8 votes

If socialism is so bad, then why does it work so well in Denmark and Sweden?

I'm curious to know how you respond to this sort of statement...

Edit: I want to thank you all for the wonderful responses. I was hoping I would get 1 good response, and instead I received quite a bit more. I have read them all and have taken something away from each response. As a side note, I'd like to add that it's important that we not shy away from asking these types of questions. I know that I personally have become a much better debater when I look into arguments against my own worldview.

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You took that as it was intended... I did a search for the term and that's what made me think of the movie 'Argo'. Have you seen it? Very interesting similarity...

When Fascism goes to sleep, it checks under the bed for Ron Paul!

Here is the beauty of a Republic.

If States exerted their rights, a state could do a "socialist" experiment, another state could do a "communist" experiment, another state MIGHT be able to try a "libertarian" experiment although that one is doubtful...
If an individual did not like an given experiment, they could go to another state. Not a bad line of reason. I hear it, even said it a few times myself
But wait... Why should an individual have to move because "the majority" wants to do something that is harmful to the individual? There is an easier way. We are able to self govern, without permission. If people in my area want to try a socialism experiment, they can. They merely need find like minded individuals and do it. You can even get away with being a libertarian if you are very, very quiet...
And a free society has no need of borders - they are a machination of the elite to divvy up the tax slaves.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

wolfe's picture


In fact, just about any -ism will work if on a small enough scale.

Having said that, just because something works does not make it right. If I killed everyone that stood between me and a promotion, it would work. It would not be right.

The measure of success is not only in the outcome but also in the approach.

Socialism is slavery and slavery is wrong.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

They are homogeneous, they take from each other and get the same

They are among the most homogeneous of the western nations. Mostly middle class with a tiny lower class and a diverse but small upper class, and across all geographic regions. This means, they take from each other and get just about the same in return.

Of course that's changing as Arab minorities build a bigger lower class of dependents in both states, and as birth rates continue to run flat among the middle class.

"Cowards & idiots can come along for the ride but they gotta sit in the back seat!"

Sweden has

serious oil wealth.

That's Norway. Sweden aims to be first oil-free nation

That's Norway. Sweden aims to be first oil-free nation

"Cowards & idiots can come along for the ride but they gotta sit in the back seat!"

Aren't they also trying to be

Aren't they also trying to be currency free?

Southern Agrarian

They won't have any surplus

They won't have any surplus once the jews get through with them... which is in the works as we speak.


How about you troll other

How about you troll other sites?

The response I should have left

instead of trying to answer the OP.


Liberty = Responsibility

You may also add that 18 out

You may also add that 18 out 19 of Sweden's largest companies were all founded before they went socialist. No one is starting successful businesses there anymore. They are essentially feeding off of the companies that gave them a solid economy. However, like any parasite infestation, eventually the host will run out of blood and the bloated parasites will weigh him down.

Because Sweden is small and their government is therefore more transparent, they have been able to manage the bloodsucking somewhat more effectively, but all its going to take is one major shakeup to their market before the whole thing falls apart.

When times are good, some people dont mind doing a bit of extra work for the greater good. But when it comes to survival, those pulling the extra weight begin to wonder why they are punished, and the slackers are rewarded.

If anything, Sweden and Denmark are great examples of the virtues of small, localised governments. Even a shitty system like socialism can almost look pretty when the people are able to keep it in check... for a time. Imagine how amazing free market capitalism would work with a limited decentralized government. I imagine it would take the world from the middle ages into the Industrial Revolution. Oh ya... it did.

I assume you want to know...

...the answer to this question to retort a statist thowing this argument in your face. If this is the case, I respond by telling them that socialism doesn't 'work' there either, it just runs with a little less bureaucracy and a little more efficiency. Sweden's population is about the same as Los Angeles county. It's easier to redistribute to 7 million than 360 million. It's a step closer, though still miles away, toward what libertarians are working for- more localized government(though it's considered a 'nation'). Sweden per capita has a shitload of land and resources. As for Sweden's industry, not great shakes. Nokia is 10x lower than 5 years ago. Volvo is owned by China now. The taste for pickled herring is losing popularity(joke). Ikea? Yes they are doing quite well indeed... oh, and they're a privately owned company. My ex-brother in law is Swedish. He emigrated to Germany for a little more financial freedom and vowed to not go back. He said if you're satisfied living a cookie cutter lifestyle, doing what you're expected to do and not necessarily what you want to do, and not set too high an expectation on your life then Sweden's for you.....

For what it's worth..

Private property rights, the

Private property rights, the purest antithesis to socialism, are alive and well in both Denmark and Sweden.

The Scandanavian countries have done something very interesting. They have very free markets -- in some cases even freer than the United States. For example, Denmark has what is probably the freest labor market in the world. You can fire people like *snap*, people are constantly moving around jobs (my previous host mother has probably worked at about 4 places in the last 5 years).

What makes them "socialist" is that they are highly redistributive. How did they get so much wealth to redistribute? Through capitalism.

You often hear that gloom and doom is coming to Scandinavia. I don't think so. They have essentially no debt-- and Norway runs enormous surpluses every year. They are conservative countries in the sense that they spend within their means -- they just have a lot of wealth to spend.

One last thing -- Milton Friedman once said that you can either have free immigration or a welfare state. The US has chosen more immigration over a larger welfare state (in very broad terms). Sweden and especially Denmark have chosen a welfare state.

They won't have any surplus

They won't have any surplus once the jews get through with them... which is in the works as we speak.



Cant get rid of the Nation State before the country looks like California. From the promised land to the promised world I guess.

Sweden has made several

Sweden has made several important moves towards a freer economy and in some ways is more free than America.

In 1993, Sweden's government was spending 68% of GDP. By 2011, they cut that to 49% of GDP

Sweden abolished the estate tax, provides vouchers to allow school choice, partially privatized its social security accounts, and rejected a Saab auto bailout

Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced that the government intends to cut the corporate tax rate, which he called “probably the most damaging tax of all,” down to 22%. That’s welfare-state, high-tax, big-spending Sweden cutting its corporate tax rate to 13 percentage points lower than the U.S. rate of 35%.

Probaby like living at Disneyland

And what quantifies saying it works?


More Specifically

You need to qualify your question. You are asking the reader to accept that both are 'socialist' and both 'work well'.
Both countries have a Constitutional Monarchy.

What type of 'socialism' are you refering to, and for what reasons do you think that it is so successful?.

"Hell is empty, and all the devils are here" (Shakespeare)
RP 2012~ Intellectual Revolution.

Swedish Parliament

Banned home schooling in 2010.


Cyril's picture

THAT is the sort of milestone VERY significant

THAT is the sort of milestone VERY significant in socialist implementations, even beyond speaking about the utter economical nonsense (stealing the wealth created by the work of some to give to others, etc).

When THE STATE doesn't want kids to be educated by anybody else but ... by ITSELF.

After YOUR money, it gets after YOUR kids' brains. Guess what for.


Really. Seriously, ***WHO*** NEEDS ?

Er... NOT I.

So, Oh yes... THAT is a VERY interesting milestone (among many others, like, e.g., the plans for banning the ownership of personal firearms, etc) that you can always expect to come, eventually.


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

socialism works

(OK, it doesn't, but I did get you to read my post)

First, a couple of definitions...

Socialism is when the govt takes money from everyone (especially those who have more of it than other) and spends it on programs that (theoretically) benefit everyone.

Socialism is NOT the government running industry (that's fascism and communism). Socialism is simply the "lets share our resources" attitude, made possible via increasingly high taxation to cover all of the "goods".

Sweden and Denmark are socialist, but not facist. So natural supply and demand laws still have a decent influence on their economy. Its only the production levels compared with consumption levels that are really warped from what they would be otherwise.

Socialism is what made Athens such a neat place to live 2500+ years ago, I mean they had public gyms, a functional sewage system, people hanging around a the public library debating the issues of the day (slave labor contributed to all that too). But ultimately, it didn't work out well for them.

The reason it looks "swell" in Denmark and Sweden are that they really are using most of that tax money to fund social programs. In America, we spend less than half on truly "socialist" programs. We blow the rest on all kinds of other things. So they are getting more "bang" for thier buck.

And, as we learn from the Austrian Economists all taxation and redistribution really end up doing is hurting production and innovation. They don't entirely eliminate production, they simply slow it down. So, socialism will never produce the greatest overall prosperity that you could have had if you hadn't burdened the economy by allowing so many people to consume more than they personally produce. When supply, demand, production and labor markets are allowed to dictate their own relative values, you get the most innovation, and fastest real standard of living increase, and ultimately even the "poor" are way better off than they would be because goods become more and more available as competition forces prices down and production to become more and more efficient.

The expected result of a socialist system is that most people will live more or less the same standard of living as everyone else, and that it wont improve much from year to year. And people will produce the absolute minimum that they need to in order to keep things going.

The problems with socialism (other than stagnation) has more to do with liberty than economy. State mandated socialism is based on the assumption that a government (which is really just the collection of all citizens) has a right to do something that individual citizens don't have a right to do. How can a group of citizens take away a free person's personal property, and give it to someone else? when an individual or a small group of people do that, we'd call it robbery, but when the majority do it (hidden behind the state), we call it democracy.

In a free country, social "programs" should be sponsored through churches and food pantries where the stuff being redistributed was donated willingly. Taxes (when they must be collected) should be used for things that we pay the government to do for us, like provide a courthouse, and paying judges, etc.

Cyril's picture

The Big Lie of the 20th century

"Socialism is the Big Lie of the twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery [...]

A pyramid scheme is ultimately unsustainable because it is based on faulty principles. Likewise, collectivism is unsustainable in the long run because it is a flawed theory. Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles** of human behavior. The failure of socialism in countries around the world can be traced to one critical defect: it is a system that ignores incentives. [...]"

Continued :


** (my OWN hints) : hope, tastes, dreams, endeavors, interests, projects, ambitions, empathy, compassion, guts, affinities, loved ones, dislikes, ...

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Here is a study that explores this issue


"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry

I heard Peter Schiff

I heard Peter Schiff discussing this once not long ago and his guest suggested that they were countries of low expectations. I tend to agree with that. My lefty father recently went to Copenhagen and came home singing the praises of socialism. He said that he never saw anyone working hard and that everyone seemed happy and it was the greatest place ever. I pointed out that one reason they are getting buy for now is that they would never let anyone like him move there...

I have lived in both

I have lived in both countries and sure it looks nice and people are nice, BUT there is no growth. You pay really high taxes and it is near impossible to go above the average wealth. I.e. it is comfortable communist country, just don't try to make your own fame and fortune bigger than anyone else.

They look at self-confidence as arrogance and there is a collectivist mindset that saying good things about yourself is a big no-no.

Someone who owned a business there told me he paid 73% in tax. They need all that money to pay for all the non-productive people and the welfare system, which includes "free" health care.

FYI Sweden has made changes and become more free market after their big housing bubble bursted.

Do some research on it. There are a few documentaries made, like Free to Choose part 2.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

No growth, you nailed it.

No growth, you nailed it. Eventually, enough people say, "why work," when they can get everything they need for free?

What have Denmark and Sweden actually produced besides danishes, and Volvos?

Cookies, and ugly cars.


Never be afraid to ask simple questions.

Cyril's picture

Cookies, and ugly cars, and ...

"What have Denmark and Sweden actually produced besides danishes, and Volvos ? Cookies, and ugly cars. Yeh."

Well, you forgot porn.

Wait... my bad.

Getting old. That was before the InterWebsXXX...

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Debbie's picture

No, you're wrong. What about Ikea? Sweden has some other

big international businesses too. And the Volvo is one of the best cars, at least for safety.



Doesn't operate only in Sweden...

When Fascism goes to sleep, it checks under the bed for Ron Paul!

Cyril's picture

Mostly kidding

Well, I wasn't really serious. Just feeding zooamerica's joke, of course.

I can only speak for the country I'm from, which isn't doing too well (euphemism) - France.

But anyway, if we can give any credit to those, here are the respective GDPs :


Sweden GDP

France GDP

and here is Qatar's, which has a 5 times smaller population than Sweden's, 30 times smaller than France's, and 150 times smaller than the USA's :

Qatar GDP

I don't claim life is more enjoyable in Qatar for everybody (e.g., for women), but, back on topic, I notice they definitely don't seem to give into socialism, anyway.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius