|84 Hans L Zetterberg
with Finnish sisu. Couples in other parts of Scandinavia gyrate to disco and hard rock. In Finland, they also glide to the contained passion of tango. Tango music, melancholy and suggestive of a longing never consummated, is decades removed from rock. And while dancers to a rock band lead separate and equal lives as they dance it is the male who is undisputed master of the Finnish tango.
But let us turn to more central values and their realization in the northern periphery of Europe.
The civilization of the West has two outstanding themes, both of which are thoroughly entrenched in the Nordic countries; rationalism and humanitarian. The defeat of Nazi Germany clinched their ascendancy, For Hitler was the incarnation of both unreason and disagreed for human dignity. In Sweden, rationalism has long dominated the climate of opinion, A pious Swede is often ashamed of admitting his allegiance to God, while a rationalist Swede is not at all shy about admitting his to Reason. Irrational expressions, ranging from official Church doctrine about hell to the private mysticism of Dag Hammarskjöld’s diaries, are often looked upon with skepticism and even suspicion. Rationalism permeates the content of radio and television programs and the editorial and opinion pages of the large newspapers. Political discourse often resembles seminars on economics, political science, and sociology. Political debate in Sweden deals primarily with technical questions. In his book
The Problem of Democracy, Herbert Tingsten characterized the debate of the 1950s in these words:
Differences of opinion arise primarily over assumptions which have to be made regarding the development of the economy and the likely consequences of decisions taken. For example: Will there be a depression in the United States? What course will international commodity prices take? Do increased prices for agricultural products mean that the standard of living of the farmers will be unreasonably raised or does it simply mean that they will receive reasonable compensation? How much should wages be raised to compensate for what is lost through inflation, and how much inflation can be permitted in the interest of full employment? In what way can everyone be assured a suitable basic