Is the World Losing Its Conscience?
Sweden has long been “the world’s conscience,” earning its sobriquet by compassionate and generous action on behalf of the world’s vulnerable and oppressed. At home, it routinely ranks at the top for social well-being, while offering a welcoming embrace to refugees. But Sweden’s bright image is darkening. In the latest parliamentary elections, the ruling Social Democrats saw their worst showing in a century, while the xenophobic Sweden Democrats became a potential kingmaker in parliamentary coalitions. Right-wing populists have surged across the Continent at the expense of mainstream parties in recent elections in France, Germany, Italy, and Austria, to name a few. But Sweden? Parties that have championed neoliberal globalization have seen their base erode, as reactionaries play on popular fears in an uncertain, changing world. More than ever, the pluralism and democracy of Europe at its best must reassert itself. The world depends on it.