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This is fascinating stuff for me.

I am old enough to remember when the Nordic countries had enough of their own personalities to rate Cold War lies.  The Sweden of Hammarskjold, Bergman, Gylenhammar, and especially Olaf Palme and Gunnar Myrdahl especially annoyed the Eisenhower boys. (Sorry for spelling errors.)

I live in Minnesota where there are enough Nordics so that at least the Democrats are essentially a Social Democratic party.  (One may argue that the Republicans in the state have a more legitimate claim on this title as Charles August Lindbergh, Sr., whose father was a reform member of the Riksdag before fleeing to USA because of a scandal, would go on to win five elections to the US House.  Of course, modern Minnesota Republicans are now mostly ignorance-worshipping Reaganites so Lindbergh has been LONG forgotten.)

As I see it, Nordic politicians have similar characteristics on either side of the Atlantic.  They come in two essential flavors. 1) The explorers--the folks who like to blaze new paths.  2) The hearth-tenders--the folks who understand that one very good way to survive winter is to pull your blanket over your head and wait for spring.    My theory is that no matter how successful life is with the explorers, eventually Nordics panic and look to "be normal" for a while.

I have a Finnish friend.  Very smart--a professor at the University of Helsinki.  This guy sent me home with 5 kg of books on Marx and Lenin when I first visited him in 1970.  He last visited me a year ago.  He was working on a book on Adam Smith.  He had spent a year in France and considered French society a largely a failure at multiple levels.  It had been a LONG intellectual journey!

I wondered how this could happen.  Two theories emerged.  1) Neoliberalism has been almost kind to Finland.  They are experiencing the closest thing to a "Golden Age" they have ever had.  Hard not to credit neoliberalism.  2) Small societies just assume the larger nations are worth emulating--in this case, England wins almost by default.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, societies that are rich and willing to emulate a culture that has almost no known virtues except how to make life more comfortable for the rich lose their effectiveness a laboratories for social experimentation.  Oh well, at least there are fewer Cold-War-style lies directed at the Nordics these days.

One hopes this situation does not last much longer.  This is a culture that admires its explorers.  One assumes the Nordics won't be led by blanket-over-the-head types forever.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Mon Feb 19th, 2007 at 07:37:39 PM EST
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1) Neoliberalism has been almost kind to Finland.  They are experiencing the closest thing to a "Golden Age" they have ever had.  Hard not to credit neoliberalism.

Well, I guess that could be true, if Finland consisted only of the most well-off citizens. At the same time there are more people depending on Salvation Army food packages than in decades. Lots of people who crashed financially during the early 1990's recession still haven't recovered.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Mon Feb 19th, 2007 at 07:47:28 PM EST
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At the same time there are more people depending on Salvation Army food packages than in decades.

That in itself is worth a diary.

I have been very intrigued by the "Nordic Model" since I first read about it a couple of years ago.  And while some like oldfrog praise and advocate it, others here occasionally reveal glimpses of a grimmer, less shiny reality behind the banner.

Bush is too stupid to be able to ACT that stupid.

by marco on Mon Feb 19th, 2007 at 07:57:30 PM EST
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I have NO doubt this is true.  Neoliberalism has been VERY hard on the poor--even in places as "successful" as Finland.

Yet compared to some other experimenters in neoliberalism, Finland has had quite the 15 years.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Mon Feb 19th, 2007 at 07:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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