Scandinavia on the Skids: The Failure of Social Democracy
(Part 3 of a 7 part series on Scandinavian “Socialism”)
Olof Palme had just won his fourth term as Prime Minister when we spoke in Stockholm in the fall of 1985. Like Denmark’s Anker Joergensen, this stalwart social democrat opposed the “cold, egoistic new liberalism”. Unregulated capitalism threatens the Swedish model of social welfare, he said at his September 15 election victory.
Palme was more than a typical social democrat of his times, more a “revolutionary reformist”, as he was often called. He was a stronger critic of US and Israel imperialism than any other Western government leader. His denunciation of US’s war against Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos—especially its bombings of Hanoi, which he compared with Franco’s bombing of Guernica—led the US to deny him entry and it froze relations between the two governments. Sweden’s parliament was not cowed: 216 of the 350-member body voted to support South Vietnam’s provisional government’s 7-point peace plan. This plan, including the removal of all foreign military personnel and war equipment, became reality upon victory, May 1, 1975.
In 1969, Palme and the government adopted a neutral stance in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but when Israel invaded Lebanon, July 1982, Palme compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children to that of Nazi Germany treatment of Jewish children in concentration camps and in ghettos.
Not only did…