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Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism
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Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  266 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Left-leaning academics, liberal pop stars such as Bruce Springsteen, and Democrat politicians from Bernie Sanders to Bill and Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama all have one thing in common: they are avid admirers of Nordic-style social democracy. The reason is simple. At first glance, Nordic countries seem to have everything liberals want to see in America: equal income dist ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by WND Books (first published 2016)
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Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow! If you've always looked to the Nordic countries as a role model for high-functioning Social Democracy a' la Bernie Sanders, you really need to read this book. The author uses a range of metrics to bust the myth that big government, social welfare, free everything, etc. can easily go hand in hand with economic prosperity. A real eye-opener of a book, although it is written like a thesis. Now I need to find a book that convincingly counters the arguments here. 5* for insight. ...more
This is a powerful rebuttal to the prevailing "wisdom" among liberal elites and the otherwise less-aware types in the U.S. and elsewhere who celebrate the "Scandinavian Socialist model" without even understanding (1) what it is, (2) the true underpinnings of Scandinavian success, (3) why it works better (to the extent it works at all) in a small, homogeneous population, and (4) that it hasn't been working and that that Scandinavians themselves resent the term socialism and have in fact been cutt ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The writing style leaves a lot to be desired (and less repeated), but is deceptively accessible, and almost too causal, especially considering seriousness of the themes it addresses. Heavy topics demand heavy citations, and I somehow ended up wishing for more than the author included*, even though it seems well referenced.

I must admit I have been one of the "why can't we all just be like Sweden" crowd until recently - guess now I know why (we can't). Even more worryingly, Sweden** doesn't seem t
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Covers a very important topic and clarifies some serious misconceptions about Nordic societies.

Could have used a good editor to make the book more readable and a good copyeditor/proofreader to increase consistency in word use and spelling. Still, an important contribution to the discussion.
Bjørnar Mæland
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting take but kinda repetitive.

Best regards, Nordic dude.
Daniel Hochhalter
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me start this review with a statement of full disclosure. While I am not an expert in the fields of history and government, I am a student of those areas. I have never been a fan of socialism (no matter what adjective you place before it), and I was very concerned of the rabid-like following of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election. Added to the irony was the fact that as Sanders pushed for socialism, socialist countries Greece and Venezuela were imploding. My primary concerns about socialism ...more
Munthir Mahir
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was going to rate this book 2 or 3 stars until the very last page. The reason being that, though, the author has made one great well argued observation - that was it, it was literally one argument. The observation is that the unique Nordic socialist system is un-imitable because of its historic and cultural origins. And even though the author argues that these "hard core" socialist systems have undergone major revisions to their original values starting in the seventies, he fails to prove tha ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great book that really provides irrefutable evidence that the Nordic system is not as great as advertised by some US politicians. Sanandaji backs up many of the ideas I already had about what lead to the welfare states that exist in countries like Sweden and Denmark. I'm afraid too many diehard liberals would steer clear of this book though. ...more
Martin Riexinger
The first two words of the book are "Bernie Sanders". The purpose of the book is apparently to refute misconceptions about "Nordic socialism" among American Leftists. To some degree he might achieve this, but for anybody with a prior knowledge of the history and economics of the Nordic countries the book provides hardly anything new. That Nordic society were relatively egalitarian before the introduction of the welfare state is well known, so is the fact that they achieved prosperity with libera ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good case for that Socialism has been harmful to Nordic countries, and that the reason for Nordic prosperity was culture not politics.

One part of the argument is comparing the prosperity of Nordic descendents in USA to those who stayed. The migrants were on average poorer than those who stayed, none the less modern Nordic descended Americans earn on average 50% more than Nordics, have lower unemployment et cetera.

Sarede Switzer
Oct 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Highly informative.
Dec 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, it flows very well and is full of information that is delivered straight to the point. Good to know about the struggles of the Nordic countries in spite of being portrayed as "model countries " by the leftists in the united states. ...more
Allen Severino
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
There is a reason or a justification why I have given this work a positive review regardless if I am opposed to it. The reasons are to be listed down in a numerical fashion in order for us to arrive at key points:

1. The author is correct that one must have no illusions pertaining to democratic socialism, and that cultural factors have more role than the political ones. In a quasi-anthropological explanation, the author cites geographical location and social cohesion as contributory factors to No
Christian Orton
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It still baffles me to this day that people willingly give up rights and liberties in exchange for an inferior product. Is it just laziness?

Here in the US, currently we are seeing one party that is pursuing these centralized government ideas despite incredible amounts of evidence that these ideas, especially regarding the economy, are not only bad, but destructive both to the economy and to human rights.

The US's emergence and continued prosperity has transformed the world, eradicating poverty i
Daniel Greear
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a Swede who was born to immigrant parents, this book explains the truth behind Nordic Socialism. A favorite argument on the Left is to say that America needs to be more like Denmark or more like Sweden. We need to provide cradle to grave care, pay higher taxes, and get over it. The fact of the matter is, the Nordic models of socialism would never work in America.

The author argues that it is a matter of culture. Long before large scale democratic socialism took hold of Scandinavia, No
Jared Knapp
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the title states, this book - with extensive citations - systematically debunks the entire argument of the 'Scandinavian socialist utopia'. Nima effectively argues that it is their unique culture, not government policy, that has led to the past success of these countries in terms of social/welfare reform and expansionary government.

A few points:

- Many of these countries reject the idea they are socialist and instead say they are market economies.
- Much of the growth in large companies was pr
Greg Ward
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great topic and explores the source of wealth and prosperity for Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark and also Iceland.
Some good perspectives on how the work ethic and culture of these countries played such a big part in giving them a head start on other developed nations.
A good lesson in this book is the perils of generalisations and also of looking at snapshots of countries prosperity at a point in time.
A far better perspective on the utility Scandinavian social and economic policies
Mary Sasala
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very nuanced look at democratic socialism in the Nordic countries.

The author, an immigrant to Sweden who is now a professor in the US, takes issue with various Democratic talking points on the Nordic countries and socialism. Though he is in no way a Conservative in the traditional American sense of small government (he is an advocate for free college and child care).

He takes an in depth look at what makes the Nordic countries unique- Culture. He also compares success within Nordic c
Tiago Cortinhal
Aug 16, 2022 rated it did not like it
The book ia full of statements that are not supported by any citation or study. The book falls into the category of pure ideology which is clearly isn’t supported research or a deep historical account of the evolution of the Nordic countries.

It fails to consider the full importance of workers movements and the importance of the public sector (see the period after the WWs where inequality was lower).

It tries to justify the current situation as a “high taxes” problem without support of analysis.
Letitia Todd
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Though well written, this book contains little that can’t be Googled. Its thesis is that the high standard of living enjoyed by the Nordic countries is the product not of their generous social programs, but of their culture and market economy that predated their leftward lurch. The author supplies a fair amount of supporting evidence but fails in one important respect. He claims the Nordic standard of living rose even higher after their governments moved to the right, but never specifies the act ...more
Jeremy Garrell
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nima Sanandaji delivers a decent debunking to an America audience.

The book presents a series of persuasive arguments that disprove common assertions posed by various America left wing politicians. The structure of the book is straight forward, and it is a simple read.

The book is a valuable resource for those uninitiated with Nordic politics and it provides a substantial number of source references and articles.

The writing style could use some polishing and I found a few of the arguments not whol
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this. The arg umm ments for a pro Scandinavian socialism model are abundant. This book cuts each argument in half with well crafted and researched counter point in how that model could not work in any other place and how their success isnt based on their current policies but built on the back of a pre socialism capitalist government
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and it really give you an idea about the success of the nordic countries that it more attributed to the culture compared to the policies from the 40s to the 90s. I do feel that a few chapters are over exaggerated, for example the one that means that coffee drinking is important.
R. Barry Stiger
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eviscerating the claims of Nordic utopia

This book is a must read prior to the 2018 midterms and the 2020 general elections. Bernie and his followers either are lying or are ignorant. Probably a little bit of each.
Kyle Rhodes
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very impressive

A well researched rebuttal to many of the mistaken ideas circulating in our politics today. I appreciate the lack of partisanship and dedication to data. Good stuff.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simple read with appropriate statistical analysis.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Turns out the nordics aren’t so socialist after all.
Steve Herreid
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
From the back cover: “Nordic Socialism is smoke and mirrors”. The author pretty much convinced me. I liked this book.
Einar Eidstø
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Could've been longer with more examples, but otherwise excellent. ...more
Erin S
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Good, short but well thought out. Socialism is a popular antonym to Capitalism but does not offer the salvation we'd hope.
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“Franklin D. Roosevelt became the architect of the American welfare state. However, Roosevelt was concerned that the institution he was fostering would not live long, since it might destroy the spirit of self-reliance. Two years into his presidency, he held a speech to Congress praising the expansion of welfare programs. During the same speech the president warned that many of the individuals who had lost their jobs during the Great Depression still remained unemployed. “The burden on the Federal Government has grown with great rapidity,” he said, adding that one reason was that many had become dependent on various forms of public handouts. With foresight Roosevelt explained: “When humane considerations are concerned, Americans give them precedence. The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America.”1 In today’s political climate, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s view on public benefits would seem quite harsh, far from politically correct. Hillary” 1 likes
“To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic…. It is in violation of the traditions of America.” – PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 1935” 0 likes
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