Friday, July 31, 2020

Sweden 1, Coronavirus 0

Friends, it's time to check in with our socialist pals in Sweden to see if their aversion to lockdowns and masking is working out for them.  Aren't you curious?  Well, it turns out that many of the measures we've been taking to protect ourselves from COVID-19 here in the U.S. are, arguably, irrelevant to the trajectory of the pandemic.  Makes you think!  Speaking of thinking, that's what I tried to do before, during, and after I wrote my latest article.  See if my thoughts and yours are on the same wavelength...

2020's Swedish Surprise: Pandemic Fascism Isn't The Answer

2020 has been a year of firsts: the world faced its first (modern) pandemic, killing hundreds of thousands and shuttering vast swathes of the global economy. Along the way, the political world was turned upside down: for the first time in living memory, leftists found themselves castigating, rather than idolizing, socialist Sweden.

The reason? The Swedes, hard-headed contrarians that they are, had the temerity to buck the global fad for strict lockdowns and obsessive masking. They reasoned that such measures would be unsustainable, economically and socially, so instead of shutting businesses and schools, and harassing or fining anyone caught in public without a mask, they advised people to practice sensible social distancing and to avoid unnecessary outings and exposure.

At first, the mainstream media throughout the Western world gleefully reported the high death rate that Sweden's mild model of pandemic control produced, especially among the elderly and nursing home residents. Sweden's “experiment” with liberty (never a concept beloved of left-wingers) had failed, or so it seemed.

Now, though, Sweden's light touch with respect to coronavirus countermeasures is looking sounder and sounder. Sweden's numbers of new infections are low and trending lower. Daily deaths are approaching the vanishing point. There is speculation that, because the disease was allowed to spread more freely among those least vulnerable, Swedes may already benefit from a degree of herd immunity.

Sweden's successes don't end there, however. The toll of the pandemic, while it is often measured in raw numbers of “COVID deaths”, stretches far beyond mortality. Among the worst aspects of the crisis has been the economic carnage it has visited on the worst affected countries. In the U.S., second quarter GDP is down by almost 33%! Unemployment peaked at almost 15%. These are numbers generally associated with a depression, although economists expect that the downturn, sharp as it is, will be brief.

Sweden, meanwhile, was the only country in Europe in the first quarter of 2020 to see its GDP rise. Sweden's overall economic contraction in 2020 is expected to be modest, compared to the EU as a whole and to badly-hit countries like the U.K., Italy, and Spain. Swedish companies are also outperforming expectations, while Swedish unemployment is lower than ours: most recently, it stands at 9.2%.

Lest we forget, economic pain (and the limitation thereof) also correlates to many other factors that govern a country's degree of suffering during the pandemic. Poor economic performance can and usually does foster a rise in suicides, violent crime, drug use, alcohol abuse, domestic disputes, child abuse, as well as anxiety and depression. Moreover, long and rigid lockdowns, combined with scaremongering in the news media, can even produce more sickness and death, because many people in need of urgent medical care choose to defer it, assuming that it is too dangerous to leave their homes. We can safely assume that all of these problems are less pronounced in Sweden, given the tempered nature of its pandemic response, and the shallowness of its virus-related recession.

There are many ways to measure a country's performance in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but surely the simplest is this: has a given nation managed to minimize the “pain” (and death) afflicting its citizens, while maximizing the “gain” they seek in terms of employment, economic activity, and the preservation of their freedoms and quality of life?

Sweden, it would appear, has struck this balance remarkably well. After a rocky start, especially in nursing homes, Swedish authorities have managed to wrestle the virus into submission, such that it is now almost unheard of for Swedes to die of COVID-19. Simultaneously, Swedes are going to work, going to school, visiting restaurants and businesses, and enjoying normal human interactions without the constant need to wear facemasks.

That sounds, to a mere layman, like a story of success, not failure. And, if the “socialist Swedes” have found a pandemic strategy that works, we have to ask: why are their “progressive” allies around the world afraid to admit it?

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.

And here it is at Townhall:


  1. Indeed, makes you wonder, doesn't it? Now Fauci is making his media rounds talking about goggles etc. The sad part is, I am no longer flabbergasted or gobsmacked by all this. If one truly sits down and reads the facts; the Medical Journals and such, one would know it is being hyped to scare people. But no, people in general are just too lazy to be analytical. Too many people like being sheep and being led to the "slaughter". It is a sad reality that we live in. I am afraid, since the power grabbing state governors have seized the power, they will not relinquish it (we see this with King Cuomo here in NY). I use to think at some point he would come to his senses, ha, I guess the joke is on the people, right? Please excuse the bad attitude and Debbie downer attitude in regards to this. How many months has it been now? Five? It just seems never ending. I wish I could be more upbeat about all this.

  2. DR. NICK

    Thanks for "revisiting" Sweden. I think some of the reasons that Sweden has come through this so well is that they are a lot better organized than we are, generally speaking. Also, when this Corona dog and pony show began, they deferred to their medical authorities, and not some damn fool politicians. In addition, the Swedes are a lot more homogenous than we are. I have not heard or seen a bunch of morons tearing their cities up, for starters. Of course Sweden has problems, they are not a complete socialist paradise. Ha! Again, I think a key word here is "homogenous" in that in Sweden they do not have a lot of different peoples raising hell due to things like illegal immigration. Sorry, but I don't think Sweden has a BLM movement. Of course there are other factors that speak in their favor.

  3. HOWEVER, please be advised that The Swedish are not my favorite people in Europe. I was leaning towards The Italians at one time (not like the Leaning Tower of Pisa), but I had to step back when I learned that The Mafia was not the only criminal organization there. Of course it was always hard to tell who was the most criminal at any given time, The Mafia, The Christian Democrats, or The Holy See (The Pope). Maybe it was some cathedral in England and the town nearby that I really liked.

  4. Linda, I, for one, don't regard mask-wearing as completely irrational, but I do regard the fetishizing of masking, and the harassment of non-maskers, as being totally uncalled for, and probably irrelevant to the progress of the pandemic. Again, ye lovers of "science", where's the definitive proof that masking promotes better outcomes? Who is actually bothering to MEASURE these things?

    Frankly, I believe the Left is obsessed with masking because it's a handy way to combine pandemic paranoia with virtue signalling. Simply put, they love knowing precisely who to insult, harass, and despise.

    Ray, Sweden isn't nearly as "homogenous" as it used to be. Actually it has one of the biggest non-white/immigrant populations in Europe, proportionally. You're right, though, that the Swedes are sensible and inclined to abide "official" advice, and that may explain some of their recent success.

    Hmm. Who are my favorite people in Europe? That's a toughy. I might go with the Russians, though, because they haven't lost their collective minds with political correctness. They're also unabashedly nationalistic... and boy, can they pick an American President, huh? Go, Russkies!

  5. Dr. Waddy from Jack: I agree with everything you have said above. I like the Russians but my favorites are the Brits.

  6. The Brits are showing some mettle under Boris, I quite agree! They aren't what they used to be, however, and they're badly infected with all the same PC, crypto-Marxist delusions so beloved of the American Left. I believe the Tories have their work cut out for them, therefore -- and often they're all too happy to cut their losses and concede many of the most important cultural battles to the Left, simply to feather their own nests. Remind you of anyone?

  7. Dr.Waddy from Jack: Yeah,they have the bug alright. What they did to that farmer who defended himself is disgraceful and unjust beyond measure. The Queen should have intervened. Johnson's Ascension and survival were a hopeful sign but the far left remains and existential threat to that glorious civilization.

  8. Quite so, Jack. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Western Civilization may go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Europe may be showing us the oblivion? To be fair, they make oblivion look halfway tolerable.

  9. Dr.Waddy from Jack: Western Civilization rose to the highest known levels of enlightened government; what accounts for this present ho hum attitude toward existential threats to it and a return to the mindless inhumanity of the pogrom, of the Mongols,of the corvee (which took the producers from the land and starved their families). What of this monumental ignorance of the progress which HAS been made in human well being? What of this poisonous perfectionism? Perhaps prosperity and the profound good which it generates also produces a fatal indifference easily discerned by the savages.