Comfy Nordic Straitjacket • 15 August 2008 • The SnowBlog
Comfy Nordic Straitjacket
An article in today's Guardian talks about the high social price paid in Nordic countries for their amazing social programmes. The downside is that everyone is bound by a strict set of cultural rules which would be stifling and alien to most Britons. But the glimpses the article gives of specifics suggest they're not rules, as such, but principles: respect for each other and a determination to foster the common good. It sounds fantastic. And their reluctance to accept outsiders who don't want to abide by those rules could almost be called racism, the author points out. Well, that's not my definition of racism at all. The one example given of why this strictness is a problem is that the author, a Brit, was the only one whose family was running riot in a Finnish restaurant. Imagine, giving up the freedom to behave inconsiderately in exchange for a measly efficient and benevolent state. Pah. But what if you already happen to be the sort of person who thinks it's appropriate to keep your voice down in restaurants and to generally limit your own behaviour so as not to inconvenience or intrude on others? Do you have to go and live in Finland?