The podcast today reviewed the socialist mindset in which people switch off their minds and bow in passive submission to what their leaders tell them, usually in response to the offer of some type of handout or “care” from the political messiahs. The example of Sweden—so often exalted as the socialist utopia that “works”—served as our illustration. As usual, I didn’t get anywhere near completely through my material. Here follows some choice excerpts for review, and the rest of the material and links.
In his review of Swedish socialism, British correspondent for The Observer, Roland Huntford, drew from his experience living in Stockholm. He described Sweden as a fit for the willing slavery of the dupes described in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and quoted the foreword of a later edition of that classic:
There is of course no reason why the new totalitarianism should resemble the old. Government by firing squads… is not merely inhumane… it is demonstrably inefficient, and in an age of technology, inefficiency is a sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be the one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.
Huntford makes the mindset described here his touchstone in reference to his project: “Of all people, it is the Swedes who have come closest to this state of affairs.”
Huntford then provides 340+ pages in elaboration of this thesis. His comments apply to the socialist mindset in general. For example, he says, “If the propaganda of the Swedish Social Democrats has been so effective, it is because the recipients are so willfully impressionable. Concerned only with economic security, the Swede is prepared to sacrifice most other things in life.” He offers an illustration of how easily the government controls their minds:
In the autumn of 1970, a census of particular inquisitiveness was held in Sweden. Citizens were required to divulge information of a sensitive and personal nature.… [T]he nature of the census revealed that it was not a statistical investigation alone, but a thinly disguised registration of the individual citizen. A census usually guarantees anonymity, converting each person into unidentifiable figures. But in this case, every Swede, complete with intimate characteristics, was entered into a computer, carefully tagged for easy identification. At the same time, a central data processing system for the use of the police, credit investigation, banks and official institutions was being established, and it was quite clear that the census was being used to provide the necessary population register. Despite the prevailing submissiveness of the Swedes, there was a certain amount of public distaste for the process. A few newspapers on the right attacked what the government was doing, because they thought they detected a threat to personal integrity and yet another addition to the power of the bureaucracy. Those who led the protest were admittedly almost exclusively of a small minority that absorbed Anglo-Saxon ideas, but they carried with them enough of the country to cause the government some concern. The director-general of the Central Statistical Bureau (the government office in charge of the census) issued a statement explaining that ‘the information is required in order to plan properly and give the citizens better service.’
It is this mindset that destroys all hope of freedom and individual liberty. The thought of importing more socialistic measures into our country speaks to me of this kind of apathy and beggary. Send the socialists there, don’t bring the system here.
Some of the articles I mentioned and referenced you should read. Some pertain to socialized housing in Sweden. Rent controls and other idiotic measures have historically led to shortages, especially in the city. When Dean Russell addressed the topic in Clichés of Socialism back in 1962, he was impressed with what he saw inStockholm; but upon returning home he read some details in the newspaper that changed his impression:
“…the waiting time for an apartment in Stockholm continues to be six or seven years.” (October 21, 1962)
And two years later (September 20, 1964).
“At present, Stockholmers must wait up to 10 years for an apartment.”
That was 45 years ago. Today, one individual speaking from experience says that wait times in 2001 were up to fifteen years. His article explains the full nightmare involved in finding an apartment in Sweden period, especially in Stockholm, including the emergence of a black market: individuals are often expected to produce money under the table in order to secure the apartment for themselves. Payoffs range from $1,500 to $20,000 in some cases. This cash is off the books and completely illegal, but it moves. If the person refuses, there are hundreds of takers in line behind him. Corruption also exists in the form of government officials and union bosses essentially cutting in lie because they know someone, and “swindling good apartment in Stockholm under the nose of the needy,” as one article puts it. Government price controls breed shortages and corruption; both are inevitable.
Other articles deal with the economy in general, as well as health care. I highly recommend economist William Anderson’s wonderful article at Mises.org, “Sweden: Poorer than You Think.” Anderson notes how Swedes on average earn about $12,000 less per household than U.S. households. The income, adjusted for purchasing power in our respective countries, places the average Swedish family below the lowest-income American socioeconomic group, African Americans. Despite this disparity in income, Swedes bear a tax burden almost double that of Americans. Then Williams addresses socialized health care, anecdotally referring to the dilapidated condition of German dental offices.
Another good anecdote appears in this article by an Atlanta area pediatric ophthalmologist:
Last week I had a lady bring her child to me. They are Americans but live in Sweden, as the father has a job with a big corporation. The child had the onset of double vision 3 months ago and has been unable to function normally because of this. They are people of means but are waiting 8 months to see the ophthalmologist in Sweden. Then if the child needed surgery they would be put on a 6 month waiting list. She called me and I saw her that day. It turned out that the child had accommodative esotropia (crossing of the eyes treated with glasses that correct for farsightedness) and responded to glasses within 4 days, so no surgery was needed. Again, rationing of care.
In addition to these, Walter Williams has an excellent article on the Swedish health care myth, highlighting the lines, the waits, the rations, the refused medicines due to “expense,” and now… the security guards placed in clinics to guard the doors from unruly patients, and to force away new patients who seek to enter the clinic after it’s deemed “full.”
Williams references a journal article that is well worth reading. Sven R. Larson wrote “Lessons from Sweden’s Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt,” for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 13:1 (Spring 2008). I highly recommend you read this.
 Quoted in Roland Huntford, The New Totalitarians (New York: Stein and Day, 1971), 8.
 Huntford, The New Totalitarians, 8.
 Huntford, The New Totalitarians, 166.
The New Totalitarians, 175–176.
 Dean Russell, “Socialism Works in Sweden,” Clichés of Socialism (Irving-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.,  1970), 258.