Sweden is a peaceful and prosperous country which has maintained neutrality during wartime for almost a century; it has a highly developed economy and it is the country which gave Alfred Nobel and his famous prize to the gifted of society, Abba, Ace of Base and Roxette to the entertainment industry, Electrolux vacuum cleaners, Ikea furniture and Sandvik tools for our homes and tool sheds, and of course, the Volvo. It is a modern and vibrant country on the cutting edge of science and technology, and culturally on the avant garde. Their citizens can boast a high life expectancy and, well, what more can we say? Let’s let their official website, Sweden.se, the Official Gateway to Sweden do the talking:
When we click on the web site's “Society” tab (click here to view screenshot), we see several children who are apparently in a family setting, according to the caption. We read the following:
Sweden remains one of the most egalitarian countries in terms of income distribution, and has one of the world’s lowest levels of poverty. It’s no surprise that Sweden consistently appears near the top of the Human Development Index, which ranks countries according to life expectancy, education and standard of living. While Swedes pay high taxes to maintain their prized social welfare system, they are no longer the highest-taxed people in the world.
Sweden has succeeded in creating a balance between social equality and economic success. Education is free (except for nursery schools and higher education, which are partly funded by the government), healthcare is cheap, childcare is universal and the streets are clean – but there is still the opportunity to control your own economic destiny.
A “fact sheet” on the same page has the following (click here to view screenshot):
Openness and transparency – vital parts of Swedish democracy. Sweden is a free and open society. Its people have the right to take part in demonstrations, freedom of speech, a free press, the opportunity to move freely in nature and the right to scrutinize those in power. Openness is also about creating an equal society.
As of this writing, clicking on the “Lifestyle” tab, we see a photo of a man kissing another man—on the cheek, “innocently enough,” but the implication of the state’s openness to “sexual diversity” is obvious. We read (click here to view screenshot):
The Swedish lifestyle brings together a love of nature, good housing, environmental thinking and lots of culture—all tied up with awareness of health and a strong sense of equality. Efficiency is combined with a laid-back attitude, and old traditions blended with openness for new technologies. Swedes in general work hard but treasure their free time and enjoy long relaxing holidays.
Does all this sound great so far? Let’s look at what they have to say about their educational system by clicking on the “Education” tab where we are greeted with a photo of a somewhat rowdy graduation party (click here to view screenshot). We read:
No one is left behind; the Education Act states that children in need of special assistance at school should receive it. The law also says there must be equality in education for all children, wherever they live in Sweden and regardless of ability or disability.
It only took a few clicks to depict paradise on earth, a place where no citizen in his or her right mind should complain, or could ask for a better place to live. Well, the old platitude; “if it sounds too good to be true, it is,” so before you apply for your emigration papers, let’s dissect the above statements, which in themselves showcase the power of words to describe a sow’s ear in such a way as to convey the impression of a silk purse, or make crabgrass come up roses. As we have said, homeschooling in Sweden is practically illegal—apart perhaps from a few exceptions involving illness or severe bullying—and in such a Utopia, one must wonder why. Homeschooling is also illegal in Germany, but we are not as surprised in this case since Germany has a recent history that conjures up images of the Nazi dictatorship that instituted this yet unreformed policy. But why is this so in Sweden with its neutral and pacific past? A careful re-reading of the above rhetoric, with a re-ordering of the sentences and a few italics thrown in yields the following:
“The law says there must be equality in education for all children wherever they live in Sweden—regardless of ability or disability.” This implies a total control by the state over the education of its citizens in order to achieve “uniform” results—and this includes all children without exception, including “children in need of special assistance” as the previous line states. The line does not read as follows: “the law says there must be education per se or education in and of itself, for all” or “state schooling for those who want it,” nor does it say there should be diversity in education based on religious or ethnic values. Let’s sum up with the opening line which now sounds a bit more sinister; “no one is left behind.” This is a significant clue as to why state school education would be mandatory, because any deviation from this control would threaten the uniformity of the country’s citizenry.
Sweden’s website also boasts that “childcare is universal.” This cannot possibly suggest that childcare is typically in the hands of “mom and dad.” Obviously, mom and dad should be out working and paying their share of a burden which made them until recently, according to their website’s own words, “the highest-taxed people in the world.” They do admit, “Swedes pay high taxes to maintain their prized social welfare system.” Now, notice these further boasts from their website:
Sweden remains one of the most egalitarian countries in terms of income distribution, and has one of the world’s lowest levels of poverty.
Openness is also about creating an equal society.
Sweden has succeeded in creating a balance between social equality and economic success.
The lifestyle tab gave us the following:
The Swedish lifestyle brings together a love of nature, good housing, environmental thinking and lots of culture—all tied up with awareness of health and a strong sense of equality.
And, of course:
The law also says there must be equality in education for all children…
These wonderful sounding key words, equal, equality and egalitarian, repeated with almost staccato-like regularity, and the “no child left behind” statement should immediately draw our attention to the fact that Sweden’s policy has strong socialist traits. Many of us, when we hear the word “socialist” will conjure up images of former communist Russia or contemporary Cuba and China, all of which are classified as communist regimes. But Sweden is not a socialist state in the sense of the term as it applies to communist states, past or present; for example, it has created a “prized social welfare system” rather than a state with a collective ownership, Sweden’s government is not dictatorial in the traditional sense as people can still “take part in demonstrations,” have “freedom of speech,” enjoy “a free press” and “the opportunity to move freely in nature and the right to scrutinize those in power.” And furthermore, capitalism thrives via large companies such as Volvo, Sandvic, Ikea and Electrolux. Yet, Sweden has created a “just society” that guarantees a basic standard of living by means of social equality and a distribution of wealth, and an economic arrangement that serves the interest of society as a whole,” and not the individual. These are all socialist, collectivist, and we might add, “utilitarian,” concepts.
Most political theorists will concur that Sweden is a social democracy, and the above evidence provided from their website substantiates this. In other words, and to sum up the introduction of this article, Sweden may at first appear to be a Utopia, but this Shangri-la comes with a price, and that price comes from the country’s socialist propensities which removes many freedoms we should enjoy in a “free and open society.” Yet, in this up-and-coming Brave New World, we have indeed a most insidious form of bondage: that which convinces its citizens they are free.
These, as we shall attempt to demonstrate, are important factors regarding the reason why homeschooling is illegal in Sweden, and can soon become so in other “democratic” states as well. Homeschooling could lead to the creation of “parallel cultures” based on religious values for example, which would yield an independent mindset which would be at odds with that of the state’s “secular” and “utilitarian” agenda. With this backdrop, we shall see how this plays out in terms of parents having the right to exert some control over the education of their children.
Our first document is an article entitled The Folly of Sweden’s State Controlled Families (click here to access article) which was written in 1999 by Mrs. Siv Westerberg, a lawyer who spoke on behalf of homeschooling parents in Sweden. This article serves as a good introduction to Sweden’s anti-homeschooling stand and reveals the situation as it was more than a decade ago. In brief, Mrs. Westerberg says that “totalitarian” states no longer need to be brought about by armed soldiers and policemen in uniform as this makes their authoritarian status too obvious. Rather, the government in Sweden has achieved this goal by replacing the military with doctors, nurses, teachers, pre-school teachers and child-care assistants. To put this a bit more into perspective, here are a few lines from a Bill Maher interview with comedian George Carlin, retrieved from Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism:
George Carlin: “When Fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts…”
Bill Maher: “…Fascism is when corporations become the government.”
Again, to put a yet finer point on the one Mrs. Westerberg is making, here is a quote from a document written by C.C.M.Warren, M.A. which we will post in its entirety later in this series of essays; as usual we have inserted our own italics for emphasis;
It is possible that there are minority political interest groups with a totalitarian mindset who are opposed to pluralism and prefer dictatorship in government and education and who wish to therefore see home education, which promotes pluralism and freedom, eliminated altogether. This element, which has a fascist or communist mindset, has always existed in Swedish politics (as it indeed it has done in every democratic country) but because it is in the minority, it must achieve its aims by working by subterfuge in the background by disseminating false information and using other subtle methods to attain its ends.
As an aside, we would draw to the reader’s attention that if such an “element” which has a “fascist or communist mindset” exists in a democratic country, that element could very well be, or include “big business,” as was mentioned in the above Carlin/Maher quote, and education—and homeschooling in particular, which has the potential to be non-conforming to the agenda of such an element—is a key factor to that element’s success and perpetuity. The connection? Big businesses lobby governments; anyone familiar with the revolving doors between the U.S. government and Monsanto for example will find no surprises here. And governments hire what we use to refer to as “public servants,” which in many cases may now be referred to as “public dictators.” That is the implication of the “kind” of totalitarianism suggested by Westerberg; a browbeating military replaced by “smiley people” working “subterfuge” and “using other subtle methods” to attain its ends, catering to your well-being by means of “officials” who you believe are your friends. We’ll have a closer look at these “smiley people” in our own country, as well as explore the “nanny state” in upcoming articles.
Westburger then proceeds to describes how children are taken forcibly into public care and biological parents end up having very limited visiting right with their children. She states that “Swedish families step by step have lost the basic human right to family life and private life” (italics ours). The situation is enforced by social workers and strengthened by foster-parents. She notes—and this is a very important point to remember as we will be returning to it in future articles—that “middle-class families in Sweden are coming up against the social authorities in increasing numbers.” She continues to say that “Sweden has had a socio-democratic government for most of the twentieth century” and that “social democrats do not like private schools, private hospitals, private kindergartens or private homes for aged people.” The government erects barriers against those who attempt to initiate business enterprises in any of these areas. “The result is that Sweden has very few private alternatives to public care when it comes to both the young and the old.” Thus, “even the ordinary middle-class family has no choice but to turn to the social authorities for a kindergarten for their pre-school child” and to sometimes interact with a social worker, occasioning the risk of dispute and loss of their children. And the chances of winning an appeal in court are very small.
Another issue that eliminates the possibility of homeschooling as an alternative to state schools for most is the fact that homeschooling requires a stay-at-home parent. Westerberg states that “during the last thirty years the tax and benefit system has, step by step been changed so that today it is more or less impossible for a family to live on just one income (again, emphasis ours).” Remember the positive spin on Sweden’s own website regarding their “tax burden”; although they boast that “they are no longer the highest-taxed people in the world,” this does suggest that they may nevertheless be runners up. We keep emphasizing the words “step by step” here because it is a key component of strategic planning that you achieve results in behaviour modification by using slow incremental steps, a principle popularly known as the “boiling frog situation.” This anecdote, which claims a frog will immediately jump away if placed in boiling water, but will not if placed in water which is then slowly heated to boiling point, is a popular metaphor for human complacency and the inability of people to react significantly to slow incremental changes that will eventually lead to their destruction. Whether a frog will in fact react as such with respect to boiling water is not an issue here, but it is nevertheless a useful metaphor. This “incrementalism” is a very efficient and powerful tool for governments to control people, and this is quite self-evident from simple observation.
The reality of two parents having to work is that they have no choice but to leave their child for eight to ten hours every day in a state governed child care facility; remember, Sweden claim's on their web site that “childcare is universal.” Sweden also boasts that “no one is left behind,” which may ring a familiar bell to you as similar words, “no child left behind,” proceeded, not coincidentally, from president Obama’s mouth; these are on the surface beautiful words that imply the government truly cares for your children, unless these words are viewed in their proper and more sinister context; remember, governments are not in the “caring” business. Even here in Canada, efforts are being made to separate children from their parents at the earliest opportunity. Hopefully, Mrs. Siv Westerberg’s paper will open your eyes to these societal trends that operate incrementally in most western states that endeavour to change our values to make them conform to the state’s ideologies, and by means of education, the media, and the movie industry, also attempt to stifle our religious values.
In any regime, if anything is to be achieved step by step or “incrementally,” the agenda must be aimed primarily at the younger generation, the youth, and a milestone of social engineering will have been achieved when that generation attains adulthood. Such incremental social engineering aimed at the aged of society would of course be fruitless in the long run. In sum, control of the education of the children is preferable in the hands of the state where it can be carefully implemented and monitored via feedback mechanisms to achieve uniformity among the citizens rather than in the hands of private individuals where this control is absent.
For a more current update, and for those who wish to read more, we have three additional documents below dealing with homeschooling in Sweden.
The second new article, dated July 18, 2010 is entitled Home-School Ban in Sweden Forces Families to Mull Leaving. Written by Michael Elseth of the Washington Times, states that Sweden’s officials defend the home-school ban claiming that homeschooling is unnecessary “since the state provide a comprehensive and objective education.” Does “objective” here imply secular? Elseth’s article deals with families who are contemplating leaving the country as a result of the ban. (view article)
The third article, from LifeSiteNews.com, is entitled Swedish Politician Calls for Even Harsher Penalties for Homeschooling, is dated January 17, 2012, and is therefore quite current. This article, which mentions a family having their son abducted and another family fined an amount equivalent to $26,000 U.S. as a consequence of homeschooling, will be further addressed in our next instalment. (view article)