Let’s put to rest, finally, the idiotic idea that Sweden is a socialist country.
Once again: socialism is state ownership over means of production. Communism is the death of government and the ensuing collective ownership of means of production.
Currently, socialism exists in North Korea. Communism doesn’t exist and it never has existed anywhere.
Socialism is NOT the same and is not even related to a strong social safety net. The USSR was a socialist country yet social mobility was non-existent and welfare services were inadequate.
A social safety net is a concession that capitalism makes to people in order to make itself more palatable and prevent social unrest. When the possibility of social unrest disappears, the social safety net begins to fray. Today, we are witnessing an erosion of the welfare state everywhere because capitalism no longer needs it. The probability of serious social unrest is nil (remember the pathetic fiasco of Occupy Wall Street? Did it look very scary to you?).
The reason why it’s crucial to remember the differences between socialism, communism, and the prettified capitalism of Sweden and Co is that we need to preserve the mindset where some alternative to capitalism is possible. If we haven’t found that alternative yet, this doesn’t mean it can’t be found. There is no physical space for that alternative yet, but let’s at least preserve a mental space for it to appear. Because having an alternative is always better than not having it, even if you totally dig the status quo.
And as for Bernie Sanders, he does an enormous disservice to his own cause when he calls himself a socialist. He empties the word of all meaning and fills it with a slightly diluted capitalist content. As a result, the very possibility of something radically different from the status quo is denied.
Bernie suggests that all we can aspire to is maybe getting the capital to show us a tiny bit of mercy with some tiny social program that might exist for some tiny period of time. That’s all Bernie can hope to achieve right now as a politician, it’s a noble goal, and I admire him for pursuing it. But does he have to pave the road to this achievement with the coffins of radically different possibilities?