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In Defence of Global Capitalism
 
Globalisation is Good



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GlobLog - November 2004
A direct link to each entry is obtained by using the button below the entry.


Tuesday, 30/11/2004:

14:01 - WHY I AM A BIT LIKE A SOCIAL DEMOCRAT: Jonas Morian once wrote that fans of Depeche Mode are like social democrats. They always complain that the they were better before, but no matter how bad they get they would never dream of not buying their new record/voting for them. I am one of those fans, and am therefore delighted by the news that Depeche Mode will start recording a new album – despite the fact that they will never again be as good as they were on Some Great Reward, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses.


11:45 - DARFUR - ONE YEAR FROM NOW: Copy and paste this text from The Economist, and in one year’s time you can send it to all those who ask why there is widespread starvation in Sudan, and why no one was prepared for it:

"The army and their murderous government-sponsored allies, the irregular janjaweed militia, have driven some 1.5m people—nearly a quarter of Darfur´s population—from their homes. Most now live in miserable camps. The World Food Programme (WFP) fed 1.3m of them in September, but fresh fighting and banditry meant it could reach only 1.1m last month. Perhaps another 400,000 hungry Darfuris are trapped in areas that the UN cannot get to.
Even worse, a new survey has found that, because of the conflict, only half as much land has been cultivated in Darfur as in a normal year. Many farmers, even if they are still in their villages, dare not visit their fields for fear of the janjaweed. […]
In July and September, the UN Security Council threatened unspecified sanctions on the Sudanese government if it failed to disarm its genocidal militias in Darfur. The government did nothing of the sort, but no sanctions followed. Last week, the Security Council issued a new, milder threat, to ´take appropriate action against any party failing to fulfil its commitments.´ Carlos Veloso of the WFP, asked if the forecast of 2.8m starving Darfuris next year was a worst-case scenario, said: ´No, that is the medium-case scenario.´"



11:38 - WHEN POLITICIANS BLOG: Sven-Otto Littorin from the Swedish moderates has just started the first party secretary blog. Intuitively I agree with orthodox bloggers who say that it is not the least bit interesting that politicians get more ways of communicating their party manifesto. But, actually I have changed my mind since I think that blogs change the way you think and argue. No one will care about your blog if you just repeat the party line, you have to present your personal arguments and examples, and you have to show what you base them on. And that´s a small revolution. Too early to tell if Littorin will go in that direction, but he is one of the most intellectually open and interesting characters in Swedish politics today, so who knows?


09:56 - SOME NOTES ON UKRAINE: While we are waiting for the Suprmere Court´s decision, outgoing authoritarian president Kuchma has an innovative idea: Repeat the elections, but with a new regime candidate (former central bank chairman and party chief Serhiy Tyhypko). So the plan is to repeat the election again and again until they find somone who can beat Yushchenko…

Here is a good example of how the government stole the election the last time.

And here is a theme song of the revolution.

And I still wear my orange scarf every day.




Monday, 29/11/2004:

14:47 - YOU CAN´T EAT PERCENTAGES: In an article in English, Fredrik Segerfeldt explains one of the problems of the welfare state: Sweden spends a larger proportion of GDP on social expenditure. But since the burden of taxes and monopolies makes the GDP smaller, it means that Sweden spends less money on social expenditure than many other countries: "A large share of a shrinking pie soon gets smaller than a small share of a growing pie."


13:55 - IS NIKE LIKE GULAG?: In a recent DN column, Sverker Lenas compared capitalist factories in Asia to the Soviet Gulag system. It was so completely odd and illogical that it was difficult to know where to begin to respond to it. But Norton Tierra does the right thing, by asking a surprised Anne Applebaum, author of the great Gulag: A History, what she thought of the imaginative comparison. Read her answer here.


12:09 - HAVE SWEDES REACHED MUSLIM BREAKING POINT?: The Swedish authorities have lost control over the Southern city of Malmö, reports Fox News. Thousands of Muslim immigrants have supposedly created crime and chaos in the city. I spend a lot of time in Malmö, and sure, the integration of immigrants is a spectacular failure, as it is in most of Sweden. Labour market regulations, taxes and benefits have created pockets of almost total unemployment and welfare-dependence in Malmö.

But the report gives the impression that everything is out of control, as if Malmö was a war-zone, and not the nice, warm, welcoming city it actually is. And it says that this is about Muslims. But it is actually about all those kids (including many from Swedish families) who never see constructive role models with authority and inspiration because their parents and neighbours don’t work. To try to portray this as if it was about Muslims versus Swedes is a way of creating conflicts that aren’t there from the beginning.




09:15 - SMEARING THE DEMOCRATS: There is an ugly myth spread by the Russian authorities and The Guardian that there are strong anti-semitic tendencies in the democratic Ukranian opposition. Please note that they never, ever give concrete evidence for this smear. Read Discoshaman and the comments to his post on the subject.


08:56 - A PROTECTIONIST MAFIA: The Swedish trade union Byggnadsarbetarförbundet led a xenophobic campaign to stop new EU citizens from working in the old member states. When that failed, they stopped acting as lobbyists and started acting like a mob. For almost a month, they have used all their forces to blockade a Latvian company from building a school in Swedish Vaxholm.

Hypocritically they pretend to be doing so to stop the workers from being exploited – despite the fact that the workers make more than twice the average Latvian wage, plus food and housing. Byggnads demands that they are given the Swedish collective bargaining wage – which is an effective way of stopping all future Baltic construction workers from entering Sweden. The Latvians are outraged over this protectionist mafia. In Dagens Nyheter today, Latvia’s foreign minister, Artis Pabriks says:

"I understand that trade unions in Sweden have a lot of power. But if they are so anxious about the Latvian workers in Vaxholm – who are not anxious themselves – why are they not anxious about the Latvian workers in Swedish companies in Latvia, who earn less than those in Vaxholm?"

But Swedes should also be upset, and not just out of human decency and a sense of justice. Protectionism always hurt the consumers most. The Swedish construction industry is protected, inefficient and expensive, and we pay much more for our houses than we have to. If Byggnad’s disgusting methods succeeds, that system will stay in place.

Latvia´s cause is ours too.




Sunday, 28/11/2004:

13:37 - THE BLOG BOOM: Having trouble keeping up with all the new blogs? I don´t know what you´re made of if you don´t. A new weblog is created every 5.8 seconds. And the size of the blogosphere has doubled every five months over the last year and a half. ClickZ collects these and other blog statistics. By the way, 0.3 percent of the blogs are started by people 60-69 years old.


09:53 - ORANGE BLOG: Orange Ukraine is an informative new blog on the Ukranian revolution, by one of the OSCE observers of the election who lives in Ukraine. Interesting stuff on how The Guardian is trying to discredit the opposition. (Other responses here)


Saturday, 27/11/2004:

23:53 - I DON´T BUY BUY NOTHING DAY: We just experienced the annual Buy Nothing Day. Buy nothing for a day – a perfectly normal consumer choice on a free market. I didn’t buy anything myself, because I had what I needed for the moment. And in contrast to many other free-marketeers I can see the benefits of challenging yourself and questioning your consumer behaviour. The ironic thing is that you can make such decisions only in a market economy, where there is a constant supply of the things you need. In the socialised economies, the moment there was meat or vegetables for sale, you had to go there and buy it before it was too late. And if you had waited for a car for ten years, you’d better be prepared to buy it the moment the government finally had one for you.

What makes this particular campaign so stupid is that the organisers don´t like free markets. They oppose that rich western countries produce a lot - 80 percent of the world’s production (even though they only mention that we consume 80 percent). If they were to decide, we would no longer afford the luxury of not buying things whenever we felt like it. And since they don’t like that poor people in developing countries get jobs ("large companies use labour in developing countries"), poor countries would never develop to experience that luxury. If the Buy nothing-people implemented their ideas, we´d be having "buy anything"-days all year.




Friday, 26/11/2004:

14:29 - SEN NÄR STOPPAR DET HENNE?: Har ni tänkt på att många extrema socialister som nästan alltid talar om demokrati lika ofta sviker demokratikampen i praktiken? Håkan Jacobson noterar att de som stöder valfuskarna i Ukraina samlas på vänsterns debattforum Kommunity.nu, och att Ung vänsters ordförande Tove Fraurud – hon som tror att Kuba är en demokrati för att det står i landets konstitution – vägrar att fördöma valfusket och stödja den ukraniska oppositionen för att hon inte har läst på: "Jag är inte tillräckligt påläst för att ge en kommentar just nu".


12:01 - HARM ADDITION: Sweden is one of the few European countries where we send policemen instead of doctors to deal with problems of drugs and addiction. Sweden is also the place where the problems increase, according to an EMCDDA-report, presented in DN today. Apparently, addicts are not safer and healthier on a black market, hunted by the police. Since the mid-90’s the number of drugs related deaths has been reduced all over Europe. In Sweden, however, the number of deaths has doubled to 391 persons in 2001.


11:50 - EMAIL FROM UKRAINE TO FOREIGN SUPPORTERS: 

"Thank you for everything you´re doing to help the suffering people of Ukraine. Our cause is just, and we will win if the world supports us. Forward to victory!"



11:07 - PROGNOSIS ON UKRAINE: I think the old regime is crumbling. Outside pressure, and especially the hundreds of thousands of protesters, have ruined their plans. The protests are growing day by day and they´ve begun to occupy government buildings, the supreme court has stopped the inauguration, the minister of finance has resigned in protest against the fraudulent election, several policemen and miners who have been sent to stop the protests have switched sides, and the government is losing its grip on the media. Journalists are beginning to report the truth, and even the state media is affected:

"On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said (in Sign Language) the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):
´The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I´m not going to do it anymore. I´m not sure if I´ll see you again.´"

I don’t think the government can take this much longer, protesters who see results won´t give up, and it´s too late to stop them with outright repression. I am beginning to feel optimistic. But until we know for sure I will wear my new, orange scarf every day.




10:23 - FOUND IN TRANSLATION: The article by Sofia Nerbrand on Islam and liberalism I wrote about here, is now translated into English by Paul O’Mahony here.


09:33 - PROTEST IN PICTURES: 

Here are pictures from the demonstration outside Ukrainia’s embassy yesterday, free to publish for anyone interested. I address the gathering, dressed in the orange colours of the Ukrainian opposition, saying that the Ukranians are strong and freedom-loving. They have faced and crushed both national socialism and communism, they will not allow themselves to be deceived and harassed by a gangster regime, when democracy is within reach. (Thanks to Kristian Karlsson, who organised the event.)




Thursday, 25/11/2004:

23:22 - PROTESTS AND PROGRESS: We had little more than two hours´ notice, but our demonstration outside Ukrainia’s embassy in Stockholm actually gathered about 40-50 Swedes and Ukranians, showing our support for the Ukranian people in their truggle for democracy. You can find reports in Swedish here and here. Pictures that can be freely published are available here and here.

The will it takes to endure two hours in the Swedish cold made us even more impressed by the thousands of protesters in Ukraine, now on their fourth day in the freezing cold. They don’t do it in vain. Tonight came the first sign of progress when Ukraine´s Supreme Court barred publication of the faked election results until the opposition’s appeal is heard. Something that effectively stops the inauguration of the regime candidate, Yanukovich.




16:35 - SLUT UPP - NU!: Nu är det bara en timme kvar till den hastigt sammansatta demonstration för Ukrainias demokrati utanför ambassaden på Lidingö, 17.30-18.30. Häng med! Om det ukrainska folket orkar stå i snön fyra dagar och nätter i rad, ska vi väl klara av en timme? HAX har plockat fram en karta, och Oskar Lidåker har skrivit den bästa sammanfattningen av konflikten.

To foreign readers: This is about our demonstration for democracy in Ukraine, outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Stockholm, in one hour. Why don’t you do the same in your countries?




15:05 - PROTESTERA MOT VALFUSKET I UKRAINA! : 

Demonstration utanför Ukrainas ambassad i Stockholm i dag, torsdag 25 november, 17.30-18.30
Ukraina står och väger mellan demokrati och diktatur. Allt tyder på att söndagens presidentval var riggat. Internationella observatörer har riktat skarp kritik mot valet. USA hotar att införa sanktioner. I Kiev har hundratusentals människor fyra nätter i rad samlats på gatorna för att protestera mot etablissemangets valfusk. Oppositionskandidaten Viktor Jusjtjenko har uppmanat till generalstrejk.
Vi kommer att samlas utanför Ukrainas ambassad i Stockholm i dag för att visa vårt stöd för Ukrainas folk och deras valda president, samt protestera mot fusket och uppmana Ukrainas etablissemang att respektera valresultatet.
Korta appeller för frihet och demokrati kommer att hållas, bland annat av Johan Norberg, FMSF:s ordförande Jens Eriksson, och Muf:s nye ordförande Johan Forssell
Ambassaden ligger på Stockholmsvägen 18 på Lidingö. Dit tar man sig genom att åka tunnelbanans röda linje till Ropsten, ta någon av bussarna (utom 203 el 222) och kliv av vid första hållplatsen (Torsvik).



14:39 - SMASHING THE STATE - BUT NOT CAPITALISM: For over ten years, there has been anarchy in Somalia. And according to the World Bank report Anarchy and Invention (pdf), the private sector seem to be doing very well, thank you. Even though I wouldn´t recommend abolishing the government, this study by Tatiana Nenova and Tim Harford should gives some pause for thought for all those who think that businesses need strong and supportive governments:

"Somalia has lacked a recognized government since 1991 - an unusually long time. In extremely difficult conditions the private sector has demonstrated its much-vaunted capability to make do. To cope with the absence of the rule of law, private enterprises have been using foreign jurisdictions or institutions to help with some tasks, operating within networks of trust to strengthen property rights, and simplifying transactions until they require neither. Somalia´s private sector experience suggests that it may be easier than is commonly thought for basic systems of finance and some infrastructure services to function where government is extremely weak or absent." (Thanks Joep)



10:58 - FIGHTING THE EVIL EMPIRE: Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the bravest opposition leaders in Ukraine. Those of us who have noticed her striking resemblance with my hero Princess Leia, at least the way Leia looked in The Empire Strikes Back, are not surprised by her stubborn refusal to compromise with the old, authoritarian regime. The empire should keep in my mind that just when it looked the strongest, it collapsed completely in the next episode. (Thanks Mattias)

> >



10:54 - YUSCHENKO´S DISEASE: How to destroy a freedom fighter, physically.


10:07 - THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS MURDERERS: Important article by Sofia Nerbrand in Svenska Dagbladet about why the open society knows no geographical limits, but has to have limits for how far it tolerates the intolerant. The murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh and the constant death threats against the liberal MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali show that we must all express the same basic truths: Oppression of women and fundamentalist hatred must be stopped no matter what kind of religious tradition is used to excuse it. Otherwise, the few who are brave enough to express them can be silenced by violence and persecution. If democracy and tolerance is to survive, it is the fanatics who must be marginalised, not their critics.

Here you can see Submission, the short film for which van Gogh was murdered.




08:28 - MEANWHILE, IN DARFUR: Cartoon


01:11 - A EUROPEAN TIPPING POINT?: In Washington Post, Anne Applebaum explains why Ukraine is now so important. This is not merely about Ukraine, but also about Russia, Belarus – and the West:

"It can´t be a coincidence that if the Ukrainian election is settled in Moscow´s favor, it will mark the third such dubious vote in Russia´s ´sphere of influence´ in the past two months, following the polls in Belarus and the separatist province of Abkhazia, not counting the irregularities that were belatedly uncovered in the election of Putin himself.
All of these places do, it is true, seem obscure and faraway to Americans. But so did the events 60 years ago in Poland, at least until it became clear that they were part of a pattern: 1946 was also the year that Winston Churchill gave his celebrated speech describing the ´iron curtain´ that had descended across Europe, and predicting the onset of the Cold War. Looking back, we may also one day see 2004 as the year when a new iron curtain descended across Europe, dividing the continent not through the center of Germany but along the eastern Polish border. To the West, the democracies of Western and Central Europe will remain more or less stable members of the European Union and NATO. To the east, Russia will control the ´managed democracies´ of the former U.S.S.R., keeping the media muzzled, elections massaged and the economies in thrall to a handful of mostly Russian billionaires. Using primarily economic means -- control over oil pipelines, corrupt investment funds, shady companies -- the Russians may even, like their Soviet predecessors, begin to work at undermining Western stability."



Wednesday, 24/11/2004:

23:33 - THE REVOLUTION WILL BE BLOGGED: Now brave Ukrainians are in their third day of protests against a corrupt regime. With both justice and Ruslana on their side, how can they fail? You can follow their struggle here, here and here and here.


14:13 - I´VE JUST BEEN AROUND THE WORLD AND GOT THE AFTERNOON OFF: I just gave a lecture for an audience from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. We were all staying in our own countries, watching, listening and discussing via satellite. I talked about the benefits of globalisation. I could start by mentioning communications technology…


14:09 - CLARIFICATION OF THE DAY: There is both a French and a French-Canadian edition of In Defence. What I write about below is the reviews in France of the French edition.


09:58 - IF YOU DON´T TRUST KUCHMA: The independent Ukrainian news paper Kyiv Post, published in English, is available without charge during the present crisis. A great place to find information on current developments, from an oppositional, liberal perspective. As the publisher, Jed Sunden, explains:

"I am sure the Kyiv Post’s readers have noticed that for years, we have consistently argued against any government move which calls for any forced activity on the part of Ukrainian citizens. We have spoken out against the military draft which requires young men to spend two years in their early adult lives in uniform. We stood against almost every tax proposal which takes freely earned wealth out of private citizens’ hands and places it in the government coffers for opaque projects great and small. We have argued against government registrations that determine where Ukrainians can or can’t live inside their own country. We have argued in favor of limiting the power of the State Security Services (SBU) to acquire information and interfere with Ukrainians’ privacy.
In short, we have consistently called the Ukrainian government to cease treating its citizens as subjects – as the Soviet authorities so cruelly did for 70 years." (Thanks, Mattias)



09:23 - VELVET REVOLUTION OF THE DAY: 

"Let me greet you in these dramatic days when the fate of your country for many years to come is at stake … All respectable local and international organisations agree that your demands are just."
Vaclav Havel, who led the Velvet Revolution against communism in Czechoslovakia 1989, to the opposition in Ukraine.



08:59 - WITH FRENCH LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS FRIENDS?: Liberals and libertarians consider themselves free from stupid prejudices and collective generalisations. But most make an exception for France. Because of the country’s policies it’s politically correct in our circles to portray all French as chauvinists, nationalists, socialists and protectionists, despite the fact that some of the most important liberals were French (Turgot, Constant, Say, Tocqueville, Bastiat). Therefore, many considered it suicidal for Plon to publish a French edition of my In Defence of Global Capitalism earlier this year. The French will burn the books, I was told. Well, I just received a summary of the reception in France from the translator and promoter Martin Masse. Stop reading here if you don’t want your prejudices challanged:

"As incredible as it may sound, most of the reviews are favourable. They note that it’s a daring and uncompromising book that is not shy in its attacks on the antiglobalisation crowd and the protectionist countries. They praise the large amount of convincing data and examples, and like the clear and simple style of the explanations. In fact, I don’t think there is one negative review (some only report the publication and give some basic facts). And of course, the articles from the liberal webzines and blogs are not just favourable, but they praise the book unreservedly.
We received a book today here, ´Principes de macroéconomie´, by N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard) and Germain Belzile (from Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal). It’s the French Canadian version of the macroeconomics book that Mankiw and other colleagues publish in the US and English Canada, to be used by first-year economics students. The volume quotes your book (our French version) over four pages, regarding the beneficial effects of free trade in poor countries. Another book by a Montreal financial columnist that came out last week also lists the book in its bibliography and paraphrases many of your arguments.
We wanted to give ammunitions to those who would defend globalization in the French-speaking world. I think we’ve succeeded!"



Tuesday, 23/11/2004:

22:23 - DAGENS CITAT: 

"´We live in a political world - Love don´t have any place´ - så sjunger Bob Dylan i en av sina mer klaustrofobiska sånger och jag kan översätta det: vi lever i en nyliberal tid, det finns ingen plats för fackföreningarna."
Göran Greider, poet (samtidigt som byggnadsfacket håller på att stänga Sverige för baltiska arbetare)



21:11 - WHAT DID I MEAN?: So why did I just use the words "postmodern feminism"? I am thinking of the Secretariat’s position that all differences between the sexes are cultural and nothing is biological, and that its objective is to use their resources and power to get the universities and academics to accept this as the starting-point of their research. And this is because the Secretariat thinks it’s helpful to challenge male domination. This is a postmodern alternative to the old scientific method – that research is supposed to search for the truth and check theories rather take them for granted just because the government says so.


18:32 - SEX, LIES AND EMAIL LISTS: What happens when a new Swedish minister for gender equality is not sufficiently collectivist for the radical feminists? Some of them spread false rumours that he has been prosecuted for beating women, on an email list administered by the government´s Secretariat for Gender Research. Why shouldn’t they? It’s in line with their postmodern feminism, which says that truth and science isn’t important – to attack the dominant sex is.


15:40 - HERE THE WHOLE WORLD CAN WATCH: Thanks to this webcamera you can follow the people of Ukraine on Independence Square, fighting to save their country from the ghosts of systems past. (Thanks Erik)


13:16 - IS THE WORLD WATCHING?: Right now in the freezing cold, almost 100 000 Ukranians are protesting against the stolen election in central Kiev, and a huge demonstration has also started in the city of Lviv. The municipal councils in both cities have said they only take orders from the liberal presidential candidate Yushchenko, the real winner of the election. At the same time, security forces have said that they are ready to put down the protests "quickly and firmly".

Where are the concerned European politicians who should condemn the fraud, and who could be with these crowds to show their support? And where are the "human shields"? A lot of young westerners were willing to risk their lives to stop the war on Iraq. Aren’t they willing to risk some discomfort to stop one of Europe’s biggest countries from slipping back to dictatorship?




11:29 - VERY FAQ: I am being asked again and again and again and again how to get hold of my film Globalisation is good. The answer is simple: You can´t. Unfortunately we still haven´t received the rights from Channel 4 to produce and distribute a dvd, but we are in negotiations about it. The moment I have news, I´ll let you know.


00:56 - HEROES: 

"Do you know what happened to Milosevic? The same thing here … We will frighten this government and show them they can´t steal our votes."
– The 20-year-old student Oleksiy Radynski, one of tens of thousands of Ukranians on Independence Square in Kiev right now, protesting against a stolen election.



Monday, 22/11/2004:

21:01 - CHINA TO THE RESCUE: Globalisation means that ideas in one country can be developed by capital from another. We are used to seeing rich countries investing in developing countries, but it works both ways. The last British car manufacturer, the struggling MG Rover, is now being saved by an injection of about one billion pounds from the Chinese automaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. China is often blamed for stealing European jobs, but 6 100 British jobs are now saved by the strong demand from Chinese consumers and Chinese industry’s interest in expanding in Europe. Who would have expected that 100 years ago? Or 100 days ago? (Thanks, Fraser)


16:48 - THE ROAD TO UNEMPLOYMENT IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS: The employers´ organisation Almega reports that Swedish businesses are right now asking them a lot of questions about how to fire sick people, and what they can ask potential employees to make sure that they don’t have any health problems. Why this attack on the most vulnerable? Because from 1 January, the government will force employers to pay 15 percent of their workers’ sickness benefits (which are 80 percent of their incomes).


14:46 - EMAIL OF THE DAY: In response to my post It’s the cities, stupid:

"Of course poor people in the countryside are going to vote against Democrats, not because they are ignorant hateful racist stupid bigoted redneck hicks, but because Democrat policies hurt them economically.
One of the grounds that the Democrats are supposedly the party of the poor is environmentalism - but the environment is a rich person´s preference. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to see trees as potential lumber, and caribou as meat on the hoof and a danger to oil and gas pipelines.
´Environmentalism´ also tends to result in people in the big cities - the coast - making decisions about land use for lands far away of which they know nothing, affecting the lives of people that they despise. Environmentalism is automatically less popular the further you get from Washington, and from state capitals, and from the densely populated coast. The further you get from where the commands are sent, and the closer you get to where the commands are experienced, the less popular those faraway commands are.
Another ground that the Democrats are supposedly the party of the poor is the expansive interpretation of the right to sue - a position that primarily benefits lawyers.
Another ground that the Democrats are supposedly the party of the poor is unionism - but the unions closely associated with the Democrat party are primarily government employee unions, representing government as an organized interest group - a group unlikely to be popular far from the capital - a group unlikely to be popular in Kansas."



13:37 - GLOBAL ELECTRIC CAFÉ: A few days ago, before a great Rammstein concert, I tried to explain that synth speaks many languages. Gustav Homberg has clever things to say about this.


13:10 - SJUKAST JUST NU: Nya bloggen Där är Greider (Gudmundson hittade den, förstås.)


11:19 - LIBERAL LEADERS OF TOMORROW: "Stureakademin", is Timbro’s year-long education for a selected group of young, gifted Swedish liberals and free-marketeers. Now it’s possible to apply for 2005.


07:52 - A SILENT TAKEOVER: Right now the old guard is trying to steal the election in Ukraine. But good thieves don´t leave their fingerprints all over the place. And it´s too early for them to rejoice. History shows that revolutions result when growing expectations are frustrated. After the first round of elections, the gallup polls and the exit polls, Ukrainian´s dared to dream and hope that their country would become a democratic, open society, where people’s votes would count more than those who count the votes. Now the corrupt leadership is destroying that hope. Don´t let them get away with it.


Sunday, 21/11/2004:

23:10 - MEXICO - AS IF DATA MATTERED: Critics of globalisation have to show that Mexico is a failure, because improvements there might be interpreted as a sign that the NAFTA trade agreement is working. The latest example was an article by Rasmus Malm in Dagens Nyheter last week, which said that nothing good has happened since 1994, jobs haven’t been created, incomes have fallen and inequality has increased.

Mexico has huge problems with lack of rule of law, property rights protection, excessive regulation of businesses, bad infrastructure, and so on. Malm doesn’t mention this, because he thinks that all the problems are caused by neo-liberalism and free trade. Ironically, the only specific example of problems he gives – the collapsing maize market – is a result not of free markets, but of American export subsidies.

But despite very real problems in Mexico, if you look at the statistics here and here, you see that since NAFTA, Mexico’s income per capita has increased by more than 50 percent, open unemployment has dropped from 4 to 3 percent, inequality has declined from a gini of almost 55 to about 50, child malnutrition has fallen from 17 to 7.5 percent, and infant mortality has dropped from more than 3.7 to 2.4 percent since 1990.

Since the crisis 1994-95 (Mexico has had one in every election cycle) progress has been much more rapid than after earlier crises. Between 1996 and 2002, extreme poverty declined from 37 percent to 20 percent, and unemployment was cut in half. Real GDP growth is expected to be 4 percent this year.




13:55 - POLITICAL CORRECTNESS - WITH A PAST: God morgon, världen! is the best and most dynamic show in Swedish radio. But in the discussion on "political correctness" this morning they got the history of this concept wrong. They treated it as a pejorative invention of the American political right in the 1990s. But it has a history.

It was popularised by the English translation of Mao’s Little Red Book (1966). But it had already been used in the Communist Party in the 1930s, "as part of a disciplinary process intended to see that CP members stuck to the party line". And it was used by "´Marxists and progressives´ in the early 1950s as a euphemism for party line." Vladimir Nabokov used it in his 1947 novel Bend Sinister: "it is better for a man to have belonged to a politically incorrect organization than not to have belonged to any organization at all."

In other words, it was a euphemistic way of forcing people to abandon their critical thinking and accept the collective view, before it was used (and abused) by the opponents for the same process.




12:28 - SURPRISE INCOME STATISTIC OF THE DAY: 

"people worth $1m-10m supported Mr Bush by a 63-37% margin, whereas those worth more than $10m favoured Mr Kerry 59-41%"
The Economist



12:25 - SURPRISE QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

"constructing Europe in opposition to the United States makes no sense".
– France´s President Chirac, quoted in The Economist



Saturday, 20/11/2004:

11:51 - A WORTHY WINNER IF I EVER SAW ONE: Last night was the final episode of the agricultural reality show Farmen Skärgården. And there is justice in the world: my friend Christian Gergils – who was attacked and harassed for being honest, knowing more about animals and farming than the others, and demanding that the others did some work as well – ran rings around the other finalist, won half a million SEK, and is now considered the worthy winner by almost all participants. When all deceivers had deceived each other, they began to appreciate Christian’s honesty.

The viewers liked it all along. Christian was the most popular participant among the viewers all nine weeks. I hope that will also make them receptive to his arguments that this show has exposed the morality of collectivism and the welfare state, and how it undermines work and personal responsibility.




11:19 - APROPÅ KÄLLKRITIK OCH MISSTÄNKSAMHET: På sin hemsida avslöjar Oivvio Polite, som jag citerade om Bloggforum nedan, att DN strukit en mening ur hans artikel. Den råkade handla om att det var en bloggare (Michael Moynihan) som avslöjade Peter Borgströms plagiat - som publicerades i DN…

Uppdatering 15:33: Borgströms lån från NYT nämndes först av Erik Stattin (Tack, Peter)




Friday, 19/11/2004:

17:14 - MOBERG VINDICATED: Vilhelm Moberg said that people never answer your arguments in Sweden, they always talk about something else. That´s what I´ve learned in the current debate about media, and write about in Aftonbladet today.


14:37 - HOPE FOR THE UN - NOW AT A 25 PERCENT DISCOUNT: 

Photo: Anders Ydstedt
A Swedish liberal just returned from two weeks as a United Nations delegate. And let´s just say that pro-market and pro-democratic views aren´t generally accepted there. Among the sessions he sat through was a 35 minute attack on the USA from the Cuban foreign minister. But he also reports that "there is some hope for the UN. They can buy Johan Norberg´s book". And this is in the UN bookshop, where they can buy everything at a 25 percent discount. Let´s hope they seize the opportunity...



12:18 - ALTERNATIV SAMMANFATTNING AV BLOGGFORUM: 

"Första platsen som teknologisk determinist på gott humör delades av Johan Norberg (Timbro) och Rasmus Fleischer (Arbetaren). Liberaler och frihetliga socialister har mer gemensamt än vad någon av dem brukar vilja erkänna. En leende Norberg citerade Marshall McLuhan, ´The media is the message´. Bloggens stora förtjänst är att den lär oss källkritik. Den misstänksamhet vi riktar mot bloggar spiller över på de traditionella medierna. Fleischer instämde och fyllde i: bloggen upphäver gränsen mellan skribent och läsare.
Alla härliga profetior från 1996 är här igen."
Oivvio Polite, DN/Kultur, 19 november 2004.



Thursday, 18/11/2004:

16:01 - RAMMSTEIN RAMBLES: In a few hours I will see Rammstein live. This German band plays a great form of heavy industrial rock that I really appreciate. But I have a problem with their new single "Amerika", a silly attack on American cultural influence. In one of the lines the singer complains "I don’t speak my mother tounge", which is ironic since Rammstein has become a global success partly because they have German lyrics. A gimmick in underground music circles that the bizarre Slovenian band Laibach pioneered.

I don’t think that Rammstein really understands the globalisation process, and how different cultures contribute to strange, new combinations. The electronic elements they use to give their rock depth was pioneered in Germany by Stockhausen, and popularised by bands like Kraftwerk and D.A.F. And then it was transformed into synth pop by British bands like Ultravox, OMD and Depeche Mode, and into heavy electronic beats by Belgians like Front 242, Poesie Noire and The Neon Judgement. Where is the American domination?

Perhaps Rammstein should listen a bit to Peter Gabriel.




14:53 - PALESTINA LETTER: It was bound to be written sooner or later. (Thanks, Billy)


14:38 - WHAT I SAW MONDAY NIGHT: Today in smedjan.com I publish the comparison between Bloggforum and Publicistklubben I promised to write. It is a work of frustration and passion, written fast, but I think it contains some important truths about the state of the media:

"Det tog bara femton minuter att ta mig från överfulla Bloggforum till ännu mer överfulla Publicistklubben i måndags kväll, men det hade lika gärna kunnat vara i en annan galax.
Och då tänker jag inte på skillnaden mellan Internetworlds pigga, ljusa lokaler i Vasastan i Stockholm och publicistmötet i Kulturhuset som inte verkade kunna bestämma sig för om det var en exklusiv klubb eller ett nedsuttet fik. Och jag tänker inte på skillnaden mellan pigga bloggare i alla färger och frisyrer som inmundigade termoskaffe och bananer medan de knapprade på datorer, och de kulturuniformerade journalister som drack öl och vin medan de fingrade på kultursidorna.
Den stora skillnaden var mental. På det lite nördiga Bloggforum var nyfikenheten på omvärlden lika stor som oron över den var på prestigefyllda Publicistklubben. På Bloggforum frustade deltagarna av idéer, engagemang och vilja till ständig konstruktiv omprövning. På Publicistklubben oroade man sig över hur man ska kunna fortsätta att göra precis det man alltid har gjort, trots ´hot´ utifrån."

Read the rest of the article




10:30 - THE CHRISTIAN WRONG:  The Economist writes about the bizarre influence of the Christian right in the new American Senate:

"Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has called not just for outlawing abortion but for the death penalty for doctors who break such a law. Another new senator, John Thune of South Dakota, is a creationist. A third, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, has said single mothers should not teach in schools."

But as the magazine also points out, if Bush doesn’t share this agenda, he has other alternatives:

"For opponents of Mr Bush, and also for many socially liberal Republicans, the election results and the trumpeted evangelical ambitions point to a big reversal: the victory of aggressive social conservatism over the small-government tradition in which morality is not legislated. It could, indeed, turn out to be something like this, but it need not. The wide variety of different opinions held by Mr Bush´s religious supporters give the president, and his new administration, a lot of leeway, if they choose to look for it."



10:20 - PROPHECY FOR 2006: Today the old social democrat Sverker Åström criticises the government for failed policies and abuse of power in Dagens Nyheter, and writes that it would be a good thing for the party to be in opposition for a while. This is not an article, it’s a sign. One of the strongest indicators of a coming shift in power is when the governing party is abandoned by its own men.


00:01 - EMAIL OF THE DAY: 

"One point I´d like to add to your Explaining the Liberal Blog Explosion piece:

Liberal bloggers are confident about their opinions and willing to defend them - because they´re backed up by facts/statistics and they never contradict themselves. They know they are right and prove this by making their opinions available for millions of internet users to read and critique - and since they never contradict themselves (because we liberals have well-defined principals) their opinion five years ago is just as valid as it is today.
This of course is very different from the left-community who base their opinions by ´thoughts´ and ´feelings´ rather than facts and principals. Their political opinion changes like the wind and since a blog sets your opinion in stone, they know that readers will catch onto their constant contradictions."



Wednesday, 17/11/2004:

21:25 - JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PUBLIC SERVICE TELEVISION: I just saw a really lousy documentary in SVT2, Novemberrevolutionen. This is the most shallow analysis I’ve heard about the Swedish crisis in the 90s, since I heard someone blame it on God´s will. And it actually seemed to conclude that we would have had low unemployment if we hadn’t deregulated the credit market. The facts that Sweden had a fixed exchange rate and a lack of financial discipline during this time of credit expansion was mentioned, but never seen as the real problem. That people were allowed to borrow money, and that "neo-liberals" supposedly love unemployment, was. And the conclusion was that the central bank probably wanted a crisis, to implement "neo-liberal" ideas. Naturally, no one was allowed to give a contradictory interpretation, and no debate followed this piece of propaganda.

I came to think of Michael Moore’s methods. And of course, on his web site, Dan Josefsson who made this film explains that Moore is his role model. It turns out that for five years Josefsson worked at the socialist magazine ETC. Now he is active in the leftist organisation Ordfront and a writer for LO-tidningen. And now suddenly he is an expert on the Swedish economy. Probably with a little help from the leftist radio reporter Björn Elmbrant, who is thanked in the end credits.

Don’t worry if you missed this film. SVT – the public service company that consider my film too liberal to be aired in Sweden – shows it three times.




17:19 - TUCKER - THE MAN AND HIS FILM: Perhaps you saw it 16 years ago, but I haven’t seen it until now and have to recommend it: Francis Ford Coppola’s and George Lucas’ Tucker: The Man and His Dream. A fantastic film based on a true story about Preston Tucker who built the most beautiful and modern car, but was crushed by the government to protect the big-three auto makers. An important film now when many governments are pro-business rather than pro-market. They should listen to Tucker:

"We invented the free enterprise system where anybody, no matter who he was, where he came from, what class he belonged to, if he came up with a better idea about anything, there was no limit to how far he could go. I grew up a generation too late I guess because now the way the system works, the loner, the dreamer, the crackpot who comes up with some crazy idea that everybody laughs at that later turns out to revolutionize the world, he’s squashed from above before he even gets his head out of the water because the bureaucrats, they’d rather kill a new idea than let it rock the boat. If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he’d be thrown in jail for sailing a kite without a license… If big business closes the door on the little guy with the new idea, we’re not only closing the door on progress but we’re sabotaging everything we fought for, everything the country stands for."



09:44 - THAT´S THE WAY TO FAIL: And here are the estimated growth rates across the globe in 2004: Africa: 3.2, South Asia: 6.0, Middle East and North Africa: 4.7, Latin America: 4.7, Europe and Central Asia: 7.0, East Asia and Pacific: 7.8.

Meanwhile, at John Pilger’s web site: "the globalisation model is failing as more and more countries compete for limited world markets."




09:27 - 6.1 PERCENT - MORE THAN JUST MONEY: I am interviewed in the Finnish Hufvudstadsbladet, and in the article I am opposed by the globalisation critic Olli Tammilehto, who says that globalisation turn people in developing countries into proletarians. Coincidentally, at the same time the World Bank publishes Global Economic Prospects 2005, which shows that growth in developing countries is the highest in 30 years: 6.1 percent, and 5.4 and 5.1 percent in 2005 and 2006. This means a per capita growth of more than 4 percent annually. On these trends, the average person’s income will be doubled in less than 20 years. A much faster growth than Sweden and Finland had when we industrialised, in a less globalised world.

But Tammilehto’s innovative response is that the life of the poor does not get better just because they "use more money". Innovative, but wrong. The statistics on absolute poverty (which shows a reduction from 40 to 21 percent in 20 years, almost 400 million people) are not based on the incomes of the poor, as Tammilehto thinks, but on the consumption of the poor. So more money also means more opportunities, consumption and higher living standards. What a surprise…




09:08 - I´M STILL WAITING: Cecilia Uddén repeated her comparison between me and Michael Moore in Media 8 yesterday. I am still waiting for her to provide a single example of a mistake or deceit in my articles that could match the character of the 59 deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11. Unless she does that it is fairly obvious to the viewers that I am not the one closest to Moore’s method of saying things without having any evidence to back it up.


Tuesday, 16/11/2004:

20:28 - EXPLAINING THE LIBERAL BLOG EXPLOSION: Another of the big discussions at Bloggforum was why classical liberals, libertarians and free-marketeers seem to be more active bloggers. This was my guess when I got the question:

– We are more dissatisfied with the media, so we have to be the media ourselves to get our point of view across.

– We love technology and the future, so when there are new ways to express ourselves, we are quick adapters.

– We are individualists, who think what we do because we personally think that the arguments point in that direction, and we are used to fighting for our views in opposition to others (in school, in the family, in the workplace). If you are more collectivist and want to compromise and reach a consensus, or just think what is politically correct or socially acceptable, it’s more difficult to explain your views and the reasons for them. And it becomes much less interesting to read.




20:14 - WHY I AM A BLOG PROTECTIONIST: My own words and views come back to haunt me, when Mark Comerford cleverly attacks my protectionist attitude to comments on my blog. Since all orthodox bloggers think that I must allow comments from the readers (this was a major issue at Bloggforum), I have to use this opportunity to explain why I don’t: I just don’t appreciate four-letter words and hate mail on my blog. I have tried it before on other sites, and when you are a controversial public figure, those kinds of comments tend to drown out the conversation. Despite the fact that most of those who comment what I write are kind, polite and intelligent (including those who disagree), the minority seem to send more comments per capita. So until I think something has changed, I will persist in my blog protectionism.


18:50 - CURIOUS ABOUT MY NEW BOSS?: Now you can see her in a splendid performance on Korseld (Crossfire) in SVT24.


17:14 - CLARIFICATION ON POWELL: The fact that Uddén was wrong in claiming that Powell’s "bullshit"-shows that he consciously lied in his UN presentation does of course not mean that Powell was right. As we now know, the presentation "was almost all crap", as Sullivan says and Kaplan shows. I’ve said it before: Never trust the government. (Thanks, Olaf)


16:31 - HOW GOOD ARE THE INTEREST RATES IN THE SWISS BANKS?: So how did Arafat build his fortune? Not through embezzlement, says Sanna Johnson, Head of Development Cooperation at the Olof Palme international Center, but through "clever investments". If such behaviour is what socialists think of as "investments", suddenly I understand why they think that capitalists and investors are crooks and exploiters. (Thanks, Adam.)


15:04 - THE ARAFAT THEY DON´T WANT TO REMEMBER: Per Ahlmark tells us about the terrorist who supported Saddam and the massacre at Tiananmen Square, and who were honoured by prime minister Persson at the funeral and by seven former foreign ministers in Dagens Nyheter.


11:32 - IT WAS THE BEST OF MEDIA, IT WAS THE WORST OF MEDIA: Yesterday I was both at Bloggforum and at Publicistklubben’s discussion about public service. I will write a full report and comparison for smedjan.com on Thursday. But for now I can say that Publicistklubben was an old, tired and homogenous club for buddies in Swedish radio, discussing how to avoid criticism from outside, which they considered dangerous. Bloggforum, on the other hand, was a wonderful meeting of energetic bloggers from all sides, with ideas, a belief in the power of arguments, and a conviction that criticism and competition is something important that makes you better. When I despaired about old media at Publicistklubben, I was comforted by the fact that I had already seen a better future at Bloggforum.


08:34 - MORE MOORE FROM UDDÉN: Cecilia Uddén is back on Swedish radio, explaining what America is all about. Ten minutes ago in P1-morgon she said that Colin Powell thought that the information he was given about Iraqi WMD was ”bullshit”, but reported the bullshit he didn’t believe in to the UN Security Council out of a sense of duty. In other words: Uddén says he lied consciously and openly. This is another Michael Moore-myth, with Powell’s comment taken out of context. Here is Spinsanity’s review of Moore’s Dude, Where´s My Country? :

"At another point, Moore attacks Secretary of State Colin Powell´s statement to the United Nations that ´What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.´ According to Moore, ´Just days earlier, Powell apparently was not so sure. During a gathering of CIA officials reviewing the evidence against Saddam Hussein, Powell tossed the papers in the air and declared: ´I´m not reading this. This is bullshit.´´ (page 82) Moore makes it appear as though the speech Powell gave at the UN included the evidence he had called ´bullshit.´ In fact, the US News & World Report article that Moore cites does note Powell´s exclamation, but it details the process by which Powell winnowed out pieces of evidence he was uncomfortable presenting. The article concludes ´And plenty was cut [from Powell´s speech]. Sometimes it was because information wasn´t credible, sometimes because Powell didn´t want his speech to get too long, sometimes because [CIA Director George] Tenet insisted on protecting sources and methods.´



Monday, 15/11/2004:

16:48 - JUST ANOTHER DAY IN EGALITARIAN SWEDEN: This story I just heard from a colleague: A female employee in the geriatric care of the city of Stockholm decided to cheer her working party up by bringing a home-made cake to the coffee break. Because of this, her boss went mad, and prohibited her from ever doing that again. Why? Because those working in other teams might feel worse off, because no one brought them home-made cake.


15:58 - THE ADMINISTRATIONS THEY ARE A-CHANGIN´: Colin Powell just resigned as America´s Secretary of State. That’s pretty bad. I didn’t like him when he was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993), because he was one of those responsible for stopping the first Gulf War before Saddam was overthrown, which made it possible for the dictator to slaughter tens of thousands of rebellious Iraqi citizens. But today, with a more trigger-happy administration, which finishes what Bush senior failed to do, Powell has been a more healthy, moderating influence.


15:26 - TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE MARKET: A message to those of you who are looking for my In Defence in Swedish: You are not the victims of a bookstore conspiracy. Since the demand has been too big lately it is out of print for the moment. But a third updated edition is being printed right now. In two weeks time you will find it again.


14:25 - WHO PAYS THE FELLOW TRAVELERS?: In a country where everything is tax financed, why not revolutionary communists as well? Therefore I was not surprised when the radio programme Kaliber yesterday revealed that the governmental authority Ungdomsstyrelsen (the Swedish National board for Youth Affairs) have paid almost two million SEK over the last ten years to friendly visits to North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam for the Stalinist Revolutionary Communist Youth in Sweden, with the explicit objective to support these states. They got almost half a million this year.

But I was a bit surprised that they had the stomach to call this "democratic training" for Swedish youth. And I was surprised that a spokesman for Ungdomsstyrelsen said that this wasn’t wrong, and that we shouldn’t be "too restrictive in our view of democracy". But a definition of democracy that includes North Korea would be like a definition of life that includes death. And why give such an institution the role to train our youth in democracy when we could save money by giving it straight to Kim Jong-Il?




14:05 - THE AMERICAN DREAM TAKEN SERIOUSLY: Today begins the campaign to abolish the un-American Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the American Constitution, which prohibits everybody not born in the US to be eligible to the Office of President. It’s about time for change in a country of immigrants.


Sunday, 14/11/2004:

23:03 - IT´S THE CITIES, STUPID: When you see this picture, you have to agree that there is something to the talk about a rural/urban divide in America. And I find a very strong correlation between democratic domination and places where I would like to live if I settled down in the USA.


20:27 - THE EIGHT DEADLY SIN: A year ago I was walking a young African woman through Stockholm. She wondered why the tabloids were moralising about a couple of executives from the insurance company Skandia, who had given themselves and their close ones flats in central Stockholm. She couldn’t understand why anyone cared about that. Why couldn’t they receive flats instead as an extra bonus?

And I had to explain to her that here in Stockholm we are obsessed with flats because it’s impossible to hire one. You have to be wealthy enough to buy one. And this is because of rent control, which means that the government stops you from hiring at market prices – which means that people never leave a flat in central Stockholm, that the flats are empty until the contract can be given to their kids, that there is a huge informal market, that no one builds new flats and that the old ones are turned into cooperative flats. And just like in every rationing system, you have to have the right contacts to get a flat in Stockholm.

The last week we have learned that high-ranking social democrats and trade union leaders have given themselves nice flats from charities and companies close to the social democrats and the trade unions. You can’t blame them for that. As they say, if you get a job here you need a flat, and the only way to get a contract in Stockholm is to have and use contacts. I would have done the same if I had the chance. But you can blame them for being the strongest advocates of the system that makes it impossible to get a contract in Stockholm without having contacts.

Pride, greed, lust and gluttony are considered deadly sins. I have always wondered why hypocrisy didn’t make the list.




09:19 - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: Now Cecilia Uddén is back in Swedish radio after her suspension, and she is now warmly embraced by the media and portrayed as a victim. Partly because she is a very talented journalist, but I also suspect that it is partly because a lot of people in mainstream media think that the worst thing that can happen in Sweden is that it suddenly becomes acceptable to closely observe and criticise journalists.

In a very sympathetic DN interview with Uddén today, the editorial introduction explains that she just made a mistake, and that she is really nothing but a brave truth-seeker. And Uddén says that her comment in our debate was nothing more than a slip of the tounge, and that more important was that she said that I was Timbro’s new Michael Moore, which she considers a brilliant rhetorical accusation. But is it? Wouldn’t it have been more brilliant if she had any arguments or facts to back it up? Moore built Fahrenheit 9/11 on 59 deceits. I am still waiting for Uddén to find a single deceit or mistake in my articles about Swedish media. She has not even tried to.

She probably doesn’t read what I write anyway. In the interview she says "I haven’t heard anyone who has been critical against our show". But criticism against her show was precisely what my second Expressen-article was about.

I don’t expect anyone to confront the arguments in the article, but I do expect another series of accusations that I am like Michael Moore or a Bush-fundamentalist, in the press, the radio and on TV. That’s the way "debates" work in a homogenous society.




Saturday, 13/11/2004:

12:39 - CHOCKCHOCK: i chydenius fotspår citerar nya "chock"-ord som Expressen har hittat på de senaste åren:

"aftonchock, blyghetschock, chock-extra, chock-kontrade, chockberedda, chockexponering, chockläge, fettchock, kvarskattechock, nakenchock (min favorit), sexchock, snyggchock och tampong-chocken."



Friday, 12/11/2004:

17:54 - I LOVE BEING WRONG: My false conclusion about conservative values in the American election was a result of a badly worded exit poll question about ”moral values”. A new poll shows that the most important moral issue influencing the election was neither abortion nor gay marriage – but the Iraq war. (Thanks, Bo)


16:55 - FÖRUNDRAD OCH ALDRIG IFRÅGASATT: Vad läser egentligen blivande journalister som kurslitteratur? Gudmundson – alltid lika välinformerad – uppmärksammar att de bland annat läser antologin Public Service i praktiken (Sveriges Radios förlag, 1997), redigerad av Erik Fichtelius. Där ingår kapitlet ”Farbror Vederhäftig och Tant Emotion – en saga om public service”, av Cecilia Uddén, där hon bl a skriver detta:

"Många av mina kollegor här i Mellanöstern tycker att det är mycket märkligt att jag kan sända hem telefonrapporter som inte granskas innan de går ut i etern. ´Får du verkligen säga vad du vill?´ frågar de misstänksamt, ibland förvånat. ´Jag måste alltid leta fram någon annan som säger det jag tänker´, berättar en amerikansk korrespondent. ´Jag skulle aldrig kunna framföra en egen åsikt. Jag måste ha citat.´

Det är ju ett välkänt journalistknep – att intervjua dem som tycker som man själv. Men i min tolkning av uppdraget att vara Sverige Radios Mellanösternkorrespondent ingår friheten att göra egna politiska analyser och att redovisa egna ståndpunkter utan att tvingas gå omvägen via en expert som man intervjuar. Ändå har jag ofta förundrats över att jag aldrig – hittills – har censurerats. Mina rapporter förhandsgranskas nästan aldrig. Mina överordnade har aldrig ifrågasatt innehållet i mina reportage."




13:30 - IN THE LAND OF CHYDENIUS: I had a splendid and intensive couple of days in Finland. Thanks a lot to especially Jan Erola and Tarja Virolainen at Gummerus for their efforts and for arranging a great schedule. The interest in my book was overwhelming: One TV-appearance, three radio appearances and interviews with four dailys and two magazines. The timing of my book was important since Finland discuss the problem of manufacturing jobs going to Eastern Europe and China. In my book they could find the arguments that this job destruction creates new and better jobs if it is welcomed and facilitated.

And I also had time to meet with a group of Finnish readers of this blog and my books. They were young, intelligent, radical and had very long hair despite the male dominance. And I had a private lunch with the Finnish foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja. He is a social democrat on the left, but is very interested in how we can make globalisation work for poor countries, so we could agree on the importance of dismantling tariffs and agricultural policies in the EU.

Almost every second was fully booked, and yesterday I had to get up 5.30 in the morning to go to morning television. That would have been perfectly alright, had it not been for the fact that my publisher had the kindness to show me Helsinki nightlife the night before… :-) So now I think I´ll relax in Sweden for a few days.




11:39 - WILL WE GET OUR MONEY BACK NOW?: An almost shorter route than the one Arafat took from being a terrorist to a politician was the one taken by aid money from European taxpayers to the Palestinian Authority and then back to Europe. Ewa Björling writes about this in Expressen today, and according to Forbes Magazine, Arafat had about 300 million dollars in Swiss bank accounts.


10:37 - MIDDLE-EASTERN METAMORPHOSIS?: Another reason to be glad that Arafat is gone, is that Sharon and Bush won´t be able to use him as a reason to avoid the necessary steps for a Palestinan state - to leave not just Gaza, but also the West Bank.


10:06 - METAMORPHOSIS: So Yasser Arafat (1929-2004) has died. I agree with all those who now say he was a remarkable and unique individual. He is one of few persons I can think of who went straight from being a young, aggressive and cold-blooded terrorist to becoming an old, paralysed and corrupt politician.


Thursday, 11/11/2004:

15:11 - STEREOTYPICAL PRO-CAPITALIST: Last interview question from Finnish radio: "When did you last eat at McDonald´s?". They were quite surprised when I said that I did so just 40 minutes earlier - because a magazine insisted on interviewing me in a McDonald´s restaurant.


Wednesday, 10/11/2004:

16:18 - I MISS HIM: Perhaps my views are needed more somewhere else than here in Finland. After all, it is the fifth most globalised country on the planet. One unfortunate aspect of globalisation, however, is that Finland has joined the euro - because this means that they no longer have a 1000-mark bill featuring an image of the great Finnish-Swedish liberal pioneer Anders Chydenius, who bravely fought for free trade and free speech in the 18th century.


15:59 - IRL: And 7 of these 10 bloggers - including myself - will participate in the first big Swedish debate on blogs, Bloggforum Stockholm 2004, on Monday. It will be big, and at last we´ll get a chance to see what they all look like.


15:37 - TOP TEN SWEDISH BLOGS: Dagens Nyheter writes that the business and communication intelligence company Observer has listed the ten most important blogs in Sweden. A sure sign that blogs now matter. I am glad to see that I am in second place, and this list also confirms that there is a strong dominance of liberals and free-marketers in the Swedish blogosphere. I consider many of these blogs necessary reading. Here is the list with links, so that you can make up your own mind:

  1. Erik Stattin
  2. Johan Norberg
  3. PJ Just Nu
  4. Per Gudmundson
  5. Hans Kullin
  6. JKL
  7. Stockholm Spectator
  8. Nicklas Lundblad
  9. Dick Erixon
  10. Peter Lindberg



08:09 - NO MORE PATRIOT ACTS: Attorney general John Ashcroft just made a second Bush administration much better than the first.


08:05 - SVERIGE REAGERAR: Nu när jag har hunnit läsa lite svenska reaktioner på USA-valet kan jag inte undanhålla er dessa intressanta exempel:

"Valrörelsen var den smutsigaste i mannaminne. Alla klagade. Men smutskastning fungerar, fler röstade och den elakaste - Bush - vann."
- Thomas Höjeberg/TT, 4 nov.
"Så drabbas världen"
- Wolfgang Hansson närmast parodierar kvällstidningarnas offerjournalistik (”så drabbas du”), Aftonbladet, 4 nov.
"Räkna inte med att Bush förvandlas från dr Jekyll till mr Hyde - utan fyra år till av solokörning och arrogans."
- Wolfgang Hansson igen, lyckas blanda ihop Dr Jekyll och Mr Hyde, Aftonbladet, 4 nov.
"Han har fått ett brett folkligt stöd. Det USA som har hånat honom har lidit ett nederlag. Kanske måste den elit av intellektuella som drivit med honom ställa kritiska frågor om sitt eget uppträdande."
- Kanske även den i Sverige? Självrannsakan från SVT:s Bo Inge Andersson, 3 nov.
"Det känns symptomatiskt att Clint Eastwood, Bill Gates och Charlton Heston är Bushs mest prominenta dragplåster. Fundamentalt onda män i min anteckningsbok."
- Anders Westgårdh, Aftonbladet, 2 nov.
"Persson säger till TT att valutgången kan vara bra för Sveriges ekonomi, eftersom Bush är mer öppen för frihandel än utmanaren John Kerry."
- Göran Persson
"jag känner oro för att USA:s kritiska hållning mot världssamfundet nu kan komma att kvarstå"
- Men vad tycker du om världssamfundets kritiska hållning mot USA? Moderatledaren Fredrik Reinfeldt
"Här i Europa tror många att de som röstar på Bush är bourbonalkoholiserat vitt patrask som lever i husvagnar fyllda med otvättade barn … Men vad denna struntförnäma europeiska opinion glömmer är att USA är fyllt av barn och barnbarn till människor som flytt undan tyranner som hunsat dem och deras familjer i århundraden. Det finns en tradition hos amerikaner att se det som en självklarhet att deras nya hemland USA angriper och störtar diktatorer."
- Metros frihetliga vänsterkolumnist, Boris Benulic



00:31 - PUBLIC PUB: By the way, now a public meeting with young free traders and liberals is arranged in Helsinki tomorrow evening, at a pub called Memphis, 20.00, if someone of you want to come.


Tuesday, 9/11/2004:

15:21 - CHAOS IN MY MAILBOX: Remember the Hydra in Greek mythology? When Hercules cut off one of its heads, two new heads would grow in its place. Well, for every email I respond to I get ten more right now. So I have no chance to respond to everything. As usual I appreciate it and I read everything eventually – but don’t sit up waiting.


13:55 - FINLAND: I am delighted that I´ve got so many regular and interested readers outside Sweden. Just after I announced here that I am going to Finland tomorrow, I received almost ten emails from people in Finland asking me where I will be and if there are any public events. I haven’t responded until now since I just learned about my schedule. I will be in Helsinki, and unfortunately there are no public events. Most of the time I will meet with the press, radio and TV. I am sorry about that, but I think they need to listen to my perspective more than you do... ;-)


09:24 - SWEDEN DIDN´T CELEBRATE 9 NOVEMBER 1989: Not everyone cheered on that amazing day 15 years ago. In a fascinating and embarassing essay in DN, Jens Christian Brandt looks at the Swedish reactions, and as he concludes, "the inability to rejoice is unbelievable and monstrous". The prime minister Ingvar Carlsson – who never condemned the wall – said that we shouldn’t be too enthusiastic, in Aktuellt the Aftonbladet reporter Dieter Strand found it necessary to formulate a "defence" of the wall and how it stabilised Berlin, and Dagens Nyheter had the nerve to focus only on the problems, and the difficulty for East Germans to adapt to democracy and capitalism. On Rapport a shocked reporter said: "Isn’t this pretty dangerous? Many had found a sort of security and peace in the Cold War ... now many feel insecure."


08:18 - TWO THOUGHTS ON WORLD FREEDOM DAY: Every time I watch the old footage from 9 November 1989, it brings tears to my eyes. I was 16 years old, and I had never seen such a strong and physical longing for freedom as when Germans from both sides embraced, danced, laughed and cried after having been separated by he Berlin Wall for almost 30 years.

First thought: How could anyone, anywhere in the world ever give the slightest benefit of the doubt to a system, which found it necessary to treat its citizens as prisoners, and shoot those who wanted to leave the experiment? How evil or deluded do you have to be to think that a system is in the best interest of the people, if they risk their lives to flee from it?

Second thought: Other former communist states envied the East Germans, who could rely on West German subsidies to the industries, welfare benefits to the people and trade union control of the labour markets – and a currency reform that gave them more for their currency than it was worth on the market. And the result was that the wages and prices became much higher than productivity, and therefore a much worse economy and higher unemployment than other former communist states. East Germany was first suffering under the communist experiment, and since then it has been hurt by the welfare state experiment.




Monday, 8/11/2004:

19:12 - FOR WHOM THE BELLS RING: At last I have gone through last week’s enormous pile of articles about my complaint about bias in the US election coverage. The fact that one public service radio journalist was suspended after a debate with me has started one of the biggest debates about Swedish media in recent years.

But in the pile there was also an article in Biblioteksbladet, the magazine of the Swedish Library Association, about my old criticism that Swedish libraries do not seem to be in touch with the international debate, and don’t buy the big non-left wing authors. The writer of the article, Henriette Zorn, attacks us for looking at a distorted selection of books, because we compare important authors like Naomi Klein and Barbara Ehrenreich with – Björn Lomborg.

And to make it clear to the librarians who read the magazine that this Lomborg guy is a completely unimportant nobody, that no one has ever heard of, after she mentions his name she adds rhetorically: "does that ring a bell?".

I rest my case.




10:48 - CATCHING UP: Now I am back in Sweden for a few days, before I go to Finland. And I´ve had the time to catch up with some of the things that happened in the shadow of the American election:

- Sudan has stepped up the murder and forced relocation of refugees in western Darfur, and stops the world from reporting about the atrocities.

- The old regime in Ukraine, tried to poison the liberal presidential candidate, Yushchenko, and steal the election – but failed despite all their efforts!

- In the Netherlands, the director Theo van Gogh (yes, Vincent’s great-grand nephew) was shot and stabbed to death on the streets of Amsterdam, because he dared to challenge fundamentalist Islam’s brutal treatment of women.

Just thought I’d mention this in case someone didn’t think there is evil in the world.




08:22 - I WAS WRONG ON VOTER MOTIVATION: Now that I’ve had the time to read a bit, I have good news about the exit polls and the importance of moral issues in the US election: Many of you were right, and I was wrong. Social conservatism and intolerance does not seem to have settled this election. Just read David Brooks in New York Times:

"As Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center points out, there was no disproportionate surge in the evangelical vote this year. Evangelicals made up the same share of the electorate this year as they did in 2000. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who are pro-life. Sixteen percent of voters said abortions should be illegal in all circumstances. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who say they pray daily."

Steven Waldman and John Green on Beliefnet:

"Amusingly, one big improvement in Bush´s performance actually came from those who never go to church. He won 36% of this group compared to 32% last time."

Paul Freedman in Slate:

"by a statistically insignificant margin, putting gay marriage on the ballot actually reduced the degree to which Bush´s vote share in the affected states exceeded his vote share elsewhere … a 10-point increase in the percentage of voters citing terrorism as the most important problem translates into a 3-point Bush gain. A 10-point increase in morality voters, on the other hand, has no effect. Nor does putting an anti-gay-marriage measure on the ballot. So, if you want to understand why Bush was re-elected, stop obsessing about the morality gap and start looking at the terrorism gap."

Andrew Sullivan:

"I have to say that the more you look at the data, the less convincing it is that Bush won based on a religious right, anti-gay swing. ... One other thing: there were three swing states in which anti-marriage amendments were on the ballot. In Michigan and Oregon, the bans on gay unions passed, and Kerry still won."

and:

"The percentage of people who said in 2004 that their vote was determined by the issue of ´moral values´ was 22 percent. In 1992, if you add the issues of abortion and family values together, that percentage was 27 percent. In 1996, it was 49 percent. In 2000, it was 49 percent. So the domestic moral focus halved in 2004."



Sunday, 7/11/2004:

17:02 - ON THE OTHER HAND: But with some luck, Bush’s radio address yesterday is a sign that he now thinks that "the Christian Right has done its duty, the Christian Right may go". Bush focused on important liberal market reforms, instead of a narrow social agenda. He spoke on the importance to confront frivolous lawsuits, reform the tax code and to change social security into a system of personal accounts. If this works, and if Iraq works out, despite the bad planning, Bush’s legacy will be that he created a better business climate in the US and liberated about 50 million Muslims from tyrannies abroad. I can imagine worse legacies…


Friday, 5/11/2004:

16:56 - ON EXIT POLLS: Yes, I am also happy that John Kerry isn´t president of the USA the next four years. I am just not perfectly satisfied that it will be George W Bush. I have received tons of mail about the exit polls on social issues. Thanks. Maybe some of you are right that I got the wrong impression about the polls when I heard the one-minute report on CNN, I hope so. I will read about this when I’m back in Sweden next week, and get back on the subject then.


13:44 - EMAIL OF THE DAY: 

"I am a regular reader of your blog who lives in Turkey and I just wanted to say Welcome. Since the 2001 crisis, the Turkish economy has been very rapidly globalising. Formerly introspective companies have begun to realise that the world does not stop at the border. The real success story over the last few years has been this. Turkish companies are now breaking the trading record nearly every month and consumers throughout the world get the opportunity to buy Turkish products."



Thursday, 4/11/2004:

15:28 - PYRRHIC VICTORY FOR REAGAN REPUBLICANS: I had hoped that the majority of Americans voted for Bush because of the war against terrorism and islamo-fascism, or because of tax-cuts, or because they want an ownership society, or because of opposition to economic isolationism – all good reason to prefer him. But I just saw on CNN here in the Turkish hotel room that the exit polls show that those who voted for Bush cared most about social issues and opposition to gay marriage and stem-cell research. In other words, this election was not a victory for Reagan’s individualist free-market conservatism, but for socially intolerant big government conservatism. I am afraid that republicans will learn from that lesson, and that good elements in the party will lose ground.


Wednesday, 3/11/2004:

18:09 - UNPOPULAR POPULISM: Now Kerry has conceded the election. Perhaps the democrats should spend some time thinking about why they lose for the second time in a row on an anti-Clintonian, populist platform against corporations and "the rich", And they should do it quickly before America becomes a one-party state. Just like corporations, politicians have to face competition.


09:53 - WAS IT ALL JUST A DREAM?: Michael Moore´s message to his fans, the day before the election: "See you at the polls – and at the victory party tomorrow night."


09:12 - THE JUDICIOUS SULLIVAN: Andrew Sullivan sets the election in perspective:

"Our opponents at home are not our enemies. The real enemy is the Jihadist terror network that, even now, is murdering innocents and coalition soldiers in Iraq. Our job now - all of us - is to support this president in that war, to back those troops, and to pray for victory. We saw yesterday, in the cold-blooded murder of a Dutch film-maker for his open criticism of Islamist misogyny, that the enemy is still at large; and aiming directly at our freedoms and security. In Fallujah, our troops are poised for a vital battle against terrorists and theocrats intent on derailing a free future for Iraq. Democracy is on the line there and throughout the world. I´ve been more than a little frustrated by the president´s handling of this war in the past year; but we have to draw a line under that now. The past is the past. And George W. Bush is our president. He deserves a fresh start, a chance to prove himself again, and the constructive criticism of those of us who decided to back his opponent. He needs our prayers and our support for the enormous tasks still ahead of him. He has mine. Unequivocally."



09:02 - LAST THOUGHTS BEFORE CNN HAS TO CALL OHIO FOR BUSH: Bush gets more than three million more votes than Kerry, and the republicans retain control over both the Senate and the House. First thought: Bush is a bit too successful. A president who has yet to veto a single bill, and who is constantly expanding the powers of the presidency, would need a few checks and balances. Second thought: I am sure that the democrats will be able to handle their disappointment, but what about the European, and especially the Swedish media?


04:39 - SELF-DOUBT: In CNN´s studio they have repeatedly said that most fascinating and surprising in this election so far is that the extremely close result so far is...just what they predicted.


03:29 - HOW TO FOLLOW THE ELECTION: Right now I am in a hotel bar in Antalya, Turkey, with CNN on the widescreen and a wireless internet connection for my laptop. It´s 4.29 here, I get the exit poll results the same second as Wolf Blitzer, and the waiter just started vacuuming the floor. I think he forgot to bill me for the last cup of tea.


Tuesday, 2/11/2004:

15:16 - WHY I DON´T ENDORSE: I have been asked why I don’t endorse the Libertarian presidential candidate, Badnarik, now that I wouldn’t vote for Kerry or Bush. The reason is that I don’t want to encourage voting in any particular direction. And this is because I always vote for a specific reason, to show my sympathy, as a symbolic gesture to show with whom I identify in a high degree. And this makes it very difficult for me to vote for the lesser evil when there are two bad candidates. But I know that most people vote for other reasons, and aren´t as afraid to get their hands dirty. I don’t have a problem with that, and I don’t want to discourage them. Good luck, now. As long as Ralph Nader isn’t elected I’m ok.


14:11 - TURKISH DELIGHTS: A lot of things have changed since I was in Turkey the last time, especially there has been spectacular improvements when it comes to individual liberties and minority rights. But the first thing you notice as a visitor is the economy. In 2001, the economy shrank by 7,5 percent, and inflation was running at 55 percent. Since then, Turkey has made some economic reforms and the politically controlled central bank is now independent. Now inflation is 11 percent and the economy grows by 7 percent. Soon six digits will be removed from the bills, so this is probably the last time I pay one million for a cappuccino.


 

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