Sunday, 19 November 2006

My status; "Is the Swede a Human Being"

I finished Kite Runner and I am working on a blog post series — and eventually ebook — called How to Talk to a Closed-Minded Person (If You Must). I will be taking a short holiday the end of next week (Thanksgiving time, in the US); I can't guarantee I will be blogging then.

Here is an interesting International Herald Tribune article — talking about the book Is the Swede a Human Being? — on how Sweden's socialist-like welfare system (as talked about in this post) may actually make Swedes more individualized than those in a different governmental system (e.g. that of the United States).

Ever since the idea of nations and nationality gained serious popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, peoples across the world have asked themselves that most basic of questions: Who are we? For Swedes, the answer has, for the last 50 years, included some kind of notion of collectivist semi-socialism, with their country the epitome of a high- tax, strong-state, cradle-to-grave welfare society.

But that self-image is being turned on its head. A recently published and widely discussed book, provocatively titled "Is the Swede a Human Being?" ("Ar svensken manniska?"), contends that Swedes are the opposite of collectivists: they are deeply individualistic.

As the authors point out, American individualism is more a matter of anti-statism than this Swedish striving for intrapersonal independence).

But the book's conclusion is that, in the end, the Swedish project has been surprisingly successful. As for the question posed in the title, the answer is: Yes, the Swede is a human being.

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In Perspective

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