Stockholm riots and the failure of welfare state integration

The riots gripping Stockholm, Sweden for the past five nights are a fascinating case study in the failure of a welfare state to assimilate immigrants.  Sweden is noted for its graciousness and generosity to what it terms “asylum seekers.”  It provides free language instruction to overcome linguistic barriers, gently but firmly insisting on a common language.  It grants them access to the most lavish welfare state in the world.

And yet, gangs of “youths” from “immigrant-dominated areas of Stockholm” have been running wild all week, burning down restaurants and community centers, torching cars, throwing rocks at cops, and trying to blind firefighters with laser pointers.  Stockholm firefighters say they have “never seen so many fires raging at the same time” – they had ninety fires to deal with last night.  The unrest now threatens to spread to other Swedish cities.

All pretense that this is some kind of general “youth” unrest has been dropped.   “Leaders of immigrant communities were out on the streets in a bid to stop young people from rioting. Despite their efforts, as soon as the night fell, groups of arsonists took to the streets to set cars on fire,” says a report at

The riots were ostensibly kicked off by the police shooting a man who came at them with a machete, but everyone involved agrees that a lack of job opportunities, and the decline of the insolvent Swedish welfare state, are major motivations.  The table was set by years of large-scale immigration, coupled with a catastrophic failure to assimilate.  “The last 20 years or so, we have seen so many immigrants coming to Sweden that really don’t like Sweden,” said a Swedish newspaper editor.  “They do not want to integrate, they do not want to live in Swedish society: Working, paying taxes and so on.”

There’s a huge lesson for every welcoming nation in the world, including the United States, in the Stockholm crisis.  Welfare states don’t assimilate anyone – they only breed entitlement, ennui, and resentment.  The only thing that does integrate new citizens is opportunity.  They need jobs and the chance to create their own business enterprises.  Commerce has a way of bringing people together.  

Big Government saps the economic vitality needed to create these opportunities.  Vibrant boom economies with healthy job creation and business formation do not exist comfortably alongside high-taxing, hyper-regulating welfare states.  And there is simply no way for any nation’s culture and economy to process a huge, indiscriminate wave of low-skilled immigrants.  They remain alienated, and often come to despise the very people who might offer them opportunity.  Their resentment is deliberately cultivated by politicians and community leaders, who view them as a power base.  How many immigrants want to “integrate” with a society they hold in contempt, after their quest for a new life has ended in frustration… a society they are constantly told hates them in return?