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Of America, Sweden, and Not Just Another New Year!!!

Greetings From the Laboratory of Rightwing Radicalism

by RITT GOLDSTEIN

Dalarna, Sweden.

It’s been an ‘interesting’ year here, perhaps best described by a quote from a Guardian article that I recently read: “Despite its reputation as a leftwing utopia, Sweden is now a laboratory for rightwing radicalism.” Frankly, I was surprised to see this observation, not that I don’t agree with it completely, but rather that so few seem aware of what’s ongoing.  Needless to say, as an immigrant and a minority that’s found himself in a land quickly shifted ‘hard right’, it is not terribly pleasant at the moment, but, it’s never dull (I only wish it was).

Daily, in one way or another, I ‘personally enjoy’ the ‘benefits’ of such changes, as do many others here that are not native born of ‘majority heritage’.  Of course, as early as Summer 2011, I did write upon such things for Asia Times, the article titled “Living with the far right”.  But, one must recall that testing laboratories exist for a reason, and would not the results of their successes then be applied by others?

Perhaps in example, George Bush spoke of partially privatizing Social Security in 2004, then pursued that goal in his second term, and according to Wikipedia, even during “his last days in office, Bush said that spurring the debate on Social Security was his most effective achievement during his presidency”.  But, Sweden passed legislation partially privatizing its pension system during the 1990s, the conservative Heritage Foundation even singing its praises, “Pension Reform in Sweden: Lessons for American Policymakers”.  And then, one might recall the GOP’s promises of offering the public ‘more choices’, as was trumpeted in the recent political efforts regarding Medicare and Medicaid  ‘reform’; but, the promise of ‘more choices’ was similarly trotted out by Sweden’s Moderate Party for the 2006 Swedish election, done so as regards Moderate plans for Swedish healthcare ‘reform’.  Of course, some might say it probably has helped that GOP strategist Karl Rove has a history with the Swedish Right, his web site, Rove.com, noting: “His (Rove’s) clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.”

Hmmm, could this be what The Guardian referred to with: “Despite its reputation as a leftwing utopia, Sweden is now a laboratory for rightwing radicalism”?

Having said this, it’s not just Sweden where problems exist, much of the West, particularly The States, facing a virtual ‘overnight’ erosion of the life it took progressives, unions, assorted progressive politicians and groups, and a genuinely free press, decades to build. To my eyes, we are arguably witnessing an effective ‘right-wing coup’ of unprecedented dimension — despite the fact that folks call the philosophy driving events ‘Neoliberalism’ — with the erosion of life before us being but a reflection of its effects.

There is no law that says a coup must be overt, and perhaps it might be argued that ‘quiet, effective takeovers’ might possibly be the most desirable kind for those pursuing them. Of course, the question which we all face today is simple, ‘where do we go from here?’

A friend of mine said yesterday that many of today’s Progressive leaders aren’t hypocrites, it’s just that there are so many issues – they run from one to another saying something, but unable to understand where to begin in doing something. I replied that when I was quite young, my Grandfather told me: “When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” When I then asked my Grandfather how this would help, he replied “it doesn’t”.

I personally believe that too many of us have come to accept simply words, even those known or suspect as empty, a corrosive apprehension keeping many folks from demanding the actions those words bespeak.  But maybe, just maybe, this may be changing, doing so in proportion to the numbers rudely awakening from the ‘American Dream’.  Though, instead of that strong cup of morning coffee, some have demanded ‘tea’, a whole party of folks, in fact.

Today, we have all seen how divided ‘we, the people’ have become, far too many of us now vastly more eager to strike out at each other instead of those genuinely responsible for present circumstances. And, that’s just fine with the ‘bad guys’, as a matter of fact, I think it’s the whole idea.

The British have been said to have ruled India by playing one group off against another, the Romans first employing the concept, a concept that’s come to be known as ‘divide and rule’.  But, as Gandhi demonstrated, everything has its limitations.

Unless and until ‘we, the people’ can disconnect from the ‘programming’ which our contemporary ‘circuses’ keep instilling, disconnect from the assorted other mechanisms that keep too many people ‘parroting’ ideas that do nothing but destroy them, we cannot succeed. So, how to begin??? Well, I haven’t watched television in many years, and perhaps — for the same reasons as companies pay huge amounts for TV advertising — avoiding programming just might be a start…there are libraries, there are books, and there is The Net.  Turn off the ‘boob tube’!

Friends, in the final analysis all we have is each other, though, some have done their best to indeed keep us apart. Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote in a Common Dreams article that: “In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he spoke of a time that ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’, but every day suggests it has, and unless we organize as our forebears once did, I fear we shall perish too, the empty souls of ‘walking dead’ being all that may remain.” And today, more than ever, I continue to believe this to be true, as do I also believe that we can reclaim our future, that an enlightened solidarity is the answer, and that — most of all — all that we have my friends is each other.

To all of you, I wish the happiest of New Years, and indeed hope that together, we, the people, can and will ensure the future which should be ours!

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden. His work has appeared fairly widely, including in America’s Christian Science Monitor, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Spain’s El Mundo, Austria’s Wiener Zeitung, Hong Kong’s Asia Times, and a number of other global media outlets.