Is Socialist Norway A Shining Example Marx Was Right?

As capitalist economies collapse, as unemployment soars to new levels, there remains the case of Norway which is based on Socialist principles and had endured the crisis without encountering the problems of capitalism. Several economists are now returning to the ideas of Karl Marx in order to re-think his comments concerning the destiny of capitalism. A difficulty in discussing “Socialism” with modern people is their confusion concerning the term. Many associate “Socialism” with the USSR which used that expression or NAZI Germany which used the expression. This is akin to saying: “Christians conducted the Inquisition. Christians committed genocide in the New World, therefore, all Christians are guilty of genocide and believe in the Inquisition.” There are Christians and there are Christians. Make a list of people who refer to themselves as “Christian” and have absolutely nothing in common with one another.

Marx was NOT the initial Socialist. There were “Utopian Socialists” prior to him and he hated Utopian Socialists. Several Utopian Socialists experiments were attempted in America during the 19th century. Among the best selling books in 19th century America was Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” which describes a free Socialist America in 2000 which has eliminated poverty. Marx accurately identified that Capitalists were greedy and exploited people creating the concept of ‘alienation’ of the worker from his/her work. He described the spread of globalization and competition between capitalists in the world–certainly his prediction is accurate. He predicted there would be rising unemployment and urged a society in which the needs of workers would be protected from the evil of exploitation. He misinterpreted the ability of some capitalists to recognize workers needed decent pay in order to purchase products. But, has not the greed of Wall Street exemplified his belief the first priority of capitalists is their own welfare, not that of society or those who do the work of in society?

My comments are simplistic and reduce complexity of economics to a few cliches,(sorry, Marx can not be explained in a sentence or so),but how do critics of Socialism explain that Norway has been using Socialist principles and has created a modern society which provides a high standard of living and the government runs a surplus including a $300 billion fund to invest for the future? In Capitalist America, 45 million people lack medical care, in Capitalistic America there is no free early childhood care, in Capitalist America there are no paid paternity and maternity leaves for couples, in Capitalist America there is no base economic security for those who lose their jobs.

The future will eventually lead to combining the best features of Capitalism with the best features of socialism. In the first decade of the 20th century, the American Socialist Party led by Gene Debs urged addressing the ills of capitalism without calling for its end. It was Gene Debs who opposed the madness of America’s blunder in entering World War I rather than seeking to end the fighting. And, Gene Debs remains the only presidential candidate in American history who was imprisoned for opposing a war.

Perhaps, it is time to study what is beneficial in Norway and apply some of those principles in order to save capitalism from its own greed. Who today can deny that Marx was right about the inherent selfishness and greed of capitalists? I have a hunch those being fired would prefer a dose of socialism that would provide them a decent unemployment package, including access to medical care.

  • Norwegian Victoria

    No. Just no.

  • Norwegian Sigbjoern

    Yes. Just yes. A regulated free market is preferable. A mixed economy is better than an unrestrained one. Though Norway shouldn’t be the perfect example to describe socialism that works. Norway has tremendous amounts of oil income and we save them in, the so-called Sovereign wealth Fund. Rather look to Denmark that mostly are dependent on workforce. They have a mixed economy as well as a big welfare state, and they are doing great :)

  • gee sus

    pretty much the worst article ever written.

  • Chombe

    Both Norway and Denmark have LARGER per-capita nominal GDPs than the US, Norway a LARGER PPP GDP than the US as well, even though the US has far greater advantages in terms of natural resources. Since each of these countries years ago had smaller per-capita GDPs, by the definition of average slope in calculus, each of these countries therefore have had HIGHER long-term average GDP growth rates. So much for the economic failure of socialism.

  • Warriorstud

    Norway, Denmark,, Finland and Sweden all have private pensions making up most of the pension income.

    70% of their GDP comes from private sectors.

    They are in no way socialist. They are good models of capitalism.

  • Cass

    Oil income, yes…and agreed worst article ever written. Also, I would like to know the make up of the population of Norway. How many immigrants each year? How many illegal immigrants? What’s the overall population count? Probably equal to ONE US state. It’s an apples to oranges comparison. Is Norway really socialists or more like Sweden which is capitalist and the income from high taxes don’t get redistributed but they mostly go directly back to the people that paid them, in the form of social services. There is an inherent problem in redistributing wealth…it is not sustainable. Read the story of the little red hen.

  • Cass

    Yep, they’re population is around 5 million, about the size of a small US state. And they’re annual population growth is very slow with an overall very low foreigner component. I wonder how Norway was faring on the economic scale before the 1970s (when they started with the oil) and I wonder how they’ll compare when the oil and natural gas resources are depleted.

  • Cass

    Yep, their population is around 5 million, about the size of a small US state. And the annual population growth is very slow with an overall very low foreigner component. I wonder how Norway was faring on the economic scale before the 1970s (when they started with the oil) and I wonder how they’ll compare when the oil and natural gas resources are depleted. Either way, it’s relatively easy to deal with a slow-growing homogeneous population of 5 million compared to the US which has >310 million people and countless legal and illegal immigrants beating down the door every day. I would love to see the Scandinavian countries deal with that.

  • Sputnick

    Norway…the population nearly that of Wisconsin with vast undersea oil riches coupled with a sovereign, state-owned Central Bank (U.S. doesnt have this…Federal Reserve has foreign ownership and charges interest that we see as taxes, interest, fees) is why is works. When the oil dries up they’re done unless they find substitute revenue(s).

  • Sputnick

    The US is not made to be a socialist country. We suck at it but it hasn’t stopped the progressives from implementing the Federal Reserve**, social security, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Medicare all of which are broke and creating our soon to be crippling debt.

    **Cant fully blame the progressives on this one but Woodrow Wilson was a huge progressive (and racist mind you) and he was the one who signed it into law without it properly being ratified

  • Peter Brandt-Sorheim

    Yes, just, yes! Would that we had managed our natural resources more wisely, and for the public good. Bunch of regressives!

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  • Fred Stopsky

    Karl Marx made predictions that capitalists were inherently greedy and would crush the middle class. His predictions have come true. He lived BEFORE the rise of Soviet communism so he can not be blamed for its cruelty. Separate the philosopher from what his followers did. After all, is Jesus Christ responsible for what Christians have done?

  • Anonymous

    I believe this article is perfectly honest, capitalism according to Marxist theory can no longer sustain the living standards of the population due to its need to compensate for falling rate of profit by driving down wages, cutting social benefits and pursuing military agression. For that reason USA will always find agressive ways to recuperate. Capitalism will fall, is just a matter of time. Socialism in USA would work perfectly if it is implemented in a correct way, look how the american economy is collapsing while socialist states maintain a stable growth. Even to see that a capitalist power is now depending from a powerful socialistic chinese democracy, and debts going up every second. USA capitalism will collapse, and not only there, europe too, even now with the euro about to be abolish. Norway may have only 5,000,000 people, like a small state, but even if the population is as far as 300 million, socialism will always prevail and work, if USA would have implemented the use of a democratic socialism system such as the one they use in Norway, they wouldn’t by living through what they are living now.. Tell me, do you really think USA wouldn’t be were it is right now wether it had petrol or not? Socialism is not perfect, every political ideology has its ups and downs, even Norway supports privatization, but trust me, that will be abolish soon enough. The future for a perfect state will be a more perfectionized democratic socialistic system and im looking forward to it. Marx was right about capitalism, it will fall. What many people do not know is that socialism has as main goal after abolishing privatization, that no man can profit from another man´s work, and no poverty, what more can someone ask for, when you know that your government really works with you to take your country to a better future. Before criticizing socialism or any other political ideology, read and inform, to really see what future you are missing.

  • Anonymous

    As for your very low foreigner component; Norway has one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world, and as far as I know, in no other country does immigration contribute more to the annual population growth than in Norway. 70% of the growth is now due to immigration. And around 25% of the birth is already from one or two first generation immigrants.  So things are changing extremely quickly in Norway. Leftist media and academia, political correctness and traditional conflict shyness, in conjunction with oil riches has led to an apathetic tolerance of the situation. Sweden is much in the same boat as Norway, but with even more political correctness and no oil (Norways GDP eclipsed Swedens the first time ever in 2009). Whereas Denmark is more social conservative and restrictive. Norway is soon expected to pass Denmark and Finland to be the second largest Nordic country population-wise.

    Norway was an average European economy prior to the oil-adventure. However, eventhough our oil production is now sinking dramatically (from the 6th largest oil producing nation in 2001 we are now the 13th, this might be off set by recent descovery of a giant oil deposit however), our economy was only 65% of Swedens ten years ago when our oil production was at its peak, so at least Norway is doing something better than our brother people to the East.

  • spade760

    its amazing how 90% of you compare a country to the size of a US state to the a country of 300 million people. socialist economies don’t last long they cant sustain the resources to feed a large population. and in this case were talking a US state pretty much its going to take quite a while before we see some economic turns of the Norwegian peoples country. and if their supossibly welcoming open arms into their country with foreigners and people are supossibly flooding in because its just so beautiful to be stricken of your economic principles and pay taxes out your a**hole while the gov’t controls your every move then fine go ahead! what people fail to understand is how capitalism truly works. most socialist citizens who argue work at minimum wage facility’s or are poor who complain about how much it sucks and look at people who are wealthy to blame. if capitalism is so bad and you want to compare a US state that is a country ill compare a China city that has 7 million people to prove that capitalism works Hong Kong china were they arent pushed around by the Chinese government so if you want to keep badgering BS over 1 country that isn’t even great at all and people have no idea what their talking about please go look up other countries that have turned to socialism and look how completely sh*ty they are doing countries with a population of between 100 to 250 million people.

  • Hans Fredrik Lauritzen

    spade760:  I hope you give your time to read this, just like i did with yours.
    So, after reading your explanation of how capitalism actually works, you simply justify mine. Look, one thing that you do not get is the following:The reason why every nation who has tried to implement the governmental system Norway applies, are under the influence of the United States, to eliminate what the US government considers a risk in their interests, for that reason, countries with that amount of population will always suffer backdowns when they try to pursue socialist ideologies, because the US government will always find a way to f * *k them up. To really make you understand I will go a little bit back in time.In 73`there was a fight for freedom, a fight to eliminate poverty in a country called Chile. The president was trying to give more right to the poor by giving them better salaries and way of life, to secure the nations interests through their workers. He won the elections twice, legally, just like democracy should, but what happened next? The US government of Nixon made an economical block to Chile, just like they did to Cuba, making their people suffer with hunger, and bribed governmental officials to betray their country by boicot. Chile´s president instead of reacting with agression, found ways to give his people food and avoid starvation, and he did his best. His fight for real democracy led to his death, when the US sent more than 45 million dollars in military support to take over the country by a civil war and later have a decade of fascist control.Now tell me, who was right and who was wrong? The ones who won by popular vote or the rich and spoiled who´s only greed led them to betray their own. The US democracy should not have the right to call itself democracy, since it only works for their own benefit. Maybe you think that capitalism works fine since you make good profit from it, but is people like you who live wealthy when others live poor, and that is the difference between you and me. I believe in a world were real democracy is sustained and where greediness will find its way to destruction.Your explanation shows unstable economical classes and endless means of agression to sustain the economy. Is that right? Why is the US on wars all the time? Because that is the only way to save their economy. Look man, I am a norwegian student and I live pretty awesome, I get help from the state if i get into any problems and if I loose my job i get 1500 dollars every 2 weeks for two years or until I get another job. It doesnt matter if the population of Norway is 500,000 or 1 billion, if everybody pays their taxes then they will get free health care and everything they need. What about those who cant pay taxes? Well that is because they dont have the possibility for education, but norway provides you with free education and god damn the school here are great! So, your explanation is pure nonsense and lacks the most important fact: Democracy. Social democracy, works following democracy correctly and those socialist states such as Venezuela are struggling when the US government only blocks them constantly. Like I said, I live awesome and i am god damn proud of my country, maybe I am not rich, but I am not poor either and I can afford to travel whenever i like.By the way, the struggle Norway is going through now are cause by private companies and capitalism involvement.Also, your example of hong Kong is not arguable, since China is Democratic Socialism, completely different from Norway´s ideology.Still, China is supporting USA, and Europe is fucked, and still we are not. 

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  • TheWildWebster

    Selfishness and greed is an inherent trait in all of humanity. To deny it is to deny reality. Greed boils down to want for anything in excess. If all you need is basic food/water, shelter and some level of security then wanting anything more than that is greed. I for one would argue that the definition of truly living is more consisting of the latter (want for more than subsistence) than it is of the former (merely surviving).

    What one should do, instead of demonizing selfishness and greed is to learn to identify irrational selfishness and unearned greed. The advancement of mankind REQUIRES that man exploit opportunities and create new opportunities to exploit. What the rational man does is seek to exploit those opportunities he has earned the privilege to exploit and seeks to not cause undue or unnecessary harm to others while doing so.
    As long as any man behaves in this rational fashion, it should be a deplorable concept to him and any of his similarly rational brethren that any other man should lay an unearned claim upon the products of his (earned) exploitation of the opportunities before him. (i.e. socialism)
    From what I have seen and heard from people I have spoken to who have visited Norway or other similar so-called ‘icons’ of statism, any who did not enter there with a confirmation bias akin to seeking a ‘working social utopia’ came back astounded at how many citizens just took for granted that the policies of the state were sound and just, while literally turning over large portions of their own hard work and achievement to a system that just handed it out to others based on no criteria other than some deluded notion of the ‘common good’.
    It is like suggesting that you can build a perfect society by slitting the throats of the most healthy and productive members of your community so the less productive can drink their blood. Regardless of how ‘successful’ you can make such a system appear, it is still leading the achievers to sacrifice on behalf of the leeches of society. It is fundamentally immoral and no amount of number shifting or cherry picking of statistics can overcome that fact – the fundamental premise is immoral, wrong and downright evil.

  • TheWildWebster

    Furthermore, pointing to somewhere like the modern day United States or similar nations as an example of ‘how capitalism fails’ is like Tonya Harding commenting on the skating ability of Nancy Karrigan only after having her ex-boyfriend break both of her shins.

  • Hans Fredrik Lauritzen

    When a country is stable, applying socialism (not communism), it allows the government to use less of the money charged by taxes. We pay a lot of taxes, but we get a lot of money back by the end of the tax year (skatteoppgjør). Think it as a way of saving. And the money that they take, for welfare and public/social services, which are obliged to be payed by the citizen (same as every country) is the money you say goes to the people drinking the blood of others hard work. Look man, if i pay the % i am suppose to pay as a citizen, for the services i except, i dont give a damn if it goes to a drugaddict being payed by the government, because i AM DOING MY DUTY AS A CITIZEN, and if we all take care of each other, that proves how a democracy is, if you are just indifferent to the people surrounding you then you can just expect corruption, theft and many other stuff YOU see every day in your country, we protect our people, and if the day comes that i see my public services failing, that would be the day i would recognize your comment, but it hasn’t happened, it hasn’t for 40 years, so i really cant believe how closed you are, you just prove to me you just think in yourself, and that is sad since that is the main reason Earth has so much poverty, selfishness…

  • Fred Stopsky

    Hans, you represent the attitude which is missing from current American society. Republicans do not regard all in our society as deserving of respect. We allow poor people to fight and then abandon them to poverty.

  • Rasjonalist1

    Sorry dude, Norway is surviving due to one factor only: Oil.

    1/3 of workforce is employed by the ever growing government bureaucracy. 1,3 mill of 5 mill citizens are living off social support.

    This madness is of course only possible in a n economy with some extraordinary income, like oil. It is not due to that Norway has applied socialism in some genius way, which it hasn’t, naturally.

  • Hans Fredrik Lauritzen

    You have your facts really wrong, the main income of Norway is the fish industry, and is only 300,000 people living on welfare, from which 130,000 are unemployed, which are seeking new jobs. I really do not know how your facts are because we do have oil, but we havent used a single dime from it since the 70´s, we paid our debt and then we have saved it all. You really have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Rasjonalist1

    Fish export in 2011: 52 billion NOK.
    Oil & gas export in 2011: 411 billion NOK.


    411 is higher than 52.

    Regarding the unemployment figures. It is safe to assume alot of able people are receiving disability benefits, and therefore not part of the unemployment statistics. Norway has one of the highest % of people receiving disability benefits in Europe.

    1,3 mill people are living on disability benefits from the government.


    Those are the facts, read up on them.

  • lol

    “no man can profit from another man´s work, and no poverty”
    Isn’t it what socialist country do, take from some to redistribute?

  • Berry Muhl

    “The inherent selfishness and greed of capitalists”…? The same people who donate more to charity every day than the rest of the world’s population combined?

    PEOPLE are inherently greedy, because PEOPLE are instinctively territorial, and private property is simply how territory is expressed in a civilized context. But PEOPLE also share with their kin, and are more willing to do so when allowed to voluntarily choose their kin.

    Socialism works fine in the natural state, because everybody in the group is “kin.” But the strength of kinship bonds falls off as the degree of relatedness falls off, which is why collectivism ceases to operate automatically in the civilized state. In civilization, we are no longer closely related to our neighbors. In order to self-domesticate–to civilize–we have had to undergo a process whereby genetic kinship has been supplanted by cultural kinship. Nepotistic altruism is replaced by reciprocal altruism. Kin selection is replaced by group selection.

    The catch is that this really only works well when there are cultural features in common that allow us to regard “them” as “us.” Altruism in ALL societies falls off with social distance; we prioritize aid to our families first, then our close friends, then our more distant relatives, and finally to the rest of the community.

    The Scandinavian model works tolerably well because Scandinavia has several predispositions to collectivism that are still found in the natural state today: a high degree of ethnic homogeneity, a high degree of cultural homogeneity, low geographic spread (and therefore reduced problems of scale), low population density, and a history of harsh circumstances and privation that have forced communal living situations in the past. The United States has NONE of these features. More to the point, our country loves LIBERTY, which is after all the principle on which our nation was founded…not equality, not “social justice.” Since communitarian solutions tend to require increasing degrees of government force, they are anathemic to the very social fabric of this nation.

    Furthermore, you misrepresent the Scandinavian model as “socialist.” Norway and Sweden are MIXED ECONOMIES which have been trending AWAY from socialism for the past few decades. You might also give some thought to how and why India and China have recently begun to become economic powerhouses: they’ve instituted market reforms.

    Some sources I suggest you read:

    From that article:

    “Now let’s step back and question the premise. Is Norway socialist? It
    may be relatively high tax, but it is more capitalist than the U.S. in
    many respects. Indeed, most northern European nations are
    closet free market hubs. It’s the southern countries that are socialist
    on the freedom index (the Italys, Greeces, Spains, Portugals … and
    yes, Frances).”


  • Thomas

    Norway is actually an example of mixed economy and its economy is not good because of that but because the natural resources generally and the oil particular. Plus USA is not the best example of capitalism but Switzerland is and all of us would love to live in Switzerland because of its prosperity.

  • Cheryl Detar

    Yes, That’s why they just deported 824 illegals. That’s a lot, considering their tiny population.