It is the 21st of August and I am walking around Lund when I come across the political party stalls in the main square.
I couldn’t stop sizing up the boy behind the Swedish Democrats’ stall. They always look the same. They always look the same.
Greased back hair or topknot (in this case the former), average height, average-to-good looks, undoubtedly average brains, undoubtedly succeeding off the back of privilege.
Privilege combined with a desperate need to maintain it are the defining features of the Swedish Democrats. These are not the unreconstructed racists of my homeland – who look to ethnically exclusive patria because it promises to restore their honour, make them strong again, fulfill the empty promises of Great Britain. The Swedish Democrats do not have this excuse of wretchedness. They are not the downtrodden losers of globalisation and neoliberalism. They are not a “silent majority”.
The Swedish Democrat grew up in a middle-class Stockholm suburb and went to a school on the right side of the railway tracks. They are from the same neighbourhoods as the centre-right Moderates but, as children, they were more likely to have their heads flushed down a school toilet by Frederik Reinfeldt than to have been “one of the gang”. Their mother told them they were marvelous. Their father told them the progressive tax system was theft. They read Atlas Shrugged and couldn’t tell it was nonsense philosophy and terrible literature. They read Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and convinced themselves they were being progressive and liberal in hating muslim men and speaking on behalf of muslim women they had never met.
However much they may foster his support, do not be fooled – the Swedish Democrat is not the struggling Charlie Bucket, anxious over his Grandpa’s pension. He is a cross between glutenous Augustus Gloop and spoiled brat Veruca Salt. He is driven less by the belief “there isn’t enough room” as by a sense of injustice that the feminists have told the pretty girls at school not to tolerate his gross, “laddish” behaviour; a sense of fear that beauty ideals are broadening beyond his preference; a sense of fear because he knows he’s not as fiercely entrepreneurial as the multilingual immigrant who grafted across desert and ocean to be here; a sense of fear.
The Swedish Democrats are not an example of populists speaking to huddled masses. They are not Trump, they are Paul Ryan. They are libertarian, social darwinists who exemplify how progress always feels like oppression to the privileged.
I pray Charlie can see what I see. He has much to be anxious about – change has been forced upon him by cosmopolitans who do not share his values or seem to comprehend his truth. But, though weakened by fools, he must not become prey to wolves.