The PJ Tatler

Think Scandinavia Is Paradise? Think Again

That’s expat Michael Booth’s considered opinion in a Washington Post essay today:

I live in Denmark, and although it appears to have been surpassed as the happiest country in the world by Panama, Costa Rica or Fiji (depending on which list you believe), it is still a pretty great country, especially in which to raise kids. But Scandinavia is not the utopia that American liberals or the 11 million Americans of Nordic descent often make it out to be, just as it is not the quasi-commie, statist gulag that those on the right would often have us believe. And global and domestic events are conspiring to make life a little more uncertain for these former high achievers. I am not just talking first-world problems, although those are definitely a Scandi specialty — at a recent dinner party, I heard one woman complain that her son’s preferred university did not offer the surfing degree he wanted. Rather, the Scandinavian model’s structural fissures are coming under increasing stress.

Booth goes on to list some of those fissures, including declining oil revenues in Norway and the chiseling that eventually creeps into the social-welfare system. But then he goes and blows his whole argument apart by worrying about mosque firebombings and the rise of a “neo-Nazi” right wing:

The Sweden Democrats party, which has its roots in the neo-Nazi movement, won 13 percent of the vote in September’s general election. Some credit its rise to Sweden’s “open door” immigration policy; others point to the poor integration of those immigrants and their resulting overrepresentation in crime and unemployment figures. Either way, the party’s electoral success prompted hasty political horse trading among other parties intent on keeping extremists as far from the levers of power as possible, which in turn prompted allegations that Sweden’s political establishment was subverting the democratic process. This has distracted from the slowing economy, increasing state and household debt levels, and one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe.

There’s barely a nod to the rising levels of Muslim crime in Scandinavia, where the invaders look at the Nordic women as both whores and targets of opportunity, although Booth does mention the stupefying levels of alcoholism in a country like Finland (not, strictly speaking, Nordic, although it does have a sizable Swedish minority). And then, of course, there are the taxes:

But here are just two Scandi-paradoxes that might make you hesitate before signing on a nice penthouse in Turku: These countries that do so well in life-satisfaction surveys also record the highest consumption of antidepressants in the world, and despite their reputation for gender equality, they have the highest rates of violence against women in Europe.

I suspect that few Americans would truly embrace a Scandinavian-style society. The tax rates alone would likely be a sufficient deterrent. Though I’m a freelance journalist, I essentially work until Thursday lunchtime for the state. And it’s not as if the money that is left in my pocket goes all that far: These are fearfully expensive countries in which to live.

Even if you are willing to accept such downsides, there is no exportable model for turning a country Scandinavian. These lands have evolved into the flawed, fascinating paragons of civilization that they are today over many centuries, through a combination of unique historical events, religion, geography and climate — to which some might add DNA. There is no secret to replicate their success.

“Some might add DNA”? Where does Booth think Scandinavian culture comes from? Immigrants from North Africa? The more immigration from Arab countries, the less Scandinavian the Scandinavian countries will become. And once they’re gone, there’s no getting them back.