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Scandinavia on the Skids

The Failure of Social Democracy

by Ron Ridenour

Copyright © 2017 Ron Ridenour

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1. Denmark: SOS Save Our Sovereignty

2. Roots to social democracy/capitalism, socialism

3. Sweden-Finland-Norway Globalization Blues

4. Iceland, this is where bankers go to jail

5. Denmark: Bernie Sanders for Prime Minister

6. Denmark: Rogue State

7. Denmark: Return of the Vikings

Denmark: SOS Save Our Sovereignty

I first met Denmark’s last truly Social Democratic Prime Minister, Anker Joergensen, in his state office, unannounced, in late 1980.

Grethe and I had just been married. We had met the year before in Los Angeles where I had been a “participatory journalist”, and activist for social/racial/gender equality and against the Vietnam War. I wanted to start a new life with Grethe in her peaceful, social democratic land.

I took odd jobs and did free lance writing for some Danish media, and progressive media in the US and England. As such, I often walked from Grethe’s centrally located Copenhagen apartment to Christiansborg. The palace is the only building in the world that houses all government branches. The royal palace stood beside the seat of economic power, Denmark’s Stock Exchange (Boersen).

Sometimes I covered official politics from my “palace playground”, as my new wife quipped. The six story building is a labyrinth of hard wooden stairs, long hallways and hundreds of offices. On my second trip inside, I ambled about unable to find the stairs that led directly to the balcony reserved for journalists covering the parliament. There were no guards and no signs on most doors. I stopped before a high door and turned the bronze polished handle.

A small man sat behind a large desk. He turned about to look at me, a smile on his face. I flushed and spurted an apology for disturbing what I realized was the nation’s political leader.

“That’s quite alright. No problem,” replied the prime minister unperturbed. His face wrinkled cozily through a black-white mustache and goatee. Thinning black hair was brushed back revealing a partially bald scalp. No guards or assistants appeared as I quietly closed the big door.

Later in the 1980s, I spoke a few times with the unassuming man when he was no longer prime minister yet still the Social Democratic (SD) party leader. We attended Danish union meetings with delegates from unions in Central America, men and women under threat by death squads working with the CIA and US military “advisors” backing murderous dictatorial regimes.

In 1985, I again met Anker, as he was known by all, standing beside his old-fashioned, gearless bicycle in the dead of winter. I asked him, as I had Palme, if he would be on standby if we had use for his political influence during the Central American peace-solidarity march. Anker readily agreed, and he did act when our marcher in El Salvador got arrested.

38 Danes were jailed by Iraq during the first Gulf War. Anker Joergensen went to Baghdad 1990 and convinced Saddam Hussein to free 16 of them

Anker started his working life as a bicycle messenger, then as an unskilled warehouse worker. He quickly was made a shop steward and worked his way up the union ladder. In the 1960s, he actively opposed the US war against Vietnam. Anker participated in Denmark sessions of the Russell-Sartre Tribunal, in 1968. He was a supporter of the oppressed in many parts of the world, and of the 1968 Danish student uproar. It was therefore with sadness for many on the left and the more militant class conscious workers that he decided to support Denmark’s admission to the EU, then called the EF, in 1972. Anker often found himself in the middle of political controversies.

During his two terms as Prime Minister, 1972-82 (minus 1973-5), he extended the social welfare system, the last state leader to do so. He got the pre-retirement benefits law passed, (at 62 years instead of waiting for old age pension at 67); increased paid vacations to five weeks for everyone; guaranteed pay raises for public employees; guaranteed social assistance, and more.

In Anker’s time, Denmark was known abroad as a tolerant, peaceful, civil liberties/freedom-loving land. Its foreign policy was based on peace. Anker supported the so-called “footnote” foreign policy (1982-8) when Denmark opposed placing NATO nuclear missiles in Europe. The anti-war movement had already convinced the Establishment not to allow NATO military exercises and atomic weapons on its territory. There were several serious confrontations between the US and Denmark because of this.

"No to Danish war participation": Anker Jørgensen in front of the US Embassy in Copenhagen March 15, 2003. Photo Stop Terrorkrigen

Anker died peacefully, March 20, 2016, at 93. A people’s man, he lived all his adult life, until he entered a senior’s home, in a moderate apartment in a working class district of the capital city.

Denmark was a vanguard country in sexual freedom and gender equality. Brothels were legal as far back as in the 1870s. For some of 1900s sex for sale was illegal but allowed. Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography, July 1969. Freetown Christiania is a major tourist attraction. It belonged to the military when, on September 4, 1971, the abandoned military area of 34 hectares was occupied by neighbors who broke down the fence. They set up living quarters in abandoned barracks and some built their own housing. Youth House was a legal underground Copenhagen center for music and free lifestyle, mainly used by autonomists and leftists for two decades until 2007. Denmark was also the first country to legalize same-sex sexual activity, in 1933; and legalize homosexual/lesbian/transvestite marriage, on June 15, 2012. Since 1977, the consent age for sex of any kind by any gender is 15.

Nevertheless, as a member of NATO and EU, Denmark cooperates with both pro-US institutions, including in war games. Ironically, it was after the fall of “communism” and the end of the cold war that Denmark decided to begin its “activist foreign policy,” based upon following the US into its wars, including breaking up Yugoslavia, the last European socialist state, and warring in the Middle East and Africa.

Left: the most famous Danish election campaign poster, "Stauning or chaos-Vote Social Democrats", from 1935. Thorvald Stauning was the first social democratic Prime Minister of Denmark. He served as Prime Minister from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1929 until his death in 1942. Right: a parody from 2007 of the poster: "Thorning and chaos". Helle Thorning Schmidt was Prime Minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015, and the Leader of the Social Democrats from 2005 to 2015.

Denmark losing its peace and social democracy

Denmark’s 5.5 million residents support a permanent military force of about 20,000. Although there is a draft, one can choose to perform civil service instead. No one is forced to go to war unless Denmark is attacked, so those who war are volunteer mercenaries and earn more money.

The last Social Democratic Prime Minister, Helle Thorning Schmidt, was the first woman in the post. During her term, October 2011-June 2015, her enthusiasm for war included offering Barak Obama her military for “regime change” in Syria. She seemed disappointed that a war to remove Bashar al-Assad had been averted when Syria turned over all its chemical weapons for destruction, “no thanks” to Vladamir Putin’s input. She declared (September 2, 2014): “Denmark is one of those countries that deliver most. We are at the level with Americans, and in that way we also consider Denmark a strong, active and very solidarity NATO land.”

Obama seemed to echo Schmidt when he welcomed Denmark’s current liberal Prime Minister (PM) Lars Loekke Rasmussen, and the other four Nordic land leaders, to State Dinner, May 13, 2016.

President Obama and the First Lady greeted the five Nordic leaders after they arrived at the White House: (l-r) Solrun Lokke Rasmussen and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Sindre Finnes and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Ingibjorg Elsa Ingjaldsdottir and Icelandic Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, Jenni Haukio and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, and Ulla Lofven and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

“The world would be better if more countries were like the Nordic lands.” “We share common interest and values”. You “punch above [your] weight.” He underscored Denmark’s recent decision to increase its military and economic aid to Afghanistan, and expressed thanks for DONG’s wind energy projects in Massachusetts. Denmark’s public television correspondent, Stephanie Surrugue, interpreted this praise as an American receipt for Denmark’s part in the “war against terror”.

The most important matter discussed that day was US and Nordic governments’ response to “Russian aggression,” reminiscent of 2014 when Russia reclaimed Crimea after 97% of voters there so asked. Denmark had already temporarily sent 6 F-16s and rotating troops to the Baltic and Poland. When PM Rasmussen returned to Denmark after dinner, he sent another 150 troops. NATO will now have 6000 permanent troops in these four countries plus in Rumania and Bulgaria.

In Obama’s dinner welcome, he extended another hand to Prime Minister Rasmussen, whose government and ally parties are known for being anti-immigrant. Obama referred to media critique against the new “Jewelry Law” as disproportional. The law cuts way back on immigration and asylum-seekers, even for those fleeing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where Denmark has long had hostile troops. The government even places ads around the continent warning refugees not to come. (www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/01/denmark-refugees-immigration-law)

The jewelry law allows police to seize personal belongings worth over $1,450 (jewelry and cash) from those who apply for asylum, reviving memories of how Jews were dispossessed of their belongings. One of the positive aspects Denmark is known for is its rescue of Jews when Hitler gave orders to eliminate them. Danes quickly took them to Sweden, which was neutral.

A few days after Obama justified Denmark’s grim treatment of refugees fleeing wars, Syrian families seeking exile started legal action against a new law that forbids the joining of family members for three years; it had been one year. Thousands of exiles are split from their closest ones due to death pursuits where they come from.

The refugees have a good chance of winning the court case especially as it was filed the day after the European Human Rights Court judged Denmark in violation of human rights regarding a law that discriminates against immigrants. An immigrant who marries someone living in another land cannot bring his/her partner to Denmark before they are 24 years old. This law is connected to another that only allows equality of natives and immigrants once the immigrant has been a citizen for 26 years. The main lawmaker considered these laws as making Denmark Europe’s “pioneer” in “hardening laws” against immigrants-refugees.

The current Foreign-Integration Minister, Inger Stoejberg, expressed disdain for the Court’s decision. She said that she would find a way to maintain and extend tightening immigration-refugee rules. “If we can’t do it one way, we’ll do it another.”

Protest in Stockholm, May 21, 2016: No to Host Nation Support Agreement

On the occasion of the White House State dinner, the five Nordic nations signed a “summit joint statement” with the US reaffirming “our deep partnership on shared fundamental values” that include strengthening NATO, backing the Baltic States and Poland with weaponry, aircraft and troops, pressing Russia on many fronts, “stabilizing” Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other areas.

Finland and Sweden also planned to end their neutrality and join NATO where Denmark, Norway and Iceland already sit. Sweden signed a Host Country Agreement with NATO after the dinner giving the war alliance rights to military troops and exercises on Swedish territory and even the right to war on Swedish territory “if a crisis” warrants it. Finland signed a similar agreement. Danish PM Loekke Rasmussen diligently prepared to please his host.

Since 9/11 all the Danish governments (so-called blue/conservative and red/liberal block coalitions) support the many regime shifts outlined by the first George Bush government, about which I will detail in future pieces. During the April 2016 Danish parliament debate to invade Syria and extend Denmark’s military capacity in Iraq, the foreign minister, Kristian Jensen, made no bones about it: “Our goal is quite simple. In relationship to Syria our goal is to remove Assad, as one of the worst dictators in the world at this time.” He also stated that Denmark will fight the Islamic State.

According to United Nations law, as well as Denmark’s own constitution, war must not be waged if: there is no UN mandate, or the country in question is not attacking the nation. With Syria, no specific plans are stated about directly attacking government forces. However, the Syrian government has not asked Denmark or the “coalition of the willing” to aid it in its defense against IS, and thus another reason the invasion is illegal.

The coffins with three Danish soldiers killed in Helmand, Afghanistan, arriving in Denmark in Dec. 2008. Krestine Havemann/Polfoto, via Associated Press

Pleasing the United States before dinner

1. April 19, Denmark’s parliament voted 90 to 19 to send 460 military instructors and technicians, including 60 Special Forces soldiers, to Syria and Iraq, along with seven F-16s, and a C-130J transport aircraft. Why did 40% of the parliament (70 highly paid members) not vote on the most important question: whether to kill people and do so against the laws?

2. May 10, parliament decided to send16 more soldiers to Afghanistan bringing their numbers to 100. This came after the US stated it will increase its troops there by 7-800. It now has about 10,000. The tiny country also did the US’s bidding against Libya in 2011 with 6 F-16s and 120 soldiers. As the US discusses the possibility of warring there once again, Denmark is ready.

3. May 12, the day before the Nordic state and foreign ministers were to eat at Obama’s table, Denmark’s government decided to buy 27 F-35 jet fighters before they were built by the world’s largest weapons company, Lockheed-Martin. The initial cost of 20 billion kroner ($3 billion) is the largest military expense in Danish history. Danish defense experts estimate that the real cost will run between three and four times that with upkeep and 30 years “normal” use.

The government ignored 53.3% of Danes, who opposed buying more bomber jets; 30.8% said yes. The poll was commissioned by Danmark’s most right-wing daily. Last year, a Gallup poll found that the same percentage of Danes opposed the proposal. http://jyllands-posten.dk/indland/ECE8600526/danskerne-takker-nej-til-kampfly-for-flere-milliarder/

4. On the same day, Denmark's energy company DONG stated it plans an initial public offering (IPO) of at least 15 percent of its shares on the Nasdaq Copenhagen stock exchange this summer. The estimated value is around $11 billion. This will be the largest IPO in Danish history.

The state-controlled utility said the move would reduce the government's stake in the company from 58.8 percent to 50.1 percent, and the government could sale more of its share in 2020 and lose control. It was originally all state owned. In 2014, Goldman Sachs, the world’s most powerful and infamous investment firm, bought 18 percent of DONG for $1.2 billion. But it wasn’t even the New York GS company, rather a subsidiary in Luxembourg owned by a shell company tax haven in Delaware state and Cayman Islands. With its minority ownership, GS insisted on determining Denmark’s energy company’s leadership. It then pushed DONG to go IPO, and threatened to shut down renewable energy sources if the government didn’t increase its subsidies.

Eighty percent of Danes opposed the sale; 200,000 signed petitions. Nevertheless, the Social Democrat government refused to explain why it did not sell those shares to Danish pension fund companies which made offers. SD’s junior partner Socialist People’s Party (SF) quit the government over the scandal. The deal was so undemocratic that Goldman Sachs hired the former prime minister and ex-NATO general secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as its PR man in Denmark to smooth over the controversy.

Just days after the White House State Dinner, the stock exchange valued DONG to be three times its underrated value in 2014, from about $5 billion to $13-15 billion. The “incentive plan” for DONG leadership garnered them $70 million, which raises suspicions that the company’s worth was deliberately undervalued. And the $1.2-$1.5 billion profit that Goldman Sachs plucked could have benefited Danish society had the shares been sold to Danish owned workers pension fund companies. The Social Democrat government’s finance minister at the time, Bjarne Corydon, is seen as the bourgeois’s Trojan Horse.

The May 27, 2016 editorial in “Politiken”, a liberal capitalist daily, called the course of events “ugly”, and has “increased mistrust”, so much so that a staff writer wrote “this is the stuff that makes ordinary people turn their back on the powers that be and look towards Donald Trump”.

While half of DONG’s electricity and heat generation comes from renewable sources, it also buys coal mined in Colombia where death squads operate. In December 2015, Danish and international media revealed how DONG and Sweden’s government-own Vattenfall bought coal from the murderous Prodeco mining firm owned by Glencore. BBC reported (2012) that Prodeco paid for the murder of ten residents, in 2002, so it could take their land.

In 2014, PAX NGO documented (including with testimonies of nine former paramilitary members) that Prodeco and another mining company paid death squads for murdering 3000 people—workers, local residents and milieu activists—between 1996 and 2006; “disappearing” 200 people, and forcing 55,000 to leave their homes. Colombian authorities merely fined and temporarily locked down Prodeco for causing serious environmental damage. (See:” The Dark Side of Coal” report. www.paxforpeace.nl/stay-informed/news/danish-media-and-politicians-take-interest-in-dongs-ties-to-blood-coal, and Glencore’s reply: www.glencore.com/public-positions/related-information/)

One-third of Danish electricity comes from coal—4.5 million tons in 2014—and half of that comes from Colombia. DONG bought 950,000 tons of coal from Prodeco, in 2014, and 160,000 tons in 2015, after exposure about its murders. As of this writing DONG has not severed ties with Prodeco, and it is hard to find workers who still believe the Social Democratic party represents workers.

Denmark comes to dinner

Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen came gleefully to dinner bearing those many American gifts, and he thanked his world leader for the “lucrative export contracts for Danish businesses.” These warring-profiteering “gifts” offered to the world’s policeman dispute Bernie Sanders portrayal of Denmark as socialist and humanitarian as he has so often proclaimed during the election campaign.

Sanders is a social democrat, who mistakenly yet bravely refers of himself as a socialist. He thinks well of Scandinavia because, after class struggle there like in all of Europe, it introduced social benefits: “providing health care to all people as a right” and “medical and family paid leave,” as he repeatedly says.

A few days after his initiated this postulate early in the primary campaign, the Danish prime minister set Sanders straight.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy…with a flexible labor market that makes it easy to hire or fire.”

Cut-Out: during 2014, the liberal Prime Minister was properly stripped by the media. We help him to dress again (Allusion to Rasmussen's clothing expenses).Cartoon by Mirthuel Larsen

* * *

This writing sprang from discussions I’ve had with several people regarding the Danish/Scandinavian model of social democracy, or socialism as Bernie Sanders contends. Some well intentioned persons view the Nordic Model as a solution to greedy capitalism, while others view its role as a seditious savior of exploitative capitalism. Many Cubans I knew when living there (1988-96) and visiting since see the Nordic Model as a way out for their failing revolution, gone the way of a bureaucratic state. Some Spaniards backing Podemos hope to emulate Scandinavia, whose social democracy is also failing, unbeknownst to many foreign admirers.

I have been encouraged by Podemos activist Pepe Crespo (http://elchiroilustrado.blogspot.com); Bernie Sanders supporter and colleague Dave Lindorff (www.thiscantbehappening.net); Left socialist William Hathaway, author of “Radical Peace” (www.peacewriter.org); Marxist-Leninist communist Klaus Riis (www.kpnet.dk); and my companion Jette Salling. Without their urgings I would not have delved into these complex themes.

Hathaway put it this way. We are witnessing “the death of social democracy in Europe coupled with the rise of pseudo-left parties that exist to channel potentially revolutionary energy into reformist dead-ends…the crackdown on social democracy is inevitable under capitalism. These progressive measures were only allowed to stimulate consumption because the main consumer market then [Europe 1920s-70s and USA in Keynesian time, 30s-70s] was in the home countries. Now the market is global, and the corporations have to slash costs to compete with the emerging capitalist countries, which have lower wages, so social democracy has to go. But this crackdown may finally make the workers in the West realize their class position and start fighting back.”

Lindorff put it another way. “Sanders [social democratic approach] offers a chance, slim I would agree, to attack the country’s corrupt power structure, and if that happens, we will inevitably see a weakening of the imperialist superstructure, and of the military industrial-complex…Sanders is urging his backers to create a movement, not for him but for the issues that matter which he is backing…It is a fantasy to believe that there will be a socialist revolution in the US that will overthrow the system. Far more likely is an openly fascist government.”

(Ron Ridenour has been an activist against war, against racism, and for socialism for over half a century. He is also the author of six books on Cuba, (“Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn”) plus "Yankee Sandinistas", “Sounds of Venezuela”, “Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka”. He has lived and worked in Latin America for 15 years, including in Cuba 1988-96 (Cuba's Editorial José Martí and Prensa Latina), Brazil, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, India. www.ronridenour.com; email: ronrorama@gmail.com.)

Roots to social democracy/capitalism, socialism

Philosophical forefathers of a socialistic vision include Buddha and Lao Tzu. Buddha was an Indian/Nepalese prince; Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher. Both lived in the 6th century before Jesus Christ’s birth. Jesus should also be included as a “primitive communist” as some see the Palestinian Jew, human being or god-human. These visionaries hoped that peoples could live together in peace and harmony, one great family sharing resources.

The term socialism took hold as a political ideal first in France, in the 1820s, when Henri de Saint-Simon envisioned the ideal society as one large factory. His followers chose the word socialism to represent a centrally-planned society run like a cooperative business by worker-owners, and/or in conjunction with the state. The term communism also comes from France, probably back to medieval monks who shared property, living in common and feeling a sense of togetherness. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ theory of communism entailed social organization based on sharing property, the highest state of socialism in which all lived well socially in a stateless society.

Variations of Saint-Simon’s socialism have been formulated by many political theorists and writers: Thomas More, Louis Blanc, Eduard Bernstein, Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Ferdinand Lassalle, Marx and Engels, Sydney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman…

Socialists disagree on how to develop socialism and even how to define it exactly. They all agree, however, that socialism’s economy is not dominated by private ownership of the means of production. Public ownership—either by the state or by worker cooperatives, or a combination—is central to its philosophy. It is also generally agreed that it is just and necessary to create a permanent state of social welfare with greater say in political-economic matters by the producers and folk at large. However, a system in which the people are the determining decision-makers has not yet been developed, neither in Russia/Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Korea or anywhere.

Socialist campaign poster from the 1912 US Presidential campaign, featuring Eugene V. Debs and Vice Presidential candidate Emil Seidel

Ferdinand Lassalle, Karl-Marx-Hof, Vienna

The rise of social democracy

The first social democratic party arose from union struggles and was founded by Ferdinand Lassalle, in Germany, in 1863. He was familiar with Marx and Engels’ writings. The latter founded The First International (International Workingmen’s Association) in London, the following year. They sought to unite left-wing socialists, communists, anarchists and trade unionists around class struggle and the need for a socialist revolution.

Some social democrats (S.D.) view social democracy as a “third way” while Marx and Engels maintain there can only be capitalism or socialism. There are basically two variants of social democracy in theory. One advocates evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, in contrast to the revolutionary approach associated with Marxism. The other advocates economic and social state interventions to promote social justice and welfare within the framework of a capitalist economy. The latter approach was adapted by the Englishman John Keynes. President F.D. Roosevelt employed Keynesianism during the Great Depression aimed at restoring order and saving the capitalist system. In all social democratic approaches private property remains in the hands of the owner (ruling) class.

Are you going to vote for the people's traitors? Finnish Social democratic election ad, 1907

The first social democratic government in the world occurred in Finland, in 1907, eight years after the founding of the social democratic party. In 1916, S.D. won an absolute majority and governed alone for the only time.

German social democrats achieved their first government in 1918 upon the end of the First World War. Sweden had its first S.D. government in 1921. The second oldest social democrat party was led by postal worker Louis Pio in Denmark, in 1871, inspired by the Paris Commune. The social democrats formed its first government in 1924, the same year the social democratic Labour Party was elected to govern in England. Norway’s S.D. ruled first in 1928 but fell after two weeks. The party split into two, one fraction created the Communist Party. The S.D. ruled again in 1935. Iceland’s trade unions formed the social democratic party in 1916. The tiny nation took its independence from Denmark once the United States occupied it during the Second World War. The US took control of Keflavik airfield, and at its height there were 75,000 military personnel there. The social democratic party first came to rule in 1947-9.

The October Revolution in Russia (1917) was the key influence for social democratic development throughout Europe. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDRP) was founded in Minsk, in 1898. Lenin joined it in 1902, and led the Bolshevik (majority) split at its second congress, in 1903. Bolsheviks became the Communist Party, in 1918. The Mensheviks (minority) continued as a S.D. party. The two were often at odds yet sometimes joined forces until the October Revolution.

The Bolsheviks formed a disciplined vanguard party agitating for a proletarian revolution, armed if necessary. The Mensheviks sought social democratic compromises with the “bourgeois democrats”, in which free expression would prevail as opposed to “democratic centralism”. When world war broke out Tsar Nicholas insisted on victory over Germany. He was forced to abdicate in March 1917 and a Provisional government took over. It, however, continued the war, supported by social democrats and the Social Revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks advocated an end to the war and a transition to socialism. Their slogan was: land, peace and bread.

Lenin and Trotsky led the party to victory in October (November 1917). Their hope that social democrats would oppose world war had been dashed when German social democrats supported the bourgeoisie war. A worldwide workers’ revolution was averted when social democrats in country after country, including in Russia, allied with the capitalist class. This led to the isolation of Russia.

The Nordic Model grew out of this Great Compromise between social democratic-led trade unions and wealthy property owners. In exchange for staving off socialist revolutions the capitalists granted improvements in working and living conditions for most workers in Scandinavia, eventually in Germany, England, Netherlands, and elsewhere in Europe.

The Saltsjöbaden Agreement of 1938 in Sweden, a deal that ensured class peace. Trade union leader August Lindberg is at the left while corporate chief Sigfrid Edström is at the right

The Nordic Model developed through the 1920s to the 1970s to include a large welfare state emphasizing employer and labor union institutions with unemployment insurance and pensions; transfers to households and publicly provided social services with a high rate of investment in human capital including: child care, tax supported education and health care, maternity and some paternity leave, paid vacations; and greater social and gender equality.

These producer-earned benefits dampened Western working class enthusiasm for international solidarity, especially with workers in underdeveloped nations whose work and living conditions neared slavery and even include slavery. No other nation joined Russia in its socialist experiment until after World War II.

No matter one’s analysis or opinions of Communist-led Russia and the expanded Soviet Union, one must recognize that its development was warped, in part, by constant subversion directed at it by the United States and many of its allies. From the beginning of the revolution, the US and several European allies, plus Australia, Canada, India, even Japan and China, supported the White Russian and Cossack counter-revolutionaries who wanted a return of the Tsar. The “democratic” allies sought to defeat the new Bolshevik army and to crush communism in the bud.

From May 1918 to July, 100,000 troops were sent to Vladivostok and other areas of northern Russia. The Japanese had 70,000 in Siberia to solve a “border problem” between China and Russia. The US sent 13,000 troops. Most weary allied forces withdrew by 1920 but some Japanese fought on in Siberia until 1922 and in northern Sakhalin until 1925 when finally defeated by Russia.

World War II and Marshall Plan

Social democracy had such an impact on workers in much of Europe that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were forced to include many of its benefits for “authentic” Italians and non-Jew Arian Germans in their nationalist, racist and warring parties. Hitler even falsely named his party in that spirit: National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Its first priority was to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch (folk) nationalism. While Nazis killed communists, its political strategy initially focused on anti-business and anti-capitalist rhetoric, later played down in order to gain support of industrial property owners.

Italian Fascism promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates associated to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and owners, which were to work alongside the state to set national economic policy, and resolve class conflict.

As World War II approached, most social democratic parties did not support the peace policies of the Lenin-wing of the social democratic party (soon to become the Communist Party), and its associated parties throughout the world. Nor did social democratic parties in many countries protest the rise of fascism or even the fascist take-over of their nations. In Denmark, for instance, the Nazi-collaborationist government was led by the Social Democratic Party, under the leadership of its “father” Thorvald Stauning. He was succeeded by S.D. Wilhelm Buhl. Both turned over Communists and other liberation fighters to the Nazi party, even more than asked for. The Nazis imprisoned 6000 civilians, tortured many, and executed 850. Buhl also encouraged workers to snitch on patriotic saboteurs, and to take jobs in Germany, thus aiding the Nazi war effort. Nevertheless, upon the end of the war, Buhl was made provisional prime minister.

Denmark was effectively liberated on May 5th by British forces led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Only four days later the Russian Army occupied the Danish island of Bornholm after intense fighting with the Germans. Russians voluntarily left the island a year later.

After the liberation there was uncertainty about how the allies would regard Denmark, which had deliberately declined to take up the fight, as opposed to Norwegians. Eventually Denmark was accepted as an ally, mainly due to allied appreciation for the widespread Communist-led resistance to the German occupation during the last years of the war. (1)

Despite the fact that Russia was the main victor of the war, and suffered the greatest casualties, and that it was British troops who first entered Denmark, the social democrats and Danes generally fell in love with the United States, which has devastating consequences today (more on that later).

The loss of over 60 million people (some researchers say 80 million) devastated many countries, especially the Soviet Union. It lost 13.7% of its population, some 27 million people, about 16 million civilians. Germany lost between five and eight million people, 7-11% of its population. Despite torrential bombings, the UK lost only one percent of its people, around half-a-million. About three percent of China’s population was killed, between 15 and 20 million people, three-fourths of them civilians. By contrast, the US lost only 0.32% of its population, about 420,000, nearly all military. In 1940, there were 2.3 billion people. The war took three percent of them.

Nevertheless, World War II was an economic boom for the USA. Its weapons, oil, steel, auto, and construction industries grew manifold. Their surplus financed the Marshall Plan to rebuild the capitalist economies of Western Europe and prevent socialist-communist electoral victories. This policy succeeded, especially in Greece and Italy where a majority of workers were leftist.

Europe’s two largest political parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, adopted and even extended welfare benefits enabled by the Marshall Plan. The “free market” has since largely replaced the state as the politically determining force, and the welfare model is no longer viewed as necessary. Globalization brings unprecedented profits to capital, and their friendly governments allow even greater profits by helping the largest companies and rich individuals to avoid paying taxes in a myriad of ways: by granting them enormous tax cuts, ignoring their tax shelters and bogus companies, and by legal or semi-legal loopholes. Capitalists can also easily avoid paying taxes and decent wages by packing up businesses in the Western part of the world and moving them to countries where governments allow slave wages and unhealthy conditions.

The European Union has moved towards a United States of Europe in which major monopolies are assisted in attacking the historic results of workers struggles, and forging a state of permanent fear of losing jobs and social benefits. These fears are enhanced by terrorist attacks committed by desperate and fanatic people whose countries have been invaded and sacked by NATO/coalition of the willing armies, and the flooding of refugees fleeing these wars. EU has come to mean the loss of national sovereignty, un-payable debts, the destruction and privatization of the public sector—the abandonment of the Nordic Model.

All that moved the majority of Brits to vote themselves out of the EU. This historic rejection, on June 23, 2016, opened the way for radical movements rightist and leftist. I believe that those of us who are fed enough have a co-responsibility to stop this “inhumanity” human beings have created or Armageddon will overwhelm us and the planet. That means, at the least, that the inhuman economic system known as capitalism, which requires never-ending profit over the needs of people must be replaced by a humane economic system based on cooperation and sharing.


(1) The social democratic-led government could have waylaid the Nazi invasion of Norway, giving Norwegians time to put up greater resistance, had it sabotaged the airport at Aalborg where the Nazis would launch their attack. Ironically, it took a right-wing liberal Prime Minister, and later NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rassmussen, to be the first Danish leader to officially apologize for Denmark’s collaboration with the Nazis. As reported by the New York Times, August 30, 2003, he asserted this was ''morally unjustifiable.'' In a speech for the 60th anniversary of the end of the 1940-43 collaborationist government, Rasmussen said, ''If everyone in Europe—if the Americans and the Russians—had thought the same as the Danish lawmakers, then Hitler would have won the war.'' Nazi troops invaded on April 9, 1940 and the government immediately surrendered.

Sweden-Finland-Norway Globalization Blues

Olof Palme had just won his fourth term as Prime Minister when we spoke in Stockholm in the fall of 1985. Like Denmark’s Anker Joergensen, this stalwart social democrat opposed the “cold, egoistic new liberalism”. Unregulated capitalism threatens the Swedish model of social welfare, he said at his September 15 election victory.

Palme was more than a typical social democrat of his times, more a “revolutionary reformist”, as he was often called. He was a stronger critic of US and Israel imperialism than any other Western government leader. His denunciation of US’s war against Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos—especially its bombings of Hanoi, which he compared with Franco’s bombing of Guernica—led the US to deny him entry and it froze relations between the two governments. Sweden’s parliament was not cowed: 216 of the 350-member body voted to support South Vietnam’s provisional government’s 7-point peace plan. This plan, including the removal of all foreign military personnel and war equipment, became reality upon victory, May 1, 1975.

In 1969, Palme and the government adopted a neutral stance in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but when Israel invaded Lebanon, July 1982, Palme compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children to that of Nazi Germany treatment of Jewish children in concentration camps and in ghettos.

Not only did Palme speak out against imperialism but he marched against it, and for third world liberation. (He also condemned the Soviet intervention in Hungry and Czechoslovakia.) A Spanish speaker, he felt close to Latin America. Palme was the first Western government leader to visit Cuba after its revolutionary victory, and supported the revolutionaries in Nicaragua. He spoke at their victory rally, in July1979. Palme also supported Chilean President Salvador Allende and liberally gave asylum to many Chileans following the coup that overthrew Allende. He endeavoured to get Chilean political prisoners released from Dictator Agosto Pinochet’s dungeons.

Nevertheless, during Palme’s governments (before and after) the military and secret service co-operate with the Pentagon and the CIA. Sweden is also a major weapons industry. In 2013, it ranked number 12 in weapons sales ($1.8 billion), and the third largest exporter in per capita figures. It sells to 55 countries, including to human rights violator Saudi Arabia.

Palme enthusiastically accepted my invitation to be on call as a moral supporter for our solidarity and peace march in Central America. We had use of his support during our march in El Salvador. It grieved me to hear of his assassination on February 28, 1986.

I had recently returned following the end of the six-week peace action, and took a job at a Copenhagen sewage treatment center. On the day of Palme’s murder, we workers held a minute of silence. His murder was viewed by many as a political assassination. Possible culprits ranged from the CIA to Sweden’s own secret service, SAPO, known for its right-wing sympathy and CIA ties; to Chilean Dictator Pinochet, South Africa’s apartheid secret service, or a hateful individual. (1)

Palme murdered

Sweden not only lost a strong leader for social democracy, which soon went downhill, but the nation has since leaned closer to US imperialism and today follows its foreign policy. Carl Bildt was PM from 1991-94, and leader of the Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999. He was responsible for severe attacks on the welfare state. With Black Wednesday, September 16, 1992, the British conservative government withdrew the pound sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Currency market speculators, namely George Soros, had short sold the Sterling, and “broke the bank of England”. Sweden’s main bank, Riksbank, then set its krona currency free. The krona lost 15% to the US dollar. This took place concurrently with the burst of a housing bubble. Sweden lost $10 billion more. The crisis plunged Sweden and Finland into a severe recession. Unemployment rose from 2% to 10% in Sweden and from 3% to 18% in Finland.

Many economists pointed to the neo-liberalization of the economy, which the US influenced in the 1980s, as cause of the crisis. Social Democrats and liberals alike demanded a freeze and even cutbacks on wages. Scandinavia reduced the role of the public sector: deregulating financial markets, leading to a rapid inflow of capital to finance domestic investments and consumption. Speculation took over the once solid economy, and currencies were floated, expansion of credits with low rates of interests, greater capital imports, investing more than wise. Scandinavia lost satisfaction with being small, rich welfare states. Sweden joined the EU under a Social Democrat government, in 1995, as did Finland.

Neo-Liberalism serves the richest

Neo-liberalism is also associated with the financial crisis of 2007-8. Neo-liberalism became prevalent in the 1970s and 80s. It is a resurgence of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, a “free market trade” without borders, aimed at enhancing the economic and political power of wealthy owners of property, of trans-national corporations.

Neo-liberalism took hold in the US with the first oil crisis in October 1973 when OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) proclaimed an oil embargo. By the end of the embargo, in March 1974, the price of oil had risen from US$3 per barrel to $12 globally (higher in the US). The embargo caused a shock with many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. It was followed by the second oil crisis, in 1979.

The embargo was a response to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt and Syria tried to retake some of their territory stolen by Israel in 1967. They launched a surprise military campaign against Israel. The US supplied Israel with even more arms. In response to this, OAPEC (consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced an oil embargo against the US, UK, Netherlands, Canada and Japan. OPEC has sought a greater share of the oil pie.

The crisis had a major impact on international relations and created a rift within NATO, the last serious one. Some European nations, including Sweden under Palme, and Japan sought to disassociate themselves from US foreign policy in the Middle East, in order to avoid being targeted by the boycott. Arab oil producers linked any future policy changes to an end of war. President Richard Nixon and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arranged for Israel to pull back from the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights (temporarily). The promise of a negotiated settlement between Israel and Syria was enough to convince Arab oil producers to lift the embargo in March 1974, but not before a stock market crash, the worst since the Great Depression.

The embargo's success demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s economic power. It was (is) the largest oil exporter and a politically and religiously conservative kingdom. The embargo caused a petrodollar recycling mechanism, requiring a relaxation of capital controls in oil-importing economies, which marked exponential growth of Western capital markets. OPEC members and Russia were earning more money from the export of crude oil than they could feasibly invest in their own economies. Many believed that Western oil companies thereby also profiteered from the embargo and therefore colluded with OPEC. In 1974, seven of the fifteen top Fortune 500 companies were oil companies.

Friedrich Hayek (left) and Milton Friedman (right), the founding fathers of neoliberalism.

Milton Friedman was a major proponent of neo-liberalism (also right-wing economist Friedrich Hayek and “Atlas Shrugged” author Ayn Rand). A month before OPEC’s embargo, General Pinochet led a vicious coup, September 11, 1973, and took over Chile from the democratic government. Friedman helped him reverse the social democratic initiatives started by the socialist president Salvador Allende, who had been elected in 1970. The brutal coup, backed by the Nixon-Kissinger regime, murdered many thousands, many of them under arrest, and many were tortured. In recognition for his role in changing the Chilean economy in favour of the rich, Friedman became advisor to President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Sweden is now the most privatized neo-liberal economy of the Scandinavia states. Many of its public schools are privatized as are child care centers. Sometimes they go bankrupt and children are left without a school for a time, and small children have no ready care while both parents hold down jobs. Nursing centers are privatized, postal service is privatized, and there are three private train systems with prices varying from hour to hour.

Sweden’s growth in inequality between 1985 and the early 2010s is the largest among all 34 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, increasing by one third. But Sweden is still in the group of most equal OECD countries. Because of neo-liberalism, income inequality in OECD countries is higher than in 50 years. The average income of the richest 10% is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, a gap 75% greater than 25 years ago.

Norway’s Labour Party is a social democratic party. It was the senior partner of the governing Red-Green Coalition (2005-13). Its former leader, Jens Stoltenberg, was PM. He relieved Dane Rasmussen as NATO’s secretary general, October 2014.

Since the 1980s, the “labour” party has included more of the principles of a social market economy, privatizing much of government-held assets and services and reducing income taxes. During the first Stoltenberg government (2000-1), the party's policies were inspired by Tony Blair’s right-wing New Labour party. Under right-winger Stoltenberg, the nation witnessed the most widespread privatization by any Norwegian government to date, which influenced a majority of voters to turn his government out, in September 2013 elections.

Ironically, the Conservatives took over the government in a coalition with the right-wing libertarian Progress Party (Freskrittpartiet) to which the xenophobic mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik had been a member in his youth. The Progress Party’s hero is Ronald Reagan. It is strongly anti-Muslim and anti-immigration, the motivating factor for Behring’s shooting murder of 69 Labour Party teenagers, plus bombing to death eight others and wounding 240 people, on July 22, 2011.

The Progress Party supports US wars, greater police powers, the EU, and anti-environmental oil-based economy. However, in order to win enough votes (16%) to come into government for the first time in its history, it criticized the allegedly pro-working class government for “insufficiently funding social welfare and the infrastructure.”

Finland began following the rest of the West with neo-liberalism deregulations and cutbacks, in the 1980s, but has not gone as far as the others yet. One of its hallmarks is education. See Michael Moore’s most recent film (2016), “Where to invade next”. It is an excellent and entertaining source for values in which the US is contrasted to several countries. Finland tops the world for the best education, the best results for its elementary school students, who also rank among the happiest. Its secret: no homework, more time to be young, to play, to relax. Students are motivated to learn in a disciplined way for the 20 hours they attend classes.

For a fuller account of what is happening in Finland, I recommend reading “Atlantic” interview by Uri Friedman with Anu Partanen, a Finnish and US citizen, author of : “The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life”.. www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/07/nordic-american-dream-partanen/489032/

Partanen moved to the US, in part, for the American land of freedom and opportunity propaganda. She concluded that those concepts are thriving more in the Nordic countries than in the U.S. Here is tease from the interview. “As much as I think that [the policies] Bernie Sanders [is] advocating are the right ideas, I’m not a big fan of him using the word “socialist.” Nordic countries are very much capitalist, free-market societies, and there’s this very strong strain of individualism in them. The idea that these Nordic countries are these socialist collectivist countries where everybody thinks of the good of one another—that’s just not true at all.”

Nevertheless, Scandinavian poverty rates after taxes and transfers are still among the lowest in the world. The latest UN figures stood at 5.7% in Iceland, 6% in Denmark, 7.5% in Finland, 7.7% in Norway, 9.7% in Sweden, in comparison with 17.4% in the USA (28.3% before taxes).

Yet, surprisingly, all Nordic nations are on the list of "high inequality" group, where the top 10% hold 60-70% of the country's household wealth. In comparison countries that are usually thought to be more capitalist, like the UK, Canada and Australia are on a rung below in the "medium inequality" group, with the top 10% holding between 50-60%, as reported by Mike Bird in Business Insider’s October 14, 2014 article: “Why Socialist Scandinavia Has Some Of The Highest Inequality In Europe”.

In the US, the top 10% hold 75% of all wealth, greater than in the days of laissez-faire capitalism a century ago.

Nordic governments-institutions remain among the least corrupt, ranking in the least 12 corrupt of 176 countries evaluated in 2014. Nevertheless, the Panama Papers reveal massive tax shelter corruption by some Danish banks, and scores of civil servants were arrested in June for taking bribes, something unheard of in decades.

Public spending, especially for health care and education, by the Nordic countries is still greater compared with other developed countries, although cutbacks have been severe since the 1980s.

While all Nordic countries cover all residents, the US spends far more for health care and yet tens of millions of people are not covered by any health insurance, nor is care as good across the board as in the Nordic countries. (2)

Warring for neo-liberalism and the US

Since 1814, Sweden has maintained a policy of peace and neutrality in not taking sides in wars albeit with varying degrees of consistency. But with the US’s “war on terrorism”, Sweden clearly has sought to adhere to drugstore cowboy George Bush’s challenge: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Sweden’s first governmental aid “against terrorism” was to help CIA agents by kidnapping two Egyptian citizens who were seeking asylum in Sweden. This was one of the most scandalous cases of the “extraordinary rendition” torture program initiated by Ronald Reagan and used by the Bush regime several hundred times, involving 54 countries. (3)

Muhammad al-Zery and Ahmed Agiza were arrested by Swedish police in December 2001. They were taken to Bromma airport in Stockholm, had their clothes cut from their bodies, suppositories were inserted in their anuses and they were put in diapers, overalls, hoods, hand and ankle cuffs. They were then put onto a Gulfstream 5 aircraft, American registration N379P, with a crew of masked men. They were flown to Egypt, where they were imprisoned, beaten, and tortured, according to Swedish TV investigative programme Kalla fakta, May 2004 (http://web.archive.org/web/20040626072849/http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/05/17/sweden8620.htm

The Swedish ambassador in Egypt waited six weeks to visit them. Agiza had been sentenced in absentia for being an Islamic militant. His 25-year sentence was reduced to15 years. Al-Zery wasn't charged, and after two years in jail without ever seeing a judge or prosecutor he was sent to his village in Egypt. In 2008, AL Zery was awarded $500,000 in damages by the Swedish government for the wrongful treatment he received in Sweden and the subsequent torture in Egypt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition

Like most Western governments, Sweden’s social democrat and liberal governments participated in warring against Afghanistan and Libya. Sweden lost five soldiers in Afghanistan. It currently participates with around 500 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under NATO command. The “neutral” country sent eight jet fighters to patrol the no-fly zone over Libya, the only country neither a member of NATO or the Arab League to do so in this one-sided war.

Although Social Democrat Prime Minister Göran Persson expressed the official position on the US invasion of Iraq as "unfortunate," the nation’s military intelligence agency (MUST) gave crucial information to the US for a bombing raid on civilian shelters in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, a Swedish newspaper exposed. www.thelocal.se/20120903/42972

The day after the war began, PM Persson said: "Unlike the United States, Sweden views a military attack on Iraq without the support of the UN Security Council as a breach of human rights."

The month before, Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, a Liberal People’s Party politician, had issued his report to the UN as head of the monitoring, verification and inspection commission. After 700 inspections, Blix could report that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which was the key lie used to war against Iraq. The fact that it is the US which is the world’s greatest producer, seller, and user of WMD was irrelevant.

A mild mannered man, Blix accused Bush and Blair of dramatizing the threat that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD in order to carry out a war they had long planned, as he wrote in his 2004 book, “Disarming Iraq”.

The Washington Post reported on April 19, 2002, that senior U.S. officials ordered the CIA to investigate Blix, in order to gather "sufficient ammunition to undermine" him so that the US could start the invasion of Iraq. US officials were upset that the CIA did not uncover such information.

Blix said he suspected his home and office were bugged by the United States, while he led teams searching for Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

By 2010, Sweden had capitulated more to US’s foreign policy. By then, Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange had become one of the US government’s greatest and most effective “enemies” by having exposed its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the release of new secret information.

The same year, the S.D. Minister of Justice Tomas Bodström acted to please his great ally by encouraging Assange’s “rape victims” to file a police complaint. Bodström is a senior partner in the law firm which came to represent Anna Arden, and her co-conspirator Sophia Wilen. Bodström’s “aid” came several days after Arden had tweetered friends exclaiming excitement about the “rapist” with whom she just had had sex.

Later, when liberal Carl Bildt was minister of foreign affairs (2006-14), he refused to guarantee Assange that he would not be extradited to the US if Assange appeared in Sweden for police questioning in the case.

Except for Denmark, no other Nordic country participated directly in the war against Iraq but in 2015 Norway transferred 120 troops from its war in Afghanistan to train Iraqi and Kurdish fighters. Sweden began sending a like number from June 2016 for the same reason.

Norway sent soldiers to Bosnia (1992-5) and Kosovo (1998-9). It has been an active US-UK coalition warrior since the beginning of the invasion against Afghanistan and can claim 10 soldier deaths as proof of its commitment to the terror war.

Norway has been an enthusiastic ally in NATO since its beginning (1949). Sixty-six percent of its people currently support membership. The formerly peaceful country is now in the front-line for US nuclear strategy, and a spying central in the Artic. Norwegian fighter aircraft (along with Danish fighters) bombed the most targets in Libya in proportion to the number of planes involved.

Most Swedes and Finns do not want in. Only 27% of Finns support joining NATO. The majority of Swedes have been opposed. Only 17% were for NATO in 2012. Today it is nip and tuck.

Finland’s foreign policy story is different from others but it too is changing thanks to neo-liberalism and globalization. At the end of WW11, Finland rejected Marshall Aid, in deference to Soviet desires. The Soviet Union invaded Finland during the Second World War, hoping to prevent a Nazi German advance from the neighboring country. Finland was not occupied by Russians and declared neutrality in 1945. Nevertheless, the US clandestinely aided the social democratic party financially.

Finland’s military is geared for defense only, although troops have served in UN peacekeeping operations in areas where the US-NATO have led invasions. It has sent hundreds of soldiers to Kosovo, and it lost two soldiers in Afghanistan on ISAF missions.


(1) Possible motivations to assassinate Olof Palme bring forth memories of the political assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Millions believe, me included, that the JFK murder was planned and executed by CIA officials with Mafia and Cuban exile accomplices. There is loads of evidence and first hand testimonies to the effect. This includes Senate and House of Representative investigations, and the great Oliver Stone film “JFK” based on actual evidence. I suggest just one of hundreds of books to read: “Double Cross” written by Sam and Chuck Giancana as told to them by their relative, Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana, who admits to being an integral part of the assassination and names names. (Warner Books, New York, 1992)

(2) The statistics for public spending are from the 2014 “index of economic freedom”, taken by the Wall Street Times and the Heritage Foundation, and approximate OECD figures. Health and education statistics are those of OECD. It is interesting to compare tax revenues with public spending. US public opinion makers who think of Nordic social democracy as some sort of evil socialism often complain that the US spends too much money on the public. While the US does spend quite a bit of its gross domestic product on the public, its operations are mostly in the hands of private companies, which make profits and often provide poor services, and can go bankrupt. Social service care in the Nordic countries was also entirely publicly administered, although some is now in private hands and there is a decline in expenditures and service.

Denmark has the highest taxes (48%, ranging from 38 to 56%), Sweden (44.5), Finland (43.4), Norway (43.2), Iceland (36). The US collects 25.1% of the GDP in taxes.

(3) Some Western and former Eastern European allies have aided the CIA in “torture by proxy”, which is a “crime against humanity” as so judged by the UN. Denmark assisted by allowing CIA-managed aircraft to fly over its territory. Poland was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, in 2014, and ordered to pay restitution to the men involved. US enemies Assad and Hussein allowed US victims to be tortured by their torturers in the beginning of the war against Afghanistan.

Washington Post, April 19, 2002

Iceland, this is where bankers go to jail

“Whenever I speak as head of state, I speak about peace. I will say it as often and as long as necessary,” the straight-talking President Vigdis Finnbogadöttir told me.

It was the winter of 1980, shortly after she won the presidency, the first female in the world to win a democratic presidential election.

“Think what we could do with the money that goes into militarism! I am a premeditated pacifist. Wars and armies are absurd things. We have no army, no militarism. We are a peaceful, independent people,” asserted the charismatic president.

Vigdis Finnbogadöttir

Iceland had achieved its independence from Denmark during WWII after 600 years of colonialism. This could occur basically on the condition that the United States could have the coast guard station at Keflavik as a military base. In 1949, Iceland joined NATO on Iceland’s condition that it wouldn’t have a standing army. Throughout the 1960s-70s, Vigdis, as she prefers to be called, demonstrated against US military presence, often marching the 50 kilometers to and from the capital Reykjavik and the base.

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