Why Is America Obsessed With Sweden?

by Nathan French
File under: Fake Culture21 Feb 2017 3:21 EST

Seriously, it's an open question. We hope somebody can help us with an answer. But let's review. 

In the topsy-turvy world of the past few months, we've learned that the American conservative really has a peculiar sense of the world. In the last election, you see, America declared independence from all those nasty institutions holding America back: the nation of Mexico, Hollywood actors, disobedient college students. These unstoppable forces had Mr. and Mrs. America in a stranglehold, forcing them to abandon truth, justice, and the American way. That unemployed psychology major had John Wayne down for the count. That victory has now been wonGott sei dank, and now that we've reasserted ourselves, we can once more aid the rest of the world from our bounty of kindness. Just what have they been up to in our absence? 


^the internet, early 2017, quoted by El Jefe himself^

It's another brilliant Europe Myth®, a headless meme that defies explanation and makes any attempt at trans-Atlantic translation almost impossible. We're not even talking about the substance of the European migration crisis. It is a great detriment to the continent, and hopefully it gives Europeans an incentive to play a more active role in establishing sanity in the Middle East. The fact that Sweden's problems so concern an alleged nationalist movement seems to escape the irony of our internet posters, but we digress. 

It's the bizarre fetish of Sweden in particular that gives these concerns a particularly dull and obsessive quality. Why not worry about the destruction of Spain, a country four times the size of Sweden, whose native tongue is the second most spoken language in the world? Protestors there event recently took to the streets en masse to pressure Spain to take more refugees. This is not to mention that there actually is a strong historical precedent for some form of sharia law in Spain, and that migrants actually enter Europe in the southern countries. Go give Señor Pablo Iglesias your stern lectures, Captain America!

Of course we are picking on Team MAGA, but that's just because they put themselves in the hotseat. American liberals have also shown this irresistible interest in all things Schwade. Somehow, the thinking goes, we will be able to take Sweden's social welfare model for a country of ten million people and graft it onto our massive angry empire, and then things will be OK. Right. That will work just as soon as we manage to install a government half of the country doesn't regard as treasonous.

Just as IKEA has become a yuppie staple, the petite bourgeois class has compulsively praised Sweden just as compulsively as our ethno-nationalists now weep for it. Tyler Cowden of the cutely named Marginal Revolution blog wrote a wonderfully trendy post back in 2006 entitled "Why I love Sweden". He kneels down and pays his respects: 

I’ve heard it said that "socialism is the religion of the Swedes."  This is not quite correct, though it hints at an important truth.  I think of "being Swedish" as the religion of the Swedes.  And the more cosmopolitan they behave, the more they are partaking in this religion; don’t be fooled!

This "being Swedish" business is a wonderful religion for Sweden.  It is not a good or possible religion for most of the rest of the world.  And it is not a religion to which I have been or could be invited. 

But Sweden (or should I say Stockholm?) remains one of the best places in the history of the world to date, and we are fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize that.

Somehow we risk sounding naive if we suggest that Athens under Pericles, Florence under the Medici, and the colonies under the Continental Congress were all much more interesting and engaging times and places to be alive than modern Sweden, but there is no disputing taste.

We can however, probe the origins of that taste, which must seem utterly idiosyncratic to anybody with any sense of European history. Historically, Sweden is mostly a non-entity in European affairs, a provincial kingdom whose stormaktstiden​, or "Great Power era", consisted of some petty regional bullying. Swedish was never the language of scholarship, as German was for the 19th century, nor the language of diplomacy, as was French during the same period. Portugal, a country likely to be mercilessly mocked by UKIPish Anglos, has exerted far more influence on the New World than Sweden. Poland just survived a century of terrible war and foreign domination, spearheading "Solidarity", one of the most aggressive campaigns of anti-Soviet resistance of the late cold war. But no conservative has shed any tears for the futures of these countries under sharia law or made it into a fake news meme. But those countries are larger and more powerful than Sweden, and can absorb the migrants, you say? But that's all the less reason to be concerned with such a peripheral state! Considering that Greece was only liberated from Turkey a few centuries back, you would think that the invasions of those countries would be causing more sleepless nights for Midwestern voters.

But why? We can only guess that some kind of incredibly vague ethnic affinity is at play here, alongside some victim programming. See, the peaceable Swede is tending his responsible bureaucracies like bucolic fields, looking down from his lofty perch at his blond wife and 2.5 children, when out of nowhere the Muslim hordes came into his life, let in by the Democratic Party no less. Swedes make plausible victims because they really don't do all that much, and are kind of boring and inoffensive in an Ikea kind of way. Everybody would understand if the Italians were to get attacked, because they probably said something to deserve it, but not good ole Sweden. They're alright, and real good people. Columbus was a jerk (ew!),but Vikings are cool, and they really discovered America! 

The point isn't that any of this is as great a problem as some people would have it be, but that there is a lot of very interesting history and culture in Europe, and somehow Americans always seem to land on strange fixations. It's like living in a superpower where your drunk uncle's travel stories shape official perception of distant lands. Maybe the Sweden obsession comes from the fact that Sweden really doesn't have much of a challenging history, and isn't much of a potential rival, like Germany. Sweden is a kind of European "safe space" where we can plant all of our right and left wing illusions of a European civilization that gratifies our needs, our narcissism.

But we encourage people to toughen up a bit, and let Sweden fend for itself. Somehow NATO and the EU can fall apart without the US shedding a tear, but poor Sweden must be mourned, which makes us think this is merely a sympathetic affectation. Let's even concede that the "Sweden is a disaster" narrative is totally correct. Could you then prove us any real reason why we should care? Maybe modern Sweden is a fragile social experiment that will collapse due to lenient immigration policies. Maybe its bland post-Christian social democracy doesn't have the spirit to meet these challenges and just wants to sweep everything outside of its self-image of utopia under the rug. Really, whatever. Their country, their fault, right? America first, guys. No more Norse sentimentality. More love for Chicago than Malmö.

Spare the Swede your morality tales. We've already put them through hell.

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