This is the English version of the previous blog post.
(My friend’s original Facebook post, which prompted this essay [my own translation])
I’m studying right now and we’re all supposed to go out to look for interneships. Being naive and in my little bubble, I thought that everyone will get a fair shot in the job market. However, it seems like some of my classmates, with an ethnic background outside of Europe, are finding it difficult to get an internship. I didn’t know that the barrier to entry was so high.
All I had to do was to make a couple of phone calls. I was successful on my second call, contracts were signed, and it was all done.
A 20-year old Syrian guy, who came here in 2015, with a science degree has not been able to get a place after having applied to 40 companies. He has a spotless attendance record at the vocational college and good grades. He has a driving license and lots of strong references. I helped him get a summer job and he never missed a day’s work, didn’t even come in late once. He’s had perfect attendance at that job.
It is said that everything is just given to you on a silver platter in Sweden. You get all the tools and so on, but my God some have to really fight in order to get a seat at the table. That guy must be so strong.
It wasn’t a day too late to start studying again. However, I’ve learned more about humanity than automation at the end of the day.
The post above is alluding to the narrative in Sweden that “all it takes” is getting a job and learning the language. If you get these done, then the doors to Sweden are opened to you, with everything becoming available to you.
I find myself today in a limbo land, between being an adult “nysvensk” (Swedish by assimilation) and a child of first-generation economic migrants. I have been a Swedish citizen since 1996, but I don’t have the social network that most Swedes have developed since children. I never went to kindergarten here.
But when I moved back here 6 years ago, I bought this narrative wholesale, this opiate of the massases. I re-acquired the language and immersed myself in idioms. I got a job. Guess what? I wasn’t swept up in an hurricane of friends and social capital, as is told by society, despite doing everything they told me to do and taking all suggestions. 2 years ago, I decided to study full-time and change paths. I wanted to get a non-tech job, a service job like many people here. It didn’t happen. I couldn’t even get a job in hemtjänst. All doors were closed.
After a lot of reflection, I realized that I had developed an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Where are my friends, dude?! Where is my payout, man?! Why am I not getting what I was supposed to get?! I have done everything…
The reality is that this is not how it works in Sweden. It doesn’t matter at all what you have done or accomplished. You don’t deserve shit. No one owes you shit. The only thing that has happened by getting a job and learning the job is that you have joined the fold. You have become a lemming like everyone else.
Do you want more here? Fight. Work harder. Build your own capital. But don’t expect anything of someone else, society, or the state. Are there obstacles? Become creative and get around them.
Stop complaining, Mina. No one gives a shit. The state doesn’t care. Plug in your AirPods and swipe through the void, like everyone else.
The reality is also as follows:
1. It does matter if you have a non-European name.
2. It does matter if you have dark complexion.
3. It does matter that most Swedes – regardless of ethnicity or cultural background – don’t want to make new friends or let new people into their social circles.
4. It does matter if you came here older, with no contacts, and don’t have your social network fully formed by 18 years old.
Do you have a job? Be fucking grateful and shut the fuck up.
Do you want to do something else? We can’t help you. There are others in more need of help than you. You have a job. Shut the fuck up.
Do you know someone who can get you a job? “No…” Then, shut the fuck up.
You may hear at some point in your life that there’s this guy who says that he loves cute women with a great sense of humor, but he actually hooks up with boring gym bunnies. He is neither evil nor a fool. He just lacks self-awareness. His sense of reality has not been tested by actual experience.
This guy is Sweden. Sweden is whistling in the dark, fervently hoping that their claims are true. If not.. well, that’s why we have the state! None of my business…
The narrative is not false because society is lying willfully. Rather, society is not aware of what it believes and whether it is rooted in reality or not. They don’t think about anything. Everything is set up for them. Why think? Why question?
At the bottom of the original Facebook post, the friend attached a photo that can be interpreted that society’s scorning of the young Syrian guy is a symptom of Nazism, that Nazism should be thrown into the garbage. I don’t agree with this conclusion, that the Syrian guy didn’t get a job because Sweden or Swedish society is a Nazi country or one.
I hold that Swedish society does not want to accept that everything is about your name, your appearance, and social capital. Because if Sweden accepts that about itself, then it is no longer “ett bra land” (a common trope in the literature of the Social Democrats). A good country. It is no longer the mecca of modernity. It becomes like all other countries – a flawed country with blindspots. Then, Sweden loses its ideological and moral high ground in the world.
Sweden, you’re in denial. Stop lying to yourself and all of us who moved here, regardless of pretense.
Be honest and tell the truth. Then, we can either choose to stay and accept the insanity or revolt by leaving to live somewhere else.