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Valar Qringaomis

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Eradication of "deviants": the dark side of the Swedish Model

Eradication of "deviants": the dark side of the Swedish Model." | Independent Living Institute

"The world was shocked by the recent news of a skeleton in Sweden's closet, the country's forced sterilization policy of disabled people and others who were not found to be worthy to have children...

It is an established fact that Sweden and other Nordic countries had friendly relations with Nazi Germany up until and even after the outbreak of WW II. Many of the nationalistic and racist thoughts and programs that Hitler Germany stood for were also popular in Sweden. For example, it was at the request of Swedish immigration authorities that German authorities stamped the letter "J" (for Jew) in the passports of Jews. Some historians claim that the Swedish Medical Association lobbied for a reduction of Jewish immigration in this way, fearing competition from the influx of Jewish immigrants many of whom were professionals including medical doctors.

Already in the 1920s Sweden established the State Institute for Race Biology that was to operate until the 1950s. State institutions, such as this institute, party ideologists and leading politicians formulated the sterilization programs in an attempt to improve the nation's genetic material by insuring that citizens who were considered to be "insufficient", "imbecil", "deviant" and "a burden to society" would not have children. The legal base to this practice was passed by parliament in true democratic fashion.

While eugenic motives played a role in the sterilizations, economic aspects were also important. When child allowances - monthly payments to families for each child, administered by the tax-funded national social insurance scheme - were introduced in the 1950s, the number of forced sterilizations of the "undesirable" part of the population doubled. The Swedish concept of the "people's home", formulated in the 1930s and the most influential vision in Swedish politics, was based on the ideal of a closely-knit, homogenous society - similar to a family - where all members would support each other. Each one would contribute according to one's abilities and would receive according to one's needs. The folkhem - as the concept is called in Swedish - was to become the foundation of decades of peaceful labor relations, far-reaching social reforms and unprecedented economic growth.

The dark side to this model was the harsh demand for conformity. People who did not correspond to the ideal of this new society were not welcome. For example, a recent newspaper article reported the case of a girl in her late teens who in the late 1940s was sterilized against her will. The justification given in her journal was the comment that she had often been seen hanging around the town's dancing hall.

Another contributing factor why these "legal" human rights violations were tolerated and supported by so many for so long - 60,000 persons were sterilized in roughly half a century when Sweden¥s average population was about 6 million - was probably the absence of a court to investigate the constitutionality of new laws. Sweden has never had a revolution and the state and its administration have enjoyed a trust that many foreign observers find astounding. There were no perceived reasons for the necessity of an elaborate system of checks and balances as in other countries. Thus, in a country with a relative homgeneous population, without separation of State and Church, with strong traditions of collectivism and consensus decisions, majority rule in parliament has been considered to be a sufficient guarantee to pass laws in the nation's best interest...

In Sweden more persons were sterilized, on a per capita basis, than in other countries"
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