By BJ Bjornson
Look, as my name might indicate, I�m rather partial to stories that put the Nordic countries and their people in a good light, but I still have to shake my head at this article from Alternet about how the Swedes and Norwegians paved the way for a more equitable society, referencing events in the 1920�s and 30�s to make its point.
Why am I bemused? Well, for starters, because you hardly have to go overseas for examples of how to build a better and more equitable society. The 20�s and 30�s were the home of massive general strikes and violent suppression of the same here in North America, as well as the period when the first major advances towards a more progressive modern state took place under Roosevelt�s New Deal. What happened in Sweden and Norway were reverberations of the same movement that was wreaking havoc worldwide in the industrialized West, not some unique unfolding that had never been seen before or since.
Second, there is the not-really-small matter of the Second World War, a discontinuity event even on this side of the Atlantic, but very much more so in Europe, and particularly for the conquered and occupied Norway. That�s not to say that the events of the pre-war period were unimportant, but it might behoove the author to note just how those countries were able to pick themselves back up after the war and return to a peacetime economy that still carried on the earlier tradition.
And again, there is no need to look to Scandinavia for examples, since the post-WWII boom in the U.S. and the rise of a true middle class is practically the textbook example of how these things get done, absent a few tweaks such as a universal health care system that your northern neighbours managed to pull off during the same period.
While I don�t pretend to be professional historian, what I have read and seen is that the single most important factor in ensuring an economically fair society is a strong labour movement, something the Republicans, for all their other craziness, have maintained a laser-like focus on for decades, and work to destroy, disrupt, or outright dismantle at every turn whenever they get the chance, as can be seen most recently in Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.
It may just be me, but I rarely see this kind of focus from the left on this point, and this article from Alternet is little different. It�s not that I don�t think the struggles of the Scandinavian labour movement isn�t inspirational to some degree, but it isn�t quantitatively different from the same struggle in North America or elsewhere. The real questions that needs to be asked is how the Swedes and Norwegians, and other European nations, maintained their strong labour movements while the U.S. saw its labour unions being sidelined and crumble away as a political force, and how and what it will take to bring a real labour movement back.
The article doesn�t say, and in that, it doesn�t strike me as too much different from a lot of progressive blogging these days. They know what they want to see as an end result, but seem incapable of charting or even exploring a tried and true path towards achieving it. Inspiration isn�t enough. Give working people the information they need to really organize themselves.
I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this.
Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.
Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012
After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.
We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.
Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.
I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.
Thank you very much.
Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.
Monday, January 30, 2012
An odd lesson to pick
By BJ Bjornson