White Flight. Detroitifying of the big cities. Brain drain. The most horrifying thing that can befall a society is that it gets such a bad reputation or is so weakened by business closures and local emigration that it starts the journey to becoming a ghost town that we wouldn’t want to live in. In the best case. In the worst case, whole societies start sliding into criminality and alienation. There are those who argue that the concept cannot be used when it is racial in nature. Ledarsidorna.se believes, however, that the concept is so incorporated that there are few who do not understand its meaning, that today it primarily covers the flight of a combination of capital and expertise.
This is a theme that, I think, should become clearer at this year’s Rural Parliament (Landsbygdsriksdag), where the theme was “A Sweden in balance” but unfortunately the subject has become as sensitive as immigration and integration issues.
Just to mention the risk of a brain drain with an ethnic character poses a deadly threat to the individual who dares to ask the question. The recognition factors in the debate climate are high in relation to migration and integration debates. This year’s Rural Parliament was not able to touch the most sensitive issues, which says a lot about how far we have to go before we can have an informed debate. If even then.
The question is if we can at all, before it is too late. Today most of the time is devoted to the racist stamp; all warning of it instead of engaging in a constructive debate. Paul Collier’s dystopia in the book “Exodus”, if then we risk acting in panic which is a more likely development. Today’s political leadership, regardless of party, is simply not brave enough. The fear of being regarded as a dye in the wool Nazi from Dagens Nyheter’s or Aftonbladet’s editorial leadership silences most social commentators, politicians and moderators. Decisions made in panic, characterised by the fact that they are counter-productive, too severe and uncoordinated, can lead to a worsening situation.
White Flight. We mention the monster by its real name, perhaps we can fight it. We name it and it will not continue to grow.
Will we see “Detroitifying ” cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and Uppsala? Possibly in some neighbourhoods. In practice, some areas in the City are already there – Tensta, Rinkeby, Husby but also blocks in Spånga and Skärholmen. Not as bad, but close.
In the other cities there are similar areas but with different names. Areas that are characterised by a lower welfare commitment, inferior schools, deterioration of other government services and increasing absence of the state monopoly on violence. Easy prey to old and new clan structures which establishes themselves. Old – those that newcomers bring with them from their home lands. New – those that arise in the clanless no man’s land. Criminal or extremely religious. No Man’s Land is rarely an “in between land”. Either you belong to something. Or not.
Another alternative, or complementary, is that whole communities become affected by this. Municipalities that, since the early 2000s, received, or have become a dumping ground for, new arrivals may become so unattractive for the highly trained to remain in when schools are forced to prioritise access to interpreters over educational resources. The educated middle class, which constitute the recruitment base for supervisors, middle managers or companies shun municipalities with poor service or low school performance. One example is Skinnskatteberg as reported on in the SR P1 radio station’s detailed report. Others – such Norberg, Ljusnarsberg and Filipstad are also already there. Filipstad was not able to, last year, meet the requirements of the Education Act of accessibility for newcomers. Ludvika already today, before the great roll over effects of the 2015 migration, has a budget for income support that impacts other commitments or requirements. The Swedish Association for Local Authorities (SKL) has warned of a tax increase in municipalities on average of 1:87 Swedish Crowns (SEK) per hundred earned.
Some more, some less. The municipalities with the lower tax increases or that can deliver affordable service to voters may be the ones who win the battle for intellectual capital.
Tax duty, from the citizens who have self-support capabilities, is likely to leak away. They decide to move to parts of Sweden that can offer them a reasonable balance between what they pay and what they get back. School quality is central. Children’s future is their focus while security at all times is the basis. They want to move safely in the municipality. Whatever the time of day and regardless of the environment. In the municipality of Svalöv there is one police officer on duty during the day. There, citizens organised themselves to prevent the robbery of grocery stores at closing when the day’s cash is to be counted. There are no police in regular service at night. In Ostersund, you have to wait for a police officer for up to three hours for ongoing violations.
“Do you think you can solve it yourself”?
It cannot be excluded that the man who now stands accused of the murder of two brothers received the reply before. He killed both, with a few seconds between, when they were on their way into his house through a broken window. How judgment is made will be decisive. The prosecutor believes that the degree of violence that the man met at the broken window does not come up to the requisites required to be able to claim self-defence. Should the man be convicted of murder, a wave of contempt will be brought against the monopoly of violence which cannot meet citizens’ needs for protection. Should he be freed completely or partially, we will see a piecewise new application of the criminal law’s 24th paragraph on Self-defence.
Regardless of the court’s ruling, Sweden will change now.
To ask a caller to try to solve it themselves is not an unusual counter-question now, when citizens call the emergency number 112. Police in Skåne refer callers to local vigilantes. National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson and the Chairman of the Swedish Farmers Union (LRF) have announced a collaboration to increase security. The image of a posse armed with pitchforks, shovels and bats is not far away. Neighbourhood watch 2.0. In the municipality of Nacka, outside Stockholm, the residents would rather have motorcycle gangs as neighbours than asylum seekers. Nacka, Norrtälje, Vellinge, Åre. White reserves that are becoming more and more attractive for the middle class than Svalöv, Ludvika, Norberg and Ljusnarsberg.
We can get into a situation where not only neighbourhoods become emptied of well-trained skilled labour but they fill up with those who are furthest from the labour market and society. These communities, entire societies, becomes something else. Something new. Societies without the presence of the state monopoly on violence and government commitments such as unemployment insurance and employment offices. Whole municipalities.
In a year, perhaps two, it will be too late for some municipalities to reverse the trend if we do not act now.