Norway remains a thorn in the side of the Neoliberal fascist movement. It wasn't so very long ago in the 1960s in fact that Norway had one of the poorest economic standards of living in Europe, at a level on a par with Portugal. Oil was then of course a huge fortuity. But it was more the perception that this massive wealth could be shared by society and everyone should be able have a better standard of living throughout society that is the vital difference between democratic Norway and the now post democratic UK and USA.
The post war growth in the economy and average standard of living hit the buffers in the 1970s in many western countries, but the UK and the USA as now fading imperial powers. The cure for these nations was presented by the Neoliberal agenda which has now had over 30 years to run its course and deliver economic growth and a revival in average living conditions. Only it hasn't - economic growth from the 1980s to current day has declined and on average, been far lower than the post war Keynsian period. However growth in value for the very wealthiest has increased as probably never before, even in the medieval times of Kings, Popes and warlords.
Norway was an easy win for both social democracy and oil capital. There was a willing workforce, many of whom were seamen or worked with mechanics on farms and huge oil resources relative to the population. Also there was a large degree of social cohesion in terms of race and a rather class-less society with Christian values. People lived in the 1960s in either small communities where they all met at school, church and sports club or they lived in quite small cities where they organised themselves by unions, associations and chambers of commerce and more closed old-boy gentlemans clubs.
Norway is a G20 country while the USA and UK over shadow the country in terms of net wealth and now China eclipses any single economy in terms of growth and probably net value if there ever was a fire sale for an alien world with enough gold to buy it out. What Neoliberalist propganda has acheived in the UK and USA is the perception that liberal, Keynsian economics are inherently wrong and that wealth is best created and distributed by the individual acting by their own working efforts alone.
The end result over the last 30 years of the rampant application of NeoLiberal (I prefer neoconservative as a term) has been a shift of power away from collective bargaining and away from democratic control or investment in the essentials of life towards ownership by inevitably the rich global elite and their massice enterage of 'white russians' - the well paid career fascists in politics, the judiciary and the police, the 'independent economic institutes' and the stock markets.
As once democratically empowered voters and unions members we are now 'empowered' existential beings in the post collective society. Those who deserve more, work harder get more. Dog eat dog. The reality is somewhat different from the utopian ideal which promised economic growth and a better standard of living via lower taxes and more efficient, privatised essential services. Freeing up so much flow of money and power for the rich elite should have lead to 'trickle down' which rather instead is the biggest lie ever uttered by a politician. Now in the UK and USA there are increasingly expensive
Social cohesion is something which is a little intangable, but certainly the modern way of life and economy does more to create social outcasts in terms of two main factors - mental health and migration. Poor mental health provision. Metropolisation in Norway is a large economic factor and with the centralisation of oil corporates and the 'beasts of quango beaurocracy' moving to Oslo in particular, so has the City over taken the county as where most people live and work. Cohesion means some nice nationalist things with a small N - cross country skiing, football, and the general obsession with fitness and achievement via completing distance events.
However more people are becoming politically actuive in a NeoLiberal party, the Fremskritts Parti, or ""progress party". They are being drawn in by the promise of lower taxes delivering higher personal wealth for all, and the use of nationalism and outright racism to exploit the unease that many Norwegians feel about the growth of in particular, Muslim immigration. While the centre of politics want to both limit assylum based immigration now, they also want to promote better integration. FrP have taken a move away from this in policy now by extending the period under which applicants for assylum can expect to wait before a decision is made.
The Left across Europe have also agreed that this massive influx of in particular, unskilled young male muslims is unsustainable, and even Merkel has renaged on her dream of filling the gap in the mysterious decline in the German population with middle eastern faces. However xenophobia is an area the soft right and the Left will not enter while the FrP feel they have free form to promote racist ideology based upon prejudices about Islam, in particular appealing to our western woman, while using skin colour in their posters to raise hackles and exploit fear, with "the rapist was of foreign origin' along with a white girl being persued by a middle eastern youth.
Like Trump in the USA, they have found that hate and suspicion pays in current day politics, as much as greed does. Post war social democracy created it's own monster - a greedy educated white collar and skilled blue collar new economic middle class on the one head of the beast, while on the other a jealous, highly taxed over class who found commod ground with the other head. Along with the new super global corporations and their lobby structures and legal department muscle, a many headed medusa was formed with the Reagen -Thatcher followers as the vocal choir of trans atlantic reform for the rich to become far more powerful than they ever really had been.
There are of course many criticims which can be laid at the door of Liberalist and Socialist ideologies. An ever increasing tax burden on all of society linked to the need to always be paying unionised workers in line with inflation with no real incentives or momentum for gains in productivity. Yet thrity years on the UK languishes in productivity because it has largely deindustrialised. Privatised public services can now exert above inflation price rises on consumers based on either local monopolies, such as rail, or subtifuse in marketing power and water utilities. Also these utilities must have large beauroracies in croporate accounting compliance for the LSE, and as mentioned, large marketing budgets in order to maintain an acceptable churn rate in what is a soft war of attrition.
What lies in store for Norway with the inevitable extention of NeoLiberal economics via a shift to the right with FrP steering much of the current and probably next government? Better, toll free roads? More money in your pocket from lower taxes? Peace of mind from efficient privatised public services? The release of wealth from where there was once communist style stagnation?
Unlike Norway, the UK and USA are at the bitter end of 30 years of neoliberalism and proto nationalism. Public spending as a proportion of GDP is not low because the countries have lagre defence budgets to maintain their international power, as demonstrated in the 'oil grab' war against the bogey man of Sadam Hussein, with the result being the rise of IS/ISIS/ISIL. Also they have large welfare bills in keeping the lid on social unrest from the growing underclass and as revealed in the last few years, subsidising the 'procariat' with their part time temporary jobs in retail and privatised services. Even the UK chancellor is doing something dramatically social democratic to address this faslehood, by rasiing the mimiunm wage. Average wages have been slow to grow in the post eighties malaise and have been in relation to inflation stagnant since the financial collapse of 2008. Yet average house prices have gone on now to be more than 12 times average income. There is then no coincidence that the average first time buyer is 37 years old, and rising due to this disconnect.
The UK economy has moved quite quikcly away from being an economy based on investment and return in prodcution as main value creation, with high economic growth relative to the last 20 years low single figures, to a "service" economy where capital invests more in fact in property and essential public utilities.THe economy has moved away from manufacturing to being an owned-to-rent where capital now makes most return on investment from exerting ever more rent rather than 'earned income' from production. Property is an esculator which is linked to three factors - growth in population, growth in wages and metropolisation of jobs. Growth in any one of these areas would be enough to make for an above bank interest ROI, but all three in combination can accumulated to make for double figure ROI per annum, which is just not available via investing in the risky industrial productioin economy, no matter how high tech it is. However this own-to-rent capitalist economy includes not only that rented property you lived in until you were in your mid thirties, but also those high electricity and gas bills, and that expensive commute and that declining privatised service you pay more for less for such as the post office/Royal Mail.
Norway can expect that average wages will decline under neoliberal rule, while take home money may increase by tax cuts, these for the average worker will soon be eaten up by higher costs of housing. Why? Because tax cuts will give the wealthiest the most money back and they will invest in property, as for the reason explained above- it is percieved as the 'safest' ROI and has become so historically.
Norway can also expect that privatised public services whill either cost more, as in the railways or 'own proportion' in health, or deliver less, such as road repairs being less effective. The need to show a large gross margin, eventualk profit and then the accountancy and marketing beaurocracies lead to a concentration of suppliers who reach price parity.
The Right in norway have been promoting a more "flexible " legislature on work contracts. The3y want to move away from permanecny because it has a percieved risk and cost for especially small businesses, many of whose owner-managers are politically active in the Right. Befo0re the oil price crash, their propaganda used the approach of getting the quite large number of high-school-drop-outs into work by allowing them to work a contract of a whole year without any permancy, instead of today where often employers like McDonald'd franchises dispatch trainees at the 6 month stage to avoid 'on costs' of permancy, such as pension payments.
The new Right in Norway went fishing for a problem to cure with job insecurity for the majority, when the economy was still growing more than the UK or US in % terms and unemployment was low. Now with rising unemployment they can find an excuse to introduce this and render the Norwegian model redundnatnt thus locking more people into renting and feeding the captial property economy for longer time before they eventually find or negotiate permancy, or if banks in future will be more flexible on loaning to people without secure contracts.
This has been the greatest lie of the Neoliberals for 30 years + - that job insecurity is a flexibility which creates more jobs, wealth and well being. Neoliberal countries also have far higher rates of unemployment and especially "underemployment" than liberal scandinavia and social democrat Germany. To some extent permancy in Norway is merely a perception, but it is also an important part of working culture and probably in fact works to promote moderation in wage demands. Employees are loyal to employers and not job shopping relative to their US compatriots. Consumer confidence is kept high by the perception in the lending supply chain that there is a degree of protection.
Neoliberalism has just failed to make life better for the eaverag worker and indeed made life a lot worse in many ways for some poorer workers. The aervage income person works in IT/internet, finance admin' or Supply Chain now and is expected to work overtime with no additional salary yet also has no real job security and can be repossessed and out in the street within a few weeks of being fired. A recent wide reaching financial investigation revealed that over 100 million Americans have no more than 1000 dollars in savings money.
. Now in fact it is its' dieing throws and much like Hitler in the bunker, is demanding more of its followers and exploiting more of its populace in attempt to prove itself right and the natural order of things. Also like Hitler, in an well trodden road to popular scapegoatism, it has turned to blaming ethnic peoples in society for the ills of the average white western worker, thus the rise of Trump in the USA-.
Unfortunetly there is the unavoidable fact that progress in soceity is inevitably linked to taxation and national investment, be that by kings and churches or by governments and local authorities of today. It has had thirty years to work and has failed the average and most proliferate of workers, while it has marhginalised the old, the infirm and the metnally ill. It has rewarded the top third of society and created many mechanisms of meta-democracy where by the rich can evade taxes and coproatrions can evade environmental and social repsonsibility.
Like Communism and most other extreme idologies which concentrate power in the hands of an unelected few, Neoliberalism will eventually be overthrown. It creates too much inequity in society that eventually enough of the population will feel disinfranchised and rebel against it via the ballot box or by more radical non party political action. However before it does this, it will extend its reach to countries like Norway with the same appeal of lower tax and personal responsibility. They will claim that your hard earned money is being sqaundered on the poor and undeserving who do not work as hard as you. They will appeal to the xenophbia inherent in any mono ethnic population.They will use government to communicate propoganda on the effectiveness of privatising public utilities which will then cost the consumer and tax payer more over time, as we see with the UK railways anad health proviswion. In the end they will fail to deliver anything for the average worker here than the misery of uncertain employment. Norway, will you take that road?