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letters | socialism’s report card

It all depends on how one measures a nation’s wealth

RE “No, Bernie, Scandinavian countries are not socialist utopias”: Jeff Jacoby takes pains to point out that, according to Nima Sanandaji’s book “Scandinavian Unexceptionalism,” Nordic nations’ prosperity “developed during periods characterized by free-market policies, low or moderate taxes, and limited state involvement in the economy.’”

Jacoby goes on to argue that the “hard-left turn” to socialism happened “in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” after which Sweden, for instance, dropped from “fourth-wealthiest nation on earth (as measured by GDP per capita)” to 14th. I wonder whether Jacoby has brushed up on his Karl Marx, who clearly envisioned the hard-left turn happening in industrialized, capitalist, democratic countries such as the Scandinavian countries.

Marx did not intend for feudal, primarily agrarian nations such as China, Russia, and Cuba to have communist revolutions. The forced, non-democratic policies in those countries ran counter to the vision of Marx.

However, it was clearly envisioned by Marx that the hard-left turn would be to the benefit of countries such as the Nordic nations so long as they also remained democratically run. That is precisely what played out, and though they may have fallen in gross domestic product, they are in the top 10 for GDH, or gross domestic happiness, as measured by the United Nations’ World Happiness Report.


Do we want to be rich or happy? My vote is for Bernie Sanders and happiness.

Jason Giannetti, Brookline