I went to Sweden in 1977 to live the modern socialist dream. But things did not turn out quite the way I—or the Social Democrats—would have wantedby Andrew Brown / July 26, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
Sweden in the 1970s was like living the life of a battery salmon
From the 1960s to the 1980s, the world looked to Sweden as a socialist country that worked. Affluent, egalitarian, moderate, it seemed the blueprint for a kinder, more rational future. In 1977, I moved there with my Swedish wife, Anita. I lived an apparently utopian life—raising a child, working in a small factory, living in an efficient modern home, becoming a fisherman. I found it intensely frustrating. By the 1980s, the country and my marriage were falling apart. The prime minister was shot dead on a street in Stockholm. Swedish industry was crumbling. Through the cracks in the social dream, a very different vision of Sweden emerged: a disillusioned, nervous, greedy country, suddenly unsure of its identity and place in the world. Now, 20 years later, I have returned to travel the length of Sweden—and to reflect on my experiences of a country I have loved, hated, and come to love again.