Is this a new low in efforts to demonise refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere? The Danish minority government, run by Venstre and supported by the Danish People’s Party, has proposed that the bags and clothes of refugees be searched for money and valuables such as jewellery so as to be confiscated for the ‘cost’ of travelling through Denmark. Mind you, the government has thus far refused to accept refugees, although it generously allows them to travel through Denmark to Sweden. Indeed, the government is trying to claim that it is exceedingly generous – by allowing people to keep their phones and wedding rings. Of course, the underlying assumption is that they are not ‘genuine’ refugees but supposedly rich ‘economic’ refugees.

As Christina pointed out to me, not only are such minor items easily transportable for an emergency (like food), but the next step is to remove gold teeth. Further, my experience from a recent rail journey across Europe on trains full of refugees is that they have only a small bag with the absolute basics.

I have been discussing the Danish election results with Christina this afternoon. For a small country, the results may not seem important, but they may be read as harbingers of the situation in Scandinavia more generally. Initially, the results may seem depressing for anyone with sympathies vaguely on the Left. The ‘blue block’ seems to to have won the election with the slimmest of margins, 90 seats to the ‘red block’s’ 89 seats. Why depressing? The Danish People’s Party (DF) has won more than 21 percent of the vote, becoming Denmark’s second largest party in the Folketing (parliament). This is the party that has campaigned on three issues for the last 20 years: anti-Muslim propaganda, a wider xenophobia and a rhetoric of watching out for the ‘little people’ who are ‘suffering’ from the EU’s policies. This party has now become the king-maker, nominating Lars Løkke Rasmussen of the centre-right Ventre Party as Prime Minister.

But let us look a little deeper into the election results. The Social-Democrats actually improved their standing, cementing their position as Denmark’s main party. They now command about 27% of the vote. However, their various allies in a conventional bourgeois democratic system did not get enough votes to get the ‘red block’ coalition over the line. The second most popular party is the Danish People’s Party (as I mentioned, with more than 21% of the vote), a kind of neo-fascist bunch with a populist appeal. The two main parties would seem to be the antithesis of one another. But at a deeper level, they have much in common. Both have played the xenophobia card. The Social-Democrats have pointed the finger at ‘Eastern Europeans’ as the bane of Denmark, while the People’s Party likes to target Arabs, Muslims and people with obvious skin colouring that is not white.

Why are they so close to one another? I suggest it has to do with the infamous Scandinavian welfare state. The Social Democrats have been the architects of the welfare state in Denmark (and also with similar parties in other Nordic states). The catch is that the welfare state can only function by means of strict controls as to who is eligible for its benefits. The boundaries have always been clear. The Danish People’s Party plays on that theme: they promise to care for those who have been disadvantaged by aggressive EU policies aimed at bringing in cheap labour to undermine the very structure of welfare state. In that sense, the Danish People’s Party is the child of the welfare state, laying bare its incipient xenophobia.

The upshot: the natural alliance should be between the Social Democrats and the Danish People’s Party, since the latter is the child of the former. In that way, they could easily form government (at more than 48% of the vote) with one of the other minor parties.

The Germans may have their Würste, in all manner of intriguing formations, as I have noted earlier. But on one thing at least the Danes comprehensively beat the Germans – in the grossness of their sausages. To wit:

IMG_1328 (2)a

They call this a Fransk Hotdog, but it looks more like a dog’s dick. Note the ring of mayonnaise at the base.

Even more inventive is:

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Correct me if I am wrong, but that bun looks remarkably like a pair of bum cheeks.

P.S. Given the popularity of these items and given the obvious fact that they are decidedly bad for you, I am struggling to see how the infamous homo economicus fits into this picture. Isn’t he supposed to determine, rationally, what is to his own benefit?

Lenin spent a good deal of time in Finland (which he loved), Sweden (where the socialists had their conferences from time to time) and Denmark (where he spoke on occasion). Not that he was so fond of the latter place:

Who says that in our day there is no trade in human beings? There is quite a brisk trade. Denmark is selling to America for so many millions (not yet agreed upon) three islands, all populated, of course.

In addition, a specific feature of Danish imperialism is the superprofits it obtains from its monopolistically advantageous position in the meat and dairy produce market: using cheap maritime transport, she supplies the world’s biggest market, London. As a result, the Danish bourgeoisie and the rich Danish peasants (bourgeois of the purest type, in spite of the fables of the Russian Narodniks) have become “prosperous” satellites of the British imperialist bourgeoisie, sharing their particularly easy and particularly fat profits.

Why so negative? Denmark was the Scandinavian empire par excellence, so much so that Lenin finds the talk at the time of a Danish identity or need to guard the state a bit of a joke. May well apply to its restrictive and xenophobic policies these days:

The masses of the Danish people passed through the bourgeois liberation movement long ago. More than 96 per cent of the population are Danes. This alone proves what a crude bourgeois deception is the talk of the Danish bourgeoisie about an “independent national state” being the task of the day! This is being said in the twentieth century by the bourgeoisie and the monarchists of Denmark, who possess colonies with a population nearly equal to the number of Danes in Germany.

Collected Works, vol 23, p. 135

Almost nothing escapes Lenin’s critical gaze, not even margarine:

Margarine is cheaper than real butter. Butter is too costly for the vast majority of the population in the capitalist countries. The workers earn so little that they have to buy cheap, low-grade, substitute food products. And yet the workers are the chief consumers. There are millions of workers, and only hundreds of capitalists. And so the output of cheap substitutes is growing daily and hourly, along with the unheard-of luxury of a handful of millionaires.

K’noath! Even margarine is a signal of class conflict. And where is the conflict the sharpest? Denmark:

It appears that the greatest consumer of margarine is Denmark—16,4 kilograms (about one pood) a year per in habitant. Next comes Norway—15 pounds, Germany—7.5 pounds, etc.

Denmark is the richest country for butter output. Danish butter—real butter—ranks among the finest grades. The world’s biggest and richest city, London (population, including that of the suburbs, about six million), prefers Danish butter to any other, and pays the highest price for it.

Danish well-to-do peasants, but above all the Danish capitalists, make a good deal of money from the butter trade. And yet Denmark is the world’s biggest consumer of substitute butter, margarine!

What is the explanation?

It is very simple. The vast majority of the Danish population, like that of any other capitalist country, consists of workers and propertyless peasants. They cannot afford real butter. Even the middle peasants in Denmark, being in need of money, sell abroad the butter they produce on their farms and buy the cheap margarine for themselves.

Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 18, pp. 224-5.

Next time you consume butter or margarine, think about it: you can’t escape class conflict!

An ideal place in the world would have stunningly hot summers by a beach like Newcastle in Oz and fucking cold winters like the one under way over in Denmark and northern Europe in general.

From my longer reply to Niels Peter Lemche, due out tomorrow in Bible and Interpretation. Biblical scholars like to claim that the Bible is vitally important in the modern world, Lemche included, which of course inflates their own importance. I have been guilty of the same, especially when pitching for some cash. Not quite as important as we like to think, it seems:

Let me offer a few sobering statistics from a country close in demographics to Denmark (where Lemche teaches), namely, the Netherlands. If the Bible is read at all, it is by a highly educated, Protestant minority. (By contrast, if the poor read any scripture, it is the Qur’an.) Both possession and use of the Bible continue to decline sharply in what has been termed “Bible fatigue.” A paltry 13 percent of the Dutch population read the Bible on a regular basis. Further, 87 percent of those who do not read the Bible want to have nothing more to do with it. Of the dwindling group of those who read the Bible, only a quarter regard it as offering moral guidelines as to how one should live and act, and even fewer see it as a source of inspiration. And if we focus on that even smaller group of those who do seek inspiration, then they simply do not see the Bible’s central message as either world domination or transformation, a call to end inequality or poverty. Instead, they are interested in personal security, salvation, Jesus as the truth, Jesus as the light in the world, a handhold and a lesson for life.

Assuming we can extrapolate the Dutch results to Denmark, then Lemche is a scholar of a text that has appeal to a rapidly shrinking minority of wealthy Protestant individuals. Not quite the superstitious hordes rushing from the jungle to seize the world that Lemche imagines.