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New Left Review I/7, January-February 1961

Perry Anderson

Sweden: Mr.Crosland’s Dreamland (Part 1)


The first part of a study of the Swedish Model by Perry Anderson

since the war, Sweden has become an almost mythological country. Suitably remote and out of the way, it has come to be an entity rather like the Americas in the 18th century, or China in the Middle Ages—not so much a normal object of real knowledge as a didactic political fable. A contemporary equivalent of the myth of the Happy Savage has flowered: that of the Suicidal Swede. In Sweden, so the legend goes, unprecedented thousands jump out of the window to escape too much social insurance, while in the background, abortion, divorce and alcoholism ravage national morality and transform the remainder of Swedish society into a macabre, demented saturnalia. President Eisenhower himself recently retold the story to an audience of Republican politicians in Chicago. The intended moral of the tale is plain: the more welfare people have, the worse they in fact end up by faring. Too much cosseting leads to boredom, immorality and unhappiness. Suicide becomes the dramatic index of these discontents.

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Perry Anderson, ‘Sweden: Mr.Crosland’s Dreamland (Part 1)’, NLR I/7: £3

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