“The Nordic countries aren’t socialist. But they’re still a living, breathing falsification of the US right’s anti-socialist talking points.”

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Apparently written by real Danes.


The Real Denmark
, by Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl (Jacobin)

The Nordic countries aren’t socialist. But they’re still a living, breathing falsification of the US right’s anti-socialist talking points.

 … What Denmark Is and Isn’t

Denmark is not a socialist country. While it has a strong welfare state and strong unions that make life better for the average citizen (and in the 1970s there was an abortive push to partially socialize industry through wage-earner funds), ownership of the economy remains predominately in private hands. Denmark even suffers from its share of corporate governance scandals. Currently, the country’s leading bank, Danske Bank, is embroiled in what might be the largest case of financial whitewashing in world history.

What Denmark does show is that there are no economic barriers to high taxation, high social spending, and high unionization. Social democracy, contrary to Regan and other right-wing ideologues, does not yield mass unemployment or economic ruin. It’s yielded some of the highest standards of living and freest countries the world has ever seen. Poverty and inequality are relatively low, gender equality (not least because of the welfare state) is comparatively high, and workers have more rights and say on the job than in the US.

Denmark is not unique. Each of the Scandinavian countries have attained similar levels of social equality despite having quite different economies. While Sweden has always been dominated by mining and heavy industry (with industrial giants like Volvo and Bofors figuring prominently), Denmark has relied on agriculture and smaller industrial firms, Norway has been fishing- and timber-heavy, and so on.

Despite these different economic profiles, over the course of the twentieth century all of the Nordics managed to drastically reduce wage inequality and decommodify substantial parts of the economy. The key was unions, popular movements, and left parties. It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world …

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