Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Thanks for this bruno-ken.  Very thoughtful.

I would love to read a diary elucidating your cheeky preacher's kid interpretation of the film.

This would perhaps fill a whole book.  But simply, in Protestant societies, the clergy was the dominant intellectual class for several centuries.  This made it an occupation that provided an entry into the upper classes for young men of ambition--especially in countries such as Sweden with a state church.  Bergman's father was certainly this kind of social climber.  The problem with being a clergyman, however, was that the career advancement wasn't based on scholarship but a reputation for being a stern moralizer.  This fact cannot be hidden from the children.  So the preacher's kids grow up completely comfortable with the language of moral authority and an understanding that this is just a tool like a loan portfolio is to a banker. This leads to an insider's perspective.  I heard my first funeral joke at 9.  Playing chess with death is a sophisticated funeral joke--one that says Bergman understood the implications of his father's careerism.

Was this due to a typically Swedish strain of pacifism?

I think so.  Folks seem to forget how warlike the people of the North once were.  I read somewhere that the Swedish Army still has more captured battle flags than any other on earth.  One effect of this vast experience of warfare is that all illusions of the "glory" of war are eventually shattered.  The other effect is that that eventually everyone who thinks war is a good idea is eliminated from the genetic pool.  Swedes are not pacifists like Ghandi--they are much more pragmatic.  For them, warfare is the strategy of the partially evolved and the extremely stupid.  The fact that war is evil is a trivial argument by comparison.  And because they have the battle flags to prove them, these assumptions are not questioned by reasonable Swedes.

The operative word being W's.  America is a work in progress.  We -- you and I, everybody -- are designed to fit in that America, the one that we must continue deliberately to evolve with hard work and perseverance.

I would love to believe you are correct.  But I didn't fit in well with Johnson's and Nixon's war against the Vietnamese either.  Trust me on this, if my culture had ANY influence in this country, we would NOT be killing people in Iraq, we would NOT have for-profit predatory medicine, we would NOT be having a phony debate on climate change, etc.  (This is not to say Swedes are perfect--the role the Nobel committee has played in legitimizing the nutball wing of the economics profession should be considered a crime against humanity.)

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 04:00:03 AM EST
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Swedish pacifism developed greatly after loosing the over sea (Baltic sea that is) empire. Squeezed between two emerging greater powers - Russia and Germany - war was for a very long time not an option. Sure there was the late 19th century dreams of reqonquering Finland (from Russia) and uniting Scandinavia under the Swedish kings, but there was no possibility to do so. Sweden went from having a war (almost) every year up to 1814 to not having any wars at all. Thus those politicians and thinkers who scorned war as a mean were succesful, while the warhungry was unsuccesful. I think this left a mental-cultural impression on how to be succesful in life.

BTW, there was some contemplation on attacking Russia in 1914 to get Finland back, but it was deemed impossible given the state of Swedens military. (Good topic for contrafactual history though, given how even ww1 was.) And Sweden sent volonteers to Finland during the winter war (1939-1940), with equipment, officers and all. But Sweden has not been in a formal war since 1814, and that might be some kind of record.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 11:37:06 AM EST
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