Category Archives: Sweden

Begging in a welfare state – just neoliberal logic

If anyone in the 1970s had said that we were going to have beggars in the Swedish streets 40 years into the future, we would have presumed that some catastrophe, like a third World War, had to have taken place in between. But there are beggars here today, and the disaster that happened wasn’t a war but neoliberalism and globalization. And it’s not a few people shaking paper cups; they are deployed outside every supermarket and – particularly – at the doorstep of every liquor store (where the Swedish conscience already is sensitized).

It’s said that most of them are from Romania, and as EU citizens they are fully entitled to be here and try to make their living. The problem is that begging is so remote from Swedish social habits that there is no law saying anything about it. But there is an ongoing discussion on whether or not to ban begging.

We must go back to the 19th century to find visible begging in Sweden. Then it disappeared, but in the harshest years of the 1920s, poor people tried to get by through selling shoelaces and matchboxes in the streets. That was the closest we got to begging in that century. Until 1965 there was a law against vagrancy that could have been used for prosecution of beggars, but it was obsolete long before that year.

I think begging in most Swedish minds is a sign of a dysfunctional society. Poor people should be helped in more civilized manners. In the minds of neoliberals on the other hand, begging may be an example of private initiative, of people showing their will to take care of their own problems and not become a burden to society. On top of that, beggars serve as a warning to lazy people what can happen if they don’t accept the depressing and dirty jobs they barely are qualified for.

Neoliberalism didn’t just create the positive view on begging, it created the beggars themselves. Romania never was a rich country, but people were not left entirely by themselves in the old days, and they had no beggars. It was a poor but inclusive society. Then, like the other countries in eastern Europe, Romania was smashed to a pulp by the robber capitalism western powers introduce them to. The blessings of the free market shoveled most of eastern Europe back to the third world from which it came 70 years prior. And they all have a bumpy road back to some kind of normal standard.

The neoliberal “philosophy”, viewing the beggar as a responsible individualist, is of course self-serving for the wealthy, but is contrary to human nature. With Marx’ profound words (my translation): “A human is a zoon politicon (a political animal), which only in a society can isolate itself.” In the long run (provided the human species survives) socializing will defeat narcissism, firstly because it’s in accord with our deepest traits, secondly because it’s rational, thus follows from pure logic.

Trump’s gaffe on Sweden, coming true

“More than half a century ago president Eisenhower sat the standard for mocking Sweden, when he publicly stated that suicides were more common there than elsewhere. The reason implied was that Swedes were so deeply bored in there cuddling socialist state that they didn’t want to live at all. The assertion about the suicides was in itself not true, of course (speaking of lying presidents), but it is still glued to the Swedish image in the whole world.

Eisenhower served an entry, and then it has just rolled on. Every small crack in the smooth facade of the idyllic social democratic paradise did create media frenzy (with mostly less correct reporting) and cozy schadenfreude. That provoking Nordic welfare country, number one in most rankings, was an aching thorn in the eyes of conservatives around the globe.

But the reactionaries may relax now. Sweden has been hit by neoliberalism (facilitated by a right-wing government) and is becoming increasingly compatible with rest of the industrial world. Welfare is fading and there is cause for grievances among the less affluent, a development that, not surprisingly, has handed xenophobes and the Alt-right considerable progress in public opinion. At the same time, economic gaps are widening faster than in other EU-countries. – So: SkÃ¥l, reactionaries of the world! Your future seems bright (but to the others: let’s disappoint them thoroughly!)”

This was a comment of mine on an article in New York Times that mentioned Trump’s gaffe about some attack in Sweden. A day later there really was riots and car burning in a Stockholm suburb, as if Trump were clairvoyant. That elicited the following answer to me in the comment section:

“Odd you say that, knowing that riots just broke out in Sweden. Guess which community areas? Isn’t it terrible when facts on the ground don’t cooperate with dogma?”

Well, I never said anything about a riot-free Sweden; I could have commented on the opposite.

US Election – Swedish media

Since media here overflows with coverage of the circus called the US Presidential Election a postcard from Sweden can’t escape that issue. The fact that the charade is more farcical than usual doesn’t prevent our media from treating it with subservient sincerity, although every enlightened person knows that the outcome is irrelevant for the real policy executed by the next president. It’s just two factions of the same Business Party competing, and the only thing entertaining is the fight itself.

We all remember Barack Obama in 2008. In his victory speech – indeed a rhetoric masterpiece – he appeared as an almost socialist savior who intended to redress every injustice and restore peace in the world. And we know what happened. He kicked off his tenure by bailing out some of the richest crooks in the country with §700 billion and (thus) helped them evade prison sentences. He didn’t fill Guantanamo with new unwanted people, instead he sent drones to kill them in their homes on the other side of the globe (thereby ridiculing the Norwegian Peace Price Committee).

Such issues are handled with kid gloves by our media, eager to bolster Big Brother. Our apologetic and protective attitude towards USA is obnoxious to the brink of suffocation. To have at least some fresh air and rational critique one has to turn to the New York Times, then you’ll understand!

Despite numerous and daily articles and reports on the US election it’s telling how such a central concept in US policy as Citizens United is treated by our main media: namely not at all. Searching the archive of our most important paper yields a few hits where this democratic abnormity is mentioned in passing, without explanation. It’s as if they want to spare their audiences the insight that the leading democracy in the world is nothing of the sort, just a genuine plutocracy.

It’s true that two (what’s called) populist candidates, one to the right and one to the left, have advanced fairly far in the process this time, indicating that people’s voice has some relevance after all. But it was unavoidable that Bernie Sanders were to be outmaneuvered one way or the other (and that was secured by DNC itself). The infamous “pussy grabber” to the right has come a step further, though he seems to stop there. Should he become president – God and the world forbid – he will be forced to implement the basic Business Party policy with just some minor modification.

There is no alternative.

Except that there really is! Real alternatives!

Homo Sapiens – a species too clever for its own good, but too stupid to do anything about it

Two prominent scholars, one physicist and one biologist, were asked the compulsory question: do you think there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? The physicist said yes: given the unimaginable number of galaxies and solar systems, there must be organisms with cognitive capacities somewhere, from pure statistical reasons.

Faithful to his experience regarding the conditions of life the biologist was more reluctant to conventional wisdom on the matter. He assumed that life can be suspected to follow the laws of evolution everywhere it exists. And evolution doesn’t further higher organisms; the simple ones are the most sustainable. Looked at it that way humankind on earth may exist in a unique and extremely short period in astronomical terms, sufficiently unique that it not necessarily occurs elsewhere right now.

I apologize for this depressing opening, but I’m about to try a rough thesis:

Homo Sapiens is a species too clever for its own good, but too stupid to do anything about it.

We could begin with the most obvious risk of total extermination, nuclear weapons. Sharp human brains have figured out how to exploit the energy inherent in the bonds between elementary particles in the nucleus of atoms. Savvy technicians used this knowledge to construct a bomb with monstrously explosive power. Then these devices were handed over to politicians and generals, usually not famous for their intellectual brilliance.

Maybe the balance of terror and the threat of total destruction have hindered the Third World War (and the definitely final one) so far, but it has been a close call several times. And the attempts to diminish the risks haven’t been overly impressive.

On the contrary, the United States enhanced the danger unilaterally by abandoning the ABM treaty in 2001. Russia was then still a harmless wreck, posing no threat. And anti-ballistic missiles are offensive, first strike weapons, in that they block an enemy from retaliating to a nuclear attack. The stupid part of the human nature accepted this unprovoked increase in the risk of total extermination without much debate. Today the US has installed ABMs in Poland and Czech Republic, obviously aimed at Russia. We can’t do much more than keep our fingers crossed.

A less stochastic menace to human survival than nuclear weapons is climate change. We can now be sure that this threat can’t be eliminated, only somewhat mitigated if we put all our efforts into doing so. But do we?

Let’s look at my country, Sweden, considered to be progressive in a number of ways. If you ask an average Swede what s/he first of all does to save the environment the answer most probably is: “I separate my household waste into different fractions, which I deliver at specific waste stations”. Anyone who knows fundamentals about waste realizes that such efforts don’t save any environment, rather the opposite. It just saves the conscience of a misinformed population.

The next thing a house-owning Swede may do is to drill a couple of hundred meters into the ground to capture somewhat warmer water, install an expensive heat pump and thus reduce the amount of electricity needed for heating his house (what he probably not reflects upon is that earth’s heat mainly comes from nuclear reactions). His reduced electricity bill may please him, but considering what he has to pay for investment, maintenance and repair, the bottom line is not overwhelming. And the effect on global warming is thus insignificant.

These everyday environmentalists are usually friends of wind and solar power but opposed to nuclear power. The most enthusiastic among them buy “wind power” from their power company, install solar cell panels on their roofs and vote for the Green Party. The effects of their conviction is not just to promote symbolic actions, but in fact counter-productive for reducing global warming.

Take solar energy. Happy headlines announced that electricity output from solar cells in Sweden had doubled two years in a row. What the news didn’t reveal was that the total output now amounts to 0.04 percent of the country’s energy demand (that is: equals zero with an error margin). To spend large amounts on meaningless investments affects indirectly also the environment.

And then the dedicated and hoodwinked Swede goes out to buy a car which has some kind of “environment certificate”, satisfied that he has contributed to save the world.

The only energy source capable of really reducing carbon emissions on a global scale is nuclear energy. Countries like China, India and Russia take this seriously and install new nuclear facilities. Russia is an important producer of plants, and even developing countries show great interest in nuclear energy. Is this where the future is built, while pampered and deluded western ideologues are reading the map upside down?

What the climate issue – and thus human survival – really needs is for us to adopt an entirely new lifestyle, which most likely requires a completely different economic system. There will be no room for brainless consumerism generated by perverted profit-hunting. Instead we have to see genuine solidarity among entire populations.

In short: the intelligent side of our human nature has to take command over the emotional (stupid) side.

Why in the world should Sweden join NATO?

Our establishment media are working hard nowadays to pilot Sweden into NATO. That’s certainly one of the reasons for their absurd and intense vilification of Russia, a country portrayed (by our main paper, among others) as historically aggressive and violent. “NATO has of course never planned an attack eastward” writes one of the elevated editors without a hint of irony, while NATO countries still poke around among the ruins in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to end only the two latest of brutal, illegal and immoral wars waged on the East.

“Because the threat is a Russian threat” asserts the same editorial (thus overruling international – US made – polls showing that a substantial majority of the world’s population deems the United States to be the greatest threat to peace and security). We are back to the former cold war, when we were made to believe that the evil Soviet communists were ready to attack and conquer the whole world any minute.

The Soviets in those days obviously showed their aggressiveness by some battalion size attacks in Czechoslovakia and DDR (the agreed Soviet sphere of influence), atrocities that we still frequently are remembered of. A few hundred people were killed in these operations, which we aren’t allowed to forget. At the same time US with some allies killed millions of people in Indochina, about which my noble newspaper initially suppressed any critique, and today mainly keeps in merciful oblivion.

(The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan proved disastrous in many ways, as wars often do. It became a starting point for extreme jihadism in that area, as well as a prelude to the breakdown of the Soviet Empire.)

Reasonably sensible people back then realized that the Soviets had neither the capacity for military attacks on western countries, nor any interest in doing so. Western powers proved those people right when the wall ultimately fell. The entire pretext for establishing NATO had been “the Russians are coming”. Now, instead of dismantling NATO, the organization added more member states and was moved closer to the Russian borders. There is no more distinct way to say: “sorry, we’ve lied to you about the communist threat for forty years”.

Today’s Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union in relative terms. First of all, it has just half the population, and its military budget is a small fraction of NATO’s. Moreover, the Russian economy is mainly market driven and thus dependent on other countries to a much larger extent than before. Against that background it should be completely ridiculous to portray Russia as a military threat to Sweden. But stupidity is not an obstacle for propaganda. When nationalistic reflexes are played upon, (we) the public swallows almost everything.

We don’t ask ourselves who is served by this war mongering. Sweden may not have the same kind of military-industrial complex as the US, but still we have relatively large weapons producers and substantial weapons exports. And our military forces, suffering losses during the cold-war-free 1990s, can feel the smell of fresh air and growing budgets. To catalyze this process, they for a while reclaimed the old submarine hoax that already had compromised our marine forces in front of the whole world long ago. But as already noted: stupidities work, the larger the better.

But what drive our editors to their skewed descriptions of Russia, filled with half-truths and complete lies, under a thin cover of barely correct facts? To satisfy the weapons industry or the military seems not quite sufficient. Is it just some right wing reflexes that deprives them of honesty and truthfulness? Or is it concern for an increase of their paper’s circulation by means of fear mongering? Any way: lots of things for progressives to follow in the future.

Olof Palme murdered on this day 30 years ago

In the early 1980’s, on a holiday trip to Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, I happened to visit a remote village where I passed a small shop selling Greek sandals. The shop-keeper asked if I were a Swedish tourist. When I admitted to that he became exhilarated and urged me to enter his shop. There he pointed joyfully at an enlarged photo in a frame on the wall.

The picture showed him and his wife, together with the former (and later upcoming) Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and his wife Lisbeth outside his shop. My first thought was that the man was lucky I wasn’t from Swedish upper classes or reactionary circles, in which case he had run the risk of getting a bucket of cold water poured over him. The second thought was: how many foreign politicians would have been recognized at all in a small Cretan village by an ordinary Greek?

Today 30 years have passed since Olof Palme was shot point-blank on a street a late evening in a winter-cold Stockholm, when he was walking home with his wife after watching a movie (and giving his bodyguards the evening off). Nobody has been found guilty of the murder.

On the occasion of this commemoration our print media, which is predominantly corporate owned, have dutifully and critically evaluated Palme’s person and politics. Parts of his many important contributions, which they almost mandatory omits, are the ones on the international arena. It’s easy to understand this omission since he in that context appears as the compassionate politician and moral role model he indeed was.

A reader of ordinary Swedish papers must in fact have difficulties understanding how Palme at all reached his international fame; what made cities around the world name streets after him and a low-educated Greek take a selfie with him. Our well behaved journalists have not been keen to report how Palme reached this status by actively standing on the side of the poor, of the oppressed, of people fighting for their freedom and independence, of people suffering under communist dictatorship; in short by being a true progressive in word and deed.

Olof Palme’s harsh opposition to the U.S. wars in Indochina is both admired and infamous and lead to a unique breaking of diplomatic relations between our countries. Sweden opened its borders to young Americans who hated those wars and couldn’t dream of participating in them. We protected those men in blatant conflict with the superpower (something we nowadays cannot promise a freedom-of- speech-hero such as Julian Assange).

Palme also made sure that his government took a clear stand against the fascist generals in Chile after the violent coup in 1973. Progressive Chileans who were threatened to be cut to pieces or thrown off a helicopter had to flee, and many of them were sheltered in Palme’s country. (Some years ago when I had an assignment as consultant at the Volvo plant in Goteborg I met a blue-collar worker who presented himself with the surname “Jara”. I curiously asked him, and it turned out that he was a nephew of the famous musician and singer Victor Jara who was mutilated and murdered by the Chilean fascists.)

Another major human rights achievement in Palme’s time (also annoying the super power) was the strong support for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Quite large amounts of money were sent to ANC in comprehensive undercover operations monitored by a special female agent at the Swedish Embassy. The support was substantial, and Nelson Mandela chose Sweden as the first country to visit after he was elected president. (On the other hand Mandela was on the U.S. terrorist list until a few years before his death.)

Sweden had since the 1960s supported liberation movements also in Namibia, Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, continuing under Palme, who also strongly acted against the dictatorships in Spain and Greece. Worth to mention is his deep criticism of Soviet atrocities, for example those in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

There is a lot more to say about Palme’s contributions, such as his struggle for a world free of nuclear weapons, his support for Palestine, his participation in peace negotiations and on and on. He was industrious and energetic, also on the domestic field. I’ll spare the reader details on that front, other than to say that fundamental and vastly important building blocks in the Swedish welfare construction, still very much in place, were realized on his watch.

Then, what do we learn from our mainstream media in connection with this day of sadness, when we commemorate the death of a political giant and a profoundly compassionate individual? Well, our main paper – Dagens Nyheter – had a lead article by the editorial board last Friday, supposedly issuing its principled view on Olof Palme. And what did we read there?

First of all, not a word on Palme’s real achievements, only about his “unreasonably aggressive” style in debates, his “poisonous rhetoric remarks”, his ability to “arouse strong feelings”, to “inspire people – or drive them insane”, and other profound editorial insights of the same sort. This was perhaps to be swallowed, were it not for two reasons.

One: These remarks, obviously not intended to embellish Palme’s memory, have been perpetually reiterated ad infinutum through the years by our corporate media (covering 80 percent of the printed media). There is hardly a new word in this DN editorial, its main theme has been printed innumerable times and the readers know it by heart.

The second reason would have been that even an enemy is expected to show some respect on a day of mourning. But such attitudes of decency are not required in the case of Olof Palme.

There is one more thing to mention about Palme, something that distinguishes him from every other person in his country. No one has been so openly and shamelessly persecuted, vilified and despised – ever. The most horrible rumors were spread: Palme was mentally ill, he was a drug addict, a KGB agent and whatever.

There were no limits to the stupidities, and they were spread even by the upper classes in Stockholm’s finest quarters and treated by these “sophisticated” people as pure truths. Internet was hardly invented, but the hate speech appeared openly in most media. Most photos of Palme showed him from an unfavorable angel and with a distorted look in his face. Not to speak of the cartoons which often looked like something taken from Der Stürmer, like this one (The text says: “Moscow’s parrot is silenced”):

Palme karikatyr

The day after the murder the Swedish people suddenly got to see some normal portraits of Palme in their papers, such as the one below, and probably hardly recognized him.

Palme 2016

All of this is nothing to be surprised about. It’s just the class war in which the ruling classes are merciless, and for the moment have the upper hand (and have had so for the last 30-40 years). We just have to keep on struggling, and in that we may look to Olof Palme and many others for inspiration.

Americans prefer “Swedish” wealth distribution (would that it were!)

(Back to keyboard after necessary disturbances of different kinds during some months.)

Has the presidential election in the United States anything to do in a postcard from Sweden? Well, we will all be affected by the outcome, one way or the other, and it’s interesting and often telling to follow commentaries in our domestic MSM.

Most astonishing is the fact that income and wealth distribution, as well as justice and fairness, have come into focus, thanks mainly to Bernie Sanders. After decades of him tirelessly agitating from the back benches in the US Senate, to promote the interests of less affluent Americans, he surprisingly enters the center stage. (I happened to find him online some years ago, and have followed him with interest since. But until now I haven’t seen a single word about him in Swedish MSM – very typical).

From Noam Chomsky we’ve learned that a majority of Americans since at least some 30 plus years have preferred a policy similar to Sander’s, but that an effective propaganda apparatus has produced election results often diametrically opposed to people’s real wishes. But it seems as if the inequities finally have become too grotesque to conceal or brain wash away. And suddenly “everybody” talks about wealth distribution and the other progressive issues.

“Yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top” says Hillary Clinton; “The deck is stacked against ordinary people” writes New York Times (N. Kristof) the other day. He goes on to present a study by two scholars (M. Norton and D. Ariely) showing i.a. that 92 percent of Americans prefer a wealth distribution of a “Swedish” type to the really existing one in the US. But this study has a serious flaw.

These are the three choices of wealth distribution laid before a group of nationally representative respondents (the labels “Sweden”, “Equal” and “USA” were not shown to the respondents).

 

wealth distr

The authors reveal in a footnote that the pie chart named “Sweden” depicts the income distribution, which was chosen solely to get some middle alternative between Equal and USA. The Swedish wealth distribution is something completely different, and in fact quite similar to the US one, as seen in this diagram:

The y-axis shows the sum of net wealth in billions SEK (§1 = appr. 9 SEK), debts subtracted, in the percentiles 1 to 10. Adding 9th and 10th percentiles one gets around 85 percent of total wealth, which is almost identical to the US figures. 60 percent of the population has no net assets at all.

Since Sweden endured its neoliberal, right-wing government (2006-14) the economic divide between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other European country. That government was lead by an empathy exempt man who as a young man was living an Ayn Randian wet dream. But that’s a story worth a separate chapter.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/opinion/americas-stacked-deck.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/norton%20ariely%20in%20press.pdf
http://ekonomihandboken.se/rika-och-fattiga-i-sverige/hur-rik-ar-varje-svensk/

Swedes pinpoint targets for drone attacks

The other day our media revealed a disturbing story from Afghanistan. Swedish military officers were said to be present in an operations center where targets for drone bombings were chosen. The officers allegedly took part in a “voting procedure” in which drone victims were selected. The story was (naturally) denied by the Defense department, and media cooperated by quickly dropping further inquiries.

Swedes in general are probably not aware that they live in a belligerent nation. We are at war for the first time in 200 years, and few people really care at all, if they even know. When Sweden offered its services to the United States after the violent retaliation following 9/11, which happened to hit the innocent Afghan people, it was assigned a relatively quiet area to the north of Afghanistan (the “peace-loving Swedes” were probably shown special consideration).

A lot of people here most likely think that we are engaged in some kind of peace-keeping operation under UN auspices, like the many in Africa and elsewhere we have been engaged in through the years. But this is real war. We are in Afghanistan as combatants, and our troops have suffered casualties. It’s not a game.

Different terrorist groups have mentioned Sweden as a possible object for attacks, motivated by our participation in the war. Apart from that we are subject to the laws of war, which means that Afghan troops are allowed to hit military targets on our soil. The government, for instance, as the highest responsible body for the war efforts, must be considered a legitimate military target.

Thus if an Afghan combatant trigger a bomb in the government’s meeting room during its regular Thursday session, blowing up the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet, it must be seen as a military operation. If captured the Afghan cannot be hurt or even interrogated. According to the laws of war he may reveal his name and rank, nothing else, and must be protected as a prisoner of war. Well none of these events are very probable (least of all the POW treatment).

We are so utterly pathetic in our naïve sense of superiority and our despicable self-adulation. We can’t even imagine that these poor people we are waging a war at should have even the slightest right to direct weapons at us as we do at them. And if it would enter our minds that they have some right, we feel entirely safe in the conviction that they have no means of really harming us.

We in the western world use all kinds of prestige words when we describe our ethics on the global scene: democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, etc. Yet our rotten moral can be unmasked by a ten year old.

My collected reader’s comments to NYT articles

Follows a collection of commentaries I’ve made in the New York Times Reader’s Comments section on different articles (mostly for me keeping track of them myself). They’ll be accessible as long as NYT keeps the links alive, I suppose.

31 January 2015. A comment on the vaccine debate that followed the recent outbreak of measles in U.S.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/as-measles-spreads-in-us-so-does-anxiety.html?comments#permid=13989276
-.-.-.-

25 March 2015. On signs of increasing poverty albeit growing wealth in the society (Sweden) as a whole:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/opinion/how-poor-are-the-poor.html?comments#permid=14521337
-.-.-.-

30 March 2015. On the horrific number of deaths in China during the Mao era, which we constantly are reminded of, compared to the even larger mortality caused by capitalism in India – which we very seldom hear of:

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/cambodian-historians-call-for-china-to-confront-its-own-past/?comments#permid=14562852:14581199
-.-.-.-

3 April 2015. Another complete imbalance in our fields of interest: our laser-like scrutiny of terrorism carried out by others, compared to the forbearance with our own, much graver and deadlier terrorist activities:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/world/africa/garissa-university-college-shooting-in-kenya.html?comments#permid=14598017:14604023
-.-.-.-

9 May 2015. This article appeared simultaneously in NYT and Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), not surprisingly. It’s that kind of text our propaganda model loves: a Russian author who more or less regrets that his country defeated Nazi Germany in WWII. He just thinks that one oppression was replaces by another, obviously unaware of the Nazi’s Generalplan Ost which aimed at exterminating most people in Russia and enslaving the rest. This was not some high-flying Nazi plan or empty threat, it was implemented from day one of the German invasion. The existence of the special Sonderkommando with the explicit task to exterminate Jews, Communists and other unwanted humans was the terrible evidence of that reality.

One could have hoped that NYT and DN had been kind enough to save the poor ignorant (or just propagandistic) author from his embarrassment, but the temptation to publish his sentimental excesses was maybe to overwhelming. As some Readers’ Comments point out, the article was also a slap in the face on Putin and Russia, on the very day, sacred for Russians, of commemorating the death of 27 million people which Russia had to sacrifice to defeat the most atrocious and inhuman ideology in all history: Nazism.

An interesting difference: Dagens Nyheter didn’t open its comment section on this article, as opposed to New York Times. This is one reflection on the difference in effective freedom of expression which is taken much more seriously in the U.S. than in Europe. My comment, like some other critical ones, was listed as “NYT Pick” by the editor, another sign of openness for critique. But on the other hand: the propaganda gain was taken home by the printed article. (I suppose that the reader’s comments are mostly read by the commentators themselves.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/opinion/mikhail-shishkin-how-russians-lost-the-war.html?comments#permid=14915384
-.-.-.-

11 May 2015. A comment on one of Paul Krugman’s many enlightened columns in NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/paul-krugman-wall-street-vampires.html#permid=14932711
-.-.-

17 May 2015. An article on the prospects for western economy after the last collapse, with discussions about singularities, neglecting the overall picture.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/upshot/dont-be-so-sure-the-economy-will-return-to-normal.html?comments#permid=14975427

The Soviet Union – mainly Russia – defeated the Nazis

It’s a token of our superior western propaganda model that Russia’s role in WWII now is more or less marginalized in our media, and increasingly in people’s minds. That is: Russia’s positive role is diminished. For the rest of it the red hoards are put on rather equal terms with Nazi Germany, first of all by pointing at the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, leading to the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland and the Baltic states.

In this remolding of history the realpolitik of the 1930s is conveniently obscured. Among other things the main geopolitical goal for the Nazis, which was to conquer the land of the Slavs and make the entire Slavic region a service area for the Aryans in the future Germania. For that you didn’t have to read (the unreadable) Mein Kampf, it was reiterated in numerous speeches and texts by the Nazi leaders. So every sober observer realized that the pact between Soviet and Germany was just a tactical move and only temporary.

To understand Russia’s motives in that game is not really hard. The western countries, formerly great colonial powers, had declared war on Germany but were completely impotent militarily. They had been reluctant to form alliances with the Soviet Union who stood alone before the coming attack by the German war machine, the most impressive in history up till then. When the strike hit and an alliance could be formed, Russia still had to fight more than 200 elite German divisions for three years before the other members of the alliance were able to do at least some noticeable military effort against (significantly smaller) German units. (In the much hyped battles in North Africa Germany had three [3] divisions engaged.)

Immediately after the war everyone, Churchill, Eisenhower and the rest, admitted the obvious: Russia had overwhelmingly taken the blow and was the main victor. In Europe it was also a widespread feeling that the ordinary working people were the frontrunners. Soviet Union was still considered some kind of workers’ state (an illusion, at that time yet to be disclosed), and the partisans fighting the Nazis in many countries filled their ranks with ordinary citizens, many of them communists, anarchists or social democrats. In Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy the partisans played a crucial role in defeating the Nazis and liberating their countries.

In Sweden the labor movements, mainly the Trade Unions and the Social Democrats, came out strong after the war, captured the political leadership for many years to come and began building a solid welfare state. Hard to believe today is that a serious discussion of transforming Sweden into a centrally planned economy indeed took place. Business leaders realized that real democratic forces had been strengthened by the outcome of the war, and were compelled to make important concessions to at least avoid that. An era of consensus and compromise was solidified, lasting some 40 years, until neoliberalism started to wear down both those gains and a number of others.

To deprive Russia the honor of being the main victor in defeating the horrible and despicable Nazi regime in Germany is sickening in its stupidity (though Hillary Clinton claiming that USA defeated the Nazis is just ordinary and expected ignorance). And to do so as part of propaganda efforts regarding the situation in Ukraine is merely demagogic. As John Mearsheimer (and many others) thoroughly have demonstrated, the crisis in Ukraine has been meticulously prepared by the West for 25 years and, according to Victoria Nuland, with §5 billion invested. That these so called democratic countries then let pure neo-Nazis take the lead in the violent overthrow of an elected president is just simply shameful.

Sweden has a particular role in this process through a man named Carl Bildt, at times Prime Minster and Foreign Minister during this period. He has contributed greatly to undermine Russian security by working for the western area of influence moving closer, and sometimes up to, the Russian border. He will claim that he has been promoting “democracy”, but it’s easy to show that he in numerous cases has preferred highly undemocratic regimes, so far that they secure western superiority, which is his de facto main interest.
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These days it would be appropriate for us to celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany which laid the ground for truly democratic progress in many parts of the world. Russia itself eventually were to reform its authoritarian system 25 years later, only to undergo total break-down caused by capitalist “reforms” which killed 10 million people, a Harmagedon which a man named Putin started to raise his country from some 15 years ago. Since Russia has made progress with Putin at the helm, we obviously think that we have to intervene to stop him in any possible way. That’s us!