After my fist few month in Sweden I have asked myself this question many times. “Is Sweden a Socialist country?” Looking deeper into this, you will find that Sweden is in fact very pro capitalism, but does big redistribution through taxes.
Lets dig deeper, capitalism developed under the auspices of the Swedish Social Democratic Party which assumed power in 1932 and retained uninterrupted power until 1976.
Initially differing very little from other industrialized capitalist countries, the state’s role in providing comprehensive welfare and infrastructure expanded after the Second World War until reaching a broadly social liberal consensus in the 1950s.
According to Phillip O’Hara, “Sweden eventually became part of the Great Capitalist Restoration of the 1980s and 1990s. In all the industrial democracies and beyond, this recent era has seen the retrenchment of the welfare state by reduced social spending in real terms, tax cuts, deregulation and privatization, and a weakening of the influence of organized labor.”
Social democracy dominated politics in Sweden for the most part of the 20th century, but since then the public sector has been reduced by several neoliberal reforms. However lots of people (including Bernie Sanders) claim that Sweden is, a ‘socialist’ country because it has state sponsored welfare and health systems, and high taxes.
In other words the Swedish state redistributes wealth that has been initially allocated by the capitalist market. This however means, that in order to redistribute wealth from a capitalist market, you first have to have a capitalist market.
As Andreas Bergh points out in his 2016 book, Sweden and the Revival of the Capitalist Welfare State, it is inconceivable to think of the Sweden of the current decade as being anything other than a capitalist, and in fact libertarian, country.
to be continued…
Thank you for reading! If you would like to read another Blog Post – Klick here – Topic: Staycation! Buying a Swedish summer house
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