Imagine the future. Not your preferred utopia or feared dystopia but what you expect Britain to look like in 30 years. It is not idiotic to think that if current trends continue, Britain, much of the rest of Europe, Australia and North and South America will be more Scandinavian. We will accept the equality of women and women in positions of power. We will be more socially egalitarian, or if inequalities in wealth are still as great as they are now, then the class distinctions left by the old aristocracy will be less important. Society will enforce liberalism with more rules and codes. I know people bemoan our existing PC culture, but I doubt their sincerity because no man is a free-marketeer when his boss unfairly dismisses him, and no woman complains about “political correctness gone mad” when she is the victim of sexual harassment. Modern people want transparent and accountable systems that protect their rights. Even if they do not realise it, even if they think they do not want it, they are groping towards the Scandinavian model.
“If current trends continue” are the four most treacherous words in sociology. Current trends have a habit of stopping in their tracks and heading off in new directions. But the belief that Scandinavia represents a possible future helps to explain the phenomenal success of its crime fiction. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has sold almost 30 million copies. British television has shown three versions of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels. Now BBC4 is offering us Danish television’s thriller The Killing, the first drama from Europe that can compete with the best of American TV.
Showing the dark side of supposedly ordered societies is a trick used by 1940s film noir writers and the authors of English country-house murders, although I think it is fair to say that this is the first and last similarity between them.
Carry on reading