November 20, 2016

Swedish Work Ethics (finished)

As I was preparing lines of extra peppery sulphur, my flaming speech, I was beginning to feel a little sorry for the participants. Alas, it's too late now. One should feel sad for the soul on the wheel too.

Once upon a time we had a Church to weigh people down with, lest we'd become Vikings again. You had to know thine catechesis, honour thy King and other things like that. After scaring an ample supply away to "Amerikat" in the late 19:th C. tactics were changed and the church was slowly drippling and melting anyway. But fear not. Just like the Lutheran Evangelism once turned from a teaching of liberty to something terribly grave and clad in black that forced everything that could breathe to church on Sundays, repent and fear hell, the Workers' movement turned from the International that would set us all free into something that gave the Swedish workers "liberties" provided that they stay chained to the oars. And all stern sentiments had already poisoned the True Workers down to their very roots. They began to worship their chains, confusing being chained with being safe.

True Work is nine-to-five. True Work has fixed salaries. Being quite pointless is also a sure sign of True Work. --- Art is not True Work. The True Worker may come to my exhibition, admire this, take a good look at that, have some snacks and wine, add a compliment to a third work and all is sugar and spice. Then the True Worker has to ask, with fusel oil distaste lurching beneath the Cognac of Compliments, can you make a Living out of that?

As in any good interrogation, the True Worker already knows the answer. T.W. simply has to feel at an advantage again, perhaps ward off some feeling of inferiority or pointlessness. That the chains are not true gold, or brass even. Then the Good Worker marches off without giving me a penny. If you don't perform True Work they don't have to pay you, not here or anywhere, and then you can't make a living and then it is not True Work, so they don't have to pay you...etc. I have a not-so-vague feeling that it is fear of loosing one's increasingly uncertain position that has True Workers bullying those who are outside the square. It won't help a bit.

(As a matter of fact, if a job of work is pointless enough, chances are that it is not too fun and thus made for money alone, proving it to be True Work. I am by no means immune to such looming feelings. Somewhere deep down the drain I feel unable to accept my efforts if they don't result in perfect self-sufficiency -- it's a terrible thing to demand of an artist, but that's how it is. Friends tell me that I am too harsh on myself. I blame my inner Swede.)

I started on this work 2015 and left it for quite a while, perhaps it depressed me. "Resistance is pointless!" -- and now I finish it mostly out of principle. (And my favourite printer has retired, so it'll take a while before it can adorn the walls of Good Workers and Bad ones alike). But here goes.

At press time, this is our dear Prime Minister.

His Excellency Mr. Löfven.

...The steadfast champion of workfare, who bravely sends us out to find work quite regardless if there is any or not, is clad in / made up of / infested by / you choose / merrily ticking little cogwheels. Merrily merrily down the stream. Mr. Löfven is the leader of whatever remains of the Social Democrats. Their total dominance of Swedish politics is but a memory. As one begun to cut down on (next to) free health care, social security and dozens of other things from cradle to grave that the Swedes had got used to taking for granted, they rapidly lost power. The chains began to itch. The Liberal Conservatives (the 2:nd greatest party) soon got into their heads of declaring themselves "the New Worker's Party". The old one seemed to have resigned.

They are currently, as I write this, led by

Mrs. Kinberg Batra of the Neo-Liberal Conservatives.

You know a bit better where you stand with them, for worse. So now we had to choose between a party that had lost its ideals and one that didn't really have any (other than: Give the Market free reins and it'll sure canter somewhere nice). They need not uphold the illusion of the True Worker. If you don't work, you'll get homeless and die. (And you mustn't get very ill either.) This is called blackmail. It is also called normal.

Anyhow, this downslide in politics has us to introduce the meanest part of the machine, that Åkesson.

Mr. Åkesson fuming.

There's not much to say about this band of ill-concealed Nazis known as "Swedish Democrats". It is simply a movement that learned that nice shoes and suits and gibberish looks and sounds better than marching around screaming Heil, and you can get many votes by changing your wardrobe into something less Third Reich. To march around screaming is, alas, such an un-Swedish thing to do. We prefer nice and quiet. The most devilish things can be accepted as long as they are nice and quiet. Those old chains never rattled.

They don't work by words and sense, but they're good at picking up general anger and resentment. It might suffice to say that they are beginning to learn the Trump Game very well.

I hoped, by writing this, to understand my weird country a little bit better. But I don't. I still don't get any feeling that explains it, the riddles remain cold and bloodless. And I still don't know how to cope, as a soul or as someone trying to run a business uphill.

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