Region state. The latest issue of the liberal-communitarian magazine Rådslag, published this week, has provoked the well-known blogger Dick Erixon. The topic is Regions of Europe and you are welcome to read my contribution right here. The editorial by Mr Ilan Sadé can be found here (in Swedish).
Usually, Mr Erixon’s remarks on current politics show a more than over-average capacity of innovative analysis. In a couple of recent comments, however, Mr Erixon is accumulating a parade of failed analyses.
First, Mr Erixon confuses liberal and communitarian thinking as he suggests that it’s better having the central government distributing subsidies to individuals than having regional decision makers take care of politics. A regional level is simply not necessary in such a small state as Sweden, he says.
As far as I can see, the Swedish state has not been able to create a lasting feeling of solidarity and community. The centralization of powers may be liberal in some ways, but is certainly not communitarian and to an even lesser degree liberal-communitarian. Centralization may be ok where collective identities and cultures are the same for a vaste majority of the individuals. But this is not the case in Sweden (see below). Also, Sweden isn’t that small really – many Länder in the federal Germany or states in the U.S. are much smaller – both in number of inhabitants and surface. Mr Erixon seems to overlook that economic, cultural and political conditions are very different in for exampe Scania and Stockholm.
Secondly, Mr Erixon is confusing nationalism and regionalism with state nationalism. Obiously, he thinks that Sweden is, or should be, a cultural unit. It is true that culture and identity are important foundations for democracy. But Mr Erixon seems to miss the point: Sweden is not a cultural unit. On the contrary: Sweden, just like several other European so-called nation states, is an empire that comprehends several nationalities and/or regional cultures.
Unfortunately, Mr Erixon is not alone in his affection for the artificial nation states – his analysis is a typical Stockholm-centered one, far to common in the centralized Sweden. But I can assure that Stockholm is becoming less of a center for self-conscious regions every day that goes by: the border regions next to Denmark, Norway and Finland are now re-discovering their own identities in the emerging Regions of Europe.
Just like Mr Erixon pleads for politicians to review their policies in order to save Europe, he ought to revise his own analysis in order to assist Sweden in the transition from centralized empire to a region state that respects cultural diversity and heritage.
Anders L. Hansson