Sweden is a big live practical and ideological laboratory. The beginnings of which I do not know. Maybe the seeds was sown with Gustav Vasa, who institutionalized heridetary kingship and also lutheranized the country with force. Not out of religious conviction (that was the message to the populace), but to grab and control the riches of the church and have a firmer grip of power. To have a National Church, as opposed to the meddling international Catholic Church, is to the advantage of a national autocrat, if he can stand up against the threat from the old more or less global church. Now, he was not alone in the protestant-isation, the north of Europe was going in the same direction, so Vasa had a reasonable chance of establishing the New National Order.
But even if those were enormous dictatorial changes, it was maybe not an experiment. It was more a ruthless implementation of policies for the sake of him and his clan. Furthermore, it was not historically unusual in its goal to “unite” a country under one ruler, with whatever means available.
At the turn of the last century, Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe, a backwater monarchy+parliamentary system. In the 1960s, Sweden had one of the highest per capita GDP (funnily enough the Swedish term says “gross national product”) in the world, a democratic industrialized country deeply integrated in world economy, not only trading raw materials, but also advanced industrial products. Sweden became culturally obsessed with modernity. To this day, “modern” is quite often a word used to praise something, without really considering if this “modern” thing is any good. The “if we don’t do this, we will soon be living in caves” I have literally heard more than once over the years, when the elites want something implemented, and the populace for once question the wisdom of the new fangled things.
This idea of laboratory has struck me recently. I would start with the idea of socialism, in practice implemented by the Social Democrat Party, who was in government from 1932-1976. Yes, 44 years with same party in power! It grew with a neutralising and marginalisation of the more communist left and also a, what I would call, state capitalist, project. The Social Democrats were popular with a mix of ideas of justice, equality, modernity, industry, and national identity. Fascism per se was never popular in Sweden, but there are fascist aspects of the Social Democrats, such as the marriage of state and capital. Not to mention the eugenic sterilisation laws. The socialism of it really expanded during the reign of Olof Palme, with both a strong internationalist pro-socialism rhetoric and reforms such as employee funds. I would see such later developments as employee funds as really experiments in how far one can go, and see what happens. There was electoral backlash, and the socialism was pulled back a bit.
Since the early 1990s socialism (o rather “social democrat-ism”) basically “evolved” into the public-private partnership model. Taxes are still among the highest in the world, but now much more money is spent to benefit private and corporate interests. One can say it is a welfare state not only for the common good and people in need, but for the middle class and higher up that “needs” support from the taxpayer. So the laboratorium for the past 25 years, in accelerated mode, has been of privatisation. As Sweden was before one of the most socialized countries in the West with highest tax and a huge public sector, it has now gone through one of the fastest privatizations in a western democratic country. E.g. while private schools were extremely rare before and not funded by tax money, there is now a plethora of tax-funded charter schools that are allowed to also make profits. There are those run as foundations, but they are rare. The consequence have been the creation of some good schools, but also religious schools (why do they need tax money if they say their god is all mighty?), schools that went bankrupt in mid-term, and so-called “risk capitalist” money funded ones. It has gone from highly standardized schools (with the good and bad that comes from that), to a jungle which has lined the pockets of a select number people who really has not contributed to the overall improvement of school standard. The average result of pupils in Sweden has declined in international comparisons, and this is one of the reasons. It has taken the idea of private profit from tax money rather far. I would see this radical change as quite typical of the laboratorium.
Another laboratory test is the so-called environment policies. E.g. what often now is mindboggingly referred to as “carbon tax”. Makes me wonder if the elites are silicon-based life forms? Because most of them avoid taxes like the plague. But I digress. I used to be for high tax on energy and low tax on work, an idea green parties, afaik, got from ecosophy. I may still have my copy of Arne Naess’ book somewhere… However, while Sweden praises itself of environment politics, I am not sure carbon taxes did anything whatsoever for the “environment”. It is just another income for the state. Car tax acts the same, a new car has no tax; after five years, tax; if you are poor and can only afford an old car, you pay way more tax, even if you drive only a little. Now, a newer more expensive car of course means a higher VAT income for the state. But still. It works as tobacco tax does, it gives money to the state. I have stopped believing in that it is tax that stops people from smoking. And smokers these days, are generally (ofc with lots of exceptions), lower income persons. With the roll out of global “environment” taxes, the laboratorium Sweden might be held up as a model. Just as it was the “welfare state” or “feminist state”. Sweden is the modernity heaven. Or so we are told. Again and again. By the way, when most people drive electric cars, the tax on electricity will of course go up. I used to be a good Swede which believed in “green” policies and the approved sort of “feminism”, but now I am not.
The maybe latest lab task is the migration, where leaders (out of narcissism or cynicism) say “everyone is welcome”. The cynical left thinks they will get more voters from poor immigrants, the cynical right (as in the traditional liberal/business right) hopes for a big pool of people that take any jobs, dumped salaries, and the final destruction of the welfare state. Sweden, even before the big migration 2015 had one of the biggest influx of migrants (not all of which are refugees) in relation to the population numbers. Even pre-2015 it was not a roaring success, segregation is quite big, the unemployment rate among immigrants (depending a bit on the ethnicity/nationality) is a lot higher than from people born in Sweden. The first and second generation immigrants that are already here and without jobs are not helped with even more immigrants. One of the mantras has been that “immigration is good for economy”, but that simply is not the case, as it used to be in the postwar era where most were work immigrants to the hungry Swedish industry. Half of immigrants are after seven years in Sweden still unemployed. Some of those simply are not interested in getting a job, since pundits here and there say that this is a welfare state where you get stuff for free. But most just have a hard time finding jobs. There is a factor of racism and discrimination here, but it not only that. There are simply not enough jobs. They have lower education on average than people already living here. Many are even illiterate. There are a few low wage simpler jobs, although of course the political right wants more of those. The right do not care about people, and really not even about their own country, except as tax base. The lefts are in considerable parts obsessed with their own self image and moral self licensing and identity politics. There are exceptions to this (maybe even silenced majorities) in at least most parties, but this is how they are run in present Sweden.
All of these things are within the (von oben) collectivist, globalist framework, where government and capital are in bed, where the moving of millions of people really is seen as trivial. Where people are tax cattle, vote cattle, and literally herding cattle. Welcome to the neo-colonialism. In the decolonisation era in the second half of the 20th century, “independence” and “nationalism” were good words, but now they are bad words, unless of course it promotes a province in your enemy’s territory. If you think EU might be too centralised and undemocratically structured, you get the “nationalist” or even “fascist” ban hammer. Local power and local culture is filthy. Sweden is one of the “democratic” labs.