Torkil Lauesen: “The welfare state will not come back”

Parliamentary elections were held in Denmark on the 5th of June and a Social democrat minority government supported by the left wing were formed. You believe that the result do not represent a change of course in Danish policy. Why?

The Social Democrats have adopted the policy of the right wing populist Danish People’s Party: restrictive migration policy combined with nostalgia for the welfare state.

What is wrong with the welfare state?

Nothing. The Danish welfare state has given me a comfortable life. However, it has nothing to do with socialism. It is the result of imperialist exploitation. To defend it is not progressive. Socialists must fight for free health care, unemployment benefits and the like, but this fight must be global. Socialism cannot be divided; Moreover, the welfare state will not come back.

Why not?

The rise of neoliberalism came partly because the welfare state became an obstacle to capital accumulation. The relocation of industrial production and the new global division of labour make a return impossible. There is no way back to the capitalist welfare state. There is only one way forward, towards global welfare.

What do you mean when you say that social democracy has adopted the migration policy of the Danish People’s Party?

The success of the Danish People’s Party was based on demanding a national bulwark against the social and political consequences of global neoliberalism. That is exactly what Social Democracy is now doing. It makes no secret of it either. Mette Frederiksen, the new Social Democratic Prime Minister, has repeatedly stated that there is broad support among the Danish population for restrictive migration policies, which is why her party must pursue such a policy.

Climate policy was also an issue in the election campaign.

It is gratifying that there is a new, young climate movement. Many activists know that the problems they address cannot be solved within the framework of the existing system. Politicians, however, limit themselves to rhetorical tricks. Copenhagen should be CO2-neutral by 2025. That is a realistic goal. All well and good. However, what exactly does that mean? The entire production of our consumer goods has been outsourced. If it is included, we are light years away from CO2 neutrality.

The new government is supported by the left-wing opposition parties. Why?

The argument is well known: “Anything else would be worse”. However, the differences to a bourgeois government are minimal. Those who defend the “smallest evil” rob the organization of time and resources for radical resistance. But radical resistance is necessary if we are to tackle the real causes of our problems. We need global class solidarity, not national chauvinism.

These are big words. How can global class solidarity be built?

The governing parties in Europe are in power because many people vote for them. Voters are not passive victims. It is important to face this fact. Only in this way can we form alliances that really challenge the capitalist system. Anti-imperialists in our part of the world are a minority. Most of our partners will come from the Global South and they are the majority. Socialism knows no national borders. There is no anti-capitalism without anti-imperialism.

Prominent voices in the SPD are calling for the Danish example to be followed. Could this lead the party out of the crisis?

I am not the advisor of the SPD. But compromising with nationalist and racist tendencies can never lead to socialism. Rather, it leads to hell.


Torkil Lauesen
In the 1970s and 80s, Torkil Lauesen was a member of a clandestine communist cell which carried out a series of robberies in Denmark, netting very large sums which were then sent on to various national liberation movements in the Third World. Following their capture in 1989, Torkil would spend six years in prison. In 2016, Lauesen’s book Det Globale Perspektiv was released in Denmark. In it, he explains how he sees the world political situation today, and his thoughts about the future.

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