Category Archives: Palme

Google citation index

2011-03-03 Thursday
Surfing aimlessly on the net I happened to stumble over Google Ngram Viewer, a remarkable tool from an impressive company. Google has scanned 5.2 million books in six languages, or 20 percent of all book ever published. An outstanding performance (in accordance with the thesis that the most superb things come from USA, together with some other things…)

After doing this Hercules job Google offers the gigantic database for everyone to use. I sat fascinated for a long while studying all kinds of worlds and expressions. As an example I copied this diagram, showing three names mentioned here earlier, and the frequency of their appearance in international literature (Swedish is not among the six languages, of course). It was to my satisfaction that Palme 25 years after his death still is mentioned more often than our previous foreign minister.

Chomsky – and Palme

2011-03-02 Wednesday
Speaking of Palme, in 2004 Noam Chomsky, a well known professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, held the Olof Palme Memorial Lecture at The University of Oxford in England. He there spoke on Doctrines and Visions: Who is to Run the World and How? Chomsky is arguably one of the most brilliant minds in the world. Palme shared some of his virtues, but was of course handcuffed by the demands that practical politics posed upon him. Both intelligent men and both on the left side in their views on society. A coincidence?

Wouldn’t think so. The common denominator is the moral universality, which says that a person should submit to the same standards that he applies to others, or more stringent ones if he is serious. Every normal, logically thinking human being has to adhere to this principle of moral universality, there is no alternative. From there on is no other way than to work for an egalitarian world, seeking peace and solidarity, since that is what we normally expect from others. In such a world there is no place for revenge. (If I hit someone because he previously had hit me, I just demonstrate that I thought it wrong of him to hit me in the first place, and if it is wrong to hit someone then etc….)

Noam Chomsky is Americas gift to the world. For me he confirms the experience that USA spans the best and the worst of everything. For one Chomsky and a few of his kind there are regrettably an endless number of right wing lunatics. (This is of course a value judgment which is on me, totally.)

Mourning Palme

2011-03-01 Tuesday
This is the day 25 years ago when most Swedes got the terrible news about the murdering of Olof Palme. Lots of people gathered at the corner where Palme died, placing a rose or just standing there silent and mourning. Many where crying openly. One interviewed woman sobbed with tears running: “but the struggle for peace must go on.”

This is not what happened. Sweden eventually drifted towards the mainstream and lined up with the now neoliberal majority of capitalist states. The poor and starving masses of the world became a non-issue. State terrorism and support of dictators obedient to western powers was looked upon as a necessity, at most a bit unpleasant but not much more. Make money, not love, was the slogan for this new era. Palme soon seemed completely forgotten.

Olof Palme was killed, like Martin Luther King. Both men had a vision of a better world, and both made great contributions in that direction. In the short run it seems like they lost their cases, but in the longer perspective applied by wiser humans they both will be named among the winners. Pessimism is for the short-sighted and optimism for those who will outlive them.

Yesterday a flag guard was posted around Olof Palme’s grave in central Stockholm, and many people put down new flowers. This has been a heavy winter in Sweden, but the spring is around the corner and sooner or later the sun will shine again and give us a warm and nice summer.

25 years without Olof Palme

2011-02-28 Monday
This very day, 25 years ago, prime minister Olof Palme was shot dead in a street in the central parts of Stockholm. The time was 11.21 pm CET. In some of the brain-dead right-wing circles, as for instance among some of the inbred nobilities left over from an ancient and bloody period of this country’s history, champagne bottles were opened. Happy cheering was also later reported to have taken place in some police quarters.

As the brain-dead celebrated, the normal Swedes were chocked by the murder. Never have so many people in this country cried at the same time as on that following day. A mountain of flowers was built up on the side-walk where Palme died. Suddenly immense love and admiration for Palme was expressed by the ordinary Swede. This probably came as a surprise for many, especially in the bourgeoisie.

In his life-time Olof Palme was a controversial figure who often took a strong stand for people in need. Among many other things he engaged Sweden in support for the freedom fighters in South Africa, at a time when USA and others backed the apartheid regime and viewed Nelson Mandela’s ANC as a notorious terrorist organization.

Palme’s early and outspoken criticism of the Vietnam war made him unique among high-level politicians. His engagement for the poor was consistent and rewarded him with seemingly more admiration in the developing world than in his home country. A number of streets and places are named after him in cities around the globe.

The right-wing celebrations of his death was just the natural end-point of their hate towards Palme. Together with the neo-Nazis they had excelled in smear, defamation and lies for centuries, and some of it had probably affected the lumpenproletariat, but also parts of the middle class. What the normal, working Swede thought of Palme was hidden in obscurity. On the day of the murder the true feelings came forward: It was love. Palme’s fight for the poor ones among human beings and his struggle for peace was at the heart of the Swedish mind.

Who did the shooting? Probably an intelligent psychopath and drug-abuser with a violent and criminal background, now dead. His name was Christer Pettersson, and he was identified by Olof Palme’s wife, who had seen him at a meters distance. The police succeeded in screwing up the identification procedure, so that evidence was cancelled by the court. Pettersson was also seen by others near the crime scene before the shooting.

One of many circumstantial evidences was Pettersson’s connection with a Swedish unabomber imprisoned for blowing up a prosecutors home and for two other bombs, killing two persons. This man was a notorious hater of government and Palme, and had in a testament sworn to carry out a bloody revenge on the society for his time in jail. He suffered from cancer but had tied acquaintance with Pettersson in prison before he died. Pettersson was convicted in the first instance, but acquitted in the final one, on grounds of insufficient evidence. The police investigation still goes on.