Restrictive Culture and family hostility

Restrictive Culture and family hostility
Professor em Jacob W. F. Sundberg
Lecture held at the NCHR's Symposium in Gothenburg, 2014-08-23, in conjunction with Professor em Jacob W.F Sundberg's receiving of the NCHR's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Translation: Ruby Harrold-Claesson, lawyer


Professor em. Jacob W. F. Sundberg


Sweden has for a long time been experiencing a restrictive culture, a feature now confirmed even in for e.g. publicist cercles. Anyone wishing to know any details about today's Swedish conditions must therefore seek his information from foreign observers, such as recently  Michael Booth, who incidentally, tends to confirm what Roland Huntford wrote in the matter nearly 50 years ago. Booth wrote this about Sweden in his recent book "The Almost Nearly Perfect People".


The Swedish Social Democratic government of the last century suggested an organisation  that was driven  by one single, overarching goal, to sever the traditional, some would say natural, ties between its citizens, be they those that bound children to their parents, workers to their employers, wives to their husbands, or the elderly to their families,


The Swedish system's logic is that it is dangerous to be dependent on other people, to be beholden to other people. Even to your family.


But they depend on the state. The Swedish society is not a society where the eccentric, odd people, contradictors and non-conformists thrive happily.


This Swedish hostility towards family came to the conspicuous expression in the anti-smacking legislation which was introduced by the Liberal Party mini-government in 1979, though it was never discussed in Sweden. But the repercussions of the law was discussed in Finland, where a few years later - in 1983 - a law, parallel to the Swedish one was introduced. And the discussion was not characterized by any Swedish "repressive culture" but was quite frank.


Prior to the adoption of the 1983 Law regarding Child custody and visitation rights (which replaced the 1898 Guardianship Law and before that the 1734 Law on inheritance) there was the debate between two members of Finnish Legislative Council and a former school principal. The goal for the new laws, 'the new doctrine' that everyone would be commended to adopt, had a certain connection with the then prevailing left-wing movement, which saw the family as a regrettable conservative element whose influence should be minimized as far as possible to allow for a faster advancement towards the dreamed socialist society. The Finnish legislative counsel Matti Savolainen, declared that "the doctrine of the relationship between parents and children being a matter of subordination will be unequivocally repealed when the new law enters into force at the end of the year."  Savolainen develops the meaning of this is as follows:


"Underage children will hereafter receive the same full protection that adult individuals have for example against petty assault (Penal Code (SL) Chapter 21. § 7) ... The same applies to unlawful detention (SL 25: 9 and l 0), compelling (SL 25:12), tormenting to gain confession (SL 25:11), libel and insult (SL 27: 1-3), and invasion of privacy (SL 27: 3a). Henceforth there will be no subordination of children under their parents, no right to compel or punish children that could eliminate the illegality [of the action] , will exist any longer."


One notes the intent to permanently deprive the parents of all authority over their children.


Savolainen's position prompted a critical comment by the school principal Runar Lönnqvist:


"The family has throughout the ages been that miniature society, which has formed the basis for the larger society, with an inner legal order created by the laws of nature and religion. -  If this order is destroyed, perhaps that will  open the way for the children to enjoy all kinds of liberty, raised self-esteem, etc., but at the same time they and their family will be deprived of the support, that a controlling, correcting and when necessary chastening hand offers."


In this discussion the degradation concept (kränkning) in the anti-smacking law played an important role as was discussed by Savolainen, Leif Sevon and Lönnqvist:


"The concept of degradation in the current Finnish law version - writes Lönnqvist – "It is a question of no less than the human dignity, which is threatened by "century old punitive and degrading methods of upbringing"  which are damaging to self-esteem and entail susceptibility to mental disorders."


As to unlawful deprival of liberty which also was mentioned by Savolainen, may be is meant, Lönnqvist wrote ironically:


"confinement in a closet, locking up teenage girls in their room in order to prevent them from, for example, roaming around in the streets or visiting even more perilous places. -.- I have more difficulty with  the sections on defamation and insult, and with that on the violation of privacy . But the section does not concern itself with such matters, but rather with things that can be classed as insulting (between  adults).
-.- But, from my point of view, I have great difficulty imagining a "libel lawsuit" between children and parents."


But it was not far off to take the rather far-reaching step to include among the punishable phenomena being ironic over the child's views. The legislative counsel, as  then he was, Leif Sevón wrote:


"In the Finnish Government Bill (No. 224 1982) we address the fact that psychological violence against children can be just as damaging as physical violence. For this reason, it was unwise to only introduce a ban on the (physical) punishment. -.- Psychological violence can be expressed in ways as the child not being given food or  getting locked in a dark room because of his or her stated opinions."


Leif Sevón found it "clear that the law rests on the foundation that authority is not maintained by force, either physically or mentally."


The idea that the children would be removed from the conservative influence of the family and subjected the social bureaucracy's blessed leftist-indoctrination instead, is of course closely linked to the role of the new legislation that at the time, it was sought to assign to the social bureaucracy. Therefore, I find it natural to present a quotation from 1989 about the investigative powers of the Swedish social bureaucracy. Among other things the following was stressed:


" According to the then prevailing rhetoric  the Swedish Social Services Act, aimed at " taking into account on the basis of democracy and solidarity ... every individual's responsibility for himself and the social situation of others ... to build on the self-determination  and integrity of preople. "


"The Denounciation Section" i.e. § 71, covers the duty to report abuse against minors.


It was during the mid 1970s that this new social bureaucracy was trained. This took place mainly in Stockholm, Lund and Umeå. There, the subject 'group dynamics' was developed and it was given scientific underpinning. This meant, then, that as time went by, there developed a certain kind of social bureaucracy that was trained and shaped in a very special way. At the same time legal education for the students was downgraded. Law studies were scoffed at by Marxist teachers and students. One reason behind this was to use day care centers as instruments to achieve the New Society more quickly, i.e. is the same philosophy as the one you met in the Socialist camp


It was at that time that a Marxist dissertation with the title "The Social State. Critique of the social technocracy" was published. It was written by Alf Rönnby, and provides an analysis of the bureaucratization that went with the social function. What started as a human relationship to the clients turned into administering the clients, to administer social welfare. This Marxist thesis points to how this social bureaucracy carries a bureaucratic approach to the task itself.


As a result it became more or less automatic that conflicts would arise between the social bureaucracy and people who did not share the idea of the Marxist progression - the task of developing 'Socialist Man'. The famous case of Alexander Aminoff showed what consequences could arise when his parents criticized the social bureaucracy in Lidingö, which took its revenge on them. Within the social bureaucracy, people become easy excited.


Now I will go over to the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights, the Universal Declaration. Sweden has made itself the standard-bearer for the Swedish system - especially the anti-smacking law - being introduced worldwide as a particularly successful application of the principles in the Universal Declaration that the UN General Assembly adopted in 1948. It is a system called externalization. That means promoting human rights far away, in antipode countries. To preach to them. That is Swedish foreign policy in the broad sense.


I would like to say something about human rights and Swedish foreign policy in a historical perspective, going back to the foundation of the UN in 1945. If you read the Swedish commentary on the United Nations Charter, which was drafted at the beginning of 1946 in Stockholm, you will see that there is virtually nothing said about human rights other than what they were obliged to say, what is stated in the various articles of the UN Charter. There is no indication that this is something that should be of special interest for Sweden or that it should be part of Swedish foreign policy.


Then comes the thought: shouldn't we have a European Convention on Human Rights? One person is very much opposed to this thinking, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Osten Undén. He says just the opposite. Undén, and Halvard Lange from Norway, are negative, to the European Convention itself. However, they soon had to give up their resistance - but the resistance remained towards the idea that there should be a Court of Law. In any case, Sweden accedes to the Convention in 1952, but not to the system of judicial decisions. Undén put a stop to that and he managed to postpone Sweden becoming a party for many years. Here he could count on allies among his fellow Party members, most importantly the later Justice Minister Lennart Geijer and his companion Carl Lidbom, basing their resistance on "the Uppsala School". So nothing happens in Sweden. Undén has a very strong position, he leaves the post of Foreign Minister in 1962, but is still in Parliament. And nothing happens now either. But in 1965, he leaves the Parliament too. And already in 1966, the Bill for accepting the European Court appears quickly. It must surely have been prepared in advance and was waiting. However, it is not Undéns own Foreign Ministry that presents the Bill, instead it is Herman Kling, the Minister of Justice who does so.


Undén's death in 1974 may be a coincidence but the following year a reversal in Sweden's foreign policy on human rights takes place. 1975 hearalded the start of the Helsinki process. The ECESC process as it was called at the time: the European Conference on European Security and Cooperation. A final document including also a Principle 7 to the effect that States undertake to respect human rights, was agreed on in Helsinki. And that is the Principle which was most fateful for the future political development of Europe. Principle No. 7 on the protection of human rights put a penetrating pressure on the Eastern Block. But the human rights that are mentioned here are not those of the Universal Declaration, instead they are talking about respect for human rights, which are "of universal significance" - no one mentioned and no one forgotten.


In 1993 the great Vienna Conference is held, which resulted in the call for states to adopt national action plans on human rights. Sweden was one of the countries that embraced the idea.


How human rights were received in the Swedish legal system at that time, has recently been highlighted by the former President of the Court of Appeal, Johan Hirschfeldt, who pointed out a Swedish judicial ambivalence to the international system for human rights, and a resulting  reluctance to apply international conventions. - Law enforcement in Sweden has been characterized in a positivistic legal spirit, he says, that is why Sweden's embrace of human rights has become minimalistic.


However, a very great effort for externalization arose, in response to a decision of the UN General Assembly, that the decade 1995-2004 should be devoted to human rights education. In connection with this the government of Sweden established a new agency under the name HR-delegation, led by Elisabeth Abiri. She wanted to challenge the idea that the responsibility for human rights rested wholely and solely on the National Government and the state and local government, and she was elected to lead the HR-delegation perhaps precisely for her innovatory thinking. The delegation submitted its final report - SOU 2010: 70 new structure - to Integration minister Erik Ullenhag and its aim was that the responsibility for Sweden's international human rights obligations should be highlighted in the Swedish laws and regulations. You have to clarify the position of human rights in Swedish law, taught Abiri, today the perception is that they do not exist, they are not relevant. It is only a very pleasant document, and the link is completely unclear.


In 2003 together with colleagues from four other institutions Elisabeth Abiri founded 'Institute for the Study of Human Rights' (ISHR) at the University of Gothenburg.


If we then go back to the problem of the forcible removal of children you will see that the Swedish aversion to family is still there although the very socialist commitment to dismantle the family has somewhat subsided. That means there is an underlying contradiction between the aforementioned trends in the Swedish society and the family positive cultures outside. The Catholic immigrants can turn to the Charta on the Family that was propagated by the Polish Pope in the 80's, and to what occurred at the Vienna Conference in 1993 that I just mentioned.


Many of the participants from the Asian countries, and the States in the Middle East warned "the decadent West" not to force its human rights concepts on to people with a different culture. The UN High Commissioner – an office created in the wake of the Vienna Conference - Louise Arbour was said to have turned her office into an "idolized oracle spewing edicts that everyone must follow." "The decadent West" was trying, it was said, to impose its human rights concepts on people with a common Muslim heritage. In fact, Sudan accused the rapporteur of the former Human Rights Commission for blasphemy, when he pointed out the contradiction between the UN Conventions (CCPR and CESCR) and the absolute crimes in the Quranic huddud catalogue. At the conference, "the superiority of 'Asian values' was advocated, Asian values, especially the Asian commitment to family unity, education and economy, was said to explain the social and economic progress in that part of the world during the last 30 years. The West had looked down on the Asians for a very long time, it was said, but now that was over!


Incidentally, the decadence of the western world has become a favorite figure of speech in Putin's Russia.
As far as Sweden is concerned, this development has caused serious problems in relation to visitors from other cultures, inclusive especially diplomats, when it comes to policing the Swedish anti-smacking law and forcibly removing the children from those families. When the Italian politician Giovanni Colasante, after a restaurant visit in Stockholm in August 2011, was thrown in jail for catching his runaway 12-year-old son by a grip of his hair and bringing him back to the family lunch, the Italian Embassy had to intervene and convince the court that Colasante must be released as soon as the process in the District Curt was over and that the costs for Colasante's defence must be borne by the State, despite the fact that he was convicted under the anti-smacking law. And when the Malaysian Muslim diplomat couple Azizul Raheem Awaluddin and wife were jailed (December 2013) after a report from the school that they practiced corporal punishment on their children to make them more assiduous at their homework, and the children were placed in compulsary care, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs was visited by the Malaysian vice foreign minister, who persuaded the Swedish authorities to release the children and allow them fly home to Kuala Lumpur where they were met by a welcoming committee with the Prime Minister at the head, after which they were placed with relatives. But the parents are languishing in Swedish prison.


 One would think that the Swedish skepticism towards The Familjy and their childlike faith in the social authorities do not have a bright future in such a world.


The Colasante Case

The Malaysian Family


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