Malmo’s problem areas – a journey in the upperclass jungle
The following text is from Förbundet Allt åt Alla, a group of anarchists, communists, and immigrants, in Malmo, Stockholm and Gothenburg. The ruling class safari is a bus ride into the rich areas of Malmo, with tour guides, matching t-shirts, and plentiful photo-opportunities. As an action, it fits into a general tactic of the radical left in Sweden to play off ‘class hatred’, using hatred of rich people to help form a common identity as a rebellious working class. This tactic is not something I’d ever seen before coming to Scandinavia, and I’m still not convinced of its usefulness. Anyway, the text is a machine translation with some corrections, but there were a few things I wasn’t sure about, so if anyone can help me with corrections and comments, please feel free.
Safari in the upperclass jungle
Safari means ‘journey’ in Swahili. The word was previously used about tourists who went to Africa to hunt big game but the meaning today has more to do with observing and taking pictures of the surroundings. A certain type of outfit is also associated with safari, practical khaki, hat, binoculars and camera. A safari park is a zoo-like commercial tourist center where visitors can drive their own car (or bus) within a confined area and observe wildlife. But a safari trip does not need be limited to nature, why go to so much trouble when you can go around the corner in your own town?
We went on an urban safari in our very own upperclass jungle, Fridhem in Malmo. In order not to risk scaring away some of the rare inhabitants, we all dressed in neutral t-shirts. We took our cameras with us to immortalize the moment in the segregated reserve. A handful of guides had been studying for some time the lifestyles that the people of this district exhibit and were very helpful in describing the surroundings to us.
But why just go to Fridhem? During the wave of urbanisation that Malmo and the surrounding area went through during the late 1800s many poor people moved from rural areas into the city. The villa area of Fridhem was built as a result of poor sanitary conditions that arose. Factory owners and directors moved to a new tidy neighborhood that suited the contemporary ideal of being close to nature and was also far away from those who supplied them. The new town was conveniently located west of the city’s emerging factories, thus on the side to which the smoke and pollutants tend not to blow. Even today, the area fills the same function. They try to stay away from what they consider to be dirty. Behind high walls and private security companies they still live and profit from other people’s work.
Few of us have previously been permitted to see most of the area, except as poorly paid labor for household services. The physical distance is not very far but the social distance is even longer. This social distance is deliberately created. Those who settled there would then still remain distanced from the rest of the city’s inhabitants, they have no interest in being integrated.
To draw some facts. In the nearby area of Bellevue, in many ways similar to Fridhem, the inhabitants have nine times more space per person than, for example Möllevången. As said, residents in Fridhem still earn money from the work of others and take much of the taxpayers’ money because they live in such low density. Take, for example, 75 meters of a street in Möllevången with one four-storey building on each side. In these houses live, probably a conservative estimate, about 150 people in each house (ten apartments per floor, which on average is three bedroom apartments with four people in each). That is equal to 300 people on a 75-meter distance. At Bellevue or Fridhem or Västervång there are about three house plots on the same stretch with about three people in each household, ie nine people in total. Yet both require the same street maintenance, snow removal, deicing and cleaning. In addition, the water and sanitation in both streets. To this should be added telecommunication and power lines. 300 people share the street on Mollevang, nine people are sharing the street on Fridhem. What a drain on society? And how big is their environmental footprint, with petrol-guzzling 4x4s and huge houses with ten rooms to be heated? Who can afford to draw on natural resources?
There are many segregated areas in Sweden’s large cities. But this is not at all talked about. To show the real problem areas in Malmö, we organized a bus tour, our safari. We were surprised that the people themselves want to confine themselves like animals in a cage, but did not let it stop us in our quest to tick odd species such as a stockbroker [perhaps finance-shark would be a better translation here – ed] off our lists. Although the hunting instinct made itself felt, we chose this time to stick to the camera and telling good anecdotes about the residents. To sum it was a nice day trip to the higher animal’s castle as we warm heartedly recommend others to do! Do not forget to bring coffee and cake with your class hatred.