Until Canada took that turn toward neoconservative/neoliberal life in the 1980s it wasn’t unusual to be riffling through a large, floppy item of treeware called a daily newspaper and come across a feature article about the socially democratic good life in Sweden. You could discern then a low key discussion of the possibility we could be like them, a socially democratic Canada with a high standard of living. Despite the post 1980s monoculture of market economics and to-the-right politics in North America now, Sweden remains of interest, more usually to those with leftist views, or who at least seek a model of social development that would ease up some of the worst aspects of corporate capitalism and a reduced role for the public sector. We see virtually nothing left of that discussion in 2013 which represents an unfortunate loss of perspective.
It seems that even in Scandinavia the socially democratic model has its challenges. Global coverage of several days of suburban rioting and arson tell us that. The mass media love nothing better than an image of a car on fire of course, in this case a SAAB or Volvo will do, but there is less interest in reporting on much more than superficial developments behind the rioting. Are attempts to reconfigure social democracy and a strong social safety net behind this? Certainly, immigration and law enforcement issues are layered over the master issue of unemployment in what has come to involve several nights of disorder in nine different suburbs around Stockholm. Either way, it looks like a touch of the Spanish flu has arrived in northern Europe along with the spring.
Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality BBC News
Riots grip Stockholm suburbs after police shooting BBC News with video
image: Stomatol toothpaste sign, a fixture in Stockholm for decades, via Wikimedia Commons