Vi är Sverige — del två

Make Eu Left Again

“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own wishes.” — Gore Vidal


I can read Swedish pretty good now — write not too bad, either. Dialects are hard sure and don’t even start me on prepositions. By the way when you move to a new city you can forget about sliding in with the natives. Natives — ha! Seriously what does that even mean? Ridiculous language.

One of my employers here is a Swedish fella, his name is Serkan. Turkish descent. He hasn’t been ‘home’ in 10 years — isn’t bothered. Another person I know, Ferial, she’s Syrian — last I heard she was en route to Lebanon to get her passport renewed because Syria’s been so terribly destroyed they had to set up a temporary embassy in Beirut to process documents.

Ferial was also an employer of mine when I first arrived here and, like Serkan, I’ve come to regard them as friends. Friends as people amongst people — nothing more, nothing less.

I’m ‘Scottish’, sure. I don’t feel Scottish, but I don’t really feel Swedish, either. In fact, I just feel human. I feel most comfortable around humans who don’t tend to identify with one thing or the other neither religion nor creed. As I write this, I can feel the nerve endings on my skin, the blood in my arms — when I wake up tomorrow I’ll go for a piss, take a shower, as usual. And then I’ll be back here on the typewriter once again, writing, getting on with my work and out wae the dug.

Yet today, well. Of course — today is a little more unique. They don’t vote here as traditionally as those Scots and ’em Brits do you know, no — you’ve up to three weeks before the big day here. And you don’t have to vote on a Thursday o’er here, nope — Sunday’s the day. In Sweden they actually encourage you to vote.

There’s no rush here.

Take your time, take it slow, get it right at the first pass.

It’s democracy, isn’t it?

“People want to be loved; failing that admired; failing that feared; failing that hated and despised. The want to evoke some sort of sentiment. The soul shudders before oblivion and seeks connection at any price.” — Hjalmar Söderberg


The politics here — I’ll admit, I’m still trying to truly get my head around it. Some of it is great, some of it is really desperate. I know it’s just the TV ’n’ ‘at but I love how often Swedish politicians debate each other on the box. It’s like water off a duck’s back to them. In the U.K. aye you’d need to twist a Tory’s arm to get them into the same room as Corbyn but here, well, it seems like the lawmakers debate each other on SVT — the Swedish public broadcaster — a few times a year. Even when there’s no election to be debated.

It’s democracy, isn’t it?

The right wing here, yep, bit of wind in their sails — for sure nae worries free speech ’n’ that. But it’s awfully, awfully inauthentic. Sweden has this (relatively new) party, right, called; The Sweden Democrats, but even they’re old hat now. In fact, since the General Election — back in September, when the Sweden Democrats were suggesting all that take back control crap — their cadre of macho–nationalists have begun to swing toward a more establishment right wing, a more digestible and PR friendly group of materialistic dipsticks called The Christian Democrats I mean… Sweden? In Sweden right? Christians?

They’re a burgeoning ten percenters (in the polls) line of pro–life, anti–immigrant party that say: Make EU Lagom Again. Which actually means nothing. Because no–one in the E.U. even knows what Lagom means, and I doubt many give a shit, either.

You are all together

Europe today.

I’d imagine it’s a bit like living in the ‘30s.

Only, there’s no Miles Davis or Elvis 12” imports to look forward to whilst everything’s dissected down to the last word and character because we live in a microcosm of instantaneous shock, incredulity and indignation.

Luckily, the left is still mobilised here. Albeit a bruised and battered one. Sweden isn’t the egalitarian, feminist utopia it aspires to be, but the communities are warm, jobs are decent and as a country it’s got its shit together far better than the majority its neighbours within the E.U.

I just wish Sweden could reflect on its past a bit more, talk about it a bit more. It would move the country on a hell of a lot if only it could.

There’s a sadness to Sweden, a kind of melancholy to its kind. I don’t know why they’re like this. Maybe I’m a bit like that, too. I believe that it’s only when one truly looks deep within and understands what’s going on with themself that they’re able to stand up, look around and begin to understand what’s going with their fellow peoples.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” — Karl Marx

Comments (4)

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  1. John M Bryden says:

    I am also a Scot living in Sweden (from 2016, after nearly ten years in Norway, and part time in Denmark). Sweden is quite different from Norway, even if the politics seem quite similar, and yes the politicians debate frequently. Sweden’s history and social structure makes it more like England, ie. it had and still has a landed aristocracy, even if it does not any longer have an equivalent of the house of Lords (but the building is still there). Norways great escape from the clutches of the danish and Swedish monarchies was an extraordinary and very astute move in the interregnum after the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, when they were able to produce the most democratic constitution in Europe. yes far more so than Britain, which always claims for itself and by itself to be the founder of democracy. Yet Sweden, like Norway, evolved into a humanistic social democracy. With some flaws, of course, but nevertheless more egalitarian, and more humanistic, than anywhere else I kn ow, and certainly only more so than Britain. We need to understand how this country with its monarchy and aristocracy became egalitarian social democracy, because it is more like Scotland within Britain than we may care to thin k. Not only that, many old Scots families became Swedish landed aristocrats, sitting in their equivalent of the house of Lords, and influencing its political development.
    No, Sweden is not perfect but it is a hello if a site better to live there today than anywhere in Britain, for most people. Understanding why it is like that, despite its small and sparse population, northern latitude and portion in the EU, will help Scotland when it finally takes its independence back and gets on with the job of governing itself! I hope I am still around when that happens.

    1. Erik Sandberg says:

      Hi, John. I think there are pros and cons to anywhere a person decides to live their days. On a basic level, I feel that the standard of housing is better here, and there are greater opportunities for work, but at the same time I’m seeing a declining nightlife here and certainly less bands come here and play for passionate music lovers like myself!

      The last point I make in the article is really rooted in what I’m seeing here with the rise of the right wing. While the Sweden Democrats were essentially frozen out in the Riksdag following national elections September last year, the Christian Democrats have been the first party to stretch out a welcoming hand to them on a policy by policy basis. And that is dangerous. Any mainstream party here in Sweden looking to work with the Sweden Democrats is dangerous. It helps to normalise the Sweden Democrats and their racist policies.

      1. John Bryden says:

        I wholly agree with your political analysis Erik! Of course it is very dangerous, and we hope it does not last.
        We all hope the bands will come back too!

  2. SleepingDog says:

    I think there was a history factoid in computer game Empire: Total War (covering 1700–1799) where midway through the century, the technologically advanced, ambitious and warlike Sweden takes a population census and finds out it has only a tenth of the number people its rulers fondly imagined it had, shattering their dreams of conquest, and indeed pivotal faith in their nation’s centrality. After that, it may have appeared that Sweden was doomed to play a minor role in the margins of Europe.

    I don’t know if this is true to any extent, or if being reconciled to a peripheral role could have helped build a less aggressive national culture, but without a large base, hierarchical projects may lack a credible edge in a competitive worldview.

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