My Stockholm syndrome

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My Stockholm syndrome

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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 wanted

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

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Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown is the author of Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared (Granta) 

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