Jan Myrdal is one of Scandinavia’s top useful stooges. As we saw yesterday, he ardently eulogized Pol Pot and Enver Hoxha. But that’s just the beginning.
Take China. Myrdal visited it several times, returning repeatedly to the same village, about which he wrote the 1963 book Report from a Chinese Village. He celebrated the Cultural Revolution, which took over 1.5 million lives and destroyed tens of millions of others; in his 1984 book Return to a Chinese Village he lamented the fact that the Cultural Revolution was over. In 1989, he cheered the Chinese government’s merciless crushing of the protests in Tienanmen Square.
And let’s not forget Iran. Myrdal, who visited the country after its Islamic Revolution as a guest of the Ayatollah Khomeini, pronounced his “respect” for that revolution and endorsed the ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, describing it as a means by which “the poor and downtrodden Muslim immigrant masses of Europe” could engage in a “conscious ideological struggle for their human dignity.”
Then there’s the Palestinians. In a 2006 interview with a Hezbollah magazine – yes, a Hezbollah magazine – Myrdal depicted Hezbollah’s members as victims of U.S. imperialism and suggesting that his own country, Sweden, might easily become a target of American aggression owing to its valuable uranium deposits. He praised Hezbollah as “valiant” and said its role was “mainly anti-imperialist.” He dismissed Western human-rights groups operating in places like India or the former Soviet Union as tools of neo-colonialism, accused the U.S. of “trying to colonise Iraq,” and spoke of “the heroic Korean war against U.S. aggression.”
Lecturing in India in 2010, he vented his rage over American military activities in Afghanistan – and over his own country’s participation in those activities: “My anger is so strong that I can feel the taste of blood in my mouth when I see TV pictures of US marines, Swedish mercenaries or Nato soldiers in Afghanistan. And my deepest personal feeling then is that the only good foreign soldier on Afghan soil is a dead one.” The next day two Swedish soldiers were killed on patrol in Afghanistan.
In a 2007 Expressen article headlined “The Man without Shame,” Jackie Jakubowski asked a very good question: how is it that a man with such a track record of “intellectual and moral failures” could “continue to occupy a prominent place in the Swedish debate”? The reason is that in Sweden you can’t be too far to the left. While even the most rational critics of mass Islamic immigration, say, are demonized in – and frozen out of – the mainstream media and considered persona non grata by all members of respectable society, a man like Myrdal is always welcome on TV and in the major newspapers; never mind that, as Jakubowski puts it, he “has praised virtually every bloody dictatorship during the last 50 years, mocked the victims of oppressive regimes, defended Stalin’s terror, and rationalized Nazi holocaust deniers.
When Myrdal turned 60 in 1987, Sweden’s then Minister of Culture, Bengt Goransson, “called to congratulate him.” On his 80th birthday, Swedish journalists lined up to hail him. Sofia Ström called him an “intellectual giant”; Andres Lokko described his “best cultural and socially critical texts” as “so terribly modern, so necessary,” and said “Myrdal is so deeply inspiring because he never stopped shouting, screaming, and spreading what he believes in.”
And Åsa Linderborg, writing in Aftonbladet, praised “his penetrating analysis” of liberalism and his “sympathetic and critical solidarity with oppressed people,” called him “one of the most knowledgeable and effective critics of imperialism,” and sums up by saying that the “important thing is not whether Jan Myrdal has been right or wrong on certain issues, but what questions he has created interest around.”
Really? Would any leading Swedish daily run an essay containing such inane exculpatory statements about an apologist for, say, Hitler or Franco? Of course not. “It’s right to rebel!” concluded Linderborg. But the plain fact is that, within the context of Swedish culture, Myrdal isn’t a rebel at all. Ideologically, he’s on essentially the same side as the nation’s entire cultural establishment; he’s just somewhat further out on the political spectrum than most of them are (which is just fine, for it makes it possible for them to represent themselves as moderate).
He’s certainly not a rebel in the way that the Gothenburg newspaper editor Torgny Segerstadt was back in the 1930s and 40s, when he penned critical editorials about the Nazis that his upper-crust friends feared would lead Sweden into war. No, Myrdal only says harsh things about the U.S. and Israel, which, as everyone knows, won’t lead to war with anybody. On the contrary, the members of today’s Swedish cultural elite recognize that, at bottom, Myrdal’s oeuvre is one big tour de force of virtue signaling. And virtue signaling is, after all, their common language.