimum wage in its various forms. In the free market that is democratic politics, if people want a minimum age then they get it.

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