For over 40 years, ever since Marquis Childs wrote that best-selling book, Sweden has been known as the land of the Middle Way, which was slowly but consistently moving from a backward state toward its present position as the most developed of all welfare societies. Praised by progressive liberals, at least outside Sweden itself, its gradually achieved social reforms have been discussed contemptuously by dogmatic revolutionaries who profess to be true Marxists. However “pure” this Marxist criticism may be, armed as it is with the powerful if not flawless analytic tools of historical materialism, the “purer” fact remains that these critics simply bungle the whole story.
Even when critics have got the facts straight about this land of the Middle Way, their image of Sweden has been incomplete and superficial. In place of understanding, we have stale “profundities” about Sweden being a country that is stagnating morally and culturally affluence corroded by boredom and drift, and by a loss of incentive for work and innovation?so “profound” that once again President Eisenhower’s statistical nonsense about suicide is becoming fashionable. The conservative opposition, in the nature of things, always leveled these accusations. With the defeat of the Social Democratic Labor party in the Swedish general elections of 1976, they could not be so easily dismissed. The election results rocked progressive confidence that Sweden was on the right road to Utopia...
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