Saturday 23 May 2015

Time is our home, not our country


Here is an interesting interview, in an English-language Swedish paper, with

Hans Rosling, Sweden's own globetrotting celebrity statistician
frets over what he labels “irrational nationalism”: people’s tendency to ascribe achievements or values with a particular national identity.

“The whole idea that it’s a place we belong to – that place is so important, that the nation is so important – is a dangerous concept...

“It makes people think that the sheer luck of the place where they happen to exist makes them different as human beings."

Discussions of what constitutes “Swedishness”, therefore, leave Rosling uneasy. 
“We don’t live in Sweden. Time is our home,” he proclaims, citing the title of a 1991 play by Swedish playwright Lars Norén.

“We live in this time. Time is more important than place. Our values are not place-based, they are time-based.”
He is right that values certainly do not a nation make. As de Maistre put it, 
'A nation is not made of ink'. 
It is made of blood, of history, is based on culture and genetics and especially religion, even if most people do not believe in religion. At least nations in the European sense of the word. In the New World 'nation' means something different.

Hans Rosling's ideas are not in the least unusual. Lord ('Chris') Patten the British Conservative politician, who hopes Turkish membership of the EU will give Europe new purpose, might agree with him

Peter Sutherland, the Irish former EU commissioner and former head of GATT told a sub-committee of the British House of Lords Home Affairs Committee that
"The United States, or Australia and New Zealand, are migrant societies and therefore they accommodate more readily those from other backgrounds than we do ourselves, who still nurse a sense of our homogeneity and difference from others. And that's precisely what the European Union, in my view, should be doing its best to undermine.
Hans Rosling's view of post-national Sweden can be usefully contrasted with that of the blogger Fjordman who writes here in a very Swiftian tone about the place. Everyone should read his essay. His describes a Sweden going to hell in a handcart. 

I hope Swedes' Viking blood reasserts itself one day. Perhaps some 'irrational nationalism' would do no harm.


  1. " Perhaps some 'irrational nationalism' would do no harm. "

    Hear, hear. The man's rhetorical thrust is outright false:

    "...people think that the sheer luck of the place where they happen to exist makes them different as human beings."

    As though that were not true. For that is exactly what happens. Different climate, yields different adaptation, yields different genes, different temperaments -- different people. That's merely a single example.

  2. I'd like to know what precisely were "the ugly values of the past that were Swedish values.". When supposedly old-fashioned things are decried by moderns they become rather wonderful.

    1. I don't know but I think I like the sound of them, unless he means raping and pillaging in England pre AD 1000. Or eugenics which they used to be keen on.