“Why I am a Democratic Socialist”

Former social democratic prime minster Olof Palme, explains in his own words, why he is a democratic socialist.

Erik Engheim

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Olof Palme was Swedish social democratic prime minister for 3 terms. In the third term he was assassinated. Who did it has been a mystery for decades in Nordic countries.

Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK both called themselves democratic socialists, and used Nordic countries as a source of inspiration. American conservatives and libertarians loudly opposed this comparison, insisting that Nordic social democrats are not democratic socialists. That can certainly be debated today, but as late as 1982, they most certainly were. Social democrat and democratic socialist were one and the same thing, as it had been since the concept of social democracy arose in the 1800s as a reaction to Marxism. Democratic socialists built the Nordic model.

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However, the role of democratic socialism has been so heavily disputed by foreign conservatives that I think it is useful to listen to the words of Olof Palme during the 1982 Swedish elections. Socialism was, even back in the 80s, frequently used as a smear by Swedish conservatives. The attempt was the same as for American or British conservatives back then and today: to associate all socialism with the horrors of the Soviet Union and the East Block. The lead-up to this speech was that Swedish conservatives had challenged him with the question “Are you a socialist?” They were essentially trying to imply “Are you a Stalinist.” Olof Palme did not take the bait and instead gave a forceful defense of democratic socialism and his beliefs.

Transcript of Olof Palme’s Speech in English

Olof Palme — 1982

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Erik Engheim

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.