Perpetual Childhood?

By J.K. Baltzersen
He who denies his history, and thus does not learn from it, is doomed to live in perpetual childhood. Is this an important reason for the Swedish nanny and provider state? Is this why – in part at least – Sweden has her “Folkhemmet?”

The history of Sweden starts with Hjalmar Branting. Everything before Hjalmar Branting has only to do with “Großswedisch” ideology and the wish to make the Baltic Sea “Mare Nostrum.” One denies or suppresses this part of history, for it belongs to the old Sweden, not the new.

The French Revolution is the “pride example” of how things really can go wrong when one tries to throw out the old in order to establish “the new.” In Germany one also is ill at ease with the past. That one wishes to distance oneself from Adolf Hitler and his regime and ideology is understandable, very understandable indeed. The new Germany, however, distances itself from far more than Nazism and the extermination camps.

One distances oneself from Imperial Germany. It was “Großdeutsch.” Hitler was authoritarian. Imperial Germany was authoritarian. Hitler was “Großdeutsch.” The Empire was “Großdeutsch.” The ability to distinguish between the two is not always so impressive. Somewhat similar it is with Sweden. The old Sweden, Sweden before Hjalmar Branting, was the “Großswedisch” Sweden. It was in this Sweden real regal powers reigned, quite different from a king being “his advisor’s advisor,” not to speak of today’s “Torekov monarch.” It was in this Sweden the motto “be the smith of your own happiness” reigned. It is this Sweden the new Sweden denies.

In the new Sweden, the absolutism of the Riksdag reigns. In the new Sweden a historically high tax level and a level of intervention in the economy and people’s lives without precedent in Swedish history rule. In the new Sweden a mentality of evasion of responsibility holds sway to a very large extent.

He who values liberty, less government, and people taking responsibility for themselves and their kin should absolutely not be satisfied with the denial and repression of history before Hjalmar Branting.

What has led to the increase of the reach and size of government is a complicated issue. There are many factors playing a role. Among the main factors are: war, the ruling ideas, and the tolerance of material wealth for a high tax level.

When it comes to the factor of war, Randolph Bourne has told us that war is the health of the state. In this respect it is interesting that Sweden, which kept itself out of both world wars of the 20th century, acquired the most extensive and far-reaching nanny and provider state in the Western world.

As for the ruling ideas, it is relatively obvious that the ruling ideas – at least since World War I – have supported growing government power.

Regarding material wealth, there is reason to believe that with a higher level of material wealth we accept a higher tax level than we otherwise would have. Claims of an opposite causality; that a high tax level causes material wealth, there is little reason to comment on in this essay.

A fourth, essential factor is the rise of democracy. For the subject of significance of democratic progress for the growth of government size and reach, the thinkers Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and Bertrand de Jouvenel can helpfully be consulted.

Among the central reasons for democracy leading to a more far-reaching and extensive public sector are: the purchase of votes for other people’s money, the illusion that we rule ourselves, and everything being up for grabs by every single ambitious demagogue.

Among Swedes who value freedom, individual responsibility, and less government, it is not especially rare to come across hate towards monarchy, hate which almost is felt like the institution of monarchy is the devil himself. When we see how a stronger regal power and less democracy coincides in time with more liberty, less government, and more individual responsibility, and we have aspects indicating that there is a certain causality, it should be reasonable to expect less hate-influenced attitudes towards monarchy and other non-democratic elements.

In a monarchy the Prince is quite normally considered the father of the nation. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn has referred to the relationship between the monarch and the nation as a relationship between a father and his grown-up children. With the anonymous, modern State and its nanny and provider state the relationship between the State and its citizens turns into a relationship much more comparable to a relationship between parents and their non-grown-up kids. The relationship between the Prince and his subjects has been perverted. We are to be kids forevermore, a situation to which we are doomed if we deny our history and hence do not learn from it.

J.K. Baltzersen, är f.d. landsstyreledamot i Norges Konservative Studenterforbund. Han är seniorkonsult inom IT och fritidsfrilansare som politisk skribent. Hans arbete har bland annat publicerats hos och Enter Stage Right. Han är med i Farmanns redaktion. Han bloggar på Wilson Revolution Unplugged.