First published in Issues of Child Abuse Accusations, Spring 1996, Volume 8, Number 2, 94-101
The Nordic child protection system is resulting in decreased parenthood and a disproportional strong social state that threatens human rights in the area of social policy. Instead of reducing poverty, taxes are used to feed the growth of the bureaucracy. Due to a peculiar and almost entirely social democratic dominance of power in the 20th century, Sweden has become the symbol not only of the Nordic welfare state but also of a totalitarian social state with very limited possibilities for parents to make their own decisions for their children. Unfortunately, Sweden also has a law, which makes school attendance compulsory, while in Denmark, Finland and Norway, there is no such law (although the children’s reading-, writing-, and math-skills are at least the same). The authorized and monopolized interpretations of "the best interest of the child" (created by small and non-representative but strongly influential groups of legislators) has established a powerful and legal child trade system within the social state. (This legal child trade works within the "margin of appreciation" and thus, until now, out of reach for The European Convention of Human Rights.) Parents live under constant threat from the social workers, and their children can be abducted and placed into commercial foster care on the basis of purely subjective (e g psycho-dynamic) opinions. This constitutes a serious threat to kinship and is, according to foster care research, of no proved advantage "in the best interest of the child" but destructive to the welfare of children and their future as adults. Moreover, the Nordic child protection law is not in congruence with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Social democracy with main stream feminism and a hostile psychoanalytic view to family, has strongly influenced this development pattern. Other effects are a high rate of juvenile delinquency and a disproportional high amount of girls trapped in technical incompetence due to a strong, state controlled gender apartheid in caring and education. A considerable absence of fathers reinforces the negative influence on girls’ education, physical development and self-esteem. Another view on the welfare state would emerge from the idea of global human (individual) rights and citizen salary (e.g. combined with an abrogation of income taxes) and compulsory health and education insurance. In the end, the question is to be whether we want to support pluralism or centralized state power.
In 1897, the first female Nobel prize winner in literature, Selma Lagerlöf from Sweden, wrote in her novel Antikrists mirakler (The Miracles of Antichrist) that socialism is the disguise of Antichrist, conceived as the power of evil in the mask of goodness. Lagerlöf, however, also described women voluntarily helping poor people while bearing the growing idea of socialism in their hearts. She ended the novel in a rather optimistic mood, saying that we need not fear Antichrist if we just put the picture of him beside the picture of Christ.
The simple Sicilian women in Lagerlöf’s novel, following the Good Samaritan, showed no signs of evil, but were certainly part of a movement that should become the most widespread political force ever. The question, however, remains; is it an evil one?
A hundred years later, in 1993, another well known Swedish novelist, Bible-translator and professor, Agneta Pleijel wrote a "letter to Selma Lagerlöf" in the magazine Moderna Tider (Modern Times) in which she asked, "What are we doing to our children?" She was concerned how narrowly limited she, as a parent, was in matters of child raising, because her parenthood had been taken over by the social state in the sense that the state had ultimately the complete responsibility and final decision over her children. From a will to help the poor there had evolved a professional and legal, centrally administrated compulsion. What would Lagerlöf have thought about it?
Women still most often do the work in the caring area. Now it’s being done professionally and in a much wider context than ever before. The little child of Antichrist in Lagerlöf’s novel has now grown up and is today the strongest factor in people’s social lives in Sweden. In fact, it has become a serious threat to biological kinship and even to religion in its most primordial meaning. The word religion can namely be traced to Latin re- ’back’ and ligare ’tie’, i.e., kinship tied back in the form of ancestor worship. Kinship could therefore be seen as the main element in binding the society together and religion the form in which this is done. Today the base on which most of the child protection laws stand is the view that "the child is an independent subject of its own rights" (Finnish child protection law of 1984) and therefore stands in an obvious state of opposition to kinship systems and religion. The text could also be translated; "the helpless and kinless object of the whims of the bureaucrats", thus giving rise to the question whether or not the individual as such is possible.
"The best interest of the child" in the Nordic child protection laws, ultimately implies that the child has to be protected by the authorities against its parents/relatives, and not vice versa. It also implies that the interpretation of "the best interest for the child" is to be made by the authorities. In doing this, the authorities are supposed to use experts of their own choosing.
The Swedish child protection law states (LVU section 2) that apart from physical, mental or sexual abuse and/or neglect, the decision for taking a child into the custody by the authorities also could depend on "...some other conditions in the home" which could cause a "manifest risk" to the "development of the child". As an example of such a risk a "pathological symbiotic relationship" is mentioned. Nobody besides psycho-dynamically trained psychologists (however, they are not going to give you an understandable and comparable answer) seems to know what it’s all about. This is certainly not in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and consequently it was criticized by the government’s own group of experts (SOU 1986:20). The expert group suggested a change in the law (i.e., omitting the phrasing mentioned above: "...some other condition in the home... ") with the aim of bringing the law in accordance with the spirit of the Convention. The report however did not receive support from the social democratic minister of justice and thus was discarded.
When a LVU case is brought before the court, the judges search for evidence indicating that the child’s health and development are at risk. Such non-subjective evidences are statements made by a medical expert e.g., a psychologist, even though it is beyond the competence of the court to evaluate such a statement. Besides, the judge has to choose between leaving the child in the uncertainty of the home or to abduct it to the (per definition) safety of the social state. According to my observations, the only way to challenge a statement made by a psychologist is by presenting a statement by another psychologist. This is not easy to obtain because the child is often out of reach and the parents have to pay for the alternative psychologist. Thus even the simplest case - reported according to the imperative duty to report - could easily end up in a life long tragedy for the child and its family.
As one female (most of them are) representative for the National Social Welfare Board put it: "It is enough if one thinks that the child is at risk in the future". Unfortunately most of the research results (especially the quantitative ones), suggest that the most obvious risk for the child is its position as a resource for the bureaucracy.
Furthermore the Nordic law states that "the home could be every place the child has been when it is, directly or indirectly under the custody of its parents". In other words, if anything whatsoever should happen, the parents could be blamed and the child taken into the custody of the social authorities. Unfortunately most of the citizens are not aware of these aspects on the law. They are even less aware of the fact that the parents do not have to be found guilty for anything or blamed at all. The child could still be abducted. This latter method has become quite popular in Sweden, because it confuses the desperate parents and the bureaucrats do not need to prove them guilty for anything, other than the fact that they (by defending their families against the bureaucrats’ interpretation of the best interest of their child) apparently do not understand the needs of their child. Who mentioned Kafka?
Technically the Swedish system is now, after some controversies in the 80s, quite waterproof and gives, formally, all the necessary legal possibilities for parents to appeal against the decisions of the bureaucrats and those of the courts. The problem is the term "in the best interest of the child", which also could be named a "general clause (slogan) without content" as the barrister Lennart Hane describes it. Since the early 1970s he has been the most powerful Swedish defender of parents legal rights in the legal practice.
Another very powerful defender of the rights of parents and their children is the physician Siv Westerberg, who became a lawyer after the National Board of Health withdrew her licence to practise medicine. Siv Westerberg noticed that many children were abducted when they visited hospitals for some injuries that she thought in no way could have been caused by the parents. She has been quite successful in the European Commission and her most well known case is Olsson vs Sweden that now has reached reference status. On the other hand one has to remember that the European Commission and Court are under hard pressure from CP lobbyists and there are already signs indicating a more "Swedish" attitude.
The Swedish social law, thus gives endless possibilities to abduct children from their homes, not only because of the quality of the home or child neglect or abuse, but also because an "expert", (they are all trained in a college based on a psycho-dynamic views) declares that there could be some non-specified risk for the child’s development in the future. The expert can then refer to "something in the home or to the special characteristics of the parents". These characteristics could, for example, be criticism from the parents against school or social authorities. It also could include too close or warm relationship (sic) between the members of the family or that the children have not been put in the community’s day care. These subjective reasons are, contrary to other countries, the most common ones in Sweden for taking children into public care.
When the Swedish legislator made flogging children (and psychological abuse) a crime it was not solely a measure in the best interest of the child, but perhaps even more in the best interest of the social state, because of its undermining effect on parental authority. This together with a tremendous increase of psychologist staff in schools in the 70s formed the main basis for the transfer of children from the influence of their parents and relatives to the influence of the social state. Unfortunately, Sweden also has a law of compulsory school attendance, while in Denmark, Finland and Norway there is no such law (although the children’s reading-, writing-, and math skills are at least the same).
Actions severing family bonds take the form not only of taking children into the custody of the state, but also, which worried Pleijel above, of marginalizing parenthood by an increasing amount of rather aggressive interventions by the social state in matters of child-rearing. What has been forgotten in legalization of these efforts "in the best interest of the child", is the child’s right to continuity concerning its family and relatives. The legal transformation of the Nordic child from belonging to its family and relatives to a position as an "independent legal subject" without any support in the law as to secure its right to belong to where it comes from, is as far you can get from ethnic religiosity. Kinship is thus unknown to present day Swedish law and this fact, in turn, is, I believe, unknown to most of the people in the world.
The builder of the ’People’s Home’ in Sweden has been the social democratic party. They have ruled the rich and quite sparsely populated country most of this century. When they came into power, the Swedes were already to some extent, prepared for weaker kinship ties. This was due to the famous partition reform in 1827 that blasted the kinship villages away over the country and made it populated with scattered farms with limited connections with each other. This process, in turn, paved the way for organizations like Free Churches and the Temperance league, and at a later stage, the socialistic trade unions. Papakostas has made an interesting comparison regarding the urbanization process in Sweden and Greece and has shown how the Greeks, without loosing their connections to their home-villages moved along kin-routes to the cities while the Swedes moved alone and without possibilities to go back because they had no right to the land (Papakostas 1995).
In the 1930s Swedish social democrats paid much attention to "social hygiene" and how to take care of children. Most famous on this branch was perhaps Alva Myrdal who later was heavily accused by her son Jan for neglecting him when he was a child.
Though at first hesitantly, Swedish social democrats also adopted psychoanalytic theory as a major element in their ideology. For the social democratic as well as for the feminist movement, demolishing authoritarian phenomena was important, so finally they met in the family, where the feminists shot the patriarch while the socialists took the children.
The continuing breakdown of kinship bonds is now the result of the combined efforts of feminists and centralized social state power. Typical for this kind of ruling are the Swedish social democrats who also prefer the transfer of funds to the social state. However they are unwilling to discuss statistical figures about poverty in Sweden 1996 while simultaneously reducing direct-transfers as child- and home-allowances etc. The social army of approximately 300,000 workers in a population of eight million has never been questioned (Klevius 1994).
The main reform of social democracy in the last decade has been the escape from the production sector while investing even more actively in the social sector. This policy is sometimes called the Carlsson line (after the Swedish prime minister); it also could be termed "social socialism".
Ingvar Carlsson proudly talks about the future European Union (EU) as a "social democratic project" and as the main part of the labour movement the social democrats have, of course, to support employment (specially the traditional type that now are the most common in the public sector). Today this is, in fact, the base for survival of the social democratic party. But which are the consequences for the individual? The Carlsson line seems to lead directly towards a future (Brave New World?) where everyone lives separated from their biological children by employment and public care. This burning question should at least be discussed before we find ourselves in a no escape situation!
One of the most important Swedish social democratic ideologists over a long period, Tage Lindbom, concludes in his biography Omprövning, (Reconsideration, 1983) that socialism instead of giving birth to the new man, ended up as centralized state power with no real democratic relationship between state and people, a manner of ruling not far from dictatorship. "Paradoxically, free, equal and self-made man was destroyed in the system that was built to create him/her."
It is important to recognize the difference between politics whose main effort is to change society, and politics that are conservative or whose interest in social political issues is virtually nil. This is the main problem of the right wing, but the major weapon of the left. Political parties of the right wing sort of ’mutate’ to the left in the area of social politics. This ’mutation’ occurs preferable on the female side of the party.
Citizen salary (e.g. combined with an abrogating of income taxes) on a low index regulated level combined with a system of compulsory health insurance, could be the answer to the problematic aspects. This has however, by tradition, been avoided in the politics of the right. In the future, however, I believe it will become necessary to choose between a rigid, socialistic social state or a pluralist society where no one would be completely without money, health care and education (Klevius 1992).
Most of the foster children in Sweden are transferred to foster homes without any connection to the biological homes. This tendency has become even stronger despite the fact that there are lots of evidences showing the benefits of foster care among relatives. It seems, according to Bo Vinnerljung, as though the social workers tend to strive in a direction of more professional approach by avoiding relatives (Vinnerljung 1993). Here again we can suspect the interests of the social state coming before the interest of the child.
In a recent and quite remarkable study, Flinn and England have shown how reduced kinship ties in the rearing environment increase children’s stress measured as cortisol levels. The results are impressive and support in every aspect closer and more extensive kinship ties, while at the same time they warn against leaving the child without such ties (Flinn & England 1995). With all due respect for the study, I am sure an Aborigine or a Bushman had known this thousands of years ago.
Thus, as my own observations in Sweden and Finland (which in socio-political matters is a straight but slightly delayed copy of Sweden) have revealed, the social state creates its own problems in a way which are beyond all conceptions of human rights. It may be noted, for example, that Finnish female officials used to give as their serious opinion that "the best thing for children is if we pull them up with their roots and re-plant them". Today this statement is offered as a proposed bill to the Finnish parliament. Another proposal tries to make it much harder to have a child restored to its family (after child protection investigations) than to remove it from its family into the custody of the state. At the same time, there are eight "experts" (social workers, therapists and psychologists) accused in the court of Helsinki for torture and kidnapping of a five year old child (the famous Niko case). It is the first of its kind.
A further proposal in Finland will make it easier for the authorities to isolate pregnant women suspected of living in a way that could be harmful to the unborn child (the formulation does not say ’her’ child - the child is the property of the state). I think this can hardly be in accordance with the spirit and intention of the European Convention or of the UN Human Rights Convention.
Bo Vinnerljung (1996) made a systematic review of all of the international research on adult foster children. He found only about fifty items despite a comprehensive search. According to these studies one can, according to Vinnerljung, conclude that "... adult foster children usually fall short by a clear margin "and furthermore, "...there are few consistent associations between adult outcome and background factors...". In his own study Vinnerljung "...raises doubts about the prognostic abilities of child welfare authorities" and concludes that "Long-term stable foster care doesn’t seem to have improved outcome in adult age compared to growing up in ’insufficient’ family environments, identical with the birth homes of the foster children" (Vinnerljung 1996:307-315).
The God of Moses was the God (father, ancestor) of a national group based on kinship. For the Hellenistic Jews in Diaspora, God represented a continuing tradition still emphasizing family and kinship values. Emerging universal Christianity, with its emphasis on a personal God was a step outside biology. The development of modern protestant Christianity has been in a direction of even less emphasis on biology. The French revolution and Saint-Simon the original father of socialism, can perhaps be seen as the last, logical development on this path. Progressive Christianity has never been far from socialism, rather side by side as Lagerlöf preferred. Decomposing of kinship ties was, however, probably not that a big issue for her. What would she have said about the new Swedish law where incest, no longer is prohibited and marriage between man and woman are equalized with those between individuals of the same sex? The creator of kinship, i.e. the incest taboo, is now only a memory from the past though we haven't seen its effects yet!
Anthropologists of today differ radically from those in the late 19th century and are in particular restrictive regarding universals. On the contrary they often tend to exaggerate the meaning of the forms but not the frame on which these forms are built. Two topics on which this attitude is obvious are gender and kinship, and the main focus has in recent years been laid on the deconstruction of belief systems supporting family ties, especially if there is a patriarch involved. According to Collier and Yanagisako (1987), Henrietta Moore (1994) and other feminist anthropologists, patriarchal dominance is an inseparable socially inherited part of the conventional family system. This implicit suggestion of radical surgery does not, however, count on unwanted secondary effects neither on the problem with segregated or non-segregated sex-worlds. If, in other words, oppression is related to gender segregation rather than patriarchy, then there is a serious problem of intellectual survival facing feminists themselves (Klevius 1994, 1996).
According to psychoanalytical theories the psychological/cultural development of the individual to a man or a woman is crucial and has to fulfil certain stages to be healthy. Consequently a psychoanalytical view strives to separate the sexes through their entire life spheres.
In the pre- and industrialized society men and women’s worlds were completely segregated and boys had to be reared to men and girls to women. Today that need does not exist but girls are still very often reared in a segregated fashion and this tendency is even stronger in the totalitarian social state because of its very feminized day care and school. It should consequently surprise anyone that there are even fewer female students in Swedish higher technical education than in most of its competitor countries. The high proportion of women in the Swedish parliament has obviously no relation at all to this fact. On the contrary, it seems plausible to argue that the Swedish system with its mean possibilities for pluralism in child raising could be part of the explanation.
Swedish pre- and preliminary schoolgirls are, compared with boys, far from "independent and energetic" as Barrier Thorne put it, and if they were they probably would be bullied and labelled "tomboyish" and "abnormal". Thorne, whose observation was not made in Sweden, continues: "Why call a girl a quasi boy just because she likes to dress comfortably, play sports, climb trees, go on adventures, or have boys as companions?" (Thorne 1993).
The feminists, though lacking any kind of generally agreeable theory, strongly stress the view of a society, throughout (generally) contaminated by women hostile "patriarchal thoughts". Another view, however, would emanate from the fact that women and men in most societies have lived in separate spheres, i.e., sex-segregated. When sex-segregation (gender roles) because of a changing world rather than of feminist efforts, is not any longer absolute, the male advantages in a technical world become more obvious (Klevius 1996).
Kristian Ramstedt has made a study among Swedish students named Electrical Girls and Mechanical Boys, showing "strong significant difference between classical mechanics, being an area favouring boys, and electricity being an area favouring girls" (Ramstedt 1996).
His figures could, as I see it, well be connected with those of Karin Sandqvist below and the above argumentation regarding sex-segregation. Understanding mechanics is facilitated by well developed spatial brain areas (common in average men’s brain profile) that in turn are products of "boyish" activities in childhood. Electricity, on the contrary, is almost entirely based on mathematics and it is a well-known fact that girls are more studious than boys.
Agneta Pleijel complained, in her letter to Selma Lagerlöf about the apparent weakness in Swedish girls’ self-esteem despite the high degree of female workers and femininity in day caring, pre-schools and preliminary schools. This is well in line with the view above. With disappearing gender roles, the playroom for girls has widened dramatically. But how about their possibilities in practice? Most of the girls are raised in intimate contact with the ideals of their mothers. No wonder if they do not always fit so well, especially in the field of technicalities and techniques. Today, there is consequently in Sweden a great concern regarding the little interest girls show for technical studies. Could it have something to do with the high amount of single mothers and absent fathers in Sweden, and in which way are the girls affected?
Educationalist Karin Sandquist states that girls who have been raised in intimate contact with or alone with their fathers are more independent as adults and reach higher educational levels than other girls. She also found that fathers stimulated their daughters in the direction of natural sciences while their mothers stimulated them to studies in social sciences. She also actually found that Swedish fathers in a higher degree than US fathers encouraged their daughters on more "masculine" fields and if they also had a son they still paid at least the same attention to the success of their daughters (Sandquist 1990 and 1994). It's a pity then that there are so many absent fathers in Sweden. Many of them are in vain struggling to get permission to see their daughters. An unknown but obviously quite high numbers of these fathers are in jail accused for incest they have not committed. The old incest taboo has certainly changed since the days of Adam and Eve.
In a Finnish study consisting of 7,000 15-16 years old children the incest (sexual abuse at home) figures for girls raised by their biological parents was less than 0.15 % while the figures for girls living with step fathers or in completely non-biological environments, were 15-30 times higher (Sariola 1990).
Today the Nordic model, with a high degree of public organization of social and individual life, is exported through channels as the UN Child-convention, EU and different types of women organizations. Most of this is done under the flag of child protection and to criticize it will accordingly be a backlash of those praiseworthy efforts. Unfortunately many CPA-defenders outside the Nordic countries have not realized the backlash against kinship ties caused by the total, non-pluralist and family hostile, centralized Nordic social state model. Is that because of the feminist rhetoric in the issue or is it just because Sweden has happened to be the most secularized, or degenerated if you prefer, country in a common global trip to post-modernity?
The Swedish CP models’ export success could well be described by a news report from Russia where a healthy, bleached social-worker dressed in an expensive looking fur coat, just have removed the children from the astonished, crying parents, living in a poor, shabby but after all, functioning house. The abducted children are then often put into prison-like orphanages upon which the social worker may add some more "saved children" to her career.
The question is; is there satisfying protection for the children against social authorities arbitrariness and is it good for the children that their families and relatives according to these authorities are suspect and of little importance for them? Who wants, in the future, to make children if they belong to the state?
The world record in taking children into the custody of the state away from their biological relatives, was made during the World War II. It was initiated by the wife of a Swedish minister with connections to Save the Children organization and ended up with more than 70.000 Finnish children put into foster homes and institutions around Sweden. It is notable that few if any of these children was without care at home but the Swedish invitation and the yellow bananas they could offer was hard to resist for many parents. Today most of them regret what happened and so do researchers as well. Although the Finns at the beginning refused to send children, the Finnish social democrats eventually agreed and even started a campaign to support the eager efforts of the Swedish child protection women.
The main characteristic of a Utopia is the lack of individual rights. The combination of reformism eagerness and total ignorance of individual rights can make social democracy the most dangerous force in the world of today, not least because so many women give their votes to it. The situation resembles that of the German National Socialistic Party in 30s except the fact that now the evil comes through democracy while nationalism is blamed (except for in matters of the social state).
People labelled "unfit for life" in Nazi Germany were to a large extent identified and picked up by female social workers. In Sweden, simultaneously and in the following decades, the social authorities run a ’eugenic institute’ and interest focused on sterilizing women and men who were not considered fit to be members in "the people’s home of Sweden" - certainly a ’eugenic’ policy as morally suspect as that of the State of Virginia. Many women died because of this "hygienic" treatment (Broberg & Tyden 1991). Many seem to agree today that social democracy was the main power behind it.
Claudia Koonz describes the goal of Nazi-Germany in Mothers in Fatherland: " - a society where men and women live in different worlds and the citizens' bodies first of all belong to the state." Koonz also points out that the nazi-women expected increased influence in "female areas" like social welfare, education, reproduction and so on. It was quite shocking for them when they finally understood that the family had no importance except the nation and the purity of the race (Koonz 1988).
Nordic social democratic parties during World War 2 and afterwards behaved in a way not far from the Nazis and used the secret police as a political tool to maintain power and eliminate critics.
The stronger social state, the weaker families seem to be the rule. In the women’s congress in Peking one of the few results was a statement regarding strengthened rights for children against their parents, initiated by Swedish socialists.
Most people believe, in sharp contrast to the reality, that Nordic child protection to a major extent is a question about cases of badly abused and badly treated children (who, according to a large research project recently carried out in Finland by Sariola et al, are in fact few in biological families compared to children living away from their families) (Sariola 1990).
Pippi Longstocking, the world famous fighter against the Swedish child protector "Pruseluskan", became published by her creator, the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, in 1945, the same year Karl Popper's "The open society and its enemies" became available. Both books defend freedom. In the case of Pippi, freedom is upheld against the social state as well as against a limited "girls’ world". It is worth mentioning that Astrid Lindgren, the pride of Sweden, back in 1926 had to leave her country as a single, poor, pregnant women and give birth to her first child in Denmark. The first general child protection law (that gave access to every child) had been passed in Sweden 1924. The historical law was a creation of the same group of mostly socialistic Swedish women who had set up the "Save the Children" organization a few years earlier. We also note that Swedish "Save the Children" was a major force behind the UN Convention of children’s rights and is, perhaps not illogically, an eager supporter of the sexual abuse hysteria in Sweden. They have, for example, joined with a public educational institution for social workers to invite the notorious psychiatrist Tilman Furniss to lecture in Sweden.
The system now functions in a way not totally unknown for previous Soviet bureaucrats and the Soviet Union, that actually clearly worried Popper, has now fallen, while the Swedish pruseluska (child welfare officer) who was always chasing Pippi has grown even stronger as has the social state that feeds her.
Most of the apparently quite limited amount of research regarding adoptive and foster children and their success as adults show negative trends and is in no way a good reason for continuing the placements on subjective and psychological grounds. The conclusion is that with few exceptions, biological ties between children and their raisers are the clear long-term winners. Adoption is undoubtedly superior to foster families or an institutional environment, but even the best of adoptive families, (if not biologically related), selected from the upper middle class, is statistically outdistanced (Bohman 1979) by the poor, unemployed, uneducated, single, biological mother when it comes to crime and drug abuse among their children at young adult age. Though children of disadvantaged single mothers are over-represented among teenage criminals, they are not as adults. Kin support is crucial and benefits the results in a high degree as shown by Flinn & England (1995).
The efforts that have been devoted to proving adoption to be a positive measure are aptly illustrated by the Finnish psychiatrist Pekka Tienari and his life-long longitudinal study of Finnish adoptive families. In a paper published in 1994 in the British Journal of Psychiatry (164, pp 20-26) Tienari tries to convince the reader of the positive effects resulting from a good environment, on children adopted away from schizophrenic biological mothers. The reader should check the article for himself. However, I for one, cannot find in the latter appropriate evidence in favour of Tienari's proposition. It does seem, on the contrary, to call for several questions regarding the methods employed by the research team, such as the weighing of the outcome of an interview with a tool called OPAS, constructed by the interviewers themselves, and for the validity of the records of "congruence between the interviewer’s and the interviewed family’s view of the family". I think OPAS sounds dangerously like a suitable tool to prove just about anything that suits. Tienari, like many other Nordic psychiatrists, seems to have been trapped for lifetime in the visions of Laing & Co in the early 60s.
Professor in jurisprudence Jacob Sundberg, who has defended human rights against the Swedish system for decades, became a serious dissident in the University of Stockholm in the late eighties (the ius docendi affair). His efforts and the incorporating of Sweden in EU have forced the Swedish juridical system to pay, at least some attention to what earlier was called "strange thoughts of catholic reactionaries from the south". The Swedish strategy seems, however to avoid these "strange thoughts" by lobbying their own.
Today the social state, more or less, runs its own race with little dependence on political parties and the legal actions against children are largely subjective; there are, in other words relatively few drug abusers, alcoholics and clearly mentally disturbed persons among the parents. This trading of children has expanded beyond all imaginable limits and today makes up one of the heaviest costs of the municipalities in Sweden. Thus, the proportion of foster children in Sweden is 6-12 times higher than in Japan, a welfare state where, according to UN statistics, the quality of children's lives are valued most highly in the world. It hardly needs mentioning that Japan is the oldest and most family centred developed country in the World. In fact, the interventions made by the social authorities have been roughly proportional to juvenile delinquency of non-economic types. In Japan, child-criminality is still on a very low level whereas the Swedish figures might well be among the highest in the world. We are hampered in realistic assessment about this, however, since such cases are transferred to the social authorities, out of reach for statistics and international police-agreements.
For parents the natural reason for the day-care of children is the possibility of having a job. The social state has two quite different motives. First, they want the jobs around day caring and secondly, they want 100% extension of day caring because it is an excellent tool for "observing" the family and thus probably produces many wrong child abuse accusations because it gives endless possibilities for misunderstandings and then even more job for the social sector. Behind the pleasant front of the Nordic day-care centre the parents can, if observant, maybe sometimes imagine a monstrous will to "take care" of their children around the clock and forever.
In Sweden the authorities are also eager to take into custody children from refugee families and now they want to change the law so that if the family does not get permission to stay the parents has to go back without their children. In this cruelty it is referred to the Convention of children’s rights.
Because of the considerable fees paid for foster children there has been a growing tendency in Sweden to establish commercial orphanages and to order clients to them through connections among the bureaucrats. Sometimes the bureaucrat functions as a partner in the orphanage business.
To top it all, we note that whatever measure the social authorities in the Nordic countries take is in the best interest of the child and goes beyond that of all other legal instances. Even if parents should succeed in winning a court order to have their child returned to them, nothing can stop the social bureaucrats from preventing them from visiting their child or from taking the child into immediate custody again. A mother, going to the psychiatric hospital where the child was locked in, and showing her court order, was pushed down, injected with a heavy sedative "to prevent an incipient psychosis from breaking out". Her child was then sent, in something resembling a transport of convicted prisoners, to a secret orphanage. Electrical fences, locked doors and fees from 22.000 to more than 100.000 SEK per month are common in these kinds of places (family homes in the lower end of the scale and treatment homes, which sometimes do not differ that much, in the upper).
If I were a stockbroker and if the social state were on the list I would probably invest in it. Which stocks could be safer? However, I’m not sure I like the business idea.
We might ask: After such a clean sweep, what is left on the dining table to eat? There is not really very much that presents itself in the way of alternatives to a rigid, biological, fundamentalist society. Some sort of protection, however is needed for the free, atomized souls inhabiting society, motherless and with limited or, in practice, often non-existing kinship ties.
A rule of law based on human rights is clearly needed but these rights must be formulated so that they provide a bulwark against the very real enemy threat: the social state. Individuals have to be protected by the rights of the individual, in sharp contrast to the collective (society’s) rights of the socialistic ideology. Pluralism versus centralized state power.
In conclusion I should like to quote a hesitant Swedish feminist Maud Eduards; "But can women trust the state to take care of their interests? And will a society ruled and regulated by the state, with mean possibilities of private life, benefit women?"
This I will argue is a relevant question for women, men and children around the world. Although it is a rare one, the book I should dearly like to read is; Part Two of Selma Lagerlöf’s The Miracles of Antichrist which is even rarer because she never came to write it. My guess is that its name might have been Angels of Antichrist.