Mark S. Weiner

Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

EMS and Multicultural Outreach in Sweden; Fulbright Update

In Conversations, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Europe, Rule of the Clan, Video on March 5, 2019 at 8:37 am

For the past six months I’ve been living in Sweden, serving as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University. I’ve been teaching and lecturing about U.S. constitutional law, and I’ve been learning a lot about Sweden, too. I’ve been especially interested in understanding reported tensions between emergency medical service providers and immigrant communities.

As part of that work, I recently got to know an innovative community outreach program called the Person Behind the Uniform, which brings young people and first responders together to learn about each other’s lives. You can learn more about the program in an article and three documentary videos I published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, here. I think it’s a fantastic thing—in fact, I think it provides the philosophical seeds for reframing the entire social contract in a nation undergoing rapid demographic change.

I spoke about a set of related issues recently to the Swedish magazines Respons (here; in Swedish) and Kvartal (here; in English), and at a panel discussion at Culture House co-sponsored by the publisher Fri Tanke and the Royal Academy of Science (here; in English), and I’ve meditated for Expressen (here; in English) on why an increasingly multicultural Sweden ought to institute a civics test for citizenship (hint: it’s not especially to test immigrants). I also spoke early during my time in country to Fri Tanke for its Friday podcast series (here; in English)—and look for an interview with me to be published soon in the online journal Quillette.

Many of these discussions and publications touch on my book The Rule of the Clan, which I’m honored played a role in the thinking of Per Brinkemo as he and Johan Lundberg put together their influential edited collection Klanen (discussed here, in Swedish; see circa time stamps 1:40 and 9:50).

For anyone interested in other things I’ve published in Sweden, you might check out a series of op eds in Dagens Nyheter (about Trumpism and the philosophy of world order; about the Swedish parliamentary elections; about political roadblocks to gun control in America; and about President Trump’s then-threat to declare a national emergency to fund the border wall).

For readers who have come to this post because of their interest in the work of a Fulbright scholar, you might be interested to know that during my time here I’ve also spoken to a class in administrative law at Örebro law school, to a masters-level seminar on the origins of the state in the Uppsala University political science department, to a conference of school teachers in Malmö (ResearchED), on a panel at Uppsala University about the U.S. midterm elections, and at a President’s Day discussion of the U.S. Constitution to the American Club of Sweden (with a follow-up presentation to come in May). I’ll also be giving a non-partisan public lecture about Trumpism and American politics in an age of globalization at Uppsala University on March 28, which will be published in Sans magasin on line and in print; a presentation to the Uppsala University philosophy department higher seminar in aesthetics about law and visuality on April 3; a talk about EMS and critical social theory in May as part of the Fulbright Intercountry Lecture Program; and, the day after tomorrow, a lecture to an Uppsala law school class in comparative constitutionalism. In the realm of research, I also have an essay appearing soon in Juridisk Publikation about E. B. White and international law, and I’m slowly moving ahead with exciting projects about multiculturalism and EMS in Sweden with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute and the University of Borås.

In addition, as a teacher, I’ve brought a variety of virtual visitors to speak with my Swedish students via Skype, including a representative of the National Constitution Center; a judge of the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals; an elected judge from Texas; the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and the Deputy Chief of Staff for a U.S. Senator. I’ve also asked my students to engage with American law and politics by becoming experts in a single tossup district in the recent midterm elections and presenting their findings in a social scientific poster—which they in turn had the chance to present at a party at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence; and by tweeting about U.S. constitutional law as @SINASStudents; and by creating—stay tuned—a 5-10 minute podcast about the subject (I’ll be tweeting out one podcast daily under the @SINASStudents name beginning in April).

Finally, I’ve held long, substantive meetings with over thirty different new colleagues across the country, and my wife and I have visited, intensively, more than twenty Swedish museums or historic sites and over ten different towns or cities (inculding Malmö, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Ludvika, Trosa, Borås, Mariefred, Sigtuna, and Vesterås), often multiple times (and Östersund is coming next week—to attend the biathlon world championships!). To our great delight, we also had the chance to attend the Nobel Prize ceremonies.

Like all Fulbrighters I’ve ever met, I am very grateful for the public support of my research and teaching, both in Sweden and the United States, and I’ve been trying to make the most of it. It’s been an exciting six months so far—and there are over five months more to go. Tack så mycket!

John Stuart Mill and the Rule of the Clan in Sweden

In Freedom of speech, Individualism, Race, Rule of the Clan, Sweden on March 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

Two items were published this week that brought me away from thinking about documentary film and back to The Rule of the Clan.

The first was a blog post titled “Why Libertarians Should Champion Social Liberty,” by Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center. Taylor advances a position that at first glance seems to run counter to core libertarian principles: he argues that “freedom is advanced by [government] preventing private racial discrimination.” This view is anathema to many libertarians, Taylors notes, who believe that government action to prevent private discrimination is “flatly immoral no matter how well-intentioned or worthwhile the consequences might be.”

But Taylor suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the libertarian tradition—one of whose patron saints, John Stuart Mill, had this to say in the first chapter of On Liberty:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Taylor then goes on to suggest—here’s the kicker—that “Mill’s heir on this matter might well be Mark Weiner.”

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