I don’t write as much about politics as I used to, mostly because I decided that my passion really is Entrepreneurship (and the different aspects to that, which always have a political side to it though), and this is were I would like to keep my focus. But I had a discussion last week with a Swedish ex-colleague, and it was almost a bit of falling out;

We had a casual discussion over food and some wine about things, and started to discuss some politics, and I am as always when politics are involved quite direct and perhaps a bit provoking (I like to question things and inspire discussions); and my ex-colleague touted me as being bitter at Sweden, and could not understand why I would feel that way, and started turning the discussion into well, it’s better than other places, why are you so bitter, the system gives you so much and so on… Which is really not the point!

And after giving this some thought, although politics always stir up emotions, I think for Swedes the tax-system or rather criticism of it or any part the Swedish system or “model” is unethical and taboo, and deemed as an attack on the weak, if you think that there are other ways to achieve a fair society, different views on government involvement in peoples lives, or if you do not agree with the rosy picture of Sweden you will be looked upon with suspicion, and stirring so much emotion, and often be caught up in a discussion going “but it is better than elsewhere”. Even if I have facts that tell another story than the “common view”, people will not believe it, one good example is the misconception of health care, both on micro and macro scale (I personally would need to pay for health-care in Sweden, but not in the UK, even if I am a Swedish citizen, Sweden spends about around 8% of the GDP on health care, most of Western Europe spends 10%, even the US spends more tax dollars per capita on Health care than Sweden, the US system is not working though, but that is fairly complex and whole other story), I like facts, I like to make decisions based on facts (combined with ideals, visions and “gut-feeling”!).

One big question is what is better? It is just different elsewhere, Swedes view of Sweden being “the best in the world” might not be true, and would it be so terrible if it is not? Is it a competition? And why is it not OK to question things? To think about if it can be done differently? Or is it only worth while if you think are worse then somewhere else?

Questioning things, discussing it, turning it around, is what promotes change, and progress, and is also where a lot of Entrepreneurship starts; why is it like this? Does it have to be this way? Can we do things in another manner with a better result? A different result? (There is no one-size fits all, diversity is always better in my opinion) Do you have to be ranked low with your peers to strive to better yourself?

In my world, questioning things is healthy, and not a sign of being bitter. And when questions are not allowed, well that is the first step of a down-fall of a any civilization or society. I think the Roman Empire started falling apart the same day, that supremacy of Rome was taken for granted.

And think about it, it’s not the yeah-sayers that go down in history, it is the ones that just didn’t accept everything, but asked the hard questions, made the hard decisions and created history, to name a few examples; Einstein, Eisenhower, Churchill and Edison.

So I say; get the facts, don’t be lazy just because your did a top score last year, ask the hard questions, find new opportunities and new ways to approach things and go out and improve yourself, and the world around you!

3 replies
  1. Linda
    Linda says:

    Hey friend =)

    My initial thought when reading is that people are afraid. Somehow swedes seem to have an idea that if you question things too much, they will change for the worse. What they should be thinking is that whitout all those awkward people who question, revolutionize and think freely, the world would be a very different place.
    It is hard to think and act outside the box, no doubt, but if we don’t we are lesser people.

    Reply
  2. Wille
    Wille says:

    I always tend to say to people that “I don’t particularly like Swedes: they have an arrogant and unjustified sense of superiority about them that has no basis in reality, and they don’t shy away from telling others how superior they think they and their country are”.

    Swedish society has put such a strong emphasis for such a long time on equality (in outcomes, as opposed to opportunities), conformity and concensus that it has ingrained itself into the Swedish mindset to a degree where the superiority of Swedes and Sweden is beyond question.
    Whereas the most patriotic brit or american would struggle to keep a straight face in saying that they and their country are the best in the world at everything, it is almost considered herecy to not believe that about Sweden in Sweden.

    Reply
  3. Nicolai Wadstrom
    Nicolai Wadstrom says:

    I think that you are both spot on, people are afraid of change, of not things not being what they think they are. I think much of the Swedish identity is based on the image of Sweden, and if you questions that, what is left?

    Personally I identify with you Wille (interesting words from a Swede not living in Sweden anymore), not going so far as to say I don’t like Swedes, but I feel kind of uncomfortable in the presence of Swedes and non-swedes, were the Swedes tend to bash other countries, and praise Sweden. I think it often just comes out as very rude.

    Which often ends up me reacting and questioning the Swedish system, and getting a ton fact behind that the picture is not really as they see it…

    Brits and Americans on the other hand tend to be very polite and nice and tell you nice things about your country, but that do not really mean that they praise your country, and think that you are superior, but rather they are just being nice, and many I meet quite humble in comparison.

    Reply

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