Black People Politics : Danish Democratic Socalism

Discussion in 'Black People Politics' started by jamesfrmphilly, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

    United States
    Jun 18, 2004
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    As an expat American who’s lived in Denmark since 1991, I’ve been longing to write about Danish Democratic Socalism, but my colleague, Contenius beat me to it with his entry last Friday (Daily Kos, 6 November). I like what Contenius says: The Nordic Model could never be applied to the USA in its current form but this is no reason to reject it altogether. The MIT study that Contenius refers to, confirms that with reforms and fine tuning, the model is sustainable.

    But I have something else on my mind.

    What concerns me is why so many Americans want to - choose to - find evil in Denmark’s form of democratic socialism. I’ve been participating in the roller coaster commentary threads following Ana Swanson’s interview with Michael Booth in the Washington Post and I’m sad to see that so many of the comments are harsh and vitriolic in nature. No amount of evidence or clarification is enough to mollify some of these commentators. They just get angrier and more irritated because positive comments are assumed to be lies or to have negative ulterior motives. You would think that Americans would be curious about Denmark after both Bernie and Hillary mentioned it in the Democratic debate.

    Why so much anger?

    Here’s my best educated guess: Most Americans have been brought up to believe that the USA is the best country in the world and that most people in other nations wish they could live in it. This means that it feels unpatriotic to admire someone else’s political system; disloyal – close to treason - to even consider the possibility that another socioeconomic system might be superior.

    America’s superiority is an assumption I carried with me throughout my life and I probably brought it with me to Denmark when I was hired to teach for one year at the national journalism college. The one-year gig became two and then three and then five until I was granted academic tenure and permanent residency. By then, I was well acquainted with Denmark’s democratic socialism and after marrying a Danish national and realizing that I’d probably be staying forever, I started to consider myself fortunate. Let me tell you why.

    First, I like Danish egalitarianism.

    OK. This clearly makes me out to be a liberal. As moral psychologist, Jonathan Haidt teaches us in his provocative book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2013) liberals need to feel equal to everybody while conservatives need to feel superior to at least a few. This makes Denmark a perfect fit for American social liberals and a frustrating - even exasperating - experience for Americans who identify as conservative.

    Personally, I like how Danes value work and workers. They seem to understand that nothing is produced or accomplished in society without labor and they honor rank and file workers just as much as managers. In Danish society, human beings are judged by the strength of their character, not by their professional status or the size of their pay-check. Weekend getaway planning conferences often include everybody-at-the-office, not just upper and middle management, but secretaries, cantine workers and custodians. Everyone is entitled to express opinions and they do. In Denmark, medical doctors do not wear white coats (except in hospitals) and they normally introduce themselves by their first names. Professors and teachers are also called by their first names and everybody else too that you might meet on the job. The majority of work places have a kitchen and eating area so that mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee breaks are social events with freshly brewed coffee served in cups with saucers and bakery goods – including, on occasion - wienerbrød (yes, what Americans call Danish).

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