They're taking it to the streets in Europe
It's interesting, in a clinical sort of way, that the massive street protests in Europe are getting so little notice in the USA, even in the progressive blogosphere. A big tip-o-the-hat to Jon Larson at Real Economics:
While we in USA see protests against current economic conditions by Predator-funded "tea-party" crackpots or smiley-faced efforts led by successful comedians like the Stewart / Colbert marches on Washington, the rest of the world is seeing real manifestations of rage against the greed-heads who wrecked the global economy.
Europe hit by wave of anti-austerity protests
Marches paralyse centre of Brussels while Spain sees first general strike in eight years
There have also been big demonstrations in France against the austerity being imposed by the conservative Sarkozy government. There are some nice pics up n Eurotrib: Photos-Big demonstration against Sarko government
But what abut the conservative alliance victory over the Social Democrats Green and Left in the Swedish elections last week? Larson, who is a bit too proud of his Swedish ancestry, is on it:
My grandpa Nelson was already a Social Democrat when he left Sweden in 1899. The Swedish Social Democrats (SDP) were arguably the most successful progressive movement ever. And they were brave. They had to be. 19th century Sweden was exceedingly poor. The struggles against such backwardness required organizational genius and a clear vision of what a better society looked like.
The real father of the SDP was a guy named Hjalmar Branting who preached evolutionary change. For example, he was a socialist scholar who was quite horrified by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. He had a degree in math and astronomy and was apparently a very gifted writer who gave up his scientific career in 1884. In 1889, he helped found the SDP and was the party president from 1907 until his death in 1925.
Branting provided a clear distinction between socialism and communism for his fellow Swedes. In 1918 he wrote that socialism was an applied theory of democratic development and that communism, on the contrary, was an oligarchy, an enemy of democracy and an enticement to economic disaster in its demand for destruction of proprietary rights. Branting's socialism would provide a blueprint for Sweden to become one of the most prosperous nations on earth. His Social Democratic Party would essentially run things for 80 years.
Yet Sunday night when the ballots were counted, the SDP had lost its second election in a row and its vote total was the lowest in 96 years. So the obvious question is, "What went wrong?"
The answer is obviously complicated but when I was in Sweden in 1995, I stayed with a devoted (and disappointed) party member who had several theories for the decline. She worked for a bureaucracy tasked with finding jobs and alternative careers for the unemployed. One of her clients was an economist with important entries on his CV who had been laid off and was seeking assistance. In spite of his plight, he still was deeply wedded to the schools of thought that had destroyed his career.
This led to a fascinating conversation about the role of Sweden's conservatives in the destruction of the SDP. This included speculation about the assassination of perhaps the best-known of all the SDP leaders Olaf Palme in 1986. But the biggest contribution to the death of the left world-wide came through Sweden's legitimization of right-wing economists through the awarding of the Nobel Memorial Prize--especially the one given to Milton Friedman in 1973.
So her theory was that the SDP self-destructed because they forgot Branting and Palme and became a bunch of neoliberals. The current head of the SDP, Monica Sahlin, is about as far from Branting as George W. Bush was from Abe Lincoln.