Seeds for Municipalism in Sweden

brandIn a variety of municipalities and neighbourhoods, notably in Norrland, new social movements has been emergent in recent years. Alienated from traditional ideologies’ they investigate different methods to improve circumstances, to resurrect democracy and to bring power back to the population.

Communism died in 1989. In 2008 it was burial time for Social democracy. Don’t mourn. Avoid the swamps of nostalgia. Do not feed the zombies of traditional workers movements’ mainstream still wandering among us. This may for Swedes seem contradictory to our believes: But western Europe’s social democratic parties had – in terms of voter support – their golden age between the mid 1980’s and mid 00’s. The paradigm of neoliberalism that is now eroding was largely introduced and maintained under red flags, to choirs singing »The Internationale« and with slogans of equality. Since the middle of the first decade of the new millennia (and certainly since crisis hit in 2008) we’re observing these parties transition from state bearing positions to, sometimes fast and other times successively, the fringes of the political landscape (See: Rose Thou Art Sick, 2016-02-02). Because of this the 2011 moment, also beyond Europe, lacked most characteristic features of the traditional workers’ movement. Some questions seemed inherently carried in the foundations of insurrections: How do we build counter power against the constituted without soon becoming the same we set out to get rid of? How do we communicate in a situation when all our most beautiful, important words seem distorted, stripped of substance and effect? How do we create a, or many, »we«, not painted in betrayal, blood, nostalgia and disillusion?

Many of the movements born out of 2011 felt necessity to begin at, but also to continuously return to, those kind of questions – trying to shape brick-by-brick trough more careful articulations of subjects in motion, to openly and unprejudiced experiment with different tools and configurations. Out of such processes came, among many other and sometimes incompatible considerations, the contours for what we today might depict as (new) »municipalism«.

When such theories are now introduced in Sweden, it seems worth studying some localities in Norrland showing basic features for this kind of design, much like Skåne and Blekinge did for the emergence of a new fascism. In the essay »Skånedemokraterna« (also in this issue of Brand, 2/2016, theme: »The Local«), Mathias Wåg depicts how key to success for Sverigedemokraterna was their ability to absorb and reconstitute latent discontent (and its organizers) into a territorial base for a new fascism. It is notable that this became possible by consciously cutting ties to superficial attributes of historical fascism –its milieu, aesthetics, symbols and language particularities. It’s however no coincidence that the party found its base were it did. Economic historian Lovisa Broström has inherently portrayed the context excellently in a 2013 essay (pdf in Swedish) on why fascism never got rooted in Norrland. According to Broström, fascism in Sweden in early 20th century grew particularly strong in a type of rural settings were, landowner aristocrats had such presence that they could ally with the emergent bourgeoisie to uphold a political hegemony granting them support from other sectors of the population. In Norrland landowner aristocrats were almost non-existent during the same epoch. Instead the workers managed to make hegemony for their cause, subordinating the still popular class of more or less self-sustained farmers. Broström further argues that though material conditions since have gradually changed – political traditions often delays, is inherited by later generations. Over time local, regional or national narratives tends to take shape around believed decisive events (or individuals and their legacy) against which contemporary real experience is comprehended.

Studying local protest movements and »discontent political parties« in Skåne and correspondingly in Norrland during recent decades these kind of disparities are obvious. Discontent in and close-by Skåne has primarily been expressed as opposition to (high) taxation and against immigration, while in Norrland mainly on resisting depopulation, demanding policies for wealth distribution and protesting the dismantlement of basic public services.

An example from Norrland is seen in how Kirunapartiet during the 1990’s and early 2000’s had huge local successes by claiming that the party would maintain (what they called) traditional social democratic ideals. Discontent is however more commonly, despite the point at issue, organized from the position of being »neither left nor right«, marking previously mentioned alienation from both the traditional right wing but as well from social democracy. Also completely extra-parliamentary uprisings like the recent Dorotea Insurrection, the struggle for the hospital in Sollefteå, the »right to the city«-movements in Umeå and the various protests against the closures of village schools, subsumes to this tendency though the issues might seem typical left wing domains. It is hereby also apparent that Sverigedemokraterna has had huge difficulties to establish in Norrland and thereby subordinating discontent to its cause like they managed to do in and around Skåne.

For anyone in Sweden looking to resurrect a left beyond its historically burdened mainstream and its broken ideology it seems to investigate the discussed situation of realpolitik is a rational point of departure. Understanding the success of Sverigedemokraterna, but also looking to experiments from progressive movements in other countries. Much could be learned if more municipalities and regions were mapped to understand how locals depict the contemporary trough layers of history and small-scale hegemonies. In such mappings one might find unexpected small print details, which might attach to a common tendency.

Seeds for municipalism in Sweden are plentiful, though fragmentally hidden throughout the geography. If one is interested to enhance such assemblages the task is to identify the parts and then begin to put them together, strengthen their viability.  
In the pamphlet »Declaration« (2012) authors Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt opens by declaring that they have not attempted to write any kind of manifesto. The task, they emphasize, is not to encourage action but rather to identify the subjects already in motion, in relation to what they are subject, and how their inherent constituent abilities could be nurtured to constitute global scale alternatives. Taking that vantage point could lead in various directions but is here used to highlight the above examined.

How might we describe the conditions that social movements and protest voting in Norrland is acting against? Which proceeding objectives are these subjects reflecting? It seems obvious it’s not the experience of having ones labour power exploited in a traditional Marxian sense that is at core. Rather its something related to notions popularized by Marxist geographer David Harvey – »Uneven geographical development« and »Accumulation by dispossession«. These frameworks implicates that some at sight very separated discontents actually has strong connections. On the one hand struggles in places plagued by depopulation against (state-driven) disassembling but also against extraction of natural resources. On the other movements in the growing urban districts – most notably in the city of Umeå – against the uneven effects of investments and particularly against how it leads to displacement trough the privatization of space, rising housing prices and rents so on so further. The subject in both, on the surface much different contexts, might be depicted as »the dispossessed«, »the looted«, »the forgotten« or the like. Such subjects are of course present far beyond Norrland, but it is seemingly in that geographical context is has had most fertile grounds to develop, though there are local and neighbourhood exceptions elsewhere in Sweden – notable for example in metropolitan suburbs like Alby, Stockholm and Biskopsgården, Gothenburg.

What stands out when one looks at the movements in Norrland is their palpable stronger local anchoring. The Dorotea Insurrection did not only occupy a health centre threatened by cuts for many years, but also forced the first referendum in a whole county council and managed to oust the ruling social democrats from power in exchange for local discontent party Dorotea Kommunlista (DKL). The movements opposing the cuts at the hospital in Sollefteå mobilized incomparable 10 – 15 000 citizens onto the streets of Kramfors during the social democrats regional congress in the autumn 2015. And »right to the city«-movements in Umeå has managed to make their agenda hegemonic in the local sphere. The vantage point in a locally cultivated indignation however simultaneously carries an apparent limitation to the ability for these movements to interconnect beyond their localities. Animosity towards ideas of becoming subsumed to conventional left- or right wing identities (with defined symbols, narratives and so on and so on) has neither yet merged into an alternative like it did in the form of Sverigedemokraterna for simultaneous discontent in and around Skåne.

It should be said it’s not at all given that this process, like in the case of Sverigedemokraterna, should move in direction towards designing a standard-structured but populist parliamentary party with a national agenda. That should rather be left open while humbly and pragmatically researching to answer a series of questions: Which tools are best fitted to assembly today’s fragmented discontent? How could the democratic impulses of these kind of very local movements become intensified rather than constrained? How do we negotiate communality between multiplicities of conditions in a situation were many are alienated from traditional ideologies? And how do we really embrace constitutive elements inherent in movements instead of eroding them in the process of interlinking? Right here it seems that the experiences being done and the knowledge produced around tendency of new municipalism in Europe and globally could inspire, or even attach to.

This essay was originally published in Swedish by anarchist periodical Tidningen Brand as part of their nr 2/2016 themed »The local« , focused on introducing theories and experiences of new municipalism to a Swedish speaking milieu. Other articles discussed the attempts with local »right to the city« -lists in Poland, the situation for the take over of city council in Madrid, Spain, the theories of Murray Bookchin and its influence on the harsh-conditioned experiments in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, or Rojava, as it was then mostly called, among other things. »Norrland« is in Sweden the common term for the north of the country and though there are for some purposes defined borders it is better understood as a notion of a geographical and cultural context than a mapped space. Skåne is the southern-most landscape and administrative region in the country – Malmö being its largest city. Sverigedemokraterna, translated »The Sweden Democrats«, was born out of the 1980’s neo nazi milieu partially by individuals who had direct links back to the german SS. The party has however during the 21st century moved rapidly towards the programme and character of more moderate right wing populist parties in the other Scandinavian countries.   

A Year of Culture – To attract investors

kulturarMe and my friend are at a café and like always our conversation drifts into the seemingly inevitable: the construction sites, which rumors we’ve encountered and the questions of whether (our) culture and place in this city are on a path towards evanescence. For me, this sentiment is characterising Umeå in 2014 – European Capital of Culture, but above that, in a moment of transition.

We are both born and raised, and though some years in-between and on different sides of town, we share a common experience. In many ways it’s pretty typical for growing up in a smaller Swedish town in those days. The weekdays of our teens mostly consisted of purposeless walking the city streets, hanging around the concrete stairs at the main square, panhandling for cigarettes outside the regional fast food chain and picking fights with kids who happened to embrace another subcultural identity, though none of us really understood the reasons for our antagonism. In the weekends we usually went to the municipal youth center from which we where thrown out, giving us the feeling that drinking ourselves hammered in some open stairwell or another non-place really was the only possible thing to do. The meaning of»fun« was to find something to wreck, but that would often end us up crying in the backseat of a social service or cop car. But we did dream about something. Creating places for kids like us.

When it was my turn to go trough this experience, some years had passed since Umeå municipality closed what had probably been one of the most well attended and beloved youth centre’s in Sweden. Intentionally eradicating an emergent youth movement which sense of community was based on strong commitments against everything that one might call »drugs«. Though the official explanations referred to the need for budget cuts, another story has rumoured the city’s underground ever since. A tale about fear among politicians and public officials for a growing movement which most radical participants committed arsons at slaughter factories and released thousands of mink from close-by fur farms. The unwillingness to really understand what was going on would result in the lost trust of a generation, maybe two.

When I encountered the remains of that cultural milieu in my mid-teens, one the first lesson learned was to see the state as enemy – as a hazard to living grassroots culture. The struggle for self-governed, purpose-suited spaces was ever present and for me first hand experience of the atmosphere when attempts were made to negotiate with municipal actors came about quite quickly. There’s a meticulous difference between boredom and the kind of hopelessness one gets after making effort to do something good getting the reaction that it’s unwanted.

Sometimes 2004, during the middle of winter, an old wooden house was squatted near the city centre. My friends and me went there the first night to spend some freezing cold hours with roughly 100 other kids, watching different bands. I went back every day, tried to help out with this or that, until the day the cops evicted were after the house was demolished. There was again some kind of campaign for a self-governed youth centre, but the politicians didn’t listen that time either.

Some years had passed since those cold weeks when I read in the local daily that Umeå had applied to become European Capital of Culture (ECoC) for the year 2014. We had then recently rented an old textile warehouse located at a back alley in the city centre to open a small music venue with practice rooms, a café and a space to host gigs. We had done it by ourselves, leaving years of meaningless bargains and campaigns leading nowhere behind us. When journalists asked local politicians why Umeå should get the ECoC-title, they said that this city for decades had supported its cultural actors. Here, they explained, there are institutions like the opera and the museum, but as well exciting and dynamic grassroots culture.

I’m trying to re-visit my thoughts and the discussions we had at that moment, when all of it was presented. Partially anger and suspicion because of the sudden accredited value, but also partially feelings of hope to finally be recognised and maybe have the chance to get a more given place in the city scape.

We are now seven years passed. Only the anger remains.

Sure. There are plenty of cultural associations who have gotten their share of the treasure to create something out of the ordinary and to grant diversity to the programme. But there are larger, radical implications of the ECoC on Umeå as a city. It became the starting point for a shift of economical paradigm, materialised in a massive re-development of the urban environment.

The small music venue we opened in 2007 has been evicted as the property owner went forward with a plan to build a skyscraper. It is now re-located to the outskirts of town. The whole area were it was located, then back alleys, is now being gentrified around the main project of building a semi-commercial culture house with an integrated hotel. A well-attended and for many small associations existence decisive theatre space is meanwhile being forced to move as another developer want it gone for another high-rise estate project. There is a similar story to be told about the destiny of the city library.

The real winners in this tale are the property owners whose real power has grown extensively during the last couple years. With that insight faded the smiles we might have shared over recognition before they ever stuck. Now we are left with a city were culture primarily is viewed as a means to attract new inhabitants, tourists and investors to keep the treadmill of growth running. In this city are critical protests mounting around issues of bursting democratic processes and the continuous withering of spaces deemed important by many citizens.

From the various communication outlets of Umeå’s municipality come rapid streams of advertisements for gigs, theatre shows, dance performances and other culture events. Each day I have the same impulse to stay away – even from spheres I’ve granted most of my life for. If I do attend, I end up with the feeling of being a walker on in some kind of marketing scheme which success inherently means that I loose something important. Playing along ends with me standing outside a construction site fence, seeing something I love being demolished to leave space for yet another hotel for the visitors to the European Capital of Culture.

This essay was originally published 2014-01-30 in Swedish by southern Swedish local daily paper Kristianstadsbladet. The inauguration of Umeå as the European Capital of Culture took place the same weekend.   

Sollefteå maternity care occupation shows ways for new social movements

adalen2On the 31st of January 2012, the residents of the village Dorotea in the northern Sweden occupied their public health center to protest against the withdrawal of emergency care places. Three years of occupation, a municipal change of power and the first indicative referendum in a whole regional council later, the county council eventually gives up. The care sites were restored. One hundred and fifty kilometres south. Another county. Another austerity package, nevertheless directed against the economic peripheries of the county. Almost to the day, five years after the occupation began in Dorotea, January 30th 2017, hundreds of Ådalens inhabitants poured into the foyer at Sollefteå Hospital to declare the space occupied in protest against the impending closure of the maternity ward.

The maternity ward occupation in Sollefteå, just like The Dorotea Insurrection, was far from a spontaneous starting point for organizing around the issue.

In Dorotea there is what one might call a strong local tradition of resistance to centralization and rationalization, often with a presence of civil disobedience. The municipality was in the 1970’s the epicenter of wildcat strikes in the forest industry. In the mid-1970’s  a municipal merger was also hampered by citizens occupying the municipal building and hunger striking. And in 2012 the local health center was occupied, after countless demonstrations and other attempts at advocacy,  mobilizing the local and inland populations against the County Council’s austerity package, called»Project balance«.

This is also the case in Sollefteå and its surroundings which is commonly known as »Ådalen«. As an example, the hospital had been threatened back and forth for way longer than a decade, in a geographical context were people have lived through half a century of state withdrawal. When austerity plans leaked  in the autumn of 2015 – despite the ruling Social Democrats’ election promises to preserve all three emergency hospitals in the county – citizens were thus at least partially prepared. Among other forms of rallying, a broad discussion in social media had already begun, were local residents elaborated the consequences of future cuts. Historically Ådalen is deeply marked by the place it has in the Swedish labor movement’s narrative of  20th century success in the 1900s. In Lunde harbor, an hour by car from Sollefteå, five people were shot dead by the military in 1931 during a strike. The events are commonly viewed as the culmination for decades of conflict intensification with violent tendencies between capital and labor. Social democrats distanced from the participants in the Ådalen events, at the same time using the tragedy to push capital to bargain. So begins the process that is later known as the »Swedish model« – regulated negotiations between the unions and employers’ associations to create so-called collective agreements).

Despite the half century past between those lethal military shooting in 1931 and the tangible threat to life of the various hospital cuts in the mid-2010s – mental connection is obviously potent. »Ådalen rises again« was the slogan for the first  massive anti-austerity demonstrations on October 10th 2015.

A year and a half later this movement has evolved into a complex network of experimental groups. Besides influencing public opinion and again and again mobilizing huge turnouts in the squares, there are also platforms for independent participatory investigative journalism. Other nodes are exploring alternative operational forms (like members-cooperations) for the provision of  health care, and health care workers are organizing for different purposes, mainly outside the traditional unions and in collaboration with independent groups alike in other parts of Sweden. Now there is also then a maternity ward occupation on-going. Meanwhile the struggle has spread to include the city Örnsköldsvik about an hour north from Sollefteå, as that hospital also faces threats of cuts within the same county council budget scheme.

These movements are undoubtedly impressive, inspiring and touching, despite the sad circumstances they are faced to fight.

In the footsteps of the Dorotea Insurrection, the Ådalen Uprising has offered fundamental insights for how dynamic social movements can recompose worn-out notions like democracy and equality to yet again have meaning. That cannot be taken away from the participants, no matter how the struggle for the hospital in general, and its maternity ward in particular, ends.

This short essay was originally published 2017-02-02 in Swedish, by regional daily paper Västerbottens-Kuriren. As it was written for readers much familiar with the geographical and political context as well as the regional history, it might lack such explanations for other readers. Sollefteå municipality (approx. 20 000 inhabitants) is geographically located almost in the exact mid-point of Sweden though the 2/3 northern parts of Sweden is commonly perceived as the north of the country. 50 kilometers southeast is Kramfors municipality (also approx. 20 000 inhabitants). Örnsköldsvik (approx. 56 000 inhabitants) is located 74 kilometers northeast. The county council, or region as it is now re-named,  is Västernorrland (approx. 245 000 inhabitants). The administrative center is the city Sundsvall (approx. 100 000 inhabitants) 86 kilometers south of Sollefteå. The name Ådalen does not refer to any kind of administrative division. It is the common description for the territory around the river Ångermanälven. 

The Dorotea Insurrection Carries Seeds for an Equal Society

doroteaThree years and three months. 1196 days during which citizens took turns to maintain attendance 24/7 at the squatted entrance hall of the health center. Occupation began early 2012 when locals had just enough of the county council’s successive dispossession of resources from the inlands. Sparked by another round of cuts – this time aimed to close the emergency room here in the village Dorotea and to take away the ambulance from next-door municipality Åsele.

There are underlying tensions beyond the particularities. It’s about »them wanting to vacate the inlands«, as one squatter told a regional newspaper during the second day of occupation. This situation is perhaps better understood if perceived as both a specific conflict and as a piece of a grander puzzle of continuous struggle for the right to stay put in territories considered relatively unprofitable in today’s economical structures. It’s easy to be enchanted by the Dorotea villagers’ hard-core resistance. By their continuity of struggle and their affirmed idea that so-called »efficiency plans« are no longer effective if the cost is greater than the savings. Health center squatters are a hard-to-control expense – even more so when they decide to gather 20 000 signatures to force the first ever referendum of its kind in a Swedish county council. It seems that these actions has made it possible to at least sustain status quo. They may even have short-term potential to win certain improvements, although structural conditions really speak to the disadvantage of the insurrectionaries. Looking from the vantage point of today it appears that Åsele will still have its ambulance, after some expensive and parodical attempts to create compromise solutions in the form of what was called a »emergency car« – basically a station wagon with some reflex paint on it. And for the moment it looks like Dorotea will continue to have emergency health care as long as the municipal political party DKL prosecutes the promises that granted them huge amounts of previously Social democratic voters in the recent fall elections.

But greater concerns are however still looming around. Regardless the cycles of local organizing, the depiction of the Västerbotten inlands as a territory plagued by depopulation and stagnation is yet intact. Concentration of power and resources remains its flow towards cities by the coastline.

But, and this is important!
It is hardly the ordinary citizen of coastal cities like Umeå who gains from the development that the Inland insurrectionaries oppose. Umeå’s consensus-marked political goals to attract new inhabitants, tourists and investors are heavily based on speculative success calculations centered on credit financed boasting constructions and marketing stunts in hope of securing the future financing of welfare expenses. Today the outcome, like in most other cases alike, rather seems to head towards increasing deficits that paradoxically is to be covered by vast cuts in everything from schools to eldercare to culture.

Even worse is that the unceasing influx of more inhabitants is not countered by the same enumeration in access to adequate housing, which of course increases rents and mortgage costs. A situation which governing actors now hope to solve trough privatization of common good housing stocks, with the apparent risk that poorer residents are pushed out towards the peripheries by wealthier groups. Other coastal cities with population growth, like Luleå and Skellefteå, has already taken steps down this path during the last couple of years.
The true winners in this contemporary urbanization scheme are rather a few farsighted capitalists concentrated around the real estate market. Parallel to growing municipal and regional deficits there are notable growth in the annual account reports from businesses in those sectors.

It’s somewhat overwhelming to visualize an exit plan from these structures and from the sight of inland communities it might even seem impossible. Instead our days are jammed with easy solution propositions: populist narratives portraying either the immigrants, or the privileged urban dwellers, or other times the »welfare recipient hillbillies« as the reason to all problems. If »they« assimilate, takes responsibility for their advantages or are forced into workfare society will again prevail. Rise towards the light.

During the insurrection in Dorotea some contrasting notions has been circulating in my head – thoughts from Italian theorist Antonio Negri. In a maybe unnecessary complex essay with the title »Counter power« (from the 2003 book »Guide – Cinque lezioni in impero e dintorni«) Negri discusses how seeds of new, more equal forms of societal organization continuously are being produced within everyday resistance and more so in its more organized form: uprisings.
Experimentation with democratic decision making are often inherent. And likewise is the elaboration of collaboration in opposition to Capital’s tendencies towards internecine competition. One can see these traces in the stories from Dorotea where shopkeepers for three years has freely delivered food for the occupation, while health care staff spontaneously provide other kinds of assistance. These are many though small-scale experiences of alternative paths to cater common needs and wants.According to Negri, the challenge is hereby not only to keep expanding and interconnecting islands of resistance against the constituted powers that fails to provide our needs. We must also carefully watch the seeds for alternatives that are inherently planted and experiment in making resilience grow so those relations can reach a societal scale opening the possibility to throw off the leech that is Capital.
Negri has in accordance with these thoughts recently, in particular concerning the political situation in Spain, supported ideas of moving taxation from work to financial transactions, property ownership and the extraction of national resources to finance a guaranteed basic income, which might allow citizens to strengthen structures for creation and distribution of wealth trough free collaborations. Quite an attractive idea for Västerbotten, were almost no one seems to really benefit from the direction we seem to be heading towards at the moment, right?

Originally published 2015-07-24 in Swedish by regional daily paper Västerbottens-Kuriren. The Dorotea Insurrection was a struggle between 2012-2015 against regional cuts focusing on saving the Emergency room in the village Dorotea (approx. 1500 inhabitants) and the ambulance service in next-door municipality Åsele (approx. 2800 inhabitants). Both villages are located in the inland parts of the Västerbotten county (approx. 270 000 inhabitants), which administrative center is the city Umeå (approx. 125 000 inhabitants) by the coast. The Dorotea Insurrection was notable for the inhabitants occupation of the local health center for more than 3 years, the campaign for a regional vote on these specific cuts and the ousting of the social democratic party from local power in advantage for a local party called Dorotea kommunlista – the Dorotea municipal list. The cuts where retracted in 2015. This essay was written as the insurrectionaries ended the occupation with the promise of developments in the inland health care.

Klasserna som Zaremba inte ser

I DN söndag (2011-04-10) publiceras Maciej Zarembas ”’Man måste låta rätt gå före galet’. En skolas kamp mot överheten”, ännu en del i skribentens följetong om haveriet i svensk skola. Artikeln just denna söndag handlar om Minervaskolan i Umeå. Det kunde varit en artikel om mycket av det som är problematiskt med de senaste decenniernas skolpolitik. Om medveten segregation, om elevresurspengar som på tvivelaktiga sätt förs över till privat vinst, om slöjförbud som än mer spär på känslor om en skola för ”oss” och en skola för ”dem”. Men Zarembas artikel är någonting helt annat.

Zarembas utgångspunkt är havererad pedagogik. Å ena sidan en akademisk värld som flummat ur, å andra sidan en kommunal skola som svansar efter ner i avgrunden. I just denna del av artikelserien är det Teg Centralskola som står som det svarta fåret. Hjälten är skolentreprenören, grundaren av Minervaskolan, tillika den gamle Tegläraren som fick sparken – Hans Jansson.

Bilden som sedan målas upp är ett motsatsförhållande mellan på ena planhalvan, den kommunala skolan som flummat ur totalt med förödande resultat, och på den andra planhalvan, privatskolan som vågar gå mot strömmen, som med ordning och reda, mössförbud, kvarsittning och katederundervisning går mot strömmen, med lysande resultat. Som bevisföring förtäljs att Minerva minsann har kommunens bästa resultat, låg sjukfrånvaro och är topprankad som arbetsplats. På Teg Central råder samtidigt kaos och skolan leder enligt Zaremba ”mobbningsligan”.

Bakom denna historia gömmer sig emellertid en helt annan bild. En bild som för många Umebor ligger till grund för den kritiska inställning som även i Zarembas artikel präglat Minervaskolans existens. Denna, alternativa till Zarembas, berättelse beskriver också många av problemen vi idag ser i svensk skola.

Vi kan för enkelhetens skull även här börja berättelsen på Teg Centralskola. En ganska vanlig, kommunal skola, söder om älven i Umeå. En skola med elevupptag från främst tre bostadsområden: Östteg, ett geografiskt segregerat mellanskiktsområde enbart bestående av villor. Teg Centrum, en ”innerstadsdel” på älvens södra sida med blandning av hyresrätter, bostadsrätter och stora strandnära villor – flera av Umeås absolut dyraste. Böleäng, en villa- & radhusstadsdel intill Volvo Lastvagnars fabrik, stans näst största arbetsplats, till stor del bebodd av just Volvoarbetare. Teg Central är (eller var, snarare) alltså precis som de flesta skolor i Umeå. En skola med ett brett, klassöverskridande upptagningsområde där arbetarbarn och överklassbarn möttes i samma kommunala skola.

2001 startar Minervaskolan och det som Zaremba skriver följer: ”Två tusen elever, de flesta från Tegsskolans upptagningsområde, står i kö till Minervaskolan”. Det Zaremba inte berättar här är dock vilka, ur ovanstående upptagningsområden som utgör majoriteten av de som nu flyttar till den nya privatskolan i centrum. Han skriver inte heller vilka trender som startar i liknande skolområden i Umeå. Det finns förstås undantag men den generella tendensen som här tar fart är att barnen i stans villaområden, som tidigare integrerats med arbetarbarnen från t ex Miljonprogrammen, nu samlas i en egen privatskola. Kvar lämnas kommunala skolor ute i stadsdelarna med en ökad segregation som följd. Men det gäller inte bara till stor del klass- & etnicitet.

Zaremba berättar i sin artikel om hur Minervaskolan trots förhållandevis lägre kostnad per elev ändå kan uppnå bästa resultat. Bakom detta gömmer sig ännu ett faktum som blir en allt vanligare skiljelinje mellan kommunala och privata skolor. Minervaskolan saknar delvis (budgeterar inte, helt enkelt) anslag till elever med olika typer av problem, funktionella och psykiska handikapp t ex. Även här har skolan fått utstå stor kritik för den utsortering av elever med perfekta förutsättningar som det till stor del handlar om. Samtidigt går ägaren med vinst. En vinst som möjliggörs av det faktum att samma personer äger fastigheten som skolan.

Det finns mycket mer att kritisera i Zarembas skönmålning av pedagogik som skiljelinje mellan bra och dåliga skolor. Hur Teg central kan leda ”mobbningsligan” är t ex outgrundligt när inget sådant underlag finns. Hur Zaremba kan beskriva exemplet från undervisningen i sin artikel som ”katederundervisning” då det i själva verket är något helt annat är en annan märklighet. Zaremba skrev om den privata skolan, underdogen, med nu förmögna ägare i skolbranschen för att visa hur svensk skola skulle kunna fungera. I bakgrunden hägrar dock just i detta exempel, många av de problem som kommuner idag tampas med som konsekvens av friskolereformen. En allt starkare tendens till medveten segregation från bättre bemedlade, skattepengar som går till privata vinster och en kommunal skola som lämnas kvar med de som saknar sociala, ekonomiska och kulturella resurser att fly. Trots allt detta stämmer inte ens Zarembas beskrivning av Minerva som stadens bästa skola i resultat, den platsen erhålls nämligen av – en kommunal skola.