Yesterday, and for the second year in a row, I was invited to give a lecture at the so-called “Stureakademin
” at Timbro (the leading right-wing think tank in Sweden). “Stureakademin” is a one-year course organized for some 20 students with the heart to the (sometimes far-) right of center. The basic idea is to give them a chance to learn more about the “values of freedom”.
My role there? To provoke a discussion and tell them why they are wrong, and why liberalism alone is an insufficient ideology if your aim is to improve society. Needless to say, it is a lot of fun, and when I walked from Grev Turegatan 19 (where Timbro is located) back to Kungsholmen I made three reflections (listening to Billy Bragg in my iPod);
1. We social democrats should have more of these activities, as a matter of fact I cannot understand why we don’t have more of academies, workshops about how to write editorials, and more/bigger thinks-tanks where young people can develop their people thinking. In the long run, we might be losing the battle of ideas, although we have both resources and the best ideas. And we social democrats really need to re-discuss our ideas, aims, and visions; but we also need to collect examples of best practice and fill our political networks in municipalities and regions with smart, fair and cost-effective solutions to today's political challenges. Here, we can catch a couple of birds with one stone (and some positive exceptions to the rule exist already today, like Arenagruppen
2. It is soooo fun to discuss politics with a group of people you totally and respectfully disagree with. The students in the academy were (of course) smart, nice and very articulate but gosh we disagreed heavily. All of them were pro selective, means-tested welfare benefits and I got no sympathy when trying to outline the basic arguments for a universal welfare state and why it is a great idea to give one percent of GDP to the Third World. But I really enjoyed the discussion.
3. Oh gosh I really want us to win the election on September 17th. In the long run, I fear the ideas carried forward by the Swedish right. I fear the lack of understanding for trade unionism, aid to the Third world, universal welfare, re-distribution from rich to poor, etc etc. But that is why we disagree and that is why we have elections. That I badly want us to win.
My way of provoking the discussion was, this year again, to read an open letter that I called “I accuse liberalism”. I will publish it here at the blog as soon as possible.