Is Sweden really the liberal socialist paradise it's made out to be?

I deliberated between putting this in GQ or here but decided on balance here because I want to discuss it not have a factual answer to it.

My question is simply whether Sweden as great as it’s painted to be economically, politically and socially. Sweden comes top of loads of international leagues in terms of human rights, equality between the sexes, low crime and high per capita income etc. It has high taxes but extremely low poverty and deprivation, is diplomatically respected, has a strong democracy and religious tolerance etc and seems to be considered the emodiment of a liberal western democracy. But is it really like that? I know someone from Sweden who’s gay and said that she and her partner have been verbally abused by strangers when out together, so it’s not a liberal paradise if nothing else.

Do any Swedes have any thoughts? People who’ve been to Sweden or know more about it than me?

I think if you take the “paradise” exaggeration out of your description, there’s little controversy left. Sweeden i s indeed generally socially liberal, and economically socialist. That there might be homophobes in Sweden despite a generally progressive populace isn’t so incredible if one doesn’t insist it’s supposed to be perfect.

Can’t speak much about Sweden- other than to say that one anecdotal example of homophobia from a population of nine million does not negate the possibility of it being “a liberal paradise”.

Or, more snappily, the plural of anecdote is not data.

Does Norway count? (And, as a rivaling neighbour, I’ll point out that we’ve topped the UN’s list of the “best” countries to live in quite a few times lately.)
I can’t even believe Americans have to pay for emergency treatment at hospitals.
As far as crimes go, well, in a country of 4,5 million, murder is still spectacular enough in itself to make front page (0,91 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants/ year).
Racism is an issue, but I don’t think it’s too bad compared to other countries. And it looks like it’s getting better. I don’t know how things are going in Sweden, but they have had a lot of neo-nazis (it feels like you can almost count them on your hands over here).
It’s a bureaucratic hell, though. And we’re growing richer, fatter and stupider every day. (No offense to the rich and fat on the board, but fat is obviously a health problem, and in my opinion, we’ve crossed the line concerning how rich we should be)

:confused: Directed against whom?

Oh, thought that was obvious, but perhaps it isn’t to Americans, with your mixed population. Directed mostly at immigrants, and the major problem seems to be that they have a harder time getting a job, even with top education and careers in their homelands. And then there are gangs of immigrant youth (or rather their children, usually born here), in reality no worse than ethnic Norwegian gangs, but you know the story… immigrants getting the blame for crime, everyone forgetting how the Norwegian emmigrants to America behaved. And our proud history as the vikings who ruled the earth!

By the way, getting carried away here, all you Americans know we ride polar bears here, right? If you don’t, know you do, tell your friends.

Define “socialist”. We have a market economy, that’s not socialist.

We had really big problems of that sort, but that was ten years ago now. The neo-Nazis are a powerless fringe groups these days (with some exceptions, mainly the ones that don’t like to be called “neo-Nazis”).

I really don’t know how to respond to this. Who do you think?

To sum up, forget the word “paradise”. But yeah, we do fine.

Good to hear you’ve gotten over the nazis. How do you think my description of Norway relates to Sweden? I’ve been there once… fifteen years ago… for an hour. (I live two hours away)
I really shouldn’t be saying much in this thread, but I figured we’re not too many scandinavians here, so I’ll do my best.

My mother is Swedish, and retired there a few years back. I could go on for ages about the nice things about the place, but let me just made two points: it does have problems, but it is a very nice place, so much so that I have no doubts whatsoever about the accuracy of those high rankings on the quality of life indices that you hear about. Second, it is just so great not to have to worry about a parent not having good health care, losing their pension, or not being neglected by “the system” in case something goes wrong. That really was not the case when she was living in California.

Pretty close, but not every murder is on the front page (there are twice as many of us, after all), and we do pay for emergency treatment at hospitals. It’s a symbolic sum, but it’s there.

I don’t really know if we pay a symbolic sum or nothing. But the way I understand it, Americans are missing out on serious health treatment because they can’t afford it. It doesn’t seem to be much of a problem here, with the possible exception of some chronically ill people who don’t get enough of their medication subsided. Our hospitals are criticized quite a lot, but while I can’t compare with other countries, my guess would be they’re rather decent.

As to ravenmans second point, while some would protest it (for Norway, at least, and probably Sweden, too) my guess is that they should prize themselves lucky for not being misfortunate in another country. Living close to the captial, I know quite a few people from the lower middle class (it hardly gets any worse here), and they don’t really have much to complain about.
It sucks being addicted to hard drugs here though, I think we’re topping the list of overdose deaths per capita in Europe (or something like that), but things seem to be getting a bit better now. My impression is that this is more of a typical Norwegian problem (we’re basically quite hard on everything), so it might not be the case for Sweden.

I would have to say yes…its a socialist’s paradise. I can’t really imagine how you could be closer to the socialist ideal than Sweden and some of the other northern countries. I wouldn’t want to live there myself, though I’ve enjoyed my visits there…quite a bit in fact. I couldn’t put up with the taxes and some of the other things I’ve observed…just like folks there would (I presume) find things in horrid America intolerable. Too each his own, ehe? :stuck_out_tongue:


In Sweden you’d have to be ill and truly desperately poor, to an extent that difficult to reach in Sweden in the first place. Here, you never pay more than SEK 1800 (approximately $250) a year for medicine.

I don’t recognize this at all, so it’s probably more of a Norwegian thing. Not that we don’t have drug problems, of course (what country doesn’t?).

I can. Being socialist would be a good start.

xtisme: You’re missing out if you’re staying away for the taxes. Here, we have an average monthly sallary of almost USD 5000 (again, I don’t know how the situation is with you, but I believe it’s impressive), and a whole lot of things are free or subsided.

Priceguy: I doubt the political situation differs much between our countries. And supposedly, even the right wing here is left of the American Democrats. Party politics never was my thing, but it doesn’t seem to far out. And, hey, high taxes, government subsidiaries, isn’t that typically left-wing? I might be wrong, of course, but I think you’d think of Sweden as a socialist country if you had moved to the US. It’s all in the comparison.


Yup, but there’s a big chasm between “left-wing” and “applied socialism”.

I disagree. “Socialism” has a specific meaning. It’s not an issue of comparison.

Now, Sweden is a lot closer to socialism than the US. We’re closer than the vast majority of the world’s countries. But we’re not a socialist country.

Wrote a reply and deleted it… it comes down to that while calling Sweden socialist seems a reasonable comparison for an American, it’s also fair to point out that it’s not really true. But you can’t deny the influence.

I really don’t know how to respond to this. Who do you think?

I guess here in America we have a lot more people to hate than they do in the land of the blue-eyed blondes. It took me a minute to figure out who you could be talking about.

For us, of course there is. However I got the impression that many Americans really use “socialism” as a catch-all for everything to the left of the US Democrats, without a separate concept of Social Democracy or similar things.

As I said, to each their own. I HAVE been to both Sweden and Norway and have friends in Sweden at least…and living there has zero appeal to me. I have no desire to be taxed at such ridiculous levels, nor do I like some of the other government controls I’ve seen. In addition, the health care I get here in the US has been more than sufficient for me…certainly as good or better than my friends in Sweden report their own care (perhaps its better in Norway…no idea). As for the average monthly salary…well, thats not something I would go to a country for one way or the other. My OWN salary is what is uppermost in my mind after all…and getting to keep as much of that salary as possible while still getting the minimum amount of services from my government. :stuck_out_tongue: Not to put too fine a point on it, but my salary is quite a bit more than $5k US per month…and I would have the living shit taxed out of me were I too make that in Sweden…or Norway for that matter.

No true scotsman, ehe? So tell me then Mr. Socialist, what country WOULD qualify as a socialist paradise? What country(s) do you feel qualify as ‘socialist’?