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Lessons from Sweden

Paul Marks points out the importance of remorselessly pushing out the libertarian memes into a world that does not ‘get it’.

As I write this the results of the German general election are not known. However, there will be few clear lessons to learn even if the Red-Green alliance win (as it could be argued that the Germans voted Red or Green out of hatred of the United States and hatred of Jews [oh sorry, ‘love of the Arab people’] rather than because of support of Red/Green economic policy).

However, the recent election in Sweden teaches us some clear lessons. Promising tax cuts and pretending there will be no cuts in the Welfare State (the policy of the Swedish opposition “Moderate Party”) does not work. People, quite correctly, reject the idea that ‘public-private partnerships’ (or other clever schemes) mean that one can have tax cuts and much the same level of ‘public services’.

The Swedish election also shows us that given the choice of tax cuts at what people believe will be the ‘cost’ of cuts in the public services most people reject tax cuts. Although (it could be argued) that an honest approach “we are going to cut taxes and government spending” would have done better (some people may have voted against the Moderate party because they were seen as liars).

The basic ideology of our age is that government should look after the poor, the weak, the children, the old, the sick (and so on). So are we doomed? Is libertarianism (which runs directly counter to the basic ideology of our age) simply never going to be ‘relevant’ to most people?

I do not think we are doomed. I continue to believe that in a time of economic crisis people are capable of changing their beliefs.

It is a matter of making libertarian ideas known – not so they will be accepted now (they will not be accepted at present), but so that they are available to be turned to in a time of crisis.

Paul Marks

3 comments to Lessons from Sweden

  • Even if you aren’t in charge, you can always have influence.

  • David Carr

    Despite the publicity, I am not persuaded that the Middle East had all that much bearing on the German elections.

    No, as in Sweden, the electorate felt the chilly wind of market realism (albeit in a highly diluted form), collectively shuddered and ran back into the smothering embrace of the welfare-statist left where it is safe, familiar and warm.

    It may well be that the kind of reforms Europe needs are simply not wanted by the electorates over there because they are too difficult and (in their eyes) damaging to contemplate. And so the same old song continues to be sung and the decline continues.

    It is possible that such decline can, if sufficiently advanced, be irreversible. Civilisations have died before and will die again.

  • That’s right, the Germans all hate the Jews. In point of fact, anyone (including a Jew) who is opposed to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza hates Jews, and anyone who is opposed to a war in Iraq hates Jews. While we’re at it: everyone who supports a policy you dislike hates the Jews. Tax and spend liberals: Jew-haters. Borrow and spend conservatives: Jew-haters. And me, well, despite the fact that my great-grandparents left Poland about 5 years before the invasion (and would have been killed if they hadn’t), I hate the Jews too.

    The anti-semitism card is overplayed and pointless. Yasser Arafat hates Jews. The Nazi party’s hatred for Arabs (another “inferior” race) is probably outweighed only by their hatred for the Jews. These are real racists. But I doubt very much that most Germans hate the Jews, and that’s why they love Arafat.