How Swedes And Norwegians Broke The Power Of The "1 Percent"

On January 29, 2012, George Lakey writes on that Scandinavian workers realized that, electoral “democracy” was stacked against them, so nonviolent direct action was needed to exert the power for change.

“While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

“Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

I have the fondest memories of my doctorate studies in Stockholm, Sweden in the late 1960s as a Thord-Gray Memorial Fund Fellowship scholar, where I studied economic development and researched the Swedish social-welfare state. While I appreciate the quality education opportunities and healthcare support extended to the Swedish people and would like to see similar approaches adopted in the United States, I personally am a proponent of binary economics and democratic capitalism, or what could be termed economic personalism. My philosophy is founded on the principal that economic power has to be universally distributed amongst individual citizens and never allowed to concentrate. It is a value system based on the importance and dignity of every human person. In Sweden, economic policy and tax rates prevent the concentration of productive capital ownership, while Swedes pursue free enterprise. You will not find the income inequality in Sweden that you find in the United States and most other countries, with Swedes enjoying a high standard of living. Still, Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish Nobel Laureate and fondly referred to as the father of the Swedish social-welfare state as well as a professor at the University of Stockholm, was a one-factor labor worker thinker teaching the Keynesian economic model, which focused solely on job creation rather than, as well, broadened ownership of future productive capital growth. The Keynesian model falsely presumes that the only way to balance mass productive power with mass purchasing power is through a wage system––ignoring the possibility of democratizing future ownership of labor-displacing productive capital technologies and rising ownership incomes as a market-generated means of eliminating wage slavery, welfare slavery, debt slavery and charity slavery for the 99 percent of humanity.

The systemic injustices of monopoly capitalism, or what I have come to term “Hoggism,” can only be addressed by comprehensive reforms to the tax, monetary and inheritance policies favoring the top 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. The current system perpetuates budget deficits and unsustainable government debt, underutilized workers, a lack of financing for financing advanced energy and green technologies, and outsourcing of U.S. industrial jobs to low-wage countries, trade deficits, shrinking consumption incomes among the poor and middle class, and conventional “past savings” methods for financing productive growth that increase the ownership and power gaps between the top 1 percent and the 90 percent whose combined ownership accumulations are already less than the elite whose money power is widely known as the source of political corruption and the breakdown of political democracy.

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