Sweden pursued an idiosyncratic approach to the coronavirus pandemic: effectively leaving people to make their own choices rather than imposing rules and guidelines, and aiming for herd immunity. They persevered with that approach even when it became clear that it wasn’t working, and as the death count mounted. Why was that?
John Gustavsson argues persuasively – and damningly – that it’s because of a peculiarly Swedish brand of exceptionalism:
“Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world.
“To understand this idea, you need to understand our history: We survived two world wars unscathed, two wars in which all of our neighbors were partially or completely occupied. While every generation of Americans has suffered at least one major war, Sweden has not fought a war since 1814. The last time Sweden engaged in armed conflict, James Madison was president of the United States.”
It’s hard to escape something so deep-rooted, and so Sweden looks poised to continue its disastrous approach – and to do so with the enthusiastic approval of the Swedish people.