On 28 June 1709 Sweden and Europe were forever changed. And since 28 June is my birthday I feel some associations with this event. 28 June 1709 marked King Charles XII of Sweden's defeat at Poltava in Russia (today Ukraine) by Peter the Great (I) of Russia and is one of the most famous battles of the Great Northern War which came to an end twelve years later in 1721. It brought Swedish supremacy in northern central and eastern Europe to an end and led pretty much to the end of the Swedish Empire. More importantly, in my view, it marked the beginning of the - but never completed - Age of Liberty or Frihetstiden for Swedes.
The Age of Liberty was essentially a 50 year-long period of marking the beginning of parliamentarianism and civil rights in Sweden. The Battle of Poltava ensured the big shift of power from Monarchy to Parliament. Following Charles XII's death and the succession of Frederick I (a German Prince from Hessen), the power of the monarchy was severely curtailed. All power was given to the Riksdag (German, Reichstag or Imperial Parliament) consisting of four (often competing) separated assemblies which represented the estates, nobles, priests, burgesses and peasants.
Swedish democracy and parliamentarianism look very different today three centuries later and didn't really start getting under way until 1809. Women were given the vote in 1921. Political parties are now elected to the Riksdagen by proportional representation. On the face of things, Sweden looks like a typical liberal democracy, but as we have already seen the 'Age of Liberty' still has not come to Sweden...which is rather interesting since its Constitution has 29,041 words compared to the USA's 4,602. Sweden's version of 'liberty' seems to take a lot more defining.
In 1991 a new political party known as New Democracy (Ny Demokrati - NyD) - supporting populism, classical libertarianism, economic liberalism and the EU - made a brief entrance to the Riksdagen when in the General Election of that year it scored 6.7% of the votes and gained 25 seats as well as gaining 335 seats in municipal elections. When it advocated scaled-down immigration on economic grounds it was screamed down as 'fascist' much as the current Sweden Democrats are. With a keen sense of what was going on in Swedish political circles, its parliamentary candidates frequently railed against "crocodile politicians" from the mainstream parties whom they said resembled crocodiles because they were "all mouth but no ears". That was beyond question the experience of homeschoolers seeking political dialogue in 2010 before the voting in of the new Education Act when we attempted to engage Jan Björklund and other senior politicians connected with education in dialogue. He refused even to talk to us saying he was "too busy".
Journalist Nathalie Rothschild, in an article, Sweden: The Myth of a Cuddly Liberal Democracy wrote in 2008:
"Osama bin laden is on record saying he would never bomb Sweden - so why is it introducing one of the most draconian anti-terror laws in Europe?...
"The so-called 'FRA law', the informal name for a new anti-terrorist legislative package, gives the Swedish intelligence bureau, Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the right to intercept all cable communication crossing Sweden's borders. In other words, the authorities now have the right to spy on every single email, telephone call, facsimile and SMS message that arrives in Sweden, The controversial law, nicknamed Lex Orwell, sparked weeks of heated debate in Sweden. It was passed by the parliament a couple of weeks ago by a vote of 143 to 138, with one abstention and 67 delegates not present...
"Since 1989, Stasi [East German Communist Secret Police] is but a memory. Yet a similar, but even worse, surveillance machinery is being created - this comes into force in 2009...'In the year that Germany marks the twentieth anniversary of DDR's and Stasi's collapse, mass surveillance reappears...'
"An editorial in the liberal daily, Dagens Nyheter likens Sweden to dictatorships around the world, warning that now all Swedes are deemed guilty until proven innocent. Even the editor of the conservative Svensk Dagbladet urged Swedish politicians to 'think Orwell and vote no.'"
Homeschoolers could have told you that Sweden is a dictatorship. The bitter irony is that the draconian anti-terrorist laws are useless and Stockholm was bombed in December 2010 at the busy Christmas shopping time. Surveillance of this order at the expense of our basic freedoms is useless. So why is it still in place? I leave that as a rhetorical question just as I ask why they have banned homeschooling when it wasn't causing the Swedish government any problems. As it happens, military intelligence knew about the bombing in advance but the civil authorities, who do all the tappings, did nothing. And how ironic that Rothschild should compare the new anti-terrorist legislation to Stasi and Communist East Germany since East Germany has long been a mentor of Swedish politicians.
So why this attack on our liberties in electronic communications? Same reason as the government wants all children in state schools learning the same things - they want TOTAL CONTROL. Why do they want total control? I will leave you, the reader, to decide that one, but I will give you one clue - it's because the mainstream party leaderships do not believe in democracy, pluralism or libertarianism however much they say they do. If they did, they would immediately recind the wire-tapping law and restore homeschooling. And it's probably why Belgium didn't carry out its threat to take Sweden to the European Court of Human Rights because the EU isn't about these things either - sadly.
Sweden needs a new Battle of Poltava - not a physical war but a political one. It needs a New Age of Liberty to complete the job that it never finished properly when it got sidetracked by Marxism and National Socialism in the 20th century, whose legacy is regrettably still with us hiding under the blankets of Swedish liberal democracy. The more the blankets are drawn back, the less liberalism there is left and the more totalitarianism we keep seeing.
Nathalie Rothschild concluded her article:
"Sweden as a rôle model for Western democracies? Give me a break."
I'm afraid I have to agree her. It looks as though Stasi just changed address...no wonder they banned homeschooling. Now we need a non-violent popular uprising to get rid of our Egon Krenz's, Erich Honeckers and other crypto communists hiding in the Riksdagen. If we don't, the fall of the Berlin Wall will have been in vain.