…via Aditya Chakrabortty:
It’s a good question. Don’t surveys repeatedly show Sweden as one of the happiest countries (certainly a damn sight cheerier than Britain)? Isn’t it famous for its equality, its warm welcome to immigrants? Whatever happened to Stockholm, capital of progressivism, the Mecca towards which Guardianistas face for their daily five minutes of mindfulness?
We all know the cliches, but the reality is they no longer fit the country so well. Whether it’s on the wealth gap, or welfare, or public services, Sweden is less “Swedish” than it has ever been.
Of course, that’s not what he means, oh no, not at all…
But the country seized by turbulence last week is becoming polarised, and is surrendering more of its public services over to private businesses (sometimes with disastrous effects).
Yes, Aditya. All those Kosovans, Iraqis and Somalis are rioting and burning cars because they are upset about privatisation…
Say, what is the Swedish for ‘PFI’? No matter. Most of those rioting haven’t even bothered to learn the language, despite language lessons being yet another ‘free’ lunch.
And, of course, we’re back to the good old politics of envy, always a favourite topic in the ‘Guardian’ after all:
Compare that with the recent craze in for vaskning. It means sinking, and refers to a practice adopted by young, gilded Swedes of buying two bottles of champagne and then ordering the barman to pour one down the plughole. When Matilda von Sydow described it to me, I thought it was some urban legend, but no: she has seen it happen in Stockholm’s swanky Stureplan. As she says: “Imagine being an unemployed teenager in Husby and hearing about such practices.“
Well, I’ve seen the picture of the rioters and I can’t say they look much like avid news consumers to me.