- It is certainly true that Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark are notable economic successes. What is false is that these countries are particularly socialist.
- Perhaps a better name for what the Nordic countries practice would be compassionate capitalism.
By Jeffrey Dorfman | 8 July 2018
FORBES — As the American left embraces a platform that continues to look more and more like a socialist’s dream, it is common for those on the right to counter with the example of Venezuela as the nightmare of socialism in reality. A common response from the left is that socialism (or democratic socialism) works just fine in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. It is certainly true that Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark are notable economic successes. What is false is that these countries are particularly socialist.
The myth of Nordic socialism is partially created by a confusion between socialism, meaning government exerting control or ownership of businesses, and the welfare state in the form of government-provided social safety net programs. However, the left’s embrace of socialism is not merely a case of redefining a word. Simply look at the long-running affinity of leftists with socialist dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for proof many on the left long for real socialism.
To the extent that the left wants to point to an example of successful socialism, not just generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are actually a poor case to cite. Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs.
First, it is worth noting that the Nordic counties were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for the social benefits. It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such generous government programs. […]