Sweden: The Raw Image

Europe is, as we know, stuck in an economic crisis that is increasingly looking like a permanent crisis – a new normal. On top of that, there are more and more signs of deeper social disintegration, including rising tensions between Europeans and immigrants. Contrary to common sense, many political leaders in Europe are actively promoting high levels of immigration in the midst of a deep economic crisis. While there is a growing resistance to these policies in many countries, there is one place where immigration is basically spinning out of control, namely Sweden.

Over the past decade immigration levels in Sweden have hovered around 50-60,000 per year, and that counts only the inflow of people of workforce age. For most of the past ten years immigration has exceeded the number of new jobs created in the economy, leaving us with one important clue as to why Sweden currently has a youth unemployment rate of 26 percent (as reported by Eurostat). This is ten percentage points higher than, e.g., the United States.

As a libertarian I am strongly in favor of cross-border migration – it is an essential part of individual and economic freedom. However, when governments restrict, regulate and interfere with the economy to the extent they do in Europe, it becomes socially and economically problematic to allow people to move as they please. The most acute problem is the massive system of entitlements provided by welfare states in Europe: when there are no jobs to come look for (as evidenced by the high unemployment rates and paltry job-creation numbers from across the EU) immigrants come for entitlements.

From an economics viewpoint this is entirely rational: if you can live better on work-free income in country X than on income from work in country Y, then why would you choose to remain in country Y? However, this reasoning excludes the broader consequences of immigration based on entitlements. Since people do not have to work to live, their incentives to integrate and assimilate with the prevailing culture are weak. This paves the way for parallel-culture societies where the norm systems of minorities become just as established as the norm systems of the majority culture. It is inevitable that this leads to conflicts and clashes.

Such conflicts would be manageable if immigration levels were reasonable. But it is virtually self evident that immigration levels such as Sweden is currently experiencing are exacerbating conflicts; imagine 50-60,000 workforce-aged immigrants coming to New Jersey each year, bringing just as many family members; imagine there were no jobs for them and that most of them ended up living on welfare. Imagine this going on year in and year out for a decade.

It would inevitably create socially explosive tensions between various groups of Jerseyites.

However, there is one more ingredient to the Swedish immigration problem. According to several leaks from the government agency responsible for immigration, up to 90 percent of immigrants have no papers as they get to the Swedish border.

Yes, up to 90 percent. Despite this, the vast majority are given residence status. Currently every Syrian – or, rather, every person who claims to be from Syria – who can make it to Sweden is given permanent residence status!

This unimaginably naive, not to say reckless, immigration policy is a recipe for enormous social tensions, conflicts and confrontations. The lack of background checks opens the Swedish borders to criminals, terrorists and people who are no longer wanted in their own countries. Needless to say, this builds up to a destructive situation that threatens the very survival of Sweden as a country. A recent report in Dispatch International offers a great insight into this enormous problem:

In 1975 the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to turn homogenous Sweden into a multicultural society. Thirty-eight years on the dramatic consequences have become apparent. Whereas the population has grown by 16.2 percent, violent crime has gone up by 320 percent.

A note of caution. The spike in crime began before the current levels of immigration. The deep, destructive economic crisis in the ’90s brought with it a surge in various types of crime. As immigration accelerated after the turn of the Millennium, there was yet another rise in crime rates.

In other words, not all of Sweden’s crime problem has to do with immigration, but the relation that DI points to is definitely present in the statistics. And the situation is getting worse as anonymous immigration continues from, e.g., war-torn Syria – yet Swedish authorities are doing their best to ignore or even deny the problem:

Every week we read in the mainstream media about murders, robberies, rapes and other serious crimes. Nevertheless criminologists insist that there is no increase in crime. In fact, they maintain that it is subsiding. But from the homepage of the Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande Rådet, Brå) you can generate your own statistics on the number of reported crimes. Interestingly, the statistics start in 1975. If one looks at the whole period from 1975 to 2012, a completely different picture emerges than the one we are usually presented with. It turns out that the criminologists are lying and that the number of violent crimes has not only increased but completely exploded. But Brå doesn’t feel like discussing these figures.

You got this right. The government agency in charge of researching crime, the Council for Crime Prevention, is actively participating in a campaign to blur, sometimes outright distort, crime statistics. I have myself interacted with officials of the council, with the exact same experience as DI reports:

Statistician Anton Fernström tells Dispatch International that it is not enough to look at the statistics; they must be ”interpreted”. One must compare the number of reported crimes to what people answer when asked by the National Survey of [Safety] (Nationella Trygghetsundersökningen, NTU) what crimes they have been exposed to and in addition consider that people’s propensity for reporting crime has gone up.

The last point is actually a staple of the council’s “research”. Every time they get a chance to, they claim that the reason why crime rates are as high as they are in Sweden is that Swedes, for some reason, have started reporting crimes in droves over the past 6-8 years. Yet there is not a shred of evidence – not a single research paper or opinion poll or any other piece of information – that crime reporting has gone up in Sweden. On the contrary, with major cuts in police presence and interaction with the public, it is entirely plausible that crime reporting has fallen.

Anyone prone to rely on common sense would ask at this point why on God’s green Earth a government agency in a supposedly democratic country would resort to such recklessly deceptive behavior. The frustrating problem is that there is no other explanation than a long tradition of government culture, uniquely Swedish in many ways, that has been fostered by three generations of politicians and bureaucrats. In a way, you could think of it as Sweden trying to live up to an un-attainable self image.

DI again:

But the fact remains that however one ”interprets” the figures, the number of reported crimes has increased dramatically. … If we assume that the statistic actually reflects a real increase, we must ask why. Have Swedes in general become extremely more violent and criminal or have immigrants brought with them a violent and criminal culture? The latest survey of crime among Swedes and immigrants (from 2005) shows a general overrepresentation of people born outside the country by 2.5. The number is even higher when one looks at serious crime: Concerning deadly violence, the overrepresentation was 4.2 and the same was true for attempted murder or manslaughter. For rape or attempted rape, it was as high as 5.0.

As troubling as these numbers are, there is no denying the grave message they convey. A country simply cannot permit more immigration than it can assimilate – and you certainly do not allow immigration levels that add 1-1.5 percent to your workforce every year when there are no jobs. It does not matter if you are a dedicated libertarian, as I am, and thus for the free mobility of people – your principles cannot change the fact that immigration that piles onto unemployment is socially and economically destructive.

The lack of jobs in Sweden, combined with unchecked identities allowing droves of criminals into the country, could explain the troubling trend of a rising share of immigrants:

These figures don’t tell us much about immigrants’ share of criminals. But numbers from Statistics Denmark for 2011 indicate that two-thirds of those arraigned in court were of foreign extraction – and that the percentage had been going up for the previous five years. For juvenile delinquents, 15-17 years, it was even worse. In this category three-quarters had a foreign background with a clear overrepresentation by second-generation immigrants from non-Western countries.

DI also mentions Sweden’s horrifying rape statistics, pointing to the internationally well established fact that Sweden is one of the world’s worst countries when it comes to sexual violence against women. The article concludes:

Based on Brå’s own statistics, one cannot avoid the conclusion that Sweden has become much more violent and dangerous than before parliament decided to transform us into a multicultural society.

Again, this trend started during the economic crisis of the ’90s, before the mass immigration that Dispatch International refers to. However, the large waves of immigrants correlate well with the second surge in crime in the 2000s; one statistic often mentioned at the time was that the number of violent crime victims at the ERs in big cities increased by 75-90 percent from 2000 to 2010. The geographic proliferation of no-go areas is also very disturbing – when I grew up in Sweden back in the ’70s the phenomenon was unknown. It slowly emerged during the ’90s: from 1991 to 1993 I lived in the housing project of Rinkeby in north-west Stockholm; only five years later the place was de facto a no-go zone for ethnic Swedes, especially those who did not live there. Today I would risk my life if I went there.

Today, Sweden surpasses the United States in almost every violent crime category. The only reason why there seems to be a higher murder rate in the United States is prosecutorial: Swedish law enforcement authorities are much more prone to prosecute at a lower level – manslaughter or lower – or even drop charges, than their U.S. peers.

I would warn anyone considering a visit to Sweden to be cautious and careful where you go, and when, in the same way as people were in pre-Giuliani New York or in London, Sao Paulo or any other big city in the world that is or has been plagued by high crime rates. The difference is that in Sweden, this is no longer a trend isolated to the big cities. It is relentlessly spreading to all corners of the country.