Four Marxist Essays From Sweden By Bengt Lennartsson

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22/02/2016 by socialistfight

 1. EIGHT RACIST PARTIES IN THE RIKSDAG

Green party spokesperson Åsa Romson in 2011. (Green Party Sweden)

  Media focused primarily on Green spokesperson Åsa Romsson and her tears. But the Greens had a choice, they could’ve resigned and forced a more progressive policy for tolerance and immigration with associated investments in work for all, decent new residential areas with decent rents and so on

At the end of November and early December, a few things happened that will bring negative effects for some of the most vulnerable in Sweden, the immigrants.

The Swedish Democrats received almost 20% in polls and the government and the right wing Alliance got in together on an immigration policy that will be one of the most restrictive in the EU. Gone are the days of October, when politicians rallied around the “Refugees welcome” banners. Suddenly, it just wasn’t on. Refugees are not just to sleep under the bare sky, they are to be prevented from entering the country through cold hearted policies and ID controls on the trains from Copenhagen that are already, to the dismay of us commuters, suffering from huge delays. And, as if that wasn’t enough, there’s even talks about being able to close the Öresund bridge. Sure, the council of legislation criticises the government, but the government couldn’t give a toss.

Media focused primarily on Green spokesperson Åsa Romsson and her tears. But the Greens had a choice, they could’ve resigned and forced a more progressive policy for tolerance and immigration with associated investments in work for all, decent new residential areas with decent rents and so on. To put it bluntly, Swedish labour movement has always stood for solidarity across the borders, regardless of whether it’s immigration policy or support to the anti-apartheid movement. It would’ve been an easy task for the Greens to show the labour movement rank and file that the social democratic bureaucrats are abandoning their ideals. Again, one could’ve made internationalism the main thing, the proletarian internationalism that the bureaucrats have dragged in the dirt.

The party could’ve stolen plenty of votes from the Social Democrats that way, by criticising their abandoning of positions and simultaneously pose as the party that best represents working class voters. Social Democrats are losing in the polls and then the Greens could’ve made an attempt at winning those voters to the government through the Greens (who are in government with the Social Democrats) and increase support, instead of the opposite.

Now, the Greens aren’t a party of the labour movement and are an utterly dubious party when it comes to consistent policies. The party was prepared to collaborate with right in 2002, it was the party that made attacks on Labour laws possible and the party which made it possible for the right wing Alliance to bring in non-union and non-collective-bargaining labour to Sweden.

The Greens find their support in the middle class. While a big chunk of the middle class vote to the right, the Greens attract voters from the more progressive parts of the middle class, but as the large part of the middle class start to worry about what is all the more obvious today, the decay of capitalism, they move to the right. The middle class want to guard the system most of all and only secondarily, do they wish to make it more attractive. They’re probably honest, these middle class people and that they want tolerance, feminism, etc., but not at any cost. Not at the cost of toppling capitalism, that is why they’ve bargained with the right so many times and even governed cities, as well as the whole region of Scania in alliance with the right.

It is almost certain that Romsson knew this. She might grieve that her voters move to the right, but as a healthy serving of working class policies are absent in the Riksdag (Swedish parliament), she had to adjust her policies to make them fit the prejudices of the middle class, so that the voters wouldn’t abandon her party.

That the Sweden Democrats are a party with racist roots is obvious. Wikipedia tells us:

 

“Sweden Democrats or Swedish Democrats is a political party in Sweden that was founded in 1988. The party describes itself as social conservative with a nationalist foundation, though it has been characterized by some as far-right, right-wing populist, national-conservative, and anti-immigration. Since 2005 its party chairman has been Jimmie Åkesson. Richard Jomshof has been party secretary since 2015 and Mattias Karlsson has been the parliamentary group leader since 2014. An Anemone hepatica flower has been the official SD logo since 2006.”

 

Also obvious is that the right wing parties’ policies breed racism, but I would go even further and say that in the Riksdag, there is eight racist parties. All parties except the Sweden Democrat (who weren’t allowed in) and the Left (who withdrew at the end) have given the Sweden Democrat a carte blanch to nick voters from them, It is thanks to the incompetence of the then opposition that the Sweden Democrat could enter the Riksdag in 2010 and by compromising with right wing forces, racism has won ground. The Left party of Sjöstedt are highly likely to protest being referred to as racist, but at the end of the day, they’ve pushed or helped to push racist policies.

 

A big chunk of the working class is immigrant. What has the Riksdag given them except empty talk? A big chunk of the working class, some of the less paid jobs are held by immigrants. What has the Riksdag given them? Not much. Attacks on welfare, union laws and the dole. To the extent that immigrants at all are mentioned in public debate, they are to be servants to the rich through the right wing alliance’s job tax reduction scheme that opened up for servants to the rich.

 

That all parties agree on keeping capitalism is another argument to why the Left party is a racist party. They are racist because they accept a system which perpetually put people of certain ethnicity in the backseat.

 

Further, one can see that the Left and the Social Democrats are racist parties in the fact that they are pro-imperialist, they support Swedish imperialism, whose mentality says it’s ok for the bosses in the imperialist countries to plunder and exploit the peoples in the third world for no other reason really than the fact that they got another ethnicity.

 

In the public debate, imperialism and colonialism has often been portrayed as one and the same and sure, there are few open colonies left in the world today, in Europe, it is only the North of Ireland, but that doesn’t mean that imperialism is dead. Can anyone deny that some countries make money of the peoples of other countries?

 

Colonialism is a side effect of imperialism, but the core of imperialism that finance capital has taken the seat of productive capital. It is no longer just the owner of a company that is the big boss, but the bankers and investors that speculate and invest and have the power to (as we’ve seen during later years) top throw countries into endless crisis. The competition ceases and what we have are giant corporations run by the banks, companies whose production must gain new markets and the need to subject other countries appear. The economies of the small nations are struck out and the monopoly capitals of the big players take full control.

 

In that sense, Sweden is an imperialist nation. We have finance families like the Wallenbergs, we’ve got multinational companies like H&M and IKEA and we’ve got companies that outsource their production to countries where they can pay in peanuts and without collective bargaining and without union rights.

 

Neither the Social Democrats nor the Left wish to abandon this, but want to support Swedish trading, Swedish imperialism, that is.

 

Therefore, no party in the Riksdag can be said to stand for genuine working class policies, what they stand for is the policies of plunder, hatred and exploitation.

 

To get to an end to this situation, we need to implement a lot of things, among the least is to nationalise the monopolies, the banks and the finance companies, like the Social Democratic youth league, the SSU, sometimes make ritual references to. (“Where does all the Social Democratic bureaucrats come from, where did all the radical SSU people go?”, as an old Maoist pamphlet once rhetorically asked).

 

But in the long run, one can only get rid of racism and imperialism and all other right wing policies by building a working class alternative. A party based on the labour movements experiences of struggle and its finest traditions, whereof internationalism is one of the foremost. Us communists are building that party today in the form of the Communist Party of Sweden, SKP, there isn’t many of us, but we are fighting to grow and to one day change history. If you’re interested in working class politics, you should definitely consider joining us. You’ll find more info about us and where you can find us at http://www.skp.se

 2. THE SYSTEM OR SOLIDARITY!

By Bengt Lennartsson

The day this editorial is written on is Friday 13th of November 2015 and we can clearly state that the day lives up to its reputation.

The social democratic government let it be known that refugees may have to sleep rough this weekend and the liberals demand “heavy manners” against refugee kids coming without parents.

The social democrats and the liberals are both parties that have, historically, made attempts at representing some form of basic humanism, yet statements like these are made without most people really reacting. Where’s the democratic socialism? Where’s social liberalism?

To communists as and to all progressive people, compassion, solidarity and proletarian internationalism must be placed first. If the system of today crashes against the wall of compassion, then we have to get rid of the system, not our solidarity.

The problem is that this system can’t be kept if we want solidarity. Capitalism is an inhumane system which is constructed upon the direct opposite to humanism and solidarity. Capitalism means war, imperialism, racism and cutbacks and all of this, we see today.

The liberals have always been a party propping up the system, even if they’ve tried to market themselves as the cuddly alternative on the right wing. The party has made the middle class their main voters and when the middle class now being terrified from where pensions are to come from, the middle class move to the right and with them the liberals.

 

Such were the policies of Olof Palmes “democratic socialism” and such is the method today with Löfvéns “responsible” politics for growth.

But the social democrats too have propped up the system, all the time since its leadership sided against the first socialist state. The party has made it their mission to defend capitalism against its voters, the working class, as much as possible without being unmasked. The party has been a part of the system, its left flank, but has gained credibility by introducing a few reforms. Its MO has been to ask itself “how much can we make treaties with the bourgeoisie without our voters leaving us?” Such were the policies of Olof Palmes “democratic socialism” and such is the method today with Löfvéns “responsible” politics for growth.

Social democracy has started its march towards its doom and has really committed this slow suicide since the days of Ingvar Carlsson. Göran Persson has received a lot of bashing, but things were bad even on the days of “shoe-face” and Palme himself was always a pro-capitalist reformist.

The fact that social democracy has moved to the right and that Sjöstedts “left party” stand for the utopian politics of being for solidarity, but still defend capitalism against the working class, something which can’t be done, either capitalism or solidarity must go, all of this means that the concept of class has left the political debate.

Sure, we hear warnings of immigrants becoming the “new underclass” and there’s a lot of talk about the middle class, but where is the fact that an absolute minority live on the labour of others? That the capitalists make their Money by forcing others to work for them?

During the regency of the right wing Alliance, the kind of class struggle policies from above was almost provocative. Butchering the welfare, attack the trade unions and the dole, while simultaneously introducing tax reliefs for the upper class if it hired people to help their kids with their homework or even bartenders for their parties.

The march to the right of social democracy make this possible. We are pitted against each other. Class struggle rhetoric is forbidden within the labour movement, but we are supposed to see workers who are unemployed or receiving benefits as our enemies and our bosses as our allies.

The social democrats have always been traitors, but as the middle class, the labour aristocracy and the bourgeoisie become terrified of the effects of their own policies and can make giant leaps rightward, it allows for social democracy to do what it is currently doing. The treason is not new, just the scale of it. That a party has made itself famous for being for solidarity and internationalism can call for refugees to sleep outside under nothing but the sky is provocative even to us communists. The right wing wouldn’t be able to push such policies during the 80’s or even the 90’s. It is even comparable to fascism.

The Swedish establishment, the lieutenants of capital, are part of the same international system that has exploited Africa, called for bombings of Syria and Iraq in order to defend the watch dog state of Israel in the oil-rich area. The fact that refugees arrive here can be explained by the actions of capital.

We doubt that most die-hard racist wouldn’t hesitate a bit before answering to the question what he would do if we had a war in Sweden. Whether he would send his kids or grandkids abroad or keep them in Sweden in war and misery.

As we said, if the system crashes against the wall of solidarity, then the progressive answer is that we have to get rid of the system.

There is a solution, but only one solution which can give work for all, peace for all, flats for all and welfare for all. The answer is communism, the class-less society where everyone work according to their means and receives according to their needs.

None of the parties of the Swedish parliaments, the Riksdag, have the solution, if we are to solve the refugee question, then we have to get rid of capitalism!

 3. Sweden: Why are there beggars in our streets?

By Bengt Lennartsson

One of the burning issue in Swedish politics right now is the question of beggars on our streets. In some EU countries, the beggars never went away, but with the welfare system in northern Europe, we were told that the beggars would be gone forever and we would all have a bright future of democratic capitalism that was socialist, as the leaders of the “people’s home” declared themselves to be socialists.

However, Swedish reformism never broke with capital and has, since the 1990’s, become fully integrated in the unification of European capitalism into a pan-European “super capitalism” that can compete with that of the USA.

The key to our understanding of why we suddenly have beggars on our streets rests firmly with the science of Marxism. The Swedish welfare state has been dismantled, yes and some beggars are ethnic swedes, however the fact that most are from the Roma minority and have come here to beg for money from their home countries of Romania and Bulgaria has split the nation in two. In Norway, the right wing government wish to illegalise begging totally, something which has already happened in Denmark, where you can now be prosecuted by the law for helping beggars.

The Swedish Democrats (SD), a former Nazi party, which got “democratic” overnight and is now the third largest party in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, has campaigned, not to ban begging totally, that wouldn’t get much support, but “organized begging” only. The Roma minority is one of Europe’s oldest oppressed minorities and there are numerous prejudices surrounding them. The myth cultivated by the populist right is that these people aren’t really beggars, but are criminals traveling to Sweden to beg in the streets to pay their gangster crime boss or to build luxury villas and buy expensive cars.

But should we care? Yes, we should, but in the right way.

So, to the core of the issue, why are there beggars in our streets, the sight we thought we’d never see again? The answer is imperialism.

To many people, imperialism is a dated word. The popular misconception is that imperialism ceased to happen with the wars of liberation of the colonies following the Second World War. In fact, imperialism, if we mean its scientific explanation and not its popular misuse means that the banks, high finance and the stock exchange has become dominating in the capitalist system and money is lent all across the world and speculators and investors decide the fate of people with the press of a button.

Yes, there are still colonies in the world, the north of Ireland is such a one. Such a statement will make people react. Britain is seen as a civilized nation, but fact is, the six counties in the north are occupied and any strike delivered at capitalism must also incorporate a strike against British imperialism. Imperialism is alive and kicking.

However, imperialism has changed its guise and has become even more cynical after World War 2. During the days of open colonialisation, it was the “white man’s duty” to spread Christianity and western values to these countries. In fact, as most people know, that was just a pretence for exploiting these countries and their inhabitants. This pretence is gone today, but countries are still exploited. Just look at Chile under Pinochet. There was no pretence at all, just the Milton Friedman school, which exploited the country in the interests of US imperialism

Although the EU is still nominally democratic, we can see imperialism here too. By incorporating the Eastern states of the continent, former workers states, like Poland, Bulgaria, Romania or the Baltic states and many others, meant that capital and labour could be moving across the borders freely. This has meant that these countries, most of them anyway, have lost all of their own native capitalism and western companies rule there. Swedish interests are mainly active in the Baltic States. Apart from money traveling without customs or taxes across the borders, people can move too. This was designed to turn the workers of the East into low-paid, non-unionized labour.

The thing which the bosses didn’t seem to understand though, was that with the free moving across borders of people, not only workers could move, but also beggars. The workers of the west and north of Europe are now seeing face to face what capitalism leads to, with beggars in our streets.

The answer is not philanthropy. That might be a quick fix and a Roma beggar doesn’t have to sleep rough for the night and may eat a meal that day. The problem is that such a solution doesn’t solve anything, every morning, working class commuters meet them at the train stations and at some point people get fed up giving money away.

Neither is the SD solution an answer. Banning people from entering Sweden and banning their right to ask for money for food to eat solves nothing, it merely makes people not see the problem and it turns the beggars into thieves. This reveals the cynicism of the SD party.

The answer is open borders, inside EU and towards the rest of the world. However, open borders with maintained capitalism is no solution. Capitalism destroys countries and this is what can see with the beggars in our streets now.

 

European workers should fight for a socialist united states of Europe. The banks and the finance companies should be nationalized under worker’s control, a sliding scale of wages and working hours introduced, worker’s control of all industry should be introduced – open the books!, the right to join a Trade Union and its autonomy from the state guaranteed, education that is free and available to all and social organizations that provide power to the consumers introduced too.

 4. ON FEMINISM IN SWEDEN

By Bengt Lennartsson

F! celebrated its 6,000 members with birthday cake at Nytorget

“The Feminist Initiative” (F!) in Sweden celebrates its huge increase in membership

Feminism has become an issue in the world politics again. For a long while, women’s issues weren’t touched by politics and if they were, it usually involved setbacks and reactionary legislation. We have had some reactionary legislation in Sweden too, but Sweden remains unique in the fact that we have had a vibrant feminist awakening since the 1990s, when a young school girl made headlines after refusing to be referred to as a “whore” by her male class mates. That sparked an upsurge in feminist consciousness, all of a sudden, lesbian radical feminism was something school girls were aware of and women of all ages all of a sudden began to protest about the way women are treated in society, an anthology of feminist texts, “Fittstim” (“Cunt pack”) was published, the title referring to how Swedish reformist Trade Union boss had called feminists – “a pack of cunts”. Even in high society and the establishment, feminism was made a necessity, female artists criticizing male artists for their macho attitudes. A feminist party was launched in 2005, “The Feminist Initiative” (F!). F! is now the fourth largest party in Sweden in terms of membership, but has no representation in the Riksdag (parliaments).

In fact, when the Arab spring began and Arab women started speaking out and the Femen movement spreading from Ukraine and Pussy Riot from Russia, making headlines, feminism was to some extent considered dead in this country. The new generation of feminism had its effect in Sweden too in 2014, though, as F! won a representative in the EU parliament.

But what is feminism and does F! speak for all women?

In some respects, F! is more of a broader middle class left party, it’s basically the same people that vote for them or join them as much of the left groups mobilize. The party is as strongest in constituencies where bohemian people, artists and intellectuals reside. Feminism is its main argument, but they’re also against homophobia, racism and has launched a few ideas that speak to working class women as well.

To many leftists outside Sweden, feminism is a non-issue, but that is a fatal perspective, not just in alienating angry women.

First of all, you’re not born a woman, you become one. Today, some people persist in saying that Jews are greedy, Africans are lazy and that Romas are thieving, but to most people, that is reactionary stereotypes that carry no truth at all and are based on non-rational arguments.

Still, you can say that a person born with ovaries behave in a certain way and must be brought up in a different way than people without ovaries. These people, the socially constructed women are then told to be quiet in school, to be interested in boys instead of bettering their situation and are confronted by vicious pornography, a phenomena that is often excused by the fact that women consent to appear in them. If a Jew consented to be part of a Nazi party TV-advert, would it be any less Nazi? The same pornography also give males a false picture of women and to top all the bloody factors off, women have to worry about getting raped.

Patriarchy, the situation where men rule all across society, is not explicitly capitalist, but capitalism is explicitly patriarchal. Sexism runs through the marrow of capital, but has been present in all class societies. The reason why is that women carry babies and in order for class society to function, there is the need for a society where women are guarded as jewels and kept in bondage in “the kitchen and the bed”, as a famous Swedish sexist saying goes. By giving birth to new babies, society prevails. If the king of Sweden’s wife had sex with a plumber that would simply be impossible. Is the baby a prince or a plumber’s son?

Added to this, “typical” school girls’ sports like riding or handball get a lot lesser funding from society than typical male activities like soccer or ice hockey. Then the “typical” female professions, like childcare or healthcare, get lower wages and the males who work as their colleagues get higher wages.

This shows that patriarchy is necessary to capitalism, but also that if you strike at patriarchy, you also strike at capital.

Parties like F! and mainstream feminism likes to think that all women are sisters and that women should fight together, some even suggesting that males can’t be part of the struggle. Which is exactly the same as saying that white people mustn’t be anti-racist.

One can liken class society to a manor house. On the top floor lives the capitalist and his wife and children. The wife is oppressed by him, but they also exploit the middle class private teacher that live on the middle floor and she, in her turn, although oppressed by her husband, exercise oppression of the working class service people that live on the bottom floor.

That means that the boss’s wife and the private teacher both have an interest in preserving capitalism, the very system which oppress them. That is why most feminists don’t like the word “class”.

However, if the working class woman fights for her liberty and goes on attack against the very building, tearing apart the pillars on which it rests, the whole building will collapse.

Men and women need to unite against patriarchal capitalism. But the feminist movements have a revolutionary potential in the fact that it wants to abolish one of the key fundamentals of capitalism. We should work with the feminist groups, as socialists we need to give them our experience of class struggle and they need to give us their experience of women’s struggles. As a Swedish leftist slogan goes, “Women’s struggles are class struggles”.

 

Most of all, the perspective we need to give feminism is that the working woman must be in the lead of the women’s struggles. Only she has the capability to strike at the heart of the issue, by a general strike and socialist revolution.

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