"In 2017, three out of four people suspected of murder in Sweden were migrants — a figure that seems frightfully high. The funny thing is that the Swedish Social Democrats, and others you might call multiculturalists — the 'politically correct' — they have not been interested in investigating this, even though these are issues that Swedish people are talking about." — Göran Adamson. (Photo by Ponus Stenberg/AFP via Getty Images)
Göran Adamson, an associate professor of sociology with a PhD from the London School of economics, is engaged in public debate in Sweden focusing on issues of free speech and diversity; and an outspoken critic of "multiculturalism." His most recent book — Masochist Nationalism: Multicultural Self-hatred and the Infatuation with the Exotic — was published by Routledge in March 2021.
Grégoire Canlorbe: You have been working on a statistical study of the relationship between ethnic background and crime in Sweden. Have you found a connection?
Göran Adamson: Important information was just revealed in an update of the 2005 prevention agency report I recently headed — a completely private initiative. It had been almost 20 years since the Swedish state had done any research about the relationship between migration and crime. The two most salient features we found were that that among people who were suspects or were, with good reason, suspected of a crime were migrants. The result was more than half — about six out of 10 in Sweden. When it comes to the murder rate, people suspected, with good reason, of murder made up about 73% or 74%. In 2017, three out of four people suspected of murder in Sweden were migrants — a figure that seems frightfully high. The funny thing is that the Swedish Social Democrats, and others you might call multiculturalists — the "politically correct" — they have not been interested in investigating this, even though these are issues that Swedish people are talking about. Maybe the most important issue — and the reason why the other party, Sweden Democrats, has become so huge over the last 10 years; they are now almost the biggest party in Sweden — like Marine Le Pen's National Rally Party in France. I think if you check the migrants who are the most likely suspects of crime, many of these people are, regrettably, Muslims — the risk that this person has committed a crime is about roughly three times higher than for a Swede. So, sadly you could say that there is a link.
If you were to say that crime among migrants has to do with culture, I think unfortunately it is fair to say that an association has to be made.
In Sweden, however, what people talk about are "socioeconomic factors" — which they claim are the causes behind everything: crime, rape, marginalization, exclusion, unemployment and financial issues. The multiculturalists link these issues to our country and say they are something we are to blame for. Those are completely different from culture, which is something that people bring with them when they come to Sweden.
The "socioeconomic" explanation as the main cause of crime among migrants is what has been dominant among many Swedes for decades. "Culture," they repeat over and over again has nothing to do with it!" So, we ask them: "Okay, if socioeconomic factors are the reason behind crime among migrants, then how do you explain that migrants from, say, Vietnam or Thailand, have a far lesser propensity for crime than migrants from other parts of the world?" Marginalized people from the Far East are actually under-represented in crime. They are less likely to commit a crime than Swedes are.
The socioeconomic factors simply do not give a satisfactory explanation. There are people who come from much worse circumstances than some of the people from the Middle East. Even so, these people who come from much worse circumstances — such as the Vietnamese — are much less prone to committing violence than other migrants. Which means that there has to be another explanation, which is cultural: how you view women, how you view the state, whether you have any respect for the state, or whether you would rather live in clan-based societies. I am not criticizing individuals, but if you turn a blind eye to cultural differences, you will end up with this extremely appealing, sweet, self-critical multicultural explanation, saying that everything has to do with "socioeconomic factors." People walk about — politicians, members of the media and academics, all repeating this particular explanation — without realizing that it doesn't quite explain huge differences in criminal propensity between groups of migrants from various regions of the world.
Canlorbe: Do you think Sweden may be losing its culture, compared to other Western countries that are taking in migrants? How, for instance, has the Church of Sweden been reacting to the newcomers?
Adamson: The interesting thing about Sweden — it may have to do with a kind of masochistic attitude. It seems we are somehow enticed into liking to paint our own culture, our own religion and our own history, background, identity in rather dark colors, and are happy to compare our own culture unfavorably to other cultures. This does not happen only in Sweden. It has been going on in Britain and in many other countries, such as America and France.
George Orwell wrote about it in a 1945 essay, Notes on Nationalism. He talks about two concepts. First, a negative nationalism: you are obsessed with your own culture, not to trace it, but to criticize it. The second one is sort of a transferred nationalism — a kind of nationalism for export — sentimental, idealistic, romantic, self-eulogizing bullshit. The only difference is geographic: it is not done on behalf and for the benefit of your own country. It is done for the benefit of another – of Syria, or Iraq or Somalia, or any other distant culture or country, of which you know next to nothing. Orwell, I think, said something like, "I know enough about the working class not to idealize it." You can apply the same concept to loony ideas, images, and fantasies about other cultures: the fact that we know very little about them because if we knew enough — I have lived in Jordan for instance —we would not idealize these countries the way many academics in Sweden, Paris, or London are doing: we would know too much.
Another aspect here relates to when migrants come to Sweden. They are greeted by those who know very little about their own culture, who care very little about it and who are happy to compare it unfavorably to other cultures. Almost like a pastime. "Oh, you know, the way we treat homosexuals or women or migrants or structural racism in Sweden..." It is simply not true. We all have these dinners and just sit around and harass our own country, and everyone else does the same and we love it.
My question is: if people come to Sweden, how are they supposed to respect Swedish culture if we do not respect it ourselves? But in Sweden, we are not allowed to do that. In basically every other country, every other culture, people have a certain respect — even in dictatorships, they love their country, the tradition, and so on. In dictatorships, of course, if they do not, they are not allowed to say so. If Sweden is such a bad place, why is everyone coming here? Why is everyone who is escaping trying to come to France, to Germany and especially to Sweden, if it is such a bad country? People are escaping from Yemen or from Somalia to Sweden. No one is escaping from Sweden to Yemen.
It is as if we simply cannot accept the fact that we are fortunate and privileged because it goes against our own self-deception. This whole self-critical, self-harassing attitude is a perfect way to avoid and evade the kind of shame of being privileged. This self-critical attitude among scores of Western elites can only occur in wealthy societies. It is an odd fruit among those who are troubled by the fact that they are privileged and fortunate. But why on earth be troubled by it? Why be ashamed by all those before us who made our country so successful? This is just head-spinningly grotesque.
I remember when I was teaching in Malmö years ago, there was a huge poster in one of the corridors; the question on the poster was: "What do you know about Ramadan?" And I was wondering, "I don't know anything about Ramadan." Then, in one corner, to protest, I wrote in small letters: "What do you know about Yom Kippur?" Then, I went to lunch. When I came back, I had a look at the poster again. But to my great surprise, my question was gone. No one had erased it. Within an hour, someone had seen the question, taken down the entire poster, and replaced it with a new one. That made me think about some of the forces behind the scenes going on in Sweden. Some foreign cultures seem to be being pushed forward and promoted — to the detriment of Swedish culture.
Also, of course, to the detriment of Jewish culture. If you tried to put up a poster asking about Jewish traditions, say Yom Kippur, it would be taken down — or maybe set on fire? So, in Sweden and many other Western cultures you have this escalating self-harassment going on. Humility and self-criticism are fine, and inviting other cultures is fine, but if all of these things become one-sided, that is dangerous.
If this habit of "modesty" means that other cultures are allowed to be marketed, fostered and cherished while Swedish and Judeo-Christian traditions are no longer seen as important, you will see the slow, gradual shift of focus away from Swedish and Judeo-Christian traditions — which are all of the things that people have actually escaped to! That is why they come to Sweden. Gradually, though, there will be a slow shift towards values, traditions and customs that might not have been all that successful throughout the years.
There was a Muslim community center in New York a few blocks from Ground Zero. Some people wanted it to become a mosque. Then people started saying, "We don't know if this is the right spot for a mosque, just around the corner from Ground Zero, where almost 3,000 people perished." You could say that this generosity of spirit might not be a bad idea for cross-religious tolerance — but then, you need to think of the prospects of any church being created in a Muslim country. They are not allowed.
This, therefore, is a one-sided tolerance. Self-criticism, even if perhaps sometimes justified, is replaced by self-annihilation. From an idea fostered from above by political elites, Western cultures, Western traditions and Western ideas are being dismissed for the benefit of some kind of multicultural veneration, romantisation and idealization of anything exotic — the more exotic, the better. It seems as if the most exotic culture and religion these days has a name, and its name is Islam. The author Douglas Murray asked: "What's so great about Islam?" Ask yourself that question.
I hope France is somehow changing now with Macron's speech and the beheading of the teacher, and so on. I think this kind of self-humiliating attitude only exists among a very thin layer of our societies: within the elites. If you ask anyone living in a small town in Sweden if they are part of this self-harassing, self-hating agenda — of course not! They like Sweden. They like their country. They like their traditions. They celebrate Christmas and all those things. So, what we are witnessing is that there is a tiny elite with a huge impact on the media, on science, in the universities and in politics.
Clearly, there is a tension between the people and the elites. It is increasing, intensifying all the time, and it does not look good. If you would say that society rests on a close sense of solidarity between classes, then, in the West, we have a problem. The political polarization is probably a polarization among classes.
As for the church in Sweden, there is a fantastic book — you should try to have it translated into French and English — The Art of Surviving the Swedish Church, by Helena Edlund, a Swedish priest. When she studied to become a priest, people warned her about the so-called "Dark Coats" — students for the priesthood who were dangerously conservative — terrifyingly religious, like monsters! After a few weeks, she realized that she was one of them! She had the same views. She was a Dark Coat, too. She thought, for instance, that reading the Bible was a good thing. When she was studying for the priesthood, her teachers kept saying, "You don't need to study that, it is just the Bible. Forget about the sacraments. Ignore them. You can study other books instead." All these religious traditions were seen as unimportant by the people in charge of the Swedish church. So, she wrote a book about it. For being a religious person, she has been harassed, humiliated to an extent you would not believe could happen in the supposedly open-minded, tolerant West. Her book is a shocking example of what happens when the church is kidnapped by people who think they are the "righteous". It is what many have been doing in Sweden — in institution after institution: universities, the media, the entire educational sector from kindergarten all the way up. In Sweden's Department of Defense, we have drafting campaigns for our army; they ask things like, "Suppose I came out as a gay while I'm out fighting for my country?" I mean, is that what is needed — what is important to defend one's country against an attack? The Swedish Church has been hijacked. The archbishop in Sweden is famous for ignoring Swedish religious traditions. She is much more keen on other, more exotic, religious traditions. There is one particular religion she is very, very keen on, Islam, because it is connected to the whole idea of multiculturalism and the idealization of everything exotic. So, even if you go to a Swedish Church where you think you might find some refuge from the mayhem of political correctness, you end up going from the ashes into the fire.
There are also an increasing number of people leaving the Swedish Church. They leave it not because they are not religious, but because they are religious. They leave the Swedish Church because they have faith in God and apparently also believe that Christian traditions are important. If that is what you think that, you can send in an application saying, "I want to leave the Swedish Church and buy a few books per year instead." When it comes to religious convictions, the Swedish Church is not what it looks like. I love churches, but I also left the Swedish Church a few months ago for precisely that reason.
Canlorbe: A common criticism against multiculturalism says that the capitalist class uses immigration to place at its disposal a large, cheap workforce — and to divert indigenous workers from the class struggle. Do you share such line of criticism?
Adamson: I've written about it, myself, in my previous book — The Trojan Horse: A Leftist Criticism of Multiculturalism in the West. Yes, it is a classic criticism, that instead being able to unite against the globalizing elites — the elites are manufacturing these whimsy wars between Swedish workers and migrants. You could say that this whole focus on LGBTQ, sexual identities and so forth sounds not only like sidetracking, but also an attempt to confuse: to engage people into engage in futile, silly, relatively unimportant battles while there are much more important battles to be fought. Most prominently, the battle against globalization, neo-liberalism, the dismantling of national borders, and the intensifying aggression of predatory nations. Those are the most important.
There is also a class issue. Take the Swedish worker and an unemployed person from the Turkish countryside. Even though both are poor and in need of assistance to a better life, they have very little in common, save for the fact that they both have a low-income. If you are faced with cultural problems, you are really tempted to just shout that this is all is actually a class issue. But if you do that, if you're a Marxist and you only talk about "The Oppressors" and "The Oppressed" — class identities and the need to fight against the globalizing elites — then you simply forget that there are cultural differences between people. If you would like to unite a Swedish worker with an elderly, illiterate woman from the Turkish countryside, or a man from Somalia, go ahead.
Also, the entire idea of Islamophobia is ridiculous. If you use the words Islamophobia and Islamophobic, you are really playing a sordid partisan game — because nobody would be called "liberalophobic" if they criticized liberalism. So, there is only one religion, only one structure out there where you can use this: it is Islam. If you are critical towards Islam, you are seen as "phobic" in some way, which is a hugely strange idea that should not be used. You could actually say that the people who are likely to suffer the most from this kind of on-the-surface idea are not people in the West because we try to go along as good as we can and have learned to handle criticism. The people in the Muslim community, however, are somehow seen as so childish, so fragile and so helpless that they cannot stand any solid, open, rational, reason-based discussion about certain possible shortcomings. So, under the surface, it is an absolutely amazingly arrogant attitude towards an entire religion. The idea of Islamophobia rests, under the surface, on arrogance against Muslims. Also, the funny thing is that people who Islamophobia, they engage in one project or another where they are often fabricating problems, exclusions, marginalization, and suddenly our academics, social workers and politicians are sitting with a handful of nicely marginalized groups of migrants — helpless and uneducated to be used and exploited as tools for our own careers, and our quest for moral haughtiness — all under the pretense of tolerance and anti-racism. It is all a rather fearful sight.
Grégoire Canlorbe, a journalist, currently lives in Paris. He has conducted interviews for journals such as Man and the Economy, founded by Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase, and think tanks such as Mises Institute and Gatestone Institute. Contact: email@example.com