Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interesting times

I've had a few digs aimed at me for my support for the Swedish safety net the other day (buried in this post).

Observations like "if the place is such a frozen paradise, why is the suicide rate so high?" and "only a truly sick national character could create IKEA - no wonder they all kill themselves" etc.

None of these are too fair, but at their root, they all share the view that stable times aren't interesting ones. It reminded me of this quote (Harry Lime speaking in Greene's 'The Third Man')

"....in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

And then, by chance, I saw this (via):

"Resurrection of the spirit. On the political sickbed a people is usually rejuvenated and rediscovers its spirit, after having gradually lost it in seeking and preserving power. Culture owes its peak to politically weak ages."
Nietzsche - from 'Human, all-too-human.'

Either way, it provides another sobering thought: No matter how good the case for the Swedish social model is, there is no imaginable roadmap that could get the UK (for example) to adopt it.

1 comment:

cassis said...


The 'World' believes Switzerland is the producer of cuckoo clocks. All because of that line in the film.

But it is NOT TRUE. The cuckoo clock is produced in the Schwarzwald (Southern Germany).

And this myth, lie, whatever, is still going on 56 years later.