As I pointed out in my CounterPunch article on Stieg Larsson, I would have liked to see him live long enough to comment on the electoral breakthrough of the Swedish Democrats, a far-right party that got 13 percent of the vote and that prevented the Social Democrats from forming a majority-led government. I pointed out in the article that the NY Times covered the election in a most peculiar way, referring to how leftwing activists were harassing the Swedish equivalent of the French National Front.
A couple of days after I wrote the CounterPunch article I got a copy of “Stieg Larsson: the Expo Files”, a collection of the articles he wrote over the years for the anti-fascist magazine that the Millennium of his novels was based on. As it turned out, he wrote about the Swedish Democrats (more honestly named the anti-Democrats) in 2002. This is a good introduction to his journalism as well as a rebuttal to the NY Times article. Apparently these scumbags were complaining 12 years ago about being harassed, a ploy to get sympathy from confused liberals. Too bad the Times doesn’t have anybody on the payroll 1/100th as canny as Stieg Larsson. Co-author Mikael Ekman was one of his closest collaborators and a good friend.
Finally, used copies of “Stieg Larsson: the Expo Files” can be purchased for $1.51 on Amazon.com. Well, what are you waiting for?
RESPONSE TO ANTI-DEMOCRATIC PROPAGANDA
Expo 1-2/2002 Co-authored with Mikael Ekman
The Sweden Democrats describe themselves as a democratic party that is ruthlessly harassed and persecuted by an anti-democratic system—politicians, the mass media and state authorities. That strategy—and accompanying rhetoric—is copied from the Front National in France and similar parties. And the response should be the same in Sweden as it is in France. Expo now offers some of those responses to the most common arguments put forward by the Sweden Democrats.
The Sweden Democrats are not allowed to participate in the election campaign on the same terms as other political parties!
This is a political lie. All parties operate under exactly the same conditions and compete for exactly the same voters. The Swedish constitutional right of free speech and freedom of organization applies to all Swedish citizens without exception. There are no constitutional obstacles preventing the Sweden Democrats from taking part in the election: they have access to the same opportunities to publish election manifestos, leaflets, magazines; the same opportunities to produce local radio broadcasts and publish material on the Internet as any other party. It is true that the Sweden Democrats do not feature in the mass media and on television to the same extents as, let us say, the Social Democrats, the Left Party or the Moderates [the Swedish Conservative Party]. The Sweden Democrats are a marginal party, and it is entirely appropriate that parties represented in parliament and with significantly greater support among voters should attract proportionately more attention.
The Sweden Democrats are gagged and suppressed by the political establishment!
This claim is nonsense. It is true, however, that none of the democratic parties is particularly interested in debating with a marginal, racist party that subscribes to conspiracy theories and conducts hate campaigns against democratic politicians.
The Sweden Democrats are not allowed to hire rooms in community centers such as the People’s House or the Workers’ Educational Association. This proves that Sweden is a sham democracy!
Democracy does not exist purely for the benefit of racist parties. The A.B.F. (Workers’ Educational Association) and other educational associations do have democratic rights. They are independent institutions with the right to decide which groups they will admit into their premises as guests.
Democracy gives rights to opponents of the Sweden Democrats—in this case the right to refuse to let rooms to racist organizations. If the Sweden Democrats want to hold public meetings there is nothing to stop them from doing so in their own premises.
They can’t afford it? Ah, well, that is sad—but hardly a problem for the A.B.F. and other educational organizations. Every newly formed party seeking the support of voters operates under precisely the same marginal conditions.
The Sweden Democrats are subjected to censorship in public debate, and their letters to the editor are not published by local newspapers!
This claim is a political lie. Articles and letters to the editor from the Sweden Democrats are published regularly in local newspapers. But in any case, the same argument applies as in the previous repudiation: democracy is not merely for the benefit of racist parties. Swedish newspapers are independent institutions whose editors are free to choose what material their publications will carry.
Most letters editors are not interested in publishing contributions from groups manifestly devoted to con-spiracy theories and who claim, among other things, that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was “partly financed by the Swedish government:’ This is not an issue about democracy but rather an example of common sense being displayed by editors.
The Sweden Democrats are a normal democratic party!
The Sweden Democrats are a racist, anti-democratic party dedicated to conspiracy theories. There is no such thing as “democratic racism”—the fact that the party conducts racist campaigns and stirs up contempt for and discriminatory attitudes towards sexual minorities also justifies the party being labelled as anti-democratic.
The Sweden Democrats are not against immigration, but only want to criticize Swedish immigration policies!
From the very start racism and xenophobia have been the cement that holds the party together. Over the years the party has conducted crude hate campaigns and tried to cultivate the myth that immigrants in general are “potential criminals:’ “spreaders of HIV” and “potential rapists:’ The constant intention has been to cultivate an attitude of contempt towards people whose skin is a different color.
The Sweden Democrats oppose immigration from non-European countries and their aim is the repatriation—in other words the expulsion—of immigrants.
The leader of the party, Mikael Jansson, has stated that they are not talking about voluntary repatriation: “We are in favor of the compulsory repatriation of all asylum seekers from foreign cultures who have entered Sweden since 1970.” The Sweden Democrats thereby advocate a doctrine that can only be called “ethnic cleansing in Sweden?’
The Sweden Democrats are not interested in the color of a person’s skin; we believe that “It doesn’t matter whether adopted children are white or black”!
The Sweden Democrats’ manifesto states specifically that the adoption of children from outside Europe should cease. Since children brought up in Sweden from an early age will be to all intents and purposes Swedish from a cultural point of view, this stipulation can refer only to skin color.
Discussion of the immigration problem in Sweden is suppressed, and criticism of immigration policies is not permitted!
This claim too is nonsense but is raised over and over again by the Sweden Democrats and other racist groups.
In fact the immigration question is one of the most widely debated issues in Swedish politics over the last thirty to forty years. Immigration has been discussed by all the democratic parties, by the government, the parliament and local government institutions, within trade unions and employers’ organizations, within state authorities, in schools, universities, workplaces and voluntary organizations. The upshot of these deliberations is that there is remarkable unity within Swedish public institutions to the effect that our country supports the U.N. Charter of Human Rights, directives from the U.N. Displaced Persons Commission and other international agreements: immigrants are welcome in Sweden.
On the other hand, the precise form that immigration takes—what numbers, at what rate, how immigrants should be received and treated and how the integration process should proceed—is under continual discussion, and there can be many differences of opinion. It is not racist to criticize the immigration process, nor to argue that immigration policies have serious shortcomings.
Racism is on the increase in our country. It is out of concern for the welfare of immigrants that the Sweden Democrats want them to “return home”! Immigrants usually politely decline assistance from the Sweden Democrats. Ever since the party was founded as a campaigning organization entitled “Keep Sweden Swedish” in 1979, it has cultivated racism and conducted xenophobic campaigns. After spending many years encouraging xeno-phobia, the Sweden Democrats now use “increasing rac-ism” as an excuse for repatriating immigrants.
The Sweden Democrats are the party for those who are in favor of law and order in our society!
The Sweden Democrats have far and away more criminals among their numbers than any other party. Expo’s investigation into 330 “leading Sweden Democrats” (people who had either been members of the national party council or submitted themselves as Sweden Democrat candidates in an election) between 1988 and 1998 showed that more than 23 percent of them had been found guilty of criminal activity.
That is almost twice the highest-known figure for immi-grant criminality, which shows that just over 12 percent of all immigrants have been convicted of crimes. This figure has been criticized as exaggerated. It is normally reckoned that about 6 percent of all Swedes will sooner or later be convicted of a crime, and that the corresponding figure for immigrants is only slightly higher at about 7 percent. Criminality within the Sweden Democrats covers all categories—insurance fraud, cruelty to animals, theft, assaults on women, grievous bodily harm, drink-driving, embezzlement, arson, and so on.
There are criminals in all political parties!
Very true. But the conduct of normal politicians is scrutinized by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Constitution, the National Audit Office, local auditors, opposing par-ties, public prosecutors, police authorities, and not least by the mass media. Politicians in normal parties who are convicted of crimes are disqualified more or less straight away.
The crime statistics for the Sweden Democrats are in no way comparable with the situation in normal democratic parties.
The Sweden Democrats have no contacts with anti-democratic or right-wing extremists abroad!
The Sweden Democrats are members of the cooperation organization Euro-Nat and hence one of the signatories of the “Young European Nationalists’ Manifesto:” Among other signatories are the racist party Vlaams Bloke in Belgium, the anti-Semitic Romania Mare’ from Romania and the neo-fascist Forza Nuova4 from Italy. The foreign organization closest to the party is the French Front National.5
The Sweden Democrats are Not Nazis!
No, but on the other hand nobody has suggested that the Sweden Democrats are a neo-Nazi party. There is, however, plenty of evidence that over the years the relationship with Nazism has been fluid, that Sweden Democrat members have moved to or from Nazi sects, or have been members of both.
The Sweden Democrats were founded originally as the racist campaigning organization Bevara Sverige Svenskt (Keep Sweden Swedish) in 1979. Several of the founders have a background of neo-Nazi group membership, and over the years a large proportion of the party executive have been linked with neo-Nazi movements.
The claim by Expo that the Sweden Democrats have had Nazis among their leaders is a lie!
There have been a few cases of short-lived youthful folly, and a few infiltrators when the party was first launched. At the beginning of the 1990s just over half the members of the S.D. party executive had links with openly Nazi groups. In 1995, 42 percent of the party executive still had Nazi links. Then a purge was begun. Yet some of the youth-ful folly has continued for rather a long time: as recently as 2001 several leading members were expelled in connection with the formation of the National Democrats. They were accused of being—Nazis.
- Euro-Nat was a network of nationalist parties in Europe which grew out of a collaboration between parties that had tried to form a right-wing group in the European Parliament during the ’90s.
- Vlaams Blok was founded in 1978 as an alliance between two nationalist right-wing parties. The party called for an independent Flanders and reduced immigration, and gained rapid success. It was banned in 2004, when the Belgian court decided that all three non-profit organizations connected to the Vlaams Blok had violated the 1981 anti-racism law.
- Romania Mare was founded in 1991 by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, who still leads the party. It has often been represented in both the national parliament and the European Parliament. The party has several times been accused of having distributed anti-Semitic propaganda.
- Forza Nuova is a radical right-wing party led by Roberti Fiore. It has not generally been successful in elections, but nevertheless plays an important role in building alliances between right-wing extremist groups across Europe.
- The Front National is one of the most famous right-wing parties in Europe. Founded in 1972, it got its big break in the 1984 elections to the European Parliament. Front National was for many years led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has now been replaced by his daughter, Marine Le Pen.