Lykkeberg – "a democratic socialist"

West to West
Forfatter: Rune Lykkeberg
Forlag: Informations Forlag (Danmark)
SUBJECT / How are we to explain to our children that Trump – against the most odds – became President of the United States?


Rune Lykkeberg, editor-in-chief of the Danish daily newspaper Information, participated with his family in the US presidential election and reported back home from the battle, but could not immediately find an explanation. After the presidential election, he had to go into the box and reconsider the situation. Now he has provided an almost 500 pages explanation in the book West to West.


The book has been created in a kind of dialogue with Lykkeberg's cohabiting partner and their two children – where literature, music and films that have had an impact on the two generations have been used as a contribution to establishing a comprehensive picture of the economic, political and cultural trends of the time. . This framework of the book is fascinating and inspiring and integrates many new angles to illuminate the evolution of our time.

"Political opportunities and instruments have never been greater," Lykkeberg writes now after recovering from the shock caused by the election of Trump. Opportunities that Lykkeberg and his generation did not have are the global public – a democratic culture that can hold the powers of responsibility, technological opportunities to disseminate knowledge and information.

Terrorism succeeded in causing Western societies to harm themselves.

Lykkeberg's grip on the project means that the period from World War II is divided into three: the "Golden Age" (1945 – 75), the “Reaction” (1975 – 2001), and then the “Crisis” until today.

The end of World War II, where large parts of the world lay in ruins, became the introduction to what Lykkeberg describes as the Golden Age. That may seem to be a somewhat superficial and ahistorical characteristic of a democratic socialist, as Lykkeberg calls himself: the United States had been out of the war and had plenty of profits to involve the world afterwards. The US intervened with the Marshall Aid, which required countries to commit to aligning their economies with a US strategy. In addition, the United States was the lead designer of a system of international institutions that not only supported an imperative of sustained economic growth, but also established a global security system with a large number of US military bases – including a military containment of communist countries.

Under the American security umbrella, preventing war became a key issue emphasizing an expansion of democracy: "Settled with the West's internal enemy, fascism, opened to the West's revolt as a colonial power." different continents: between the working class struggles in the industrialized countries, the anti-bureaucratic struggles in the working states and the anti-colonialist struggles in the so-called developing countries. With 1968 as a climax and where a neocolonialism became an integral part of the Western Washington consensus.

Self-created problems

The Golden Age 1945 – 75 appears as the Western democracy's notion of progress. Here, confidence was gained in the peoples of the political institutions, and the period has become a measure of prosperity, freedom and equality, which no parliaments and governments have since been able to deliver in the same doses.

For the Reaction (1974 – 2001), it is characteristic that the West here is unable to live up to the values ​​and ideals that were created in the period from the end of the war up to 1975. It is the period of the fall of the authorities, with many signs of crisis, neoliberalism, unemployment and at the same time Club of Rome's research into «Limits to Growth».


The crisis from 2001 characterizes Lykkeberg as the confrontation with self-created problems. Hence the title West to West. It was the self-destructive responses the Western societies gave to the terrorist attacks. «Hopeless wars, settling on legal principles, loss of moral and political authority in the world and internal political divide in the West were the result of 11. September. ”It was the reaction to the financial crisis that in 2008 led to the Tea Party movement. It was the Iraq war that, together with the financial crisis, both turned into political scandals, which weakened the authority of the political leaders and the legitimacy of the political classes. Terrorism succeeded in causing Western societies to harm themselves.

Blind spots

Lykkeberg fails to relate to the Empire project, which has led to two imperial world wars. Likewise, the military-industrial complex – now with drones and artificial intelligence – has been completely ignored. And that China plays no role in Lykkeberg's analysis shows that he is not aware of the content of the law on uneven and combined development.

Blind spots that are important elements in a bigger picture and not least are important for understanding that we are living with lifestyles as we had more than this one planet available, and for understanding the comprehensive major transformation we are facing.

West to West and Trump's role in this remains a minor issue in relation to "A civilization process facing civilization."

Lykkeberg insists that we maintain the institutional structure, but at the same time recommends that strategies and methods be used to turn today's protests into power. For Lykkeberg, the support for Swedish demonstrations by Greta Thunberg is a confirmation that the fight must be conducted within the existing institutional framework. Greta is demanding and responsible for the actions of the politicians – apparently without knowledge and experience of the struggles of the labor movement and social movements. So does "The Yellow West" in France – here are no initiatives to mobilize a counterpower, as it did, for example, during the Russian Revolution.

One of the book's conclusions is that Trump – and for that matter Brexit – constitutes an opening of the political space of opportunity. "Disclosure, explanation, formation and enlightenment become effective, activist strategies in the 21st century," writes Lykkeberg. For this we must use the existing institutions. And the time has come to hold power accountable for its deeds. As an editor and author, however, Lykkeberg has no concrete recommendations for a policy orientering to pass on to young and old. The reader must be content with the remark for the future «Let's keep it open!».

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