Charles B (in the article he forwarded) and James F (in his remarks on the
reactionary bourgeois cultural icon Ingmar Bergman) highlight the strong
streak of right-wing reaction in Sweden.
I'd like to comment on some of the statements in the article from the
Internet Anti-Fascist/LA Times that Charles posted.
A HATE CRIME THE SWEDES COULDN'T IGNORE: KILLING OF CLERK
WHO PROTESTED NEO-NAZIS SEEN AS WARNING CALL THAT ANYBODY COULD BE TARGET
It wasn't a hate crime so much as a political crime against a left-wing
STOCKHOLM--No one here took much notice of the hundreds of hate crimes
against immigrants over the last few years that besmirched the image of
Sweden as a bastion of tolerance and serenity.
Most people have tended to interpret them as emotional, psychological
aberrations -- hate crimes -- and not political crimes. As for Sweden's
*image* of tolerance and serenity, that's just what it has been, an image.
And one that's been polished and maintained by outsiders more than by
Swedes themselves -- the welfare paradise of the third way, a reformist
utopia has been needed as a copout from the revolutionary socialist
transformation of capitalist society. Hence the bleating by Havel in Prague
and others about the Swedish model -- a model that was already dead and
being buried when the Stalinist regime collapsed in Eastern Europe and the
Soviet Union and the lack of a revolutionary working-class leadership
allowed the workers states to be hijacked by capitalist restoration.
Nor did many here rise up in anger over the execution-style slayings of two
police officers who foiled a bank robbery by neo-Nazis in May, or the car
bombing a month later that seriously wounded an investigative reporter who
had been documenting this country's white supremacist movement.
"Rise up" gives the wrong impression. There is too much sympathy for the
police in Sweden as it is. Not on the left, but in public opinion. But the
bombing of the reporter made a lot of people very angry -- especially at
the off-handed attitude of the police in easing off protective measures in
relation to the threats against the reporter.
But when a mild-mannered warehouse clerk was gunned down in his Stockholm
apartment last month after protesting the election of an avowed neo-Nazi to
the board of his trade union, Swedes got the message that any open-minded
person could be an enemy or a victim of racist radicals.
Bjoern was not so much mild-mannered as likeable, radical and determined.
(I've got a picture of him carrying a banner I can send as an attachment
to anyone interested.) The message was not that "any open-minded person"
could be targeted but that any determined unionist who took a stand against
the Nazis could be targeted.
"Bjoern wasn't an anti-Nazi crusader. He was just an average guy who did
what any decent person would have done, which is to stand up and confront
something that is wrong," said Anna-Clara Bratt, editor of the Arbetaren
labor journal. "Almost 90% of Swedish workers are trade union members, so
his murder served as a warning call that anyone could be next."
He wasn't an average guy, he was a syndicalist union organizer, a local
workers leader. The argument that he did something "any decent person would
have done" is neither here nor there -- actions of this kind are rarely
spontaneous expressions of moral fibre.
The high level of union organization is important here, though. But the
threat is not to ordinary union members -- yet. It's to organizers and
people who take the initiative to speak up for their fellow-workers.
And Arbetaren is not a labour journal. It's an anarcho-syndicalist paper
with a heavy cultural slant. The fact that "arbetaren" means "the worker"
Before Soederberg's slaying, Bratt said, Swedes tended to avert their eyes
from the ugly assaults and harassment of immigrants and refugees, who now
make up as many as 1 million of Sweden's 8.9 million residents.
"Swedes" were just as divided in their response after the killing as before
it. There is a groundswell of support for immigrants and radicals among
ordinary people in Sweden that rarely makes the headlines, as Bob M can
testify and often has, as opposed to the louder and more visible
anti-immigrant, anti-radical lobby.
Since 1995, there have been at least four slayings of foreigners attributed
to neo-Nazis, and police have investigated hundreds of racially motivated
attacks each year, said Margareta Lindroth, deputy director of Sweden's
SAPO security forces.
The only interest the secret police have in this is to use the Nazi threat
as an excuse to home in on the socialist left under the cover of vague
"anti-democratic" charges. Of course, certain of the Social-Democrats want
the secret police to stop the Nazis targeting them, but hey, no pain, no
Sociologists and historians attribute the recent surge in neo-Nazi violence
to desperation among a small but powerful minority that has come to