— First of all, we would like to make our readers aware of the Communist Party of Sweden, its history and current activities. It would also be useful if you could give a brief overview of its basic political and organizational objectives.
— The communist movement in Sweden has a long history and a proud tradition. The predecessor to the communist party was founded in 1917 and in 1921, after the third congress of the Comintern, the party adopted the name Communist Party of Sweden.
During the 20’s and 30’s, the party played a prominent role in the labor union movement. It was largely because of the activity of the communists that Sweden at the time experienced the most strikes in the world, counted per capita.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Swedish bourgeoisie aligned with German imperialism and the Social Democrats adopted a policy of appeasement. There was a strong movement among the bourgeoisie for open support for Finland in its war against the Soviet Union. Only the communist party wanted peace and took the side of the Soviet Union, leading to increased repression. Several thousand communists were put into concentration camps and attacks were made against the newspapers of the party. The culmination was the attack made by local bourgeois politicians and police against the party paper Norrskensflamman, which killed five people. Until the terrorist attack in Stockholm a couple of years ago, this was the single most deadly terrorist attack in Swedish history.
After the war, the party adopted a Swedish road to socialism, meaning that the party essentially accepted the peaceful road to socialism. The idea was to separate the bourgeois state from the bourgeoisie by winning control of it and then using it to open the door to the peaceful transition to socialism.
Central to this strategy was the struggle for a united proletarian party with the Social Democrats and the labour union bureaucracy. To achieve this, the party had gradually, since the 7th World Congress of the Comintern in 1935, adapted its positions regarding reformism and revolution, paving the way for the abandonment of central revolutionary principles.
This development paved the way for the Eurocommunist current within the party. In the 60’s, this current had definitely won control of the party, changing its name to the Left Party Communists. Thirty years later, this party would once again change its name into the Left Party, which today plays the part of left-wing alibi for social democracy and capitalism.
However, in 1977, the revolutionary wing of the party broke loose from the eurocommunist party and re-established the communist party under the working name of Workers’ Party Communists. In 1995, it was once again possible to reclaim the name of Communist Party of Sweden, marking the continuity of the communist movement in Sweden, from 1917 until today.
The last couple of years, the party has engaged in a self-critical evaluation of the history of the communist movement, leading us to draw some central conclusions concerning the life and work of a communist party. This has resulted in an analysis of the activity of the communist party during the Second World War, which saw a radical change in the organizational principles of the party; from the parole of class against class to the full development of the united and peoples’ front. This analysis is accessible here: https://skp.se/english/the-communist-movement-in-sweden-during-and-after-world-war-ii
From this, we have drawn the conclusion that in order to reestablish a revolutionary current within the labor movement, the focus of the communist party and its analyses need to strengthened. It is necessary for the party to show why the logic of the “lesser evil” in the end generates support for capitalism and that we cannot speak of any unity with anyone, if there is not ideological clarity first.
The last couple of years, the party has been engaged in several campaigns directed at labour union members, youths and students and workers in general. We have tried to intervene by campaigns directed against the worsening of working conditions and the curtailing of the right to strike. We have also participated in the elections that have been held in our country, continually drawing relevant conclusions and increasing our share of the vote, albeit at a very low level.
— What is the current socio-economic situation in Sweden? What is the current situation, especially with regard to its economy, education, health, wages, unemployment, environmental protection, gender equality and migration in the society?
— The trend in Sweden has been the same as it has been all over the world. That is, attacks on workers’ rights, on the right to strike and on the living conditions of the workers. We have seen massive privatizations in the education sector, resulting in the fact that over 15 percent of the pupils in elementary school attend private schools that are funded by the municipalities. There has been a general rise in the cost of living, especially in regards to the cost of electricity, the cost of which has risen dramatically the last couple of months.
In the last couple of years, the trend in Sweden has been clear. The rights of the workers are under severe attack. The right to strike has been curtailed, basically allowing workers to strike only if it is in pursuit of a collective bargaining agreement. This has left the workers with no adequate means of defending themselves against price cuts or layoffs. At the same time, the labour union bureaucracy and leadership have agreed to drastic changes in the employment safety for the workers. The watchword has been flexibility. Workers are to become more flexible (read: more easy to fire) so that the Swedish monopolies are able to adapt to a more competitive international market.
What we have also seen is that right before the pandemic struck, Sweden was on its way into a capitalist crisis. Unemployment was rising and a number of other signs were present, signaling the beginning of a crisis. When the pandemic started, the bourgeoisie lost no time in blaming the special situation we were and are in, hiding the fact that the crisis was not caused by the pandemic, although it was accelerated by it.
The pandemic in Sweden has in a way exposed the capitalist system for what it is. All measures that have been taken, have been taken in support of the monopolies. There have been no closing of factories, plants or other workplaces, forcing workers to keep commuting to their workplaces. High schools have been closed and people have been asked to work from home, which leaves out the mass of workers who cannot work from home, who must continue to go to work, risking infection. The purpose has been clear — the monopolies have wanted to keep production going, which means that they have also used the pandemic to strengthen their position on the international market.
When we view the results of the handling of the pandemic, it is also clear that the working class areas have been hit the hardest, especially immigrants. Poor and cramped housing conditions, no ability to work from home or keep distance on the way to or during work, and poor information from the authorities have seen death rates soar in these areas.
When it comes to migration, Sweden has since a couple of years back adopted a reactionary and very restrictive policy in migration, essentially closing the borders as well as increasing the domestic repression, making life more difficult for those seeking asylum in Sweden. When the Syrian refugees came to Sweden in 2015, it was easier for them to enter the country — there was a need for the monopolies to build an army of low-wage workers. As this need was filled, the borders were closed. The handling of migration is cynical and inhumane and we have repeatedly criticized the reactionary policies of the ruling Social Democrats. We have consistently pointed out the fact that proletarian internationalism is the only way forward in the question of migration; to integrate the newly arrived workers in the Swedish workers’ movement, so that together, we can struggle for socialism.
Equality is still very far off in Sweden, although it as certainly come a longer way than in other countries. The wages for women are lower, and both the wages and the status of lines of work traditionally associated with women, such as childcare, are lower. Women still do more unpaid domestic work, they are at home with children for a longer period of time and they generally perform more of the reproductive work within the family. This results in them getting a lower pension, being dependent on their husband or family for support, otherwise risking poverty when they go into retirement.
— We know that at present, the imperialist powers, the so-called powerful countries, have formed an organization called G-7. However, for many years the capitalist pundits show the socio-economic system in Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, as the prime example of the success of capitalism. That situation has exceeded more now. How did these existing welfare-based policies become established in Sweden? What are the socio-political-class factors that influenced these? Are all of them given by the bourgeoisie development? Or are these the achievements of the Swedish working class? Were they the result of the conflict between the socialist and bourgeois camps? Moreover, were there any advantages and favorable environments (Location or geography) unique to Sweden and Scandinavian countries? We would be thankful if you could give us a comprehensive analysis of this.
— I think these are some of the most important that we face today and a correct analysis of these questions are central in building a strong revolutionary movement, capable of breaking with capitalism.
To start with, I will try to explain the three main factors that have been in play in the creation of the Scandinavian model (and I think these three factors are relevant in the discussion of capitalist policies in general as well — they are not only applicable to Sweden or Denmark).
First off, the existence of a strong and militant workers’ movement is central to winning concessions from the bourgeoisie. By organizing and fighting, victories can be achieved. When the construction of the Swedish welfare system started, primarily after the Second World War, the communist party was at the height of its power and Sweden has just experienced one if its biggest strikes in history, the metal workers’ strike of 1945, led by the communists.
Secondly, the existence of the socialist bloc on the other side of the Baltic Sea. In these conditions, it was very important for the bourgeoisie to not make it seem like socialism was more attractive than capitalism. This meant that the living conditions in Sweden had to match those in the Soviet Union. Had the living conditions been worse in Sweden than in the socialist countries, workers would have turned to the socialist system for an answer. In general, the mere existence of the socialist system in close proximity to Sweden forced the Swedish bourgeoisie to moderate its policies.
Thirdly, we need to understand that the creation of welfare corresponded to the direct needs of the bourgeoisie. In the development of the productive forces, the workers handling them had to have a sufficient knowledge of them. The bourgeoisie also had an interest in an effective school system. In the process of industrialization, workers had to be concentrated in the industrial cities, so the massive construction projects that gave the workers housing were built where capital needed them. The bourgeoisie also benefited from the construction of public housing.
These three aspects intersect at various points in the construction of the welfare system and it is often not possible to separate one from the other, but it is necessary to keep in mind that welfare also means the effectivization of capitalism, at a certain point, it was also beneficial to capitalism. Without a working class that can reproduce its labor power, there will be no capitalist development.
So, was the welfare system a product of the Swedish working class struggling? Yes. Was it also the result of the moderating effect of the socialist bloc? Yes. Did it also match the direct needs of the bourgeoisie? Yes. In this triangle, the concrete manifestations of welfare took form and decided the final outcome.
I have consistently made reference to the “direct needs” of the bourgeoise and I want to expand upon this. Obviously, the “direct needs” of the bourgeoisie stand in contrast to the “indirect needs”. These “indirect needs” represent a need for the bourgeoisie to contain the struggle, the mind, and the dreams of the proletariat within the frame work of capitalism. In order to situate the workers within the framework of its system, capital needs to be attentive to the demands of the workers.
From this position, the bourgeoisie gives certain concessions, corresponding to their “indirect needs” of keeping the working class under control. The point of this is fairly simple: all policies enacted under capitalism serves capital, whether directly or indirectly.
It is false to ask whether a law or reform corresponds to the needs of the proletariat or the bourgeoisie under capitalism, rather, one should ask in what way a law or a reform enacted under capitalism corresponds to the needs of the bourgeoisie.
Of course, the development of a welfare system is ultimately dependent on other factors as well. For example, the strength of the bourgeoisie in question in relation to the bourgeoisie in other countries or the conditions prevalent in capitalism as a global system in terms of competition or crisis.
For example, in a more and more competitive international market, the margins for any given bourgeoisie to give concessions will be reduced, affecting the possibility of the workers to win them.
It is not easy for me to briefly summarize what was unique to Sweden, as every aspect would require more of an analysis than what I can present in this text. However, I will try to give some examples.
The geographical location of Sweden, entailing a lot of natural wealth in the form of minerals and forests, but also a strategic position in the north of Europe have been important in the development of Swedish capitalism. The decision of the Swedish bourgeoisie not to intervene in either world war, keeping the Swedish industry intact has played a major role in the development of Swedish capitalism. Especially after the Second World War it gave Sweden an enormous advantage.
The more or less complete domination of reformism in the politics of the Swedish workers’ movement and the inability of the communist movement to challenge the hegemony of reformism, apart from brief intervals, such as during the 30’s, has given Swedish bourgeoisie the gift of a working class more easy to control than in other countries. This has also robbed the working class of a number of experiences in struggle.
— You explained that the impact of the intervention of the Soviet Socialist policies and the struggles of Swedish working class in obtaining the relative rights of the working class and the general public in Sweden was significant. We would appreciate if you could explain with two or three specific, direct examples those rights and some of the achievements that are still preserved today.
— It is not so much the direct intervention of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries specifically that has affected the development of the Swedish welfare system and the winning of concessions from the bourgeoisie. Rather, it is the indirect intervention that is important. By merely existing, the countries of the socialist bloc exerted a moderating influence of the bourgeoisie of the capitalist world.
As I explained above, this is one factor deciding the development of the Swedish welfare system. The bourgeoisie of Sweden or any other given country during this period of time had to keep in mind that pressured hard enough, the working people of their respective country would start glancing at the socialist system, being constructed in the direct vicinity of themselves.
However, it is worth pointing out that the Swedish bourgeoisie adopted, or rather copied, certain policies from the socialist countries. In the sphere of education, where I am active myself, the social democratic politicians responsible for the construction of a unitary school system in the SO’s and 60’s used the system already in place in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and implemented it in Sweden.
As such, the school system in the GDR was effective. It corresponded to the needs of the developing productive forces, both in the socialist and in the capitalist system, albeit that it could be brought to a higher level in the socialist system, there being combined with a polytechnic educational model. Since 1962, when the system was finally introduced in Sweden, it has been eroded and partly dismantled, which I will proceed to discuss in a later question.
— We know that in Sweden and in the world in general, the state capitalist economic system that existed until the 1970s has changed and, with direct imperialist intervention, it has shifted directly to neo-liberal economic policy. How did this neo- liberal programme affect the living standards of Swedish society during the forty years from 1980 to 2021? Do you see the standard of living declining? Also, have the rights enjoyed by the Swedish working class in the 1980s increased today? If not, could you make a comparison between the living standards of the general population in the 1980s and today?
— When we analyze neoliberalism it is very important to keep in mind that it is an alternative administration of capitalism, not qualitatively different from the previous Keynesian model, which entailed a capitalism more regulated by the state. Rather, the difference is quantitative, and therefore we do not advocate one before the other; we do not call for the end of neoliberalism in favor of a more regulated capitalism, but we call for the end of capitalism as such, in favor of socialism. This is our basic perspective, which we find very important, especially after seeing party after party getting lost in inter-capitalist contradictions, favoring one capitalist administration before another, thus losing the socialist perspective.
It is also very important to note that the ascent of neoliberalism coincides more or less with the downfall of the socialist system. With capitalism already reestablished in China and the socialist system in the Soviet Union witnessing its last years, it was possible for a more coordinated attack on the rights of the workers in many countries. This meant that the indirect pressure on the Swedish bourgeoisie by the socialist system as such was reduced and more offensive measures could be taken against the workers.
As for the conditions for the working class, we can note that they are deteriorating. Real wages have increased since 1980, but the rise in prices have been far greater, in average increasing three- fold.
Housing costs have increased four-fold, the prices for foodstuffs have increased three-fold and the cost for healthcare has increased eight-fold. This should be compared to a real-wage increase of around S0 percent since 1980. So, wages are falling behind the cost of living.
At the same time, it is very interesting to note the increase in the GDP of Sweden. This has more than doubled since 1980, which means that the workers are receiving a smaller and smaller share of all the wealth they are producing. This development has been very positive for the monopolies of Sweden, who have increased their domination — today, the ten richest percent in Sweden own almost 80 percent of its assets and 15 families own more than 70 percent of the companies listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
When we look at what the workers get back from the welfare system, we see that this is decreasing as well. In 2020, the Swedish social security system paid out around 200 billion Swedish crowns in total (for parental leave, sick leave and so on). In relation to the growth in the GDP of Sweden, the payments have been halved since 1980, from making up 8 percent of the total GDP in 1980 to making up around 4 today. Had the payments from the social security system still been 8 percent of the GDP of Sweden, they would have amounted to 400 billion Swedish crowns.
In the end, this is an enormous redistribution of wealth into the hands of the bourgeoisie, leaving less and less for the workers.
Concerning the rights of the workers, we can see that they are deteriorating as well. The right to strike has been severely curtailed, basically only allowing for strikes aiming for a collective agreement, effectively making strikes for fired co-workers or cuts illegal. The same can be said about the laws regulating the working conditions. It is now easier to fire workers in the name of flexibility, and the bourgeoisie has thus succeeded in silencing a lot of disgruntled workers, for fear of losing their jobs.
— Sri Lanka is a country that has a great interest in education. However, education has become a major crisis at present. This is why the truth about education in Sweden and big lies about it are being echoed in Sri Lankan society from time to time. Sweden’s education system is being touted as one of the finest, highest quality education globally, which gives opportunities even for those in the lower classes. As such, we would like to know the current state of education in Sweden, how it compares with the past, and how is the growth of that education? How is its quality? How has that education affected the children of the working class and children of ordinary people? Also, is there an increase in government spending on education in Sweden and what is the nature of private education in Sweden?
— When the current system of education was finally implemented in 1962, it was a copy of the socialist system of the GDR, as mentioned above. It corresponded to the need to develop the productive forces at the time by implementing a unitary model for the children of all classes. Since 1962, we have had this system, which has allowed for a certain degree of education for the workers and popular strata as well. This system has been positive for the working population of Sweden, but it is important to note that it has been even more positive for the bourgeoisie and it in comparison with what would have been possible under socialism, it pales in comparison.
One also has to keep in mind, that the educational system under capitalism remains a capitalist educational system, however it is organized. This means that the curriculum and the content of education corresponds to the need of capital, partly to give the children of all classes a “correct” worldview, and partly to give them the necessary qualifications for handling the means of production. This is why it is also necessary to struggle for a more positive content within the educational system, and not only to struggle for a certain form of education under capitalism, such as often is done today by the left in Sweden. It is necessary to see the educational system as a part of the superstructure of capitalism in any given capitalist country and equally necessary to struggle for its replacement with a socialist system.
However, it is of course possible to say that the conditions for education in Sweden has worsened and continues to worsen. Since the early 90’s, the elementary and high schools were made into a market, meaning that private schools compete with municipal schools (a vast majority of the schools in Sweden are municipal, creating very unequal conditions for pupils, all depending on how well a given municipality runs its schools). The basis for the competition is called “school money”. Each individual pupil is worth a certain amount of money that their respective municipality decides upon and the school that this pupil chooses to attend (with certain limitations, a pupil can choose which school to attend) receives this money, regardless of whether it is private or owned by the municipality itself. From this money, it is possible for the privately- owned schools to extract a profit. In essence, this means that the owners take money that is supposed to go to the education of the pupils.
The financing of education in Sweden is thus wholly public. It is not possible to charge the pupils for attending a school, but the private schools receive their financing from the municipalities, which in turn collect taxes from its inhabitants. Sweden invests more in education than the OECD average, but the trend is negative — Sweden invests less and less in education as a percentage of its GDP and most schools in Sweden are underfunded in relation to the needs of its pupils.
What is also very interesting is the implementation of a digital strategy in Swedish schools, which has resulted in the leasing of computers or tablets for pupils, which the school pay. This translates into more than one million computers or tablets, as most schools offer devices to pupils from a very low age (keep in mind that the population of Sweden is just above 10 million). It is not difficult to see that the big monopolies, such as Google or Apple, have a big and accessible market in this regard. On the other hand, the effects of the digitalization of Swedish schools have not been very well evaluated and there are many doubts as to the pedagogical benefits of these kinds of devices.
The point is simple: Swedish schools are being used by the monopolies not only to secure a certain flow of educated workers, but also as a cash-cow, from which it is possible to extract huge profits. One does not need to look very far to see that Swedish schools are perfectly adapted to the needs of the monopolies, and not to the needs of the pupils or society.
— The people think Sweden as one of the most peaceful and peace-loving countries globally. We would like to know the functioning of peace in Sweden? Did Sweden participate in wars like Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Does Sweden a member of any international Military coalition?
— In 1814, Sweden invaded Norway and forced it into a union with Sweden, and in official bourgeois history, Sweden has not been at war since then. That is why 200 years of peace was celebrated some years ago.
However, one does not need to look that much closer to see that this is a truth with a great deal of modification, as Sweden has participated militarily in lots of conflicts since then, as well as developed relations with the bigger imperialist blocs in Europe and North America.
Let us begin by looking at the 20th century. In 1905, we have a clear indication of the militaristic nature of the Swedish bourgeoisie. When Norway, more than 90 years after being forced into a union with Sweden, broke free and declared independence, the Swedish bourgeoisie prepared to intervene militarily. It was stopped only by a workers’ movement that threatened severe repercussions, were the bourgeoisie to proceed in its plans. The result was that Norway was able to secure its independence. This episode was later recounted by Lenin in his The Right of Nations to Self-Determination where he held up the Swedish workers’ movement as an example.
Moving forward to the First World War, we see a Swedish bourgeoisie eager to join the war on the German side, but not quite managing it. By this time, the reformist parts of the workers’ movement had developed close ties with Britain, forcing the bourgeoisie to compromise and take a neutral position. However, when the Finnish Civil War broke out in 1918, the bourgeoisie worked very fast in recruiting volunteers and sending material to the Whites, helping them to victory. The Swedish military also invaded the Aland Islands, situation in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland.
Officially, it was to protect the population of the island, as it was Swedish-speaking, but it is not difficult to see other motives behind the military interventions.
The same story is more or less repeated during the Second World War and during the Winter War in Finland, where the bourgeoisie sent material and men to fight against the Soviet Union in Finland. Back in Sweden, concession after concession was made to the Germans, which were allowed to transport troops through Sweden to use in the occupation of Norway.
During the Cold War, Sweden deepened its ties with the intelligence services of Britain and the US, as well as keeping a Stay Behind Movement ready, in case of a revolutionary upsurge. Although officially neutral, the Swedish bourgeoisie very clearly regarded the country as an ally of NATO and the US.
During this time, the Swedish military missions in other countries began. Sweden deployed troops in the Congo during the Congo Crisis, during which the famous Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold was killed.
In more recent times, Sweden has deployed troops in a number of war zones, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo and Mali. The presence of Sweden in these areas have several purposes. It is an important training ground for later interventions, as well as a way to support stronger imperialist powers and show goodwill towards them, such as France in Mali and the US in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is also very important to mention that Swedish fighter planes participated in the invasion of Libya, with the support of practically all parties in the Swedish parliament, including the reformist and opportunist Left Party. There was also a strong pressure from the military to deploy these in Afghanistan as well, mainly to secure further sales by showing the effectiveness of the planes.
So, Sweden participates and has participated in a number of conflicts and it also readily intervenes on the side of stronger imperialist powers, in support of its own interests.
The last couple of decades, Sweden has also developed its ties with NATO, participating in both the so-called Partnership for Peace and through signing a Memorandum of Understanding with NATO. The Swedish military also regularly participates in military exercises organized by NATO and invites NATO to participate in its own.
Apart from closer ties with NATO, Sweden is also active in the development of a European army and the military cooperation within the EU. Sweden is a part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco), which deepens the military cooperation between the participating countries, as well as forces countries to increase their military budget. Sweden is also a part of the Nordic Battlegroup, one of the battlegroups within the EU, to which it contributes almost 2,000 soldiers.
Despite reality saying otherwise, the propaganda on Swedish peace and neutrality is very strong, and the illusions are very important for the bourgeoisie to maintain.
— Sweden is generally considered to be a very liberal, free and just society. As a country that possesses the resources that everyone needs, where everyone lives well and happily, as well as that has achieved the maximum development that can be achieved within the capitalist system. We would like to know what the actual reality in Sweden is. Do you accept this? Or, in Sweden, especially during the Corona period, and before and after, what was the gap between the haves and have-nots, what was the extent of poverty in the country and how effective was social inequality.
Taking into account the social situation in which Swedish capitalism could maintain a rudimentary welfare system that has since been attacked numerous times, we can see that the factors that gave rise to it are not at all present today. We lack a well organized and militant workers’ movement, we lack a socialist bloc and the welfare system does not correspond to the needs of the bourgeoisie.
As competition hardens, the quest for profitability on the part of every given monopoly becomes more important and less space can be given to the granting of concessions to the workers. These factors combine into making the struggle for reforms all the more difficult within capitalism and that is why I say that we have achieved what was possible under capitalism — the way to improve the conditions of the people is socialism; the situation we are in now put socialism on the agenda.
As for the concrete situation in Sweden, we can see that the division between the working people and the capitalists have widened considerably. This process was evident before the pandemic but has been accentuated since then. Apart from the aspects of the workers’ lives that I have already gone through, it is worth mentioning a couple of other facts.
Not only have the real wages decreased in Sweden the last years, but it is also very important to note that out of all value produced in Sweden, less and less goes to wages, while an increasing share of this value is transformed into profits. This means that the proportion between wages and profits is being shifted to the benefit of profits. This has been the trend since 1980.
It is also very important to mention the housing crisis that has engulfed Sweden the last decade. An artificially constructed shortage of housing has seen prices soaring, which has forced ordinary people into the hands of the banks — in order to be able to afford an apartment or a house, huge amounts of loans are needed. In turn, these loans make up a majority of the profits of the big banks, which in turn have invested massive amounts in the biggest construction firms. From the perspective of the banks, it is necessary to uphold the housing shortage, so that the working population will be forced into loaning.
Meanwhile, rents are soaring and new laws will allow them to increase even more. As of now, the average rent for an apartment with two bedrooms is more than half of what a cleaner or restaurant worker might earn after taxes and almost half of what the average worker will earn per month after taxes. As the rents are set to rise even more, it is not difficult to see that this will affect the workers very harshly.
In terms of the future of capitalism, it is very difficult for me to say anything definite. Reality changes very quickly. However, I will try to develop some thoughts on this.
Reduced to (and obviously very simplified...) its objective functions, welfare concerns the reproduction of the labor force. Basically, it is necessary to maintain the workers capacity to work, both in the short and long term. The workers needs food, healthcare and a certain amount of education to be able to work. On a generational basis, the worker also needs to be able to reproduce, bringing a new generation of workers to the world. These are the objective conditions that decides the minimum amount of welfare that capitalism has to grant workers.
On the other hand, there is the subjective factor of reproduction as well. By this, we have shifted from what is objectively necessary to what the workers deem necessary. This can be everything from being able to afford a visit to the cinema every weekend or being able to travel every summer. These are decided by the culture, history and reality of each country and of course, they differ.
My point is this: the general trend will move towards removing what is not necessary for the basic reproduction of the labor force; the trend will be to reduce the reproduction of the labor force to its bare minimum requirements. Whether we will get there soon or not or which country will be worse off than the others is not for me to say, but I think this is a general trend.
This means that the concessions that the fighting population in Chile, to take a very recent example, will be kept to its bare minimum. It will be just enough to calm the working population of the country and it will immediately come under attack. This is why I do not think it is possible for any country — Asian, African or Latin American — to succeed in walking a Swedish path of development. Here, as everywhere, socialism is on the agenda. This does not mean that it is not possible to win concessions or that it is not desirable, but that it is necessary to tie the struggle for concessions and reforms to a struggle for socialism, and to show the risks and limitations of restricting the struggle to an inter-capitalist context.
As to why other countries have not been able to follow the Swedish example, it is a very big question that it is not possible for me to answer in a short interview, especially seeing as it would require me to have an in-depth knowledge of each individual country. I will try to give some general answers, though.
In the case of Spain, Germany, Italy and a number of other countries, the bourgeoisie resorted to fascism to crush the workers’ movement, because social democracy had not been able to control it. The revolution got closer and violence was necessary. Such a threat never existed in Sweden, which meant that it was possible to accommodate the workers’ movement in another way.
Other important aspects are the development of capitalism, that in some of these countries started later and lagged behind, and the ravages of war that set these countries back, which meant that the room for concessions was much smaller. This also meant that there was less capital for the bourgeoisie to invest into the reproductive sector, as well as for the development of the productive forces.
— Finally, we would like to know what message would you, as a party working for the socialist revolution in one of the most relatively advanced capitalist countries in the world, give to the working masses and people of Asia, Africa and Latin America at a time when the world is in the throes of a tremendous economic, social, political and environmental crisis. Is it to follow the Scandinavian model? If not, is it to work for socialism? We would love to hear your explanation of these two.
— It is very difficult for me to give specific advice to the fighting populations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, I think those that have read the entire article will have an understanding of my view. With the risk of sounding arrogant, I will raise a couple of points that I think is important, however.
To work for a Scandinavian model would be naive at best, illusory at worst. This would be to situate the struggle of the people and the activity of the communist party within the framework of capitalism; it would be equal to renouncing the leading role of the communist party; it would be to place the communist party behind the reformist movement. In the end, it would make the communist party lose its communist character.
This does not mean that one should not struggle for reforms, for betterments for the workers and the popular strata. One has to see the reform and revolution tied to each other in a dialectical relationship. The struggle for reforms must be used partly as a betterment of the situation of the workers, while at the same time being one of many ways to expose capitalism-imperialism. It is indeed possible to use reforms in the revolutionary struggle, to expose capitalism and to highlight the necessity of socialism. Reforms are one of many methods in the revolutionary struggle. This does not make the communist party reformist, just as participation in bourgeois parliaments does not make the communist party parliamentary. The communist party is the fighting front of the working population and must use every possible means at its disposal to strengthen the workers in the fight for socialism.
I think that to work for socialism, one must reject capitalism in its entirety. The workers will not reject capitalism if they have even a shred of belief in it. That is why one of the most important functions of the communist party is the fight against opportunism and reformism; to engage in the ideological and political struggle against those who pose as socialists, but objectively maintain capitalism. This is necessary in Sweden, just as it is in the rest of the world. The communist party must remain independent in order to do this, it cannot trail the reformist parties to do this.
Without a doubt, the communist movement in Sweden has made all of these mistakes. The situation after the Second World War led the communists right into the arms of the bourgeoisie and social democrats, and not until now have we attempted to critically engage with this legacy. It is very important to understand that the communist movement in Sweden is very small not only because of attacks from the bourgeoisie, but also because of its own mistakes. It renounced its leading position, accepted a part as a junior social democratic party. Its influence within the labor movement was reduced partly due to attacks from social democracy and the bourgeoisie, but also because the communists failed to offer an alternative to the structures of the reformists. In the end, the communist movement in Sweden failed to offer any perspectives for the working people.
These are historical mistakes that we need to examine and remedy. We have started, and we can see some of these mistakes in the face and learn from them.
I wish to thank you for giving me this space to expand on my views and I hope they will contribute to the ideological discussion and understanding of not only the Scandinavian model, but also of reformism and contemporary capitalism in general.