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Scandinavian ‘Socialism’: The Truth of the Nordic Model

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Scandinavian socialism symbol

Global media (especially in the US) likes to portray Norway and Scandinavia as socialist. But “cuddly capitalism” is a much more accurate term. Let's take a look at the truth of the Nordic model.

Depending on where you get your political news, you’ve probably heard of Scandinavian socialism as either the beacon of hope for the world or the worst thing imaginable. So, which is it?

The truth, as always, is a little more complicated than a simple good or bad. All systems have positives and negatives and Scandinavian countries are no exception.

One thing’s for sure though, Many commentators have clearly never set foot in the Nordic region and barely understand the Nordic way of doing things. So, let's set a few things straight!

Is Scandinavia socialist?

Actually, to start with, what do we mean by socialism?

Socialism is a political, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management of enterprises.

That’s pretty much what Marx and Engels came up with in the 19th century. If you’re looking for a country that matches this definition, your search won’t take you to northern Europe. The simple fact is that Scandinavian countries are not, by any reasonable definition, socialist.

The Scandinavian flags
The flags of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark

In 2015, in fact, the Prime Minister of Denmark, in a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, addressed the issue directly.

I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.

Yet the idea persists. So, what exactly do people mean when talking of Scandinavian socialism?

Social democracy explained

Scandinavia and the Nordic countries can be best described as social democracies. Effectively, they’re democratic countries in which its citizens are well cared for.

Some refer to this as democratic socialism, though this is far from correct. Some economists refer to it as cuddly capitalism, contrasting with what is seen as cut-throat capitalism in other Western countries.

While the Scandinavian countries are in many ways very different, they share a lot of common history. The styles of government aren’t identical either, but they do share some common features. The ways in which they’re similar are enough that we can talk about them collectively – scholars call this the Nordic Model.

Northern Europe from space

Firstly, they are all free market capitalist countries. This fact gets missed by a lot of people, but their economies are fully open and trade globally like most countries in the world.

The way they differ is mostly in their welfare state. Social security in Scandinavia is more generous than pretty much anywhere else. Why? Well for that we need to delve into the history books.

The grand compromise

The Nordic Model traces its origins back to a 1930s compromise between workers and employers. It was spearheaded by farmers—which was how most people in the region, and indeed most of the world, made their money back then—and the workers parties that represented them.

The key feature of the Nordic Model is the social partnership. That's centralised coordination of wage negotiation and rights between employers and workers.

Agreements such as the Danish Kanslergade Agreement in 1933 and the Swedish Saltsjöbaden Agreement of 1938 set out a means for employers and unions to bargain on matters such as wages. In addition, both employers and workers have a framework to lobby the government to come to an arrangement on legislation affecting employment in terms of conditions and regulation.

One outcome of this, that certainly diverts from the left-wing playbook, is that there is no national minimum wage in Sweden, Denmark or Norway.

Instead, each sector has wages negotiated according to what the job is actually worth. Looking across the board, the average minimum wage in each country tends to be much higher than those that are mandated by other governments that have taken a blanket approach.

Three cartoon Viking characters
The Nordic model has its roots in history

Aspects of the Nordic Model

We can characterise the model as a number of key points:

  • Generous social safety net and public pension system with well-funded public services in a relatively high-tax economy
  • Strong property rights and contract enforcement coupled with an overall ease of doing business
  • Free trade combined with collective risk sharing, allowing the benefits of globalism while protecting against many of the risks
  • Low levels of regulation on product markets
  • Low levels of corruption – in 2015 five of the top ten spots were taken by Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland in the Corruption Perceptions Index
  • High levels of unionisation – 51% in Norway up to 88% in Iceland compared with the levels of 18% in Germany, 11% in the US and 8% in France
  • A partnership between government, businesses and unions leading to everyone feeling invested in a system that works well for all
  • A relatively high personal tax burden. At 45.9%, Denmark has one of the highest tax burdens in the world. Tax rates are also fairly flat so even medium and lower income households pay relatively high levels of tax compared with the progressive systems in most Western countries

Perhaps the most important factor in all of this is the two-way trust between the government and the population. The government trusts the people and gives them the freedom to do what they feel is right. In turn the people trust the government to act according to the national interest.

So, we’ve looked at what the model is, and it all sounds great, right?

Employees are well looked after and paid well for their work. The unemployed are also well looked after and supported in their attempts to find work. Retirees are thanked for their years of service with a generous pension. Taxes are high but so are wages. For the most part, people can afford whatever they need.

So, everyone’s a winner, right? Well, there are a few issues to cover, too.

Norwegian flag full of a conforming population
An ageing population could put a strain on the Nordic welfare model

Problems with the Nordic Model

A few problems arise from the Nordic model that are inevitably going to cause changes over the coming years. The post-war Baby Boom produced a large generation that’s currently retiring or retired. This was then followed by a decline in the birth rate caused by more people working longer and thus having fewer children.

Populations are getting larger but the percentage of people working and paying taxes is in a slight decline. This is not unique to the Nordic countries – it’s a problem that every country is facing.

Current projections are that by the end of this century the global population will have started decreasing. Economists are not sure how to solve this problem, but they all agree it needs to be solved.

Another problem, arising from the region’s pro-globalisation stance, is that as economies in the East and in South America grow, they will continue to take on more and more jobs as their labour markets will operate more cheaply than they do in the West.

The Nordic countries are slightly shielded from this by their investment in R&D that allows the countries to excel in more technical fields.

What about Norwegian oil and the Wealth Fund?

It’s true that Norway has a higher degree of state-ownership of ‘the means of production’ than most countries, thanks to its oil economy and the state-owned energy company.

Johan Sverdrup oil field at sunset
Johan Sverdrup at sunset. (Photo: Equinor)

It’s important to note that even though it’s majority-owned by the government, Equinor is run as a for-profit concern in the same was as other non-state oil companies around the world. The government is effectively a major shareholder that leaves decision-making to the board.

As for the Sovereign Wealth Fund, it’s certainly true that having a massive amount of money in reserve helps back up a generous welfare state and it’s not an option for most countries.

It’s also true, however, that the SWF is mostly a fund for the future. It might help ease the transition to an older population and the outsourcing of labour but for now, it’s not the reason that makes the Nordic Model work in Norway!

Scandinavian ‘exceptionalism'

Another thing that detractors of the Nordic Model like to point to is that the system might actually be getting in the way of the people. Maybe it’s not the Scandinavian systems that are working well, but the people themselves.

Looking at Scandinavian Americans shows that their productivity is higher than average, their wages are higher than average and, because taxes in the US are lower, they get to keep more of the money than their homeland counterparts!

The argument, therefore, is that if Scandinavian countries adopted a more US-style of capitalism with smaller government, they would be even more productive and richer.

There could, of course, be many reasons for this. It’s clear that the Scandinavian people share a high, productive work ethic. It’s impossible to put this down to simple genetics. It could well be that this is fostered by the system that made them.

Proponents of the Nordic Model would argue that productivity and economic growth are not necessarily the be all and end all of society. This is probably best indicated by one of the most confounding aspects of Scandinavian societies – happiness!

Scandinavians people are Happy people

The World Happiness Report ranks countries according to how happy their citizens say they are. It’s the most reliable and reproduceable estimate of happiness. Every year, half of the top ten is taken up by Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

A happy Danish guard
Scandinavians are generally considered happy/content with their lives

There’s no doubt that Scandinavians are happier with their lives than most of the rest of the world. In spite of high taxation, relatively cold weather and longer darker winters they’re happy people. It’s not due to the fact that they’re ‘born happy’ either. Surveys of immigrants shows comparable levels of happiness to the native population.

The report puts it mostly down to the fact that there’s high trust in government, low levels of corruption, low income inequality and high feelings of personal freedom. In other words, the things that many countries are pursuing are direct results of the Nordic Model.

Read more: Scandinavia May Not Be The Happiest Place On Earth After All

So, could countries around the world reproduce these levels of happiness simply by adopting the Nordic Model? Probably not. Or at least, it wouldn’t be easy.

The virtuous circle

Nordic countries foster a kind of virtuous circle. High levels of trust in the government aren’t necessarily caused by low-corruption and low corruption is not necessarily caused by high levels of trust in the government.

Instead, they feed into each other, and the other factors, to create a virtuous circle – everyone’s happy and everyone trust everybody else to keep doing whatever they need to do to keep things happy!

Many countries have the opposite problem. Low levels of trust in government and high corruption feed into each other to lower trust and increase corruption. Cycles like this are almost impossible to break. It’s difficult to build high-quality, trusted institutions when the people don’t trust the government.

And that’s probably the biggest thing that people on the right and the left fail to grasp. The Nordic Model works in Scandinavia because it’s in Scandinavia.

It’s a whole system, not just a few policies, that makes life in Scandinavian countries more like a shared journey. There are, no doubt, things that the rest of the world could learn from the region. But if you just take the Nordic Model and place it down somewhere else it simply wouldn’t work in the same way.

And that’s why arguing for or against the Nordic Model misses the point completely. The system always works for the people who run the system. In Scandinavia, that’s the population rather than the elite. So maybe, in that respect, it gets closer to the aims of socialism than actual socialism ever has!

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59 thoughts on “Scandinavian ‘Socialism’: The Truth of the Nordic Model”

  1. The reason people in America think that Norway is socialist is because, for decades, conservatism has been calling the things that Norway has “socialist”. Things like medicare for all, a functional justice system, an effective government, wealth redistribution policies, etc. Whether or not those things make a country socialist don’t matter to conservatives, they just like using the buzzword “socialism” to try and smear things they don’t like.

    However, over time this has had the side effect of people looking at Norway and saying “Well, if that’s socialism, then socialism looks pretty good.”

    And, of course there’s the fact that conservatives tend to say that socialism is “whenever the government owns the economy”, which puts them in a rather awkward place when you inform them that Norway’s government actually owns more of the economy than China’s or Venezuela’s governments do. (Source: https://theweek.com/articles/783700/democratic-socialism-bad-why-norway-great)

    So, this whole “Actually, Norway isn’t socialist” thing isn’t a result of socialists claiming Norway as one of their own, but rather of conservatives calling every social reform on the face of the earth “socialist”, and progressives eventually embracing that label. They opened Pandora’s box, and are now complaining about how they can’t close it again.

    Reply
    • No, it is indeed because every far left idiot claims the Scandanavian countries are socialist. Your arguement is absurd. Why would anyone bring the argument to the table that a well run, non socialist country is socialist when arguing against socialism? The only possible reason for a conservative to mention these countries would be in response, not as an initiator.

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      • “No, it is indeed because every far left idiot claims the Scandanavian countries are socialist. Your arguement is absurd.”

        The problem with American politics in a nutshell. Each side thinks the other side are idiots, lunatics, and traitors. How can we work together for a common cause when we hate each other? I grieve for my country.

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        • I too grieved for my country it has gone totally against God and ALL that is good in our constitution I am so sad our grand children and great grandchildren will be communist and will have nothing due to be taught lies from grade school up through college and the media that is brainwashing them I am shocked by people that are old are falling for this as they should have leaned in school the truth and now just believe all of the lies.

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      • You completely missed what he said. He didn’t say conservatives labeled Nordic countries socialist, he said conservatives mislabeled social safety nets and well funded public services socialist, that they did so in an effort to smear those policies, but that doing so had the side effect of making the Nordic system “socialist” by the (fallacious) definition conservatives used to describe policies they don’t like. He said, rather than argue the label, leftists adopted it and now use it as incorrectly as conservatives do.

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        • Yes of course but, why even attempt to explain something beyond the contrarians reading level? Most likely a, what do you call them? The very sticky drone like argumentative ignoramuses. Oh i can’t think of it.

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          • …beyond the contrarians reading level? Elitist much? Was your remark thought to sound clever or condescending, Sandy? Only an asshole would write something that arrogant and pretentious.

      • What Scotty says is absolutely correct, that conservatives peg anything, like a single-payer health system, which they do not like, as socialist.
        Look what they call “socialist” proposals in the US. A single payer health system and extending the free education from K-12 to K-16 does not really make a country socialist — it is still capitalist, by every definition. But American conservatives continue to smear these proposals with this “socialist” label.

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        • im an american conservative and honestly nobody in america knows what they are talking about but after looking at all these comments it wouldnt take long before most of us would catch on to the fact that it isnt socialist at all ….but what works for you isnt going to work everywhere.

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      • I second that it’s the far left definitely calling on these countries in their arguments how Americans should adopt these socialist ideas to make America have equality and equity being equal! Mostly people like farrrrrrr left a.o.c and Bernie Sanders! The conservatives tell the far left that none of these countries are using socialism and that socialism has failed in every country it’s been tried in. That socialism only makes everyone equally miserable and that it gives the democrats all the power!

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    • It’s true that Norway has a higher degree of state-ownership of ‘the means of production’ than most countries, thanks to its oil economy and the state-owned energy company.

      And here lies another problem with your comment. Extreme left do not want fossil fuel production in the US at all. You know, THE NEW GREEN DEAL! We are for the first time completely non-dependent on foreign oil and selling our oil to other countries. So shove your ideal that the extreme left in our country want this same lollipop, fairy dust, dancing in the streets fairytale lifestyle here in our GREAT COUNTRY. They just want control and communism. If this is what they want, then why don’t they go live there?

      Reply
      • The left never wanted communism. The right speaks smaller government, but conservative leaders want to tell us what we can and can’t do. They control most of the wealth in the country, so conservatives are fat and happy., What the left wants is freedom to reap our fair share of the economy, not what the conservatives want to hand out. The right always wants to paint others as the bad guys. They are against a living wage, cancel the only healthcare coverage that much of the poor and middle class can afford, bend the tax laws for the very rich and big corporations that hand out their money to politicians. Our country has fallen away from the ideas the founding fathers put forth and is full of corruption, starting in the White House.

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        • Did you miss the part where he stated that the Democrats would be against off-shore drilling to pay for their expanded safety net. The USA does not have a set amount of wealth. Liberals believe there is only one pie too be divided. Conservatives believe if one pie isn’t enough you can make more.

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        • who is “they”? as in control most of the wealth in the country…. there’s an awful lot of rich democrats funding the ‘left’. And the new economy ‘corporations’ Twitter, Facebook, etc definitely don’t align with the right. So maybe the people that feel left out and underfed should look to their rich democrat leaders.

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        • an enormous amount of wealth is Leftist owned and controlled, Mark Z. of Facebook, (528 Billion) Twitter (company :32 billion) (owner Jack Dorsey,5.1 billion personal net worth) Google (632 billion) Ceo: Sundar Pichai. They have already censored free speech and now aiming to do it Globally
          . Sounds like they are on the road to Communism. Don’t you think?

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        • If the laws on term limits were changed to what the founding fathers intended then we wouldn’t have such corruption.

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      • How does the government and citizens of Denmark feel now that there is a push globally, among major players,
        To eliminate fossil fuels and replace them with clean energy sourced from solar and wind. The government of Denmark has part ownership in their oil trade. The US government has no ownership in our energy, however industries are subsidized with federal dollars.
        This push is all to save these earth from global warming. I’m from the US, and the state of Pennsylvania, which is a high producer of natural gas. Our president has already destroyed thousands of jobs with his cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. This doesn’t mean that the oil won’t flow, it just won’t be flowing through a pipeline. It will be transported in oil tankers transported over roadways and on railroads. To see the direction of where some globalists want to take us, just look at the most recent event (The world economic forum) held in Davos at: weforum.org. Take a look at the participants in the heads of state and government. Also take a look at leaders from international organizations government agencies and central banks. Is this our future?

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        • It’s nuts because the technology hasn’t arrived yet to store the energy from wind turbines or solar panels! These types of energies are intermittent power and have to be used when the winds blowing or the suns out! Wind turbines and solar panels couldn’t ever come close to meeting Americas high demand for electricity , never mind the fact it’s constantly growing ! Look at Roscoe Texas and the Texans that froze this winter, because of turbines freezing! Then you have morons like a.o.c saying it wouldn’t have happened if we only had more turbines! Lol Don’t get me wrong I care about the planet but I’ve never heard of bankrupting the country to become more successful! I also agree with the fact that our current president if you can call him this, is going about it the wrong way! America might be able to add wind turbines and solar to help the grid, but never be able to sustain enough electricity to solely use these methods! Besides that it would take 80% of America to be able to power 20% of the remaining lands needs and still would have shutdowns! The democrats and Biden should have kept the other things like drilling and fracking going! Fracking is 50% cleaner! The pipeline I kinda agree with, due to the fact of this way of oil production is by far the dirtiest! Oil coming from Canada’s boreal forest tar sands ! This type of oil is like sand blasting it through pipes and it eats away at the pipeline causing big messes! When it eats through the piping it’s much harder to clean up! Where they refine it of the gulf of Texas it also causes trouble by leaking into the gulf and produces twice the amounts of carbon emissions then other ways of refining oil!

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    • I find it odd the author of this article didn’t point out the largest factor of decline in these Scandinavian countries: rampant immigration.

      This problem has created an entire culture of unemployed population that isn’t producing revenue, but consistently draining it. This has been noted by numerous economists, as it’s also a huge complaint by these countries’ elderly population, who are seeing the hard-earned money they’ve paid in all their lives being siphoned off by a group that’s never paid in a penny.

      Reply
  2. My son and his family moved to Oslo about 8 years ago from the UK. Since then they have had two daughters. The first thing to mention is the maternity and child care benefits. My daughter-in-Law had more or less a year on full pay each time. Then there is the heavily subsidised Barnehagen from age one. These benefits together with the outdoor lifestyle in Norway have certainly made them happy! I think it’s the simplicity of life, hiking, swimming in lakes, camping in forests etc. that are the big difference in how Norwegians spend their leisure time that make for a satisfied society. Other capitalist societies seem to base life on amassing as much wealth as possible, often at the expense of others.

    Reply
    • Wealth is only amassed at the expense of others if it is acquired dishonestly or by force. If it is amassed legally then every single penny represents a voluntary exchange of value. Transactions are 2 way, not 1 way. Your comment is clearly biased nonsense. Your son is living a happy life and good luck to him. But he just happens to be living it in Norway, not BECAUSE he’s in Norway.

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      • ha you say that like humans aren’t naturally greedy and self-serving… if you put someone in a situation to amass self-worth through monetary/material value (capitalism!) the exploitation of others who are vulnerable/of lower standing is a given. legally does not be ETHICALLY.
        this point is naive and based on good faith, which may be valid in nordic countries that put less emphasis on material wealth, but in capitalist societies e.g. USA that would be plain bull due to the psychology that has built their economy on the exploitation of others throughout history. slavery was legal. working for usd$8/hr is legal.

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        • I own a business and exploit no customer or employee for personnel gain but rather have empathy and desire to create a better community which then reflects in my gain. Not everyone is greedy and it is actually not normal but rather conditioned.

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      • If you think accrual of vast wealth under the capitalist model, legal or not, is due to a ‘voluntary transaction’, then you’ve been completely brainwashed by the system.

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    • I agree. I spent ten days in Sweden visiting my grandson who was in the military. Infrastructure was top notch. Travel on underground tram safe at all hours. One of drivers we had said that the difference between the US and Sweden is that Swedish citizens know where their tax money goes. Budget is balanced annually. He spoke of the paid maternity leave, child care, paid sick leave, and not worrying about healthcare, as everyone has basically the same plan, and the rich pay more in taxes and do so willingly. He talked about the holidays everyone takes and their importance. Everyone is educated through college, and everyone works and you receive assistance in finding employment. When I think of what we are going through right now with our elections and the dishonest, divisive ads everywhere, I think the nordic way of life might be a refreshing change.

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      • Life in those countries works because of population control and limited to no illegal immigration. Where those who work support those who don’t. In the U.S. we have too many mouths to feed and not enough feeders. We’ve aloud too many takers to come in illegally. Other Countries send us their poor, tired, and needy. And still, the U.S. is the greatest Country in the World, hands down, by far. Because this Country was founded on Judeo/Christian principles, which the far left is tearing down. Lord help us.

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    • I have an “adopted” Swedish exchange student from many years ago. Also I have visited Sweden a number of times. What I have learned is that generally they appreciate the benefits they have even though the taxes are relative high. Sorry to be brief but must sign off at this time.

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    • Also, what people tend to forget is that Norway’s population is below 6 million people. There are more people in my state of North Carolina (about 11 million), than in the whole country of Norway.
      It’s easy to care for 6 million people, than for 329 million people.
      The USA population is very high compared to Nordic countries.
      And the older population in these Nordic countries are retiring/retired. The Nordic way my implode on itself eventually.

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  3. I live and work in Denmark. There are lot of cultural reasons that the polices work here. Danes are, on the whole, very intense about work with a strong work ethic and a desire to do really good work. Even the simplest of jobs is done well and with pride. I have really enjoyed that part of being in Denmark. Danes, on the whole, are a also a very disciplined people and laying about on unemployment for a moment longer than necessary is highly frowned upon. Drawing on social benefits is seen as an absolute last resort for anyone of working age and considered to be fairly shameful if it goes on for any length of time. Retirement age is also mandated with no or very limited options for continuing employment once retirement age is reached, effectively forcing people out of the work force.

    While the income taxes here are quite high, you forgot to mention the sales tax (aka VAT) that is also quite high at 25%, Savings, other than pension, are also taxed quite heavily as are any gains from investments like stocks. Tax rates for that can go as high as 60%. .

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    • The USA is diverse, multiple cultures, complex. We are not like the people in Denmark or Sweden. We do not trust in our government. Some groups of people have a strong work ethic, attempt to remain as independent and functioning, share with and willingly help others in the community. Other groups of people have poor work ethics, are not concerned about others, feel everyone owes them. Many social programs in these countries are great and work! As the article states it is a dual relationship, culture, way of life. You can’t cherry pick and say look at them. That’s what we should do. Because you will be the first to yell at the taxes, your work hours, what is expected of you.

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  4. You didn’t actually point out any demerits of the Nordic model. May be this article wasn’t meant to do that. Your demerits were either too generic or actually came out as strengths. Also, about the unions bargaining for better pay is normally what happens in majority of the democracies world wide. Furthermore, the west calls this socialist or democratic socialist (although, I agree with you, that it is incorrect) is because of the free education and healthcare which wasn’t really discussed that much in this article.

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  5. And everything that was just argued let to the Norway slaughter in July 2011. The government oversees the livelihood of everyday citizens which by all definition includes massive gun control and rights, Likewise, this same government can’t even begin to withhold sick individuals and ardent criminals from acquiring massive weaponry. The government’s only concern is making sure those who live to better themselves and each other cannot defend themselves or their loved ones. You think I’m lying or spreading false propaganda, explain why someone who slaughtered almost one hundred children and adults initially only got 21 years in prison? The government knew an organized attack was underway in 2011, and couldn’t even muster simple air support to respond to children being shot at will. When police responders had the attacker dead to rights, they simply told him to lie down. To the author, you’re right, Scandinavian countries don’t have to be pure socialists. They simply create utter monsters and guess what, all of that is to the benefit of your people. So tell me, whose the real monster…

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      • Its clear by Your ignorance that you know nothing about socialism. The literal definition that people both citizens as well as government pass off is EXACTLY the same definition as Marx and Engels described it as in the 19th century. the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx has come and gone. His work with Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, and Das Kapital inspired communist uprisings in Russia, China, and several other countries. Despite the death and destruction under communist regimes over the past century, some are inexplicably still debating Marx’s legacy leading up to the anniversary of his birth.

        A recent survey suggested conducted on behalf of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that some, particularly millennials, have a preference for collectivist economic systems — communism, fascism, and socialism. Each of these systems rest on one central theme: the suppression of the individual.

        Marx and Engels put this belief in one simple phrase, writing, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Theory is one thing. In practice, however, the anti-individualism that Marxism represents has resulted in the devaluing of human life and the ownership of people, as well as what they produce, and property by the state.

        Estimates may vary, but communism is responsible for the deaths of up to 100 million people, perhaps more. From Josef Stalin’s “Great Purge” and the Holodomor to Mao Zedong’s famines to Pol Pot’s killing fields, the legacy of Marx is one of death. The authors of The Black Book of Communism estimate the deaths by country or region are as follows:

        China: 65 million deaths
        Soviet Union: 20 million deaths
        North Korea: 2 million deaths
        Cambodia: 2 million deaths
        Vietnam: 1 million deaths
        Africa: 1.7 million deaths
        Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths
        Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths
        Latin America: 150,000 deaths
        Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1905, Alisa Rosenbaum, who is known by the name of Ayn Rand, experienced the evils of communism first hand. Her family owned a successful pharmacy and enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. That changed in 1917 when the Bolsheviks stole her family’s business and property. Rand, who would later write Anthem and Atlas Shrugged, left the Soviet Union in her early 20’s and immigrated to the United States.

        Reflecting on her experience with communism and those who defend the ideas put forward by Marx, Rand wrote, “When, at the age of twelve, at the time of the Russian revolution, I first heard the Communist principle that Man must exist for the sake of the State, I perceived that this was the essential issue, that this principle was evil, and that it could lead to nothing but evil, regardless of any methods, details, decrees, policies, promises and pious platitudes. This was the reason for my opposition to Communism then — and it is my reason now.”

        “I am still a little astonished, at times, that too many adult Americans do not understand the nature of the fight against Communism as clearly as I understood it at the age of twelve: they continue to believe that only Communist methods are evil, while Communist ideals are noble. All the victories of Communism since the year 1917 are due to that particular belief among the men who are still free,” she added.

        Similarly, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said, “I dare hope that all the peoples who have lived through communism will understand that communism is to blame for the bitter pages of their history.” Solzhenitsyn also experienced first hand the brutality of communism. He spent time as a political prisoner in a Soviet gulag and was later expelled from the country.

        Sadly, the horrors of communism are a forgotten memory for some. Those who have opined on Marx’s legacy as the 200th anniversary of his birth approaches are glossing over the death and destruction by those who wave the banner of communism.

        Writing at The New York Times, Jason Barker, a professor at Kyung Hee University in South Korea, focused on Marx’s critiques of capitalism, paying literally no attention to the skeletons of millions of people who died at the hands of communist oppressors that in Marx’s closet. A piece at The Economist similarly focuses on Marx’s views on capitalism, again whitewashing the deaths under communist regimes.

        Today, only five countries are considered communist — China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. Some of those countries, including China and Vietnam, have taken steps toward at least some market liberalization. Totalitarianism, though, still exists in these countries.

        Although few communist countries remain, many still defend communist beliefs. “The Soviet Union didn’t really practice communism,” some would say. It’s the sort of tripe one would read in the comments on a Reddit post. But some really do believe this nonsense.

        Others are selling another brand of collectivism: socialism. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has spent his entire career in public office proselytizing for “democratic socialism,” seeking to drive the Democratic Party further to the political left.

        Although socialism may be different, the litany of “free” things that the government would provide — such as “free healthcare” and “free college” — rests on the notion that the individual works for the state and that you’re entitled to only what the state allows you to keep. It’s still a subversion of the individual, only different branding.

        As we have passed the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth. We should take time to honor the victims of communism and remember that collectivism, no matter which form it takes, should be rejected, regardless of who is selling it.

        Please educate yourself instead of throwing out enough of a comment that wouldn’t make up a regular sentence on paper then couple that with insults due to your lack of knowledge hence your needing to lash out like a child. You follow blindly not even knowing what exactly you are following lol.
        Pathetic.

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    • As a Norwegian I am absolutely disgusted (and insulted) by this comment. You clearly know very little about my country and even less about the events of July 2011. First of all: Yes, officially the shooter got 21 years in prison, but in practice he will never walk free. The reason his official sentence was so low is that the Norwegian juristic system is heavily based around the idea of rehabilitation (21 years is actually our maximum penalty) and thus was unprepared to deal with a crime of this magnitude. Why? Because before 2011 there had never been a mass shooting or big-scale terrorist attack in Norway. Our legal system was simply not built to deal with this sort of crime, an issue that our government is currently addressing. I don’t know where you got the idea that the shooter of July 2011 was an “ardent criminal” because he had no criminal history whatsoever, which was one of the reasons he was not under any sort of surveilance. The two weapons he used were legally aquired and registerd to be used for hunting. I also don’t know where you got the idea that the government knew an organized attack was underway that summer, because that is a blatant lie. You are eager to condemn our government for not being able to “muster simple air support to respond to children being shot” but you fail to address the full story and the confusion that surrounded the events of that day. The shooter first planted explosives outside a building complex that houses a big part of our government officials. Google “regjeringskvartalet skader” and you can see the damage this caused for yourself. As previously stated there had never been a terrorist attack in Norway so this obviously caused panic, with the police struggling to secure the area while trying to figure out who was behind the attack. Meanwhile the shooter drove for an hour to where these kids were attending a summer camp on a small, isolated island. The first emergency calls from the kids were drowned out by the ruckus caused by the explosion in the capital city. Once they finally got through the police responded as quickly as they possibly could have considering they were going in blind not knowing how many terrorists were on the island and whether the shooting was linked to the explosions or not. I realise that you probably won’t read this, and considering how you clearly love guns and conspiracy theories it probably would not make a difference even if you did. I still had to write this. Don’t you dare use my country’s national tragedy, that you so clearly know nothing about, to spread falsehoods and slander…

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      • I think you should watch the statements shortly after the end of the movie July 22. It clearly states that there were numerous indications that could of been acted upon, not to mention the blunder by Norway’s customs department.

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  6. It wasn’t meant to criticize the nordic model, it was meant to clear up mischaracterizations. The point of the article was to correct the idea that the nordic model is socialist. It also suggests that simply adopting their economic policies would not necessarily produce the same result elsewhere

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  7. Shameful bringing up the Nordic children who were murdered as if somehow gun control was to blame. Here in the United States we have had 6 yr olds slaughtered in their classrooms. Teenagers running for their lives in the halls of their school. Worshippers killed in their churches and synagogues. And we have as many or more guns than any country.

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    • Shingleton, saying this as respectfully as I can; you contradict yourself in your own paragraph. Schools and places of worship in the United States are almost entirely “gun free zones”, where law abiding citizens may not legally carry arms to defend themselves, thus gun control IS to blame, and thus your reasoning regarding the number of guns in the US related to mass murder does not make any sense.

      If the citizens were able to defend themselves, the number of senseless deaths would be dramatically reduced, if not entirely eliminated. This is called “common sense”. If you have a criminal that is armed, and a crowd of people that aren’t, the criminal can kill unabated. But, if you have a percentage of people in that crowd that are armed, the criminal will most likely be stopped immediately, or may not even commit the crime in the first place, knowing that the citizens will be armed.

      The exact opposite of what you said is true. 96.2% of mass murders occur in “Gun Free Zones” according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, which includes the schools and places of worship that you mention. Why? It’s obvious. Put yourself in the shoes of the mass murderer. What is his goal? That’s obvious…its to kill as many people as possible. Where is the best place to accomplish that goal? A gun free zone, where nobody can legally defend themself with a gun.

      Let me quote one of our brilliant founding fathers who contributed to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. “Laws that forbid the possession of arms serve to encourage homicides rather than to prevent homicides…for an unarmed man can be attacked with much greater confidence than an armed man.” It would do everyone some good to study history, for it just repeats itself over and over again. Unfortunately, those of us that study history have to relive the horrors of history because of those that don’t study it. I hope this inspires you and many others to study it, and to base your opinions from facts, not emotion, for that can make you look very foolish when confronted with facts. The Crime Prevention Research Center also concluded that in any city or even entire country in the world that has banned guns, crime actually increased, not decreased, for the same reasons. If you create an entire country that’s a gun free zone, guess what? The criminals can perform their crime with very little risk from you, since the criminal will always have guns, since they don’t follow law!

      Coincidentally, areas in the US with the highest amounts of legal gun ownership have the lowest amounts of murders, and vice versa; areas with the most gun control have the most murders. Ever wonder why there hasn’t been any mass murders at gun shows? It’s always places where the citizen is disarmed and helpless.

      With all respect, ignorant people that think like you do and vote are the most dangerous to our liberty. Your relatives…our founding fathers gave their lives for your freedom, and you let yourself fall for the media’s anti-gun brainwashing rederick. Soon, with the help of your votes, we will be living under the same conditions that our founders had to fight and die for. When you’re cold and starving you will realize that it was all part of a cycle, called the “Tytler Cycle”.

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      • If the citizens were able to defend themselves, the number of senseless deaths would be dramatically reduced, if not entirely eliminated. This is called “common sense”.
        I mean… if people weren’t allowed to have guns, there wouldn’t be any shooting, would there? How else would you explain the low percentage of murders in Scandinavia? There are really strong regulations, and people who do not meet the “criteria”, are not able to have guns.
        As far as I understand, in the U.S. basically everyone are allowed guns “for protection”.
        You can’t seriously say that the reason shootings happen are because the citizens don’t have weapons.

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  8. The nordic model is about maximizing freedrom for everyone. You have freedom from powerty, freedom to chose an education according to your wishes and abilities. You have freedom from crime. You have freedom from unnecessary worries like having ill children needing expensive treatment. If you start your own business and go broke or do badly, your family still get the same medical treatment as your very well off neighbour, you still get high quality education for your kids. This creates an enviroment for devoloping new ideas, often the state give you some money to help explore an business idea, as long as you put in your own resources. This arrangment make the economy adaptable, because in times of crisis , people take the risk off creating new kind of businesses. The high education level also help making Scandinavian countries competetive. Trust saves a lot of money for businesses, government and inhabitants. Less guards, security systems, paperwork etc. Criminals get treatment and education in prison, most never return to prison after first sentencing. They start work and pay taxes instead. When other people get easier life with more choices, I as well get a better life with more choices. Less stressful people make them capable of participating in a large variety of organizations, thus creating even more positive activities and bonds between people from different economic parts of society.

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  9. When I sit back and look at what countries I would like to live in they are all western countries. Africa, East Asia and South America are mostly undeveloped, poor and dangerous places to live. I believe that Caucasian people work together better and fight less among themselves. 97 percent of these Nordic countries are white and this could be why things work well because there is less dead weight. I do not believe it is due to race but due to culture. Without these caucasian people in the western countries there would be no cars, airplanes, electricity, cell phones, internet and many more of the inventions that we have come to rely upon. Some Asian countries may have figured it out but due to their communist and socialistic nature’s and the lack of the free marker I do not know if they would have advanced to what they are today. My prediction for the future is people like AOC will get into a place of power and open up the gates and slowly over time make the US weak and that will lead to the death of Europe. White peoples on average have 1-3 kids and other races 4-12. Due to this and an inevitable war that we will lose if we head win this socialistic road in America, I believe we will go extinct and the world will descend into chaos. Possibly sending us into the dark age and the end of modern civilization as we know it.

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    • Give me a break. It is clear that you don’t appreciate any culture than white. Asian cultures have a rich history. Simply because they have not sought material wealth throughout their history is not cause for your demonizing them. We can learn from each other in the modern era. Arab cultures had many advances in the past from which Europeans learned. Possibly if Asian and African and native Americas cultures had fought off Western colonialism as the Japanese had success in doing, their countries would have been in a much better state than they are today.

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  10. Upon visiting Norway, my perspective on government and society has totally changed in terms of what I think is possible. In America, we would call it a “utopia” but it really, truly it is that. No homelessness, everyone is beautiful and healthy, the airports are clean, the arts are funded. Drug addicts are given treatment…and even drugs until they are rehabilitated! The oceans are clean, the streets are clean, the air is sparkling, and there are flowers blooming in the streets. Citizens say they are heavily taxed, but the cost of not having to pay for childcare, medical, dental, and education are offset. Please only comment if you have traveled to Scandanavia! Let us tell you the truth of how it really is and let these countries inspire the world! 🙂

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    • I’m from the US… you can take all my money (well not ALL.. but you know what I mean) if we can get even an ounce of this “Utopia” here…

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    • Everyone is beautiful and healthy ? ….. and the rest of your comments sound like you work for the Scandinavian tourism industry. You got all that from one visit?

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  11. “Those that trade their liberty for the promise of security shall receive neither.” Benjamin Franklin. It might be working now, but all civilizations throughout all of history live through a cycle called the Tytler Cycle, from freedom to oppression. Since you have granted your government that power, who’s to say 2 years from now they don’t start funding things that you may not agree with, such as abortions? What many fail to realise is that if you had no taxes, and had to pay for the things you want, you would have much more money in your pocket than if those things had been provided “free” from your government. Paying a body of people to do something everyone is capable of doing themselves is very inefficient. Me, for example, I don’t have kids, but yet I would be forced into paying for everyone else’s kids. I’d rather keep my liberty than give an entity supreme power over me, to decide what’s best for me while they live in gated communities and write laws to exclude themselves from the programs for the masses. I’m not saying this is the way it is there now, but I guarantee, given enough time, it will be. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”

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    • Josh do you reside in the U.S. & own any personal property? Probably you do just from your theory that no taxes allows you to buy what you because you retain more money. I hate to burst your bubble but you’re already being forced to help everyone else’s kids when you pay property taxes because a percentage of that goes to funding the public school system in your area. FYI…I don’t have kids either so I’m familiar with this scenario. Also if you work for an employer & you get your health insurance through them its very likely that a co-worker, with say five kids, has the same plan at the same premium price you pay but the co-worker only has to pay for one additional child because after child one the rest are free. So if you pay $175 a month for your single policy & your coworker plus one child pays $250.00 that coworker ends up insuring six for about $42.00 per person. You didn’t mention insurance companies but if you don’t think they’re gouging you I’ve got some ocean front property in AZ I can sell you. Auto insurance is a strictly for profit industry & in all but two states, I believe, in which you are required by law to maintain a minimum of liability insurance.
      What needs to gain traction is there is no society that can survive purely on capitalism or socialism but must realize education & a robust health care system must be a strong foundation moving forward, together. Why invest so much money in education if we then throw our arms up & say you’re on your own if you get sick? We don’t do that if someone t-bones your car, they have liability laws to protect you. Basic health insurance is the liability policy we should all have so when someone accidentally trips & falls & breaks a bone that our premiums don’t go up because someone is uninsured & that loss trickles down, insurance companies don’t take the loss

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      • I can agree with some of ideals that are mentioned in this article. I would even be willing to support a lot of the Nordic model ideals politically but as mentioned the trust isn’t there in the US between people and people, more or less people and government. I do think the common person doesn’t want to be on some sort of welfare yet I think it’s also common for people to do it with no care and blame others for their need to be on welfare. The one key thing not discussed is Scandinavian military and its place in the world stage. To my understanding Norway or Iceland don’t have a standing military to finance. If they did, I could see that taking away lots of those benefits given to its citizens. The US has a standing military to both positive and negative reasons for lack of a better phrase. We do take control of global situations for our own longevity and interest however we’re also asked upon to provide military/financial support across the globe. How will Norway, Iceland, etc feel in a world order defined by a communist country like China? Also, to my understanding, Norway’s able to provide a lot for their people with benefits because they invest heavily in capitalist markets such as the US. I may be ignorant but it seems like if the US wasn’t capitalist Norway wouldn’t be able to make major gains from investing their oil profits into the US market. I’m not anti-Norway or any Scandinavian country or even anti-social democracy neither am I strictly pro-capitalist. I’ve been to Iceland and Norway for short periods for about 2-4 weeks and I really enjoyed the people. They do seem extremely happy and believe in strongly the trust amongst each other and their government. I would enjoy that same level of trust here in the US.

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  12. Ok so some people want socialism others don’t. Not sure how anyone defines democratic socialism or what the difference is. It has become a generalized term. The problem is most people in the U.S. have never lived in a socialized governmental system. People talk frequently about socialized health care or single payer system. That could work if everyone was responsible enough to maintain their health. If they go out and drink smoke and eat like imbeciles they put an unfair burden on the rest of society. Same thing with irresponsible reproductive behavior. Not sure how well it would go over in the U.S. if the government started mandating what you could eat, drink, smoke, or how many if any offspring you could have. Sure wish that the people that want fairer pay for workers would go out and start some buisnesses and put the concept into practice not just complain about how unfair the system is now. They should also start a movement to integrate into poorer communities that way they could raise the tax base which would help the underfunded schools and municipal services. As good neighbors they could also lend their support and experience to single parent families. If you really believe that the underprivileged matter this should seem like an obvious thing to do. Going on a protest march then returning to your suburban cul-de-sac is an empty gesture. Show your support in a more concrete way. Be there so you can have a meaningful impact and help people improve their situation. You can only fix an issue if you truly understand and what better way to understand than living it.

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  13. It seems to be an argument between 2 different types of economies. One is a market-driven one where hire-and-fire is the driving principal and workers’ value is determined solely by supply and demand. You have to pay for your healthcare and if you are too poor then tough. You only just have to work harder to improve your lot and if you can’t do any more becauase you are already working as hard as you can then tough. The other extreme is an economy where the state owns everything and private initiative is stifled, but at least no-one starves even if the standard of living is lower. It seems to me that a compromise between the two is the model that works best and the so-called Nordic model is this. A market economy working within a framework set by a government which works for all its citizens and where citizens on the whole respect their government and have a say in labour relations. Of course you cannot please all of the people all of the time and there will always be detractors. There will always be those who want to make more money for themselves and don’t want to pay high taxes, but life will still be better for the majority. Anyone who believes that either communism or unfettered capitalism is best only has to ask themselves why communism has been abandoned by many countries and why in the richest capitalist countries there are increasing numbers of homeless people and foodbanks for not only the homeless but also for working families who are not paid enough to live on.

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  14. Haaaai everybody in Norway! I really think your country is neat and I’m so thankful for the happiness you all get to share. Hoping the US can find our way to a happier/kinder place. This comment section doesn’t give me much hope, but there are still a lot of us who want to be kind and work together for a better future. Loved learning more about Norway!!

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  15. This is a great article, and thank you for the information. I’ll badly paraphrase Thomas Sowell here by saying that no economic/social system can effectively solve all problems. Instead, there should always be the recognition of tradeoff’s, because there always are. The only trade off I noticed in the article was the very high individual tax rate. And a commenter mentioned other taxes on top of that. Is that the only trade-off?

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  16. You poor misguided Americans need to get out more and realise America isn’t the greatest country in the world only in your own minds. The rest of the world has moved on. I’m glad I live in a country like New Zealand with proper democracy ( no Donald Trump’s), universal health care, gun control, entitlement in law to 5 weeks paid vacation , annually, sick pay, 37 hour working week, a minimum wage of $20ph (USA minimum wage is $9ph) & lastly no nut job Christians ( thank you God for making me an atheist).Scandinavian Socialism sounds like a pure paradise.

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