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Saturday, October 12, 2013

"What About Sweden? - my comments

MORE ON - WHAT ABOUT SWEDEN?

My countryman Carl Svanberg gave a lecture at the latest OCON titled ”What About Sweden?” I have not heard that lecture yet – but I can easily imagine the general nature of Mr. Svanberg´s observations concerning the country which I (unfortunately) live in and was born in. Notwithstanding the fact that I have no first-hand knowledge of the content of Mr. Svanberg´s lecture, I wish to contribute my two bits to the oh-so-worthy task of trashing the name of the moral cesspool which is the modern Swedish welfare state.

THE SOCIALISTS´ FAVORITE BOAST: “THE RECORD YEARS”

A concept which Sweden´s Social Democrats are fond of, being the braggarts that they are, is “Rekordåren” (in English: “The Record Years”). This concept refers to the first 25 years or so after the end of the Second World War. This period was, allegedly, like a veritable “Golden Age of the Swedish Welfare State”. The idea is that for all of those 25 years Sweden had low inflation, close to full employment and a rapid rise in the general living standards of the “common man”. According to the official statistics Sweden´s real GNP increased by 4% per year on the average during the years 1950-1975. Sweden´s Social Democrats proudly proclaim that the “Record Years” constitute objective proof that their welfare state is in fact eminently compatible with prosperity and a strong national economy.

Well, how are we enemies of the welfare state to explain Sweden´s relatively healthy economy during the first 25 years after the end of the war? Most of Sweden´s enemies of the welfare state don´t have a clue as to how to answer the argument which goes that the fact of the Record Years proves that the welfare state is “practical”.

Well, I am an enemy of the welfare state who does know exactly how to disprove the assertion that the fact of the Record Years goes to show that the welfare state is “practical”.

Here goes.

THE CAUSE OF THE “RECORD YEARS”

I returned to Sweden in 1970. I was sixteen and had been living in the U.S.A. since the age of five. I remember that during the early years of the 1970s I would every now and then spot a table of the GNP per capita of the world´s various countries when I read a Swedish business magazine. The list would invariably show exactly four countries at the very top: namely the U.S.A., Canada, Switzerland and Sweden. These four members of the “prosperity elite” of the world all had GNPs of roughly 4.000 U.S. dollars per capita. West Germany was in second place, with a GNP of roughly 3.000 U.S. dollars per capita. The other major European industrial powers, i.e. France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium were still further behind with GNPs per capita of roughly 2.000 or 2.500 U.S. dollars per capita.

Now – what exactly did the four members of the “prosperity elite” of the world have in common at the end of the Second World War which might explain their subsequent superior economic performance?

The only thing which comes to my mind is the fact that these four countries were precisely those four major industrial nations on whose territory none of the fighting during the Second World War took place. No fighting took place on the territory of the U.S.A. and Canada for the simple reason that these two countries lay on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and on the other side of the Pacific Ocean from Fascist Japan. And no fighting took place on the territory of Switzerland or Sweden because these two countries were neutral for the entire duration of the war.

The reason that the U.S.A., Canada, Switzerland and Sweden had the best economic development of all the world´s industrial powers during the first couple of decades after the Second World War was, evidently, the fact that their industries had a competitive edge over all of their competitors. The factories and infrastructure of Germany, France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Japan had all been heavily damaged in the fighting during the war. But the productive assets of the four members of the postwar period´s “prosperity elite”, on the other hand, were entirely intact when the war ended. So the factories of the four members of the “prosperity elite” were ready and eager to deliver the goods when their order books were filled to the brim by dint of the reconstruction of war-ravaged Europe.

Now, why did Nazi Germany leave the two dinky little European countries Switzerland and Sweden alone during the war? Well, Switzerland was populated by a fiercely independent and freedom-loving people. And Switzerland was armed to the teeth in 1939. And the terrain of Switzerland would have been extremely difficult to deal with for an invasion force, Switzerland being alpine in extremis. So it stands to reason that the reason Hitler left the Swiss alone was that he deemed an invasion of Switzerland to be too expensive to be worth the price.

But: Sweden? 

Sweden´s military defense in 1939 was a pathetic joke. The Social Democrat administrations of the 1930s had systematically razed Sweden´s defense forces in order to make room in the state budget for the more popular welfare state expenditures. Entire regiments had been scrapped. Large warships had been sold to such foreign countries as Chile. Vital equipment such as modern tanks and artillery had been denied to the Swedish army. Sweden´s Air Force was put on a starvation diet during the entire decade of the 1930s.

Observe that Nazi Germany invaded two of their neighbors to the north, Denmark and Norway – but not Sweden or Finland. Well, it is obvious why Nazi Germany left Finland alone – the Finns fought side by side with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union! But, why did Nazi Germany leave Sweden alone?

I happen to know a thing or two about modern Swedish history – so I can give the proper answer. Nazi Germany had no need to expend any of its limited resources on an invasion of Sweden – for Sweden chose to be very cooperative of its own free will!

SWEDEN: THE BLACKLEG NATION

During the 1990s I visited the National Library in Humlegaarden in central Stockholm several times in order to carry out some research into the subject of Sweden´s foreign policy during the Second World War. I learned some interesting facts which are not well known to either the Swedish or the foreign public.

Sweden supplied almost exactly 52% of all the iron ore which the German steel industry consumed during the war. It goes without saying that the Wehrmacht needed copious amounts of weapons such as tanks, artillery, military aircraft, warships etc. in order to wage the war. These weapons were made mostly of steel. And it is physically impossible to produce steel without iron ore (leaving aside the minor amount which can be produced from scrap iron). So the iron ore which Sweden supplied to Nazi Germany played an essential role for Germany´s war effort! And Sweden delivered all this valuable iron ore voluntarily. There was no need for Nazi Germany to invade Sweden. For Sweden very kindly collaborated with the Nazis.

The simple fact of the matter is that Sweden, under the leadership of the Social Democrats, was more concerned with saving its own neck than with contributing anything beyond words to the struggle against Nazism. Millions of British, American and Russian soldiers were obliged to die on the battlefields in order to stop the Nazis – while Sweden made a tidy profit on its prodigious sales of iron ore to the aggressor!

Now, if a Swedish Social Democrat is reading this essay, he will probably point out indignantly that Sweden was ruled by a coalition government during the war. So the non-Social Democrats were co-responsible for Sweden´s shameful blackleg policy, he will object. Well, that is true. The Social Democrats do not bear the guilt alone. But – the Social Democrats held a majority of their own of the seats in both chambers of the Swedish Parliament during the years 1940-1944. So the Social Democrats could easily have prevented the adoption of Sweden´s blackleg policy if only they had wished to. They had more than enough votes in both chambers of the parliament to get their way no matter what resistance the non-Social Democrats chose to put up.

BUT WHAT COULD SWEDEN HAVE DONE?

Maybe the Social Democrat reader will now resort the rhetorical question: “But what could Sweden have done anyway? If Sweden had refused to deliver the required iron ore then Germany would simply have invaded Sweden, seized the iron ore mines and gotten its iron ore anyway!”

Well, here is what Sweden could and should, have done. 

There is a venerable tactic in warfare which goes by the name of the “scorched earth policy”. Sweden´s government could have made a major contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany by means of preparing in advance for a German invasion. Sweden´s government could have installed massive amounts of dynamite at the right places in the iron ore mines, evacuated the mines and could then have told Nazi Germany that they would get no more iron ore. If the Wehrmacht subsequently launched an invasion of Sweden, the Swedish government could have simply given the order to detonate the dynamite. The iron ore mines would have been destroyed days or weeks before the German troops reached them. Subsequently, it would have taken several years for the German occupiers to rebuild the mines and restart the production of iron ore. Several years without half of its supply of iron ore would have crippled the Nazi German war effort.

But the Social Democrats did not wish for the Swedish people to suffer in any way from a Nazi occupation. They preferred that other nations should suffer in order to defeat the Nazis. Saving Sweden´s own national neck was their top priority. The Social Democrats high-falutin´ talk about “solidarity” is mere empty verbiage.

THEY DID IT ON PURPOSE

Make no mistake. The Social Democrats did it on purpose. I know this - for I learned a couple of telling facts during my above-mentioned research at the National Library in the 1990s.

Firstly: 

During the entirety of the Second World War Sweden had a military draft. Military service was compulsory for all young Swedish males. With one exception: those male Swedish citizens who happened to be mining workers were exempted from the compulsory military service! The mining worker profession was to my knowledge the only profession whose members were systematically exempted from the compulsory military service. Why was this? Well, the answer is not rocket science. The Social Democrats in power sure as heck did not wish for the deliveries of iron ore to Nazi Germany to be imperiled. So the iron ore mines were absolutely not to be deprived of the necessary mining workers! For the iron ore deliveries constituted the bribe which purchased for Sweden its precious separate peace.

The second fact which I uncovered during my research in the 1990s was the interesting fact that according the national labor statistics the stevedores in the small northern city of Luleaa had to put in record amounts of overtime during the war years. Why is this fact interesting? For the simple reason that Luleaa is and was the city from which vast quantities of iron ore produced in Swedish Lappland are and were loaded onto ships for transportation over the Baltic Sea to the continent. To be sure, much of the iron ore from Swedish Lappland was conveyed to Germany during the war years via the Norwegian port of Narvik and down along the Norwegian coast. But especially during the summertime much of Lappland´s iron ore passed through Luleaa. The stevedores in Luleaa had their hands full during the war loading those copious amounts of iron ore onto the ships whose destination was Nazi Germany!

WHY DID SWEDEN GET AWAY WITH IT?

An interesting question in my mind is this: Why in the world did the Allied victors not punish Sweden after they won the Second World War? Why, oh why, was Sweden permitted to get away with its policy of collaboration with one of the worst mass-murderer-regimes in all history? Why was Sweden not required to pay reparations to the victims of Nazism – since Sweden had functioned as an accessory to Nazi Germany?

The most likely answer to this conundrum is that almost immediately after the end of the war, a new enemy of the western world´s freedom reared its ugly head. I am talking, but of course, about the Soviet Union. The U.S.A. and Great Britain became alarmed by the Soviet Union´s brazen takeover of Eastern Europe shortly after Germany´s defeat. Sweden´s geographical location made it a potential barrier to the Red Army. My take is that President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee chose to forgive Sweden it´s transgressions in order so as to not alienate a valuable potential ally.

To be sure, Sweden never joined NATO. And the Social Democrats made loud noises during the postwar period about how the U.S.A. was guilty of this sin and that sin. Sweden´s Social Democrat politicians carried on as though America and the Soviet Union were equally wicked. But those very same Social Democrats knew which side Sweden´s bread was buttered on. It is an open secret that Sweden and NATO cooperated with each other closely for the entire duration of the Cold War. The leadership of NATO and of the Swedish military probably worked out detailed (nominally secret) plans concerning how they would work together in the event of a war. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact in Sweden that Sweden´s intelligence establishment systematically shared much of the information it gathered concerning the Soviet military with NATO and the Pentagon.

BRAZEN HYPOCRISY

The U.S.A. and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain saved Sweden from both Nazi Germany (during the Second World War) and from the Soviet Union (during the Cold War). The response of Sweden was a swinish ingratitude and dishonesty. But there is nevertheless a popular saying in Sweden which the Social Democrats are fond of: “Sweden is the world´s moral superpower.”

Sweden let America and Great Britain pay the price required to stop Nazi Germany – all the time that Sweden enjoyed its separate peace and profited from its lucrative iron ore sales to the Nazi war machine. And - after the war, Sweden´s Social Democrats had the effrontery to make America out to be a global villain (think Olof Palme!). The Social Democrats of Sweden put on airs of moral superiority. Notwithstanding the fact that they were the instigators of Sweden´s economic cooperation with Nazi Germany at the very time that Germany was raping Europe and carrying out multi-million-victim genocide!

I have said it before and now I will say it again:

Modern Sweden is a cesspool - and our Social Democrats are morally obscene! The “Swedish model” does not deserve to be admired or emulated in the least!

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