The Fundamentalist Left's Nordic Fetish and Socialism's Centering of White Grievance

AOC and Bernie Sanders

When modern leftists try to sell benign socialism, they always point to countries in western Europe as models, with a special affinity toward the land of the Vikings.

Bernie Sanders explained early and often during his 2020 presidential bid that his version of socialism was merely about high taxes, expanded government services, and socialized medicine, like many western European countries have managed to create while still preserving democratic government.

When Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was asked if this brand of socialism - the thing Bernie and his fans have branded ‘democratic’ socialism in order to create a pretend-distinction from the authoritarian socialism - refers to former Soviet bloc countries with one-party socialist rule, she laughed. No, she said, stressing that her preferred mecca is in western Europe.
Anderson Cooper: When people hear the word socialism, they think Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela. Is that what you have in mind?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Of course (LAUGH) not. What we have in mind— and what of my— and my policies most closely re— resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.
Bernie, AOC, and everyone in the gatekeeper progressive hierarchy want to be crystal clear: they want Europe, not central and south America, to be the policy model they want to follow. To put a finer point on it, AOC pointed to the wage McDonalds workers are paid in Denmark to try to cover up for Bernie Sanders’s incompetence in getting a $15 minimum wage through the US Congress.
Never mind that the average income tax rate in Denmark is 45% - which means that McDonald's worker making $22 an hour brings home only about 12 of those dollars, from which they have the privilege of paying a 25% sales tax on everything they buy, ultimately resulting in roughly the after-tax same purchasing power for a Dane as an American. More oddly yet, this ‘democratic socialist’ mecca has a higher poverty rate - than the mean, mean US of A.

But otherwise, Scandinavia must be doing fine, right? After all, they have free healthcare, free college, and loads of other free stuff. So even if you’re poor, you’re still better off. And also, there are fewer billionaires in those countries, and we are told that billionaires are inherently bad, so that must make them a pleasant place to live.

If you’re white, maybe.

But over the past decade, the reaction of European countries to non-whites among them has been revealing.

Denmark’s interior ministry has proposed a bill that would “de-ghettoize” their communities by limiting the number of undesirables who can reside in any given neighborhood. They are moving to limit the number of “non-Western” residents to a maximum of 30%. This isn’t applicable to all immigrants or foreign-born residents of Denmark, mind you, just the not-white ones. Having too many you-know-whats “increase the risk of the emergence of parallel societies from a social and religious point of view," according to the Danish Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek. And if you happen to be a resident in one of Denmark’s ‘ghettos,’ different rules apply to you, including a doubling of criminal penalties.

That isn’t all. Denmark has now decided that it no longer wants the Syrian refugees it had previously accepted. They must either return home (but don’t worry; they’ll have an expense-paid trip home to a war zone) or be put in a deportation camp.

The real kicker in this story? The current government of Denmark is controlled by the … wait for it… Social Democratic Party!

The deep and swimming undercurrent of racism and xenophobia in Denmark is, of course, more the rule than the exception in western Europe. The campaign for Brexit was charged with racism, and Britain continues to be enveloped in racist scandals, including its royal family. France banned the hijab in public schools in 2004, and now they are on their way to a blanket ban against it for all girls under 18 under the guise of fighting ‘separatism’. Accounts of great white saviorism in Sweden are heartbreaking. And the EU? The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has not a single non-white person within its 27-commissioner membership.

None of that appears to matter to American socialists, whether they prefix the identity with ‘Democratic’ or not. Target a religion in the name of ‘separatism’? That’s alright; at least you don’t have a copay when you visit your internist! Call non-white communities ‘ghettos’? I guess; but you’ve got free college, so that seems like a fair trade. Literally zone non-white people out of neighborhoods and legally double the punishment for minority neighborhoods? Go for it; so long as your McDonald’s workers are making $22 an hour.

When you have class solidarity from socialists, a little racism here and some xenophobia there just doesn’t count.

And that’s the truth. All of the information I have presented here took me only a couple of hours to find on Google. It’s not something AOC, or Bernie Sanders, the people on their staff, or their millions of social media fans who raise their internet fists saying they want Black lives to matter couldn’t have looked up, read, or known. And yet they have chosen to openly tout western Europe as the model of the kind of societies they would like to live in.

They either never thought to familiarize themselves with the scourge of racism in Europe, or never wanted to learn about it, or found it acceptable. Whichever the reason may be that a fundamental critic on race is missing from their fervent Nordic fetish, it all brings us back to the same core problem with the American fundamentalist left: the centering of white grievance. That centering of white grievance forms the core of their ideology and their politics, as I have written before, even when the politicians and the ideologues fronting for their ‘movement’ can produce melanin.

Ultimately, theirs is an ideology that says that class divisions and class disparities are the singular and fundamental problem of society. Therefore, their focus is on solutions that are entirely class based. A social welfare state. Free healthcare and college. Government housing (despite its catastrophic failure in practice). A wealth tax (that has never worked). The belief that society not only has too much wealth inequality but that having wealthy people is, inherently, a moral failure.

They believe that solving class disparities will result in an egalitarian, equitable, utopian society free of conflict, hatred, and suffering. And they believe it not like a scientist believes in evolution but like a rabid MAGA fan believes in Donald Trump. The belief has a religious, cultist fervor to it.

That’s why they do not look for, or pay attention to, the cores rotting with racism in societies they sell as models for their desired policy outcomes.

Think about it. If you religiously believed that you already have the solution to the world’s ills, would you look for counterexamples? No, you would look for confirmation that your bias was the truth. You would, at best, ignore and at worst, justify the ills of those model societies because it simply doesn’t comport with your blind faith.

The centering of class solidarity is the centering of white - and to a good degree, white male - grievance. At least in the American context, there is no difference. It is a theory that refuses to recognize racism - and in particular systemic racism and white privilege on both sides of the Atlantic - as an independent ill to be solved, let alone as the primary ill over and beyond class reductionism. It refuses to even consider that today’s class-based societies with predominantly European structures would not have been able to rise without the systematic subjugation of people of color to benefit white Europeans and their descendants in America over hundreds of years predating modern industrial capitalism, from brutal colonialism to the transatlantic slave trade. It is as if all of that did not happen.

They have come to buy - subconsciously, even - into the idea that the advancement of the white man is the advancement of society, and trouble for them is trouble for everyone. It’s why they fondly reminisce about a time in history when the white middle class rose but segregation was the law of the land, a time when white farmers created wealth for themselves by stealing the land of Japanese American farmers who were being detained in internment camps on account of their race.

Because ultimately, if you truly believe that class is the root of it all, then you also believe that class solidarity is enough to solve all other problems and all other ills. You believe that class solidarity and economic equality can solve racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and bigotry of any other kind.

And if it can’t, well, those problems must not be really that bad.

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