i-66401630875a179a371d96af12e89e43-NilssonLennart.jpgMy home municipality of Nacka is governed by a coalition of right-wing parties. (This, in Sweden, means that our local politics are somewhat to the left [!] of the US Democratic Party.) Aard regular Lennart Nilsson is the chairman of the Nacka section of the Liberal Party, Folkpartiet. I just received a fresh copy of the local newspaper, Nacka Värmdö Posten, whose main front-page headline reads “Folkpartiet politician: ‘The Christian Democrats have Medieval moral views’“. Interestingly, this is one of the governing coalition’s members criticising another. And who is the Christian-bashing politician? None other than our own Lennart! Said he on his party’s blog on 30 April (and I translate):

“On the debate pages of Dagens Nyheter, the Christian Democrats demand a plan to save marriage and the nuclear family. Two of the party’s MPs, erstwhile chairman Alf Svensson and Mikael Oscarsson, continue the party’s attempts to scramble up over the 4% level [i.e. entry level for Parliament] through completely bizarre statements. The most basic societal problem in the view of these two gentlemen is divorce and the disintegration of the nuclear family. Thus far, no surprises from a right-wing Christian and morally conservative party with Medieval leanings.

But now the party wants to take this quite a few steps farther. Now ‘… Parliament and government together with the relevant administrative bodies have to take action to promote marriage and the family as institutions.’ And not only that, ‘… all areas of politics must be suffused with a family perspective. All political decisions must be accompanied by a consequence analysis demonstrating their impact on families. A plan must be set out to strengthen marriages and families.’

In short, all democratic decisions should be aligned with the Christian Democrats’ Medieval moral views. Political decisions cannot be allowed to be neutral with regard to people’s choices when it comes to forms of cohabitation. Divorce and other immorality must be abolished, that is, people should be forced to remain in crashed marriages in order to fit in with the Christian Democrats’ idea of the good life. The most basic freedoms and rights of the people should be limited and replaced with religious fanaticism.

When the authors write, “… now let us see the government take the next step, well before the 2010 elections, to show that it represents a new, modern family policy”, I cannot but agree. Though this new, modern policy should of course entail a ‘nay’ to benefits for stay-at-home parents and ‘yea’ to gender-neutral marriage legislation!”

Go Lennart! I’d personally never vote for your party because of your downsize-government ideology, but it’s great to hear a voice of reason from the sleepy hallways of Nacka Town Hall! Gotta kick the fundies out of office!

Let me tell you, Dear Reader, it’s great to live in a country where the Christian Right can hardly get into Parliament and where run-of-the-mill Dominionist statements piss the right wing off most mightily.

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Comments

  1. #1 Z
    May 13, 2008

    I can’t seem to find the part in the article where: “Divorce and other immorality must be abolished….”
    http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=572&a=765562

  2. #2 Martin R
    May 13, 2008

    That’s Lennart’s summation of Kd policy. Let’s see if him and his adversaries will show up here and answer questions.

  3. #3 Z again
    May 13, 2008

    Ok, but it sounds like a classic case of “straw man” from Lennart.

  4. #4 Jason Failes
    May 13, 2008

    Remind me to start a political party obsessed with the rights and special place of childless bachelors and bachelorettes, emphasizing our selfless contribution to the economy, and society through paying taxes for things like schools for other peoples’ kids to go to.

    Potential names, anyone?
    Focus on no Family
    No Family Coalition
    Concerned Single People for America

  5. #5 Martin R
    May 13, 2008

    Dinkies for Depopulation! Saving the Planet One Vasectomy at a Time!

  6. #6 Mattias
    May 13, 2008

    Mediaeval moral views? Alas, if only that was true.

    / Mattias

  7. #7 Julie Stahlhut
    May 13, 2008
  8. #8 Martin R
    May 13, 2008

    Mediaeval moral views? Alas, if only that was true.

    Haha, comment of the year!

    Julie, that’s a good one!

  9. #9 kai
    May 13, 2008

    I take back all thoughts of wishy-washy Liberals, that was a most excellent smack-down!

    And with regards to “mediæval morals”, I believe that the typical family during the middle ages was not the mom-pop-children nuclear family Alf Svensson so extolls. I’m not even sure the nuclear family ever has been the mode for most of human history. Anyone more historically erudite than I care to elucidate?

  10. #10 Martin R
    May 13, 2008

    Before the 20th century, divorces were rare and the death of a spouse was as common as divorces are today. (My kids don’t even know what “widow” means.) So Medieval marriages rarely lasted long enough for divorce to become an attractive option.

  11. #11 eleanora
    May 13, 2008

    One of my friends who is in her late 30s has recently been widowed. I think she would look oddly at anyone who called her a widow -she’s not old enough. In Aus the term widow conjures up the image of an old woman. Divorce has really only become popular with the baby boomers, the older generations tend to stay married, and the wife mostly outlives her husband.

  12. #12 blue collar scientist
    May 13, 2008

    For a second there, I thought you were saying that this Lennart Nilsson was an Aard regular.

  13. #13 Mattias
    May 14, 2008

    The bourgeoisie family values of the KD and similar parties are distinctly post-enlightenment in their notion of family, as opposed to the notion of household (domus) pertaining to anything from a single individual to a large Fransiscan friary.

    / Mattias

  14. #14 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    May 14, 2008

    Before the 20th century, divorces were rare and the death of a spouse was as common as divorces are today.

    Hmmm, do you suppose those two facts could be linked? Have sales of hemlock fallen since divorce has been made more accessible?

  15. #15 Martin R
    May 15, 2008

    Mattias, there’s a solution right there to the conflict about religiously sanctioned gay cohabitation! Couples can simply call their unions “friaries”.

  16. #16 themadlolscientist
    May 16, 2008

    @ blue colar scientist: I had exactly the same thought.

  17. #17 Mattias
    May 16, 2008

    Good idea, Martin! “Superbia” does not carry the same connotations as “pride”, of course, being in fact considered a capital vice. On the other hand, St Gregory I called it the QUEEN of all vices.

    / Mattias

  18. #18 z again
    May 16, 2008

    And still, Lennart doesn’t seem to come around to explain where Alf Svensson or Kd says that divorces should be abolished.

  19. #19 Mattias
    May 16, 2008

    I agree, Z, this is indeed a straw target. All liberalism is of course parasitic in that it presupposes conservatism (something to be liberated from), but it is often the case in our age that we are to be liberated from things that simply do not exist.

    / Mattias

  20. #20 Martin R
    May 16, 2008

    On the contrary, liberalism is the default state of things. Everything is allowed unless it is explicitly forbidden for reasons of common good. This principle is not dependent on there being any non-liberals around.

  21. #21 Mattias
    May 16, 2008

    I see what you mean, Martin, but I disagree. Liberalism on the individual level really does not carry any meaning beyond the notion of free will (and possibly solipsism). Liberalism on a political level, however, requires disagreement to make sense – if the ground was adequately common it would be unneccesary to involve a central public authority and the moment that such an authority is called into play the concept of liberalism is compromised. To function as it does in some of our modern states liberalism requires, in addition, an all-pervasive lack of parsimony. This links up with the original concept of liberalism (‘befitting a free man’) but is in practice characterised primarily by a lack of essence and dependence on absolute ideologies.

    Speaking of parsimony, I find it interesting that so many professed liberals (including what we in germanic languages call social-liberals) proud themselves with lack of parsimony, yet have little tolerance with the resulting relativist viewpoints. It is as if the ‘blow-by-blow’ politics in itself that has become a principle and as if it be not commonly realised whence the relativism is derived.

    / Mattias

  22. #22 Martin R
    May 16, 2008

    I’m confused. “Parsimony” usually means “reluctance to spend money unnecessarily”. Sometimes the word is also used metaphorically as a shorthand for the scientific methodological principle Ockham’s Razor. I fail to see how parsimony, in either of these senses, can lead to moral relativism.

  23. #23 Mattias
    May 18, 2008

    In moral philosophy, parsimony is used to analyse the consistency in a moral framework. A system that applies different principles to different cases in identical moral matters and which consequently gives rise to relativism is regarded as having low moral parsimony.

    You can take a little test of moral parsimony here: http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/morality_play.htm

    / Mattias

  24. #24 Martin R
    May 18, 2008

    Aha, OK, you can have a more or less parsimonious system av moral rules, grading from moral absolutism (few rules, no exceptions) to moral relativism (many rules and exceptions).

    I scored 75%. According to the site, “… any score above 75% should be considered indicative of a parsimonious moral framework. … your score of 75% is slightly higher than the average score of 64%. This suggests that you have utilised a somewhat smaller range of moral principles than average in order to make judgements about the scenarios presented in this test, and that you have, at least on occasion, judged aspects of the acts and circumstances depicted here to be morally irrelevant that other people consider to be morally relevant.”

  25. #25 Mattias
    May 18, 2008

    Yes, many people in our generation would have considerably less parsimonious moral frameworks than yours, applying completely separate principles to, for example, suicide, murder, abortion, man-slaughter, euthanasia, war, capital punishment &c., the principle depending not only on how life is compromised, but also on by whom it is done.

    / Mattias

  26. #26 Thursday
    May 22, 2008

    Quick questions on the statistic: is 11% a “considerable” amount? What are the numbers when broken down by generation, and is the 64% given a mean, median or modal average? And which one is “our” generation?

    I’m finding this statement rather odd:

    Liberalism on a political level, however, requires disagreement to make sense – if the ground was adequately common it would be unneccesary to involve a central public authority and the moment that such an authority is called into play the concept of liberalism is compromised.

    Perhaps the ideas of liberal and conservative are different on this side of the pond (Canada), but for anything to exist there must be a structure to define it, no? As a political theory, that is. It’s certainly no secret here that the left is a far more difficult group to organize than the right: we’ve got three major leftist parties, one centrist and one rightist one, which is currently in power (barely). The end result is the 30-35% of conservative voters form the government about half the time – not quite the ideal of representative government, but we stumble along.

    The question of “where does liberal begin” is noted here in Martin’s post as well:

    This, in Sweden, means that our local politics are somewhat to the left [!] of the US Democratic Party.

    Pretty much any form of organized leadersip that extends beyond warlord-ruled city-states is a more liberal variant on the theme after all.

  27. #27 Martin R
    May 22, 2008

    I blogged about this around Super Tuesday and had an assload of hits for my trouble. (-;

  28. #28 Mattias
    May 23, 2008

    Thursday: The left-right division causes a lot of confusion as an analytical tool of practice in the three ideologies socialism, liberalism and conservatism. I have never crossed the atlantic myself, but it seems that on your side liberalism is occasionally associated with the left (in relation to the conservative parties). The views held by conservative parties in North-America is certainly very different from those of most European conservative parties, who would call that kind of politics neo-liberal. In Europe, many conservative parties share many practical solutions advocated by democratic socialists (such as large central authorities) but for very different reasons.

    / Mattias

  29. #29 Thursday
    May 24, 2008

    Martin –

    Ye gods, that was a lot to get through. About two-thirds of the comments were worth reading, too! Very impresive! I’m reminded of the voting history in the United States, and how it’s changed: places that once voted Democrat are now Republican and vice-versa. The interesting thing is that the people haven’t changed their opinions over the years, but the parties have: the Republicans were once considered the progressive side, and now the Democrats are. The voters noticed, it seems. 8)

    Mattias –

    Over here, not only is the term “liberal” occasionally associated with the left, it IS the left. In general terms, anything which encourages welfare of the poorest (eg. stronger government programs; increased welfare; free legal access) is called “liberal”. Likewise many increased social freedoms (eg. gay marriage; sex education in public schools; anti-racism laws) are also called “liberal”. Though again, policies which affect everyone (universal health care and education) are socialist policies, by our definition.

    In Canada, there was a strong distinction between social liberalism and fiscal/governmental liberalism, though the party that best represented that has been essentially destroyed and replaced with one that is conservative in each aspect. While the distinction is still there in the minds of the populous, our protean Liberal Party (they’re the nominativly centrist group, though mostly it’s by saying or doing anything to stay in power) has yet to lay a solid claim to those voters, so the lines are a little blurred just now.

    Are there really only three ideologies in politics there? I’m going to presume that there are varying degrees of each of those three ideals in various parties, but boy, you’d have to splinter each party’s platforms inso tiny shards and carefully slot each position into A, B, or C before you’d get an idea what each was… Socialism and liberalism are virtually interchangeable here, partially because of the aspersions cast upon both terms in the United States, though again it’s mostly a social liberalism that is meant by either term.

    I think you can see why a phrase like

    Liberalism on the individual level really does not carry any meaning beyond the notion of free will (and possibly solipsism). Liberalism on a political level, however, requires disagreement to make sense[...]

    strikes me as very odd. It could certainly be said that freedom (and free will) requires disagreement to prove that is exists, otherwise it is pointless; but I can’t say that’s much of a useful view in any practical sense, and I’m not sure that’s what you intended. Do you mean that there can be no organzation that is liberal, or that cannot coordinate their efforts? Am I simply reading that wrong, or is it a case of differing definitions for the same words?

    As for

    All liberalism is of course parasitic in that it presupposes conservatism (something to be liberated from)[...]

    this again sound odd to me, in that it sounds like you’re arguing that any change is de facto liberalism, no matter what that change is. For instance, Italy turning to a fascist state pre-WWII would not, by most definitions, be considered a change toward increased liberalism. Well, Jonah Goldberg argues exactly that in his book Liberal Fascism, but that’s been laughed out of any serious political debate over here. Are you going to tell me he’s actually right in Europe? If so, then the words certainly do change meaning across the Atlantic!

    As for a comprimise in the Platonic ideal of liberalism, well, that’s politics. Politics IS comprimise; it’s the art of not starting wars. (Not a big fan of von Clausewitz’ definition of war, but that’s a different topic.) Politics is an experiment with constantly changing intigers: ideals simply can’t work under those conditions. Again, I don’t imagine that’s what you had in mind with your statement, but I’m just not getting what you do mean.

    Could you provide me with examples of what sort of policies would be considered liberal, conservative, and socialist as compared to left or right?

  30. #30 Mattias
    May 27, 2008

    Thursday: just as the concepts of liberalism and socialism appears strangely to have merged in the U.S. and Canada, liberalism and conservatism have become blurred in Sweden. This is due to the fact that the nominally conservative party Kristdemokraterna have long cooperated with the liberal parties (folkpartiet and moderaterna, the latter also originally more a conservative than a liberal party).

    European liberalism often refrains from decision in what socialist and conservatist parties regard as ‘core issues’. In Sweden, for example, when representatives of the swedish socialist party Vänsterpartiet kommunisterna (predecessor of Vänsterpartiet) advocated main responsability of the state for children and the conservative party Kristen demokratisk samling (predecessor of Kristdemokraterna) argued for the main responsability remaining with the family, the liberal parties held that it is up to each individual, which rendered them harsch criticism from both antagonists.

    / Mattias

  31. #31 Mary
    July 12, 2008

    e.i.s. for all issues that might relate to family.
    that woudl lead to shortages of socialogy majors to drive busses and serve fast food wouldnt it?

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