Göran Adamson is an associate professor in sociology with a PhD from the London School of economics. He is engaged in public debate in Sweden focusing on free-speech issues, populism and diversity. He is an outspoken critic of multiculturalism from a left-wing political perspective. March 2021, his new book—Masochist Nationalism – Multicultural Self-hatred and the Infatuation with the Exotic—was published by Routledge.
Grégoire Canlorbe: You have been working on a statistical study of the relationship between ethnic background and crime in Sweden. Is the Islamic faith in migrants a strong predictor of delinquency?
Göran Adamson: That’s a good question. I just want to give a little background on the report because the report builds on, or is an updated version of, a report by the crime prevention agency from 2005. It had been almost 20 years since the Swedish state had done any research about the relationship between migration and crime. And so, this was a completely private initiative. And I was the head of this study. And I can just tell you that the two most salient features in this study were that we found that among people who were suspects or, with reason, were suspected of a crime, about six out of 10 in Sweden were migrants, which is more than half of every second people, the suspect of crime in Sweden is a migrant. And when it comes to the murder rate people who were, with reason, suspected of murder, it was about 73 or 74 percent. You know what I mean? So, about three out of four people suspected of murder in Sweden in 2017 are migrants. So, these figures are frightfully high. But the funny thing is that the Swedish Social Democrats and people you might call multiculturalists—the politically correct—they have not been interested in investigating this even though these are issues that people have been talking about. Maybe the most important issue and the reason why the Swedish Democrats have become so huge over the last 10 years—they are now almost the biggest party in Sweden—it is like Front National—what is it called? Something else now. But you know, Marine Le Pen’s party. So, but talking about if there is a link between Islam and crime, I think you could say yes because if you check the migrants who are the most likely suspects of crime, the proportion of the—I mean, it is called overrisk. An overrisk is a term—it indicates the risk of any person on the street being the suspect of a crime. And when it comes to people from the Middle East, the overrisk is about three, generally speaking. So, the overrisk means that the person from the Middle East—and 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, clearly, you could say that there is a link. So, if you were to say that crime among migrants has to do with culture, I think it is fair to say that association has to be made. But in Sweden—what people are talking about in Sweden is something different, namely socioeconomic factors, if you know what those are.
Socioeconomic factors mean that the causes behind crime and rape and everything are marginalization, exclusion, unemployment and financial issues that are linked to our country and, notably, something we are to blame for, which is something completely different as if you would talk about culture, which is something that people bring when they come to Sweden. And so, the socioeconomic explanation, so to speak, has been completely dominant among left-wingers and among Social Democrats in Sweden for decades. They have been repeating the idea of socioeconomic factors as the main cause behind crime among migrants. And they have repeated that like parrots—with the persistence of parrots. They have kept repeating: “Culture has nothing to do with it” over and over again. So, that’s what they’ve been saying. And then, other critics and I, we have asked them: “Okay, but if socioeconomic factors are the reason behind crime among migrants then, how do you explain the fact that migrants from, say, Vietnam or Thailand, have a much, much lesser propensity for crime than migrants from other parts of the world, if you know what I mean?”
If the socioeconomic factors have to do with marginalization then, how come marginalized people who come from other cultures, such as Thailand and, basically, the Far East—Thailand, Vietnam, etc.—how come these people are actually underrepresented in crime? They are less likely to commit a crime than Swedes! So, the socioeconomic factors do not give a proper explanation for that because you can clearly say that there are people who come from much worse circumstances, actually, than some people from the Middle East. And even so, these people who come from much worse circumstances—for instance, the Vietnamese, just to give a case in point—they are much less prone to committing violence than other migrants. So, my point here is that the socioeconomic explanation doesn’t quite hold water, which leads to my suggesting—and other people suggesting—that there has to be another explanation, which is cultural. Which is for instance, how you see women. For instance, how you see the state. For instance, whether you have any respect for the state, or whether you’d rather live in clan based societies. All of these things. And, again, I’m not criticizing individuals, but if you turn a blind eye to cultural differences, you will end up with this very appealing, sweet, self-critical left-wing explanation, saying that everything has to do with socioeconomic factors. And people walk about—politicians, members of the media and academics, they walk about repeating these things—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. So, I think that’s an important point to make.
Grégoire Canlorbe: To what extent is Sweden losing its culture—compared with those other Western countries prey to Islamization? How does the Church of Sweden react to the Islamic presence?
Göran Adamson: I think the interesting thing with Sweden is that we—I say it in my new book: it has to do with a kind of masochistic attitude. And the masochistic attitude is an interesting combination between—it’s the fact that we are somehow enticed and we simply like to paint our own culture, our own religion and our own history, background, identity in rather dark colors, and we are happy to compare our own culture unfavorably to other cultures. And I think this is not only Sweden. This has been going on in Britain and in many other countries, maybe less in France. But you should mention that George Orwell wrote about this—and this is actually the basis of my new book—in an essay called Notes on Nationalism in 1945 where he talks about two concepts—and I’d like you to bring this up in the interview. One concept is the idea of negative nationalism, which is: you’re obsessed with your own culture, not in order to trace it, but in order to criticize it. The second one is transferred nationalism. It’s a kind of exported nationalism, you know what I mean? It’s the same sentimental, idealistic, romantic, self-eulogizing bullshit as a far right winger. But the only difference is geographic. It’s not done on behalf and for the benefit of your own country. It’s done for the benefit of Syria, it’s done for the benefit of Iraq or Somalia, or any other distant culture or country, of which you know next to nothing. And George Orwell says this—and this is something I’d like you to bring up. He says that I know—because he’s written about similar things, about the working class. He says, “I know enough about the working class not to idealize it.” If you know what I mean. So, you can turn this around and say that the thing that enables these kinds of left-wing, loony ideas, images, and fantasies about exotic cultures is the fact that the left knows very little—next to nothing—about these cultures because if they knew enough—like, I have lived, over the last 10, 12 years, in six, seven countries. I’m not an expert, but I know a little bit about these countries, like in Jordan, now. You would not idealize these countries the way the left-wing academics in Sweden are doing it or in Paris, possibly, and in London, because you’d know too much. And there’s another aspect, here. I think it’s very important. It relates to when people come to Sweden, for instance—if migrants come to Sweden. So, what’s happening? They are greeted by those who know very little about their own culture, who care very little about their own culture, and again, who are very happy to make unfavorable comparisons with other cultures. Almost like a pastime. Like saying, “Oh, you know, the way we treat homosexuals in Sweden… oh, you know, the way we treat women in Swede… oh, the way we treat migrants in Sweden, and structural racism” and all that kind of nonsense. This is not true. If you were to wake up one of these left-wing people in the middle of the night, they might admit, “I know this is not true, but it’s great fun.” And everyone else does the same. We have all these dinners and we just sit around and harass our own country, our own dance traditions, and we love it. And so my question is: if people come to Sweden, how are they supposed to respect Swedish culture if we don’t do it ourselves? I think that’s an important question. Because, in basically every other culture, every other country, people have a certain respect—even in dictatorships, they love their country, the tradition, etc. But in Sweden, we are not allowed to do that. And of course, how are other people supposed to find any kind of respect for Sweden if the Swedish Establishment has nothing but contempt for its own tradition and culture? I don’t understand. And there is an illogical and very bizarre thing also going on because if Sweden is such a bad place, then why is everyone coming here? Why is everyone who’s escaping trying to come to France, to Germany and especially to Sweden, if it’s such a bad country? No one is escaping from Sweden to Yemen. People are escaping from Yemen or from Somalia to Sweden. It’s 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 let-out, so to speak, for our country. It’s a perfect excuse and it’s a perfect way to avoid and evade the kind of shame of being privileged. One more thing. It is all made-up, you know. 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.
But to get back to Sweden losing its culture, I remember when I was teaching in Malmö many years ago, and there was a huge poster in one of the corridors, and the question on the big poster was: “What do you know about Ramadan?” And I was wondering, “I don’t know anything about Ramadan, and frankly, I’m not interested.” And then, in order to protest, I wrote in small letters: “What do you know about Yom Kippur?” in the corner of the big poster. And then, I had lunch. This is a good case in point. You should bring this up. And then, when I came back, I had a look at the poster again. But to my great surprise, my question was gone. And it wasn’t gone, nobody had erased it. I was completely sure that within an hour, somebody had seen my question and they had taken down the whole poster, replaced it with a different one, identical, and put it back on. So, that made me think about some of these forces behind the scenes going on in Sweden where I would say that foreign cultures and most prominently Islam are being pushed forward and promoted to the detriment of Swedish culture.
And, of course, also to the detriment of, for instance, Jewish culture. Because if you tried to put up a poster informing about Jewish traditions like Yom Kippur or any other Jewish tradition, it would be taken down, it would be set on fire. So, you have this escalating self-harassment going on in Sweden and in many other cultures. Humility and self-criticism are fine, and to invite other cultures, that’s a good thing. But it is dangerous if all of these things become one-sided. If this means that other cultures, and Islam, most prominently among them, is allowed to be marketed and fostered, cherished while Swedish traditions are no longer seen as important, Christian traditions are no longer seen as important–because what will happen—then, you will see the slow, gradual shift of focus from Swedish traditions. All of these things people actually escape to. That’s the reason why they come to Sweden, and gradually, these ideas–I’m not saying these things will happen within the next five years, but there will be a slow shift of attention towards values, traditions and customs that might not have proven to be so successful throughout the years. You could take another case in point: the big community center a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York. There was a Muslim community center, but it was on for a few years and then, I don’t know what happened to it. And then, people said, “We don’t know if this is the right spot for a Muslim community center, just around the corner from Ground Zero where almost 4,000 people perished.” But then, again, you could say that this might not be a bad idea for cross-religious tolerance. But then, you need to think of the prospects for any church to be created and inaugurated in a Muslim country, in a Muslim culture. There are slim chances you could have a church, for instance, in many Muslim countries. They are not allowed. So, this is one-sided tolerance where justified self-criticism is replaced by self-annihilation. An idea fostered from above by the political left-wing elites whereby Western cultures, Western traditions, Western ideas are being dismissed for the benefit of some kind of multicultural veneration and idealization of anything exotic. And the more exotic, the better. And it seems as if the most exotic culture and religion has a name these days. And the name is Islam. And you should ask yourself–Douglas Murray, he asked this question: “What’s so great about Islam?” Ask yourself that question. This is an empirical question. And check. Ask yourself why. What is the benefit? Because there has to be some hidden scheme behind all of these tendencies, not only in Sweden, but in many other countries, also France. But I think France is somehow changing now with Macron’s speech and the decapitation of the teacher, etc. I mean, these are horrendous events, and things are likely to change. To sum it up, I think this kind of self-humiliating attitude only exists among a very thin layer of our societies: within the elites. Among the people, if you ask anybody 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 of these things. So, what we’re witnessing is that there is a tiny elite with a huge impact in the media, in science, in the universities and in politics. And this also connects to another important aspect, namely the tension between the people and the elites. And this is increasing, this is intensifying all the time, and it doesn’t 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. Brexit is a problem. Trump is a huge problem from this point of view of solidarity between classes. Because there are clear tendencies of a political polarization. And the political polarization, I would say, is mostly polarization between classes.
The church in Sweden, now that’s a case in point. There’s this fantastic book. And you know what you should try to do? You should try to have this book translated into French and English. It’s called The Art of Surviving the Swedish Church. It was written by a close friend of mine: Helena Edlund. She is a priest in Sweden. You should write about this. You should actually bring this up. Please, mention this in your article. The story is this: when she studied to become a priest, she was warned—people warned her about the so-called “Dark Coats.” Well, people who were labeled the Dark Coats, people who were supposed to be almost like Darth Vader: these were priest students who would be dangerously conservative. They would be terrifyingly religious. They’d be against homosexuals. They would be like monsters. But after a few weeks, she realized that she was one of them. She was a Dark Coat, too. She had these views herself. She had a belief in religion. She thought that reading the Bible was a good thing because when she was studying, the teachers kept saying, ‘Well, you don’t need to study that, it is just the Bible. Forget about the sacraments! Ignore all that! You can study other books instead.” And all of these religious traditions were seen as unimportant by the people in charge of the Swedish church. So, she wrote a book about this called The Art of Surviving the Swedish Church. And she, for being a religious person, she has been harassed, humiliated to an extent you would not believe could happen in the Western community. Her book came out a few years ago. And this book is a shocking example of what happens when the church is being kidnapped by left-wingers. And you should mention this. And so, her book is a very interesting case in point of what Rudi Dutschke, the German left-winger said, he said what the Left needs to do is to “march through the institutions.” You know what that means, to march through the institutions? So, this is what the Left has been doing in Sweden. Institution after institution: universities, the media, the entire educational sector from kindergarten all the way up, and in the Swedish Defense, we are promoting transsexual soldiers, and we have drafting campaigns for our army asking things like: “Suppose I came out as a gay while I’m out fighting for my country? » I mean, are these questions interesting? This is the rhetoric. And also, most importantly, the Left has been marching through the church, the Swedish Church. So, the Swedish Church is now hijacked by left-wingers and the archbishop in Sweden, she is famous for ignoring Swedish religious traditions. She’s much more keen on other more exotic religious traditions. And you might understand there is a particular religion she’s very, very keen on. This is Islam, because it’s connected to the whole idea of multiculturalism and the multicultural idealization of everything exotic. So, even if you go to the Swedish Church where you think you might find some—what do you call it?—refuge from the mayhem of political correctness, you end up from the ashes into the fire. And now, there is an increasing number—it’s been going on for many years—of people who are leaving the Swedish Church. They leave the Swedish church not because they are not religious, but because they are religious. They leave the Swedish Church because they have faith in God and they think that Christian traditions are important. And if you think that Christian traditions are important, you tend to stop paying your membership. You tend to send in an application saying, “I want to stop paying, I want to leave the Swedish Church and buy a few books per year instead.” So, 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 this reason. But you should actually mention the book. It’s called The Art of Surviving the Swedish Church. It’s a fantastic book. And if this book were available in English, it would have an impact. It’s a shocking witness to the state of Sweden.
Grégoire Canlorbe: A common left-wing criticism against multiculturalism says that the capitalist class uses immigration to place at its disposal a large, cheap workforce—and the occasioned ethnic struggle to divert the indigenous workers from the class struggle. Do you share such line of criticism?
Göran Adamson: Well, to some extent, I do. And I’ve written about it, myself, in my previous book—The Trojan Horse – A Leftist Criticism of Multiculturalism in the West. I have a discussion about it, saying that this is a classic left-wing criticism, that instead of uniting—instead of being able to unite against the globalizing elites—the elites are manufacturing these silly, whimsy wars between the lower classes, between workers, Swedish workers versus Muslims, and Swedish workers versus migrants, whatever. To some extent this is true. And clearly, you could say that this whole focus on LGBTQ, sexual identities etc. sounds very much to me like not only sidetracking, but also an attempt to confuse, engage people into playing games or engage in futile, silly unimportant battles while there are much more important battles to be fought. For instance, or actually most prominently, the battle against globalization, neoliberalism and the dismantling of national borders, I think that is clearly the most important battle to fight. And so, I think there is a class issue here, which is important. Then again, of course, you need to realize that even if you were to somehow foster the lower classes’ unity against the exploitation by the European Union, the neoliberal elites and all those international organizations, etc., you would clearly bang your head against the wall of cultural differences because, simply, even though both are poor and in need of assistance to be aided into a better life, the Swedish worker and an unemployed person from the Turkish countryside might have—save for the fact that they are both low-income—very, very little in common. It is sometimes easy—if you’re faced with the whole amount of cultural agenda, you are really tempted to just shout that this is all bogus and this is actually a class issue. But then again, this is also often taken too far. Because if you do that, if you’re a Marxist and you only talk about class identities and the need to fight against the globalizing elites, then, you simply forget the fact that there are cultural differences between people. And if you would like to unite the Swedish worker with an elderly illiterate woman from the Turkish countryside, or a man from Somalia, go ahead.
Then, you should also mention a little bit my attitude towards the idea of islamophobia. I think the entire idea of islamophobia is ridiculous. I think that if you use the words islamophobia and islamophobic, you are playing a sordid partisan game because nobody would be called liberalophobic if they criticized liberalism. So, there is only one religion, there’s only one structure out there where you can use this: it’s Islam. If you’re critical towards Islam, you’re seen as phobic in some way, which is a very strange idea, hugely strange idea that shouldn’t be used. And you could actually say that to people who are likely to suffer the most from this kind of on-the-surface tolerant idea are not people in the West because we try to go by as good as we can and have learned to handle criticism. But it is the people in the Muslim community because they are somehow seen as so childish, so fragile and so helpless that they cannot stand any solid, open, rational, reason-based discussion about certain shortcomings within Islam. So, under the surface, it’s an absolutely amazingly arrogant attitude towards an entire religion. The idea of islamophobia rests under the surface on arrogance against Muslims. And also, the funny thing is that people who use islamophobia, they, of course, can capitalize on this. They can use it. They use it, and then, 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, under the pretense of tolerance and anti-racism. It is all a rather fearful sight. This is how I see it.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Over the course of human history, only the Western man has come to morally condemn xenophobia and scientific, political racism—for the benefit of the “open society.” All other peoples on the face of the earth are keeping on praising racial pride and distance with respect to the foreigner. What’s more, Chinese or Japanese scientists are notoriously more open to discussions on racial inequalities in intelligence, etc., than are Western scientists. As a sociologist, how do you make sense of that cultural originality of contemporary Westerners?
Göran Adamson: That’s a very good question. I don’t know. I have a friend. He wrote a book years ago. It’s called Multiculturalism: Some Inconvenient Truth. Rumy Hasan is his name. Razor-sharp, fantastic. And he’s so good, he will probably never be professor. Anyway, he has a concept called the “Western post-colonial sense of guilt.” We had colonialism, and colonialism provides us forever with a wonderful excuse to go about attacking ourselves. I mean, Hitler and all the rest. We can attack ourselves as much as we please because it gives us this thrilling idea of self-hatred, which is so dominant among the educated classes, among the intellectual middle-class in Sweden, today. You wouldn’t believe it. And also, in many other countries. And I don’t know, because if we talk about—I mean in Sweden, there are courses in post-colonial studies. I mean, studies in what? Sweden was never a colonial power in the first place. It’s like you can have a course about Swedes murdering people from other cultures. And then, you say, “Well, we never murdered people from other cultures. We never took slaves.” And then, they would say, “Well, maybe, but stop talking about that. It’s such a nice thing to have a course harassing your own country.” But you’re asking about what the root of it is. If you think about it today, I think you can say the root somehow lies in the particular, peculiar Western interest in lack of reflection. And it’s like an ever-present desire among intellectuals to idealize people below, as it were, oneself, be it workers or migrants, or even kids. And maybe, I can finish off by—I had a glimpse of insight this morning because my youngest daughter, she’s nine years old. She’s not a toddler, she’s nine years old. And she tends to leave a mess all over the place. For instance, she was sitting, shelling an egg. And then, I saw the eggshells lying there. And then, I thought, “That’s quite wonderful” because it was real, it wasn’t intellectual, just a pile of eggshells. And I picked them up and felt some very primitive pleasure in doing it. And then, I thought, “Well, this is the problem because as an intellectual, I long for precisely this: some kind of authenticity.” And authenticity precludes intellectual reflection, if you know what I mean. And this authenticity, you may find it on a table among the eggshells of your little child, or you can find it among workers who don’t reflect all the time. Or you can find it among migrants. It’s the kind of desire, aspiration, longing for what you are not. It’s a longing for a lack of thought. It’s a longing, it’s an anti-intellectual endeavor. And this endeavor is not only strong among people who have read Friedrich Nietzsche, it’s strong among everybody. If you’re an intellectual in Europe, you like this, you like the lack of—you basically tend to appreciate what you are not. I think this is part of it. And then, you see people walking about, acting like migrants. They are not feminists. And then, Swedish women, they tend to love it because they see authentic men. They see authentic guys. And these authentic guys, they might be dangerous. They might be angry. They might possibly be rapists. I have no idea. But these Swedish women, they think, “We don’t give a damn because we think there is something genuine about these guys.” They are Swedish feminists. Can I give you a fine example of this? You should bring this up, put this in. A friend of mine was working for Sida, which is the Swedish Ministry of Global Aid. These two ladies who’d just come back from Afghanistan, gave a presentation. And then, Jens, my friend, he noticed that they were smiling all the time and almost bursting out laughing. Eventually, one of them apologized. And they showed pictures of some Talibans and said: “You know, these Talibans, with their beards and their Kalashnikovs, they are so manly!” Did you hear that? And then, my friend said, “Well, they might be manly on a primitive level, but if they ever got their hands on you, they might rape you. Or kill you. Those are not nice guys like your Swedish husband.” But when they go home from work, they might just start harassing their nice, feminine husband who might actually be a better guy—better man—than the Talibans in Afghanistan. But here you go: you have this kind of intellectual middle-class women in Sweden idealizing everything exotic to the extent they would even idealize the man who might kill them or rape them, and who certainly would not accept this woman walking about not covered. But this also brings us back to what I was talking about at the beginning of our discussion, namely that you have these politically correct left-wing intellectuals who idealize exotic cultures. And the reason why they can idealize exotic cultures is that they know next to nothing about them. This is why they can go on doing this.
Grégoire Canlorbe: In your article “Was Nazism anti-sex? – On left-wing fantasies and sex as the dark matter of politics,” you challenged the view that Nazism was wholly conservative on sexual freedom. Do you want to add something about left-wingers’ confusion on the matter?
Göran Adamson: The Left seem to think that because they have reached the conclusion that National Socialism is the worst thing on Earth, all of its traits must also be equally repulsive, including the Nazis’ approach to sex. So, since Nazism is such a terrible idea, they must also be strongly opposed to sexual promiscuity. They must also be anti-sex. But judging from my own research, it seems that the Nazis, in terms of sex, at least in terms of sex among ordinary Germans, were basically looking at it as business as usual. There was nothing special about it. But what the Left has been doing ever since the end of World War II has been to buy into this idea of National Socialism as anti-sex. And if National Socialism is anti-sex, then sexual promiscuity and basically fucking around with everybody is an emancipatory anti-Nazi endeavor. So, if you check out the left-wingers, the 1968ers and people like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, they were basically thinking that their sexual promiscuity, collectivist living and all of that anti-authoritarian attitude generally was an anti-Nazi attitude. And I think you could basically say that the 1968ers and the left-wingers at the time and their huge focus on sexual promiscuity and sleeping around with everybody, to a great extent had its origin in a misconceived approach, misconceived understanding of sex during the epoch of the Nazi regime, namely believing that the Nazis were sex hostile. And if you were a good left-winger, you would be pro-sex. You would be promiscuous like mad, and you would just make kids left, right and center. And there is this famous dictum. It says: “Make love, not war,” as if the act of sex itself would be an act of peace, as if the act of sex would be an antiracist, anti-nazi antiwar, peaceful activity. I think this entire idea rests on a misunderstanding. If you study the sources—if you study the material, the empirical evidence, there is very little evidence proving that the Nazis were antisex. You can just check it out. There were condoms lying all over when they had their party rallies. There’s nothing antisex about that. So, again, the Left invents enemies, and then, they run like sheep in the other direction. And then, you have the entire anti-authoritarian movement, and all of these huge implications for the educational sector in the West. There are huge, extremely tragic implications for the education sector in the West. And this rests to a very great extent on the misconceived ideas of sexuality under National Socialism. That’s it.
See: Göran Adamson, Masochistic Nationalism – Multicultural Self-Hatred and the Infatuation with the Exotic (Routledge, March 2021)
That conversation was initially published in an abridged version by Gatestone Institute, in June 2021