The sub-title of the book – How the Scandinavians got it right, and how we can too – illustrates the positive intent of the author. George Lakey, a Quaker for many years and a veteran of such groups as the Movement for a New Society (in Philadelphia, USA), focuses on the nonviolent options available for all societies in bringing about a better world characterised by equality, shared social justice, healthier citizens, and smarter environmental policies.
From long-term personal experience living in and visiting Scandinavia (his wife is Norwegian), George Lakey has a deep appreciation of the struggles needed to give the people there the strength to resist pressures to conform to a neo-liberal agenda of competition, consumerism and corporate power. Travelling through the historical and contemporary experience of the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland), the author highlights occasions when the people empowered themselves to overcome difficulties and ensure the continuation of societies that value equality, support entrepreneurs and workers, use co-operatives to enhance productivity, encourage full participation in life-long education, and create effective work/life balance.
The book then turns to the relevance of the Nordic model to the USA (and other western countries) by posing a series of questions and giving comprehensive examples of how the approach could work elsewhere, despite different historical and cultural factors. George Lakey concludes with a call to action – “The next step for readers of this book might be to support the progressive social movements emerging around us and to embrace the value of design, to project the contours of what a political economy could look like that would support their cause”. I highly commend this book.
David Purnell, Canberra Regional Meeting
Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians got it right – and how we can too by George Lakey, published by Melville House, New York and London, 2016.