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(N.b. - This is actually a rearranged and expanded version of this post from last Thursday. I happened to stumble across the printed version of the cited article on Sweden over my morning tea earlier today, so I wanted to revisit this with more details and emphasis on Sweden. — Sk.)
Last month (28 June) saw the 300th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Poltava. Poltava was a watershed in the history of eastern Europe (and the world), as it marked the emergence of Peter the Great’s Russia as a major power - and the dashing of any hopes for Ukrainian independence for the next 282 years.
A third consequence was that Poltava marked the end of Sweden’s long run as a major power with an extensive and far-flung empire. After Poltava, Sweden gave up on its imperial status - and largely withdrew from the rough-and-tumble of continental politics.
Nowadays, Sweden is giving up on another long run - its run as the “model” welfare state.
More below the fold.
Those were lost decades indeed. If Sweden were a U.S. state, its GDP per capita would place it near the bottom among the fifty states, on a par with Mississippi.
Borg says it's quite possible to combine "a flexible, market-oriented system with the traditional values of Sweden." By "traditional" he means valuing social cohesion, a publicly financed safety net of some sort and gender equality. Parity between the sexes is a tenet of the Social Democratic swing of the 1980s and, Borg says, of the Viking era.