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Stefan Jarl’s speech to Sven Wollter

When I learned that Sven Wollter would receive this year’s Lenin Award, and that I would introduce him, I thought: doesn’t everybody know who Sven Wollter is? He does not need any introduction. Mustn’t he still be our greatest and “most” celebrity? A mega celebrity … And what is there to say about Sven Wollter, that everyone doesn’t already know? When I went to the sources and started researching Sven Wollter, I discovered that there are actually things that many could not have had a clue about. Sven Wollter has in fact ALWAYS EXISTED! Some evidence for this is weak, others unclear but what I’ve found is worth telling.

For example, we know that when Jesus was born, 3 Wise Men came to the stable where Mary had given birth, to congratulate and praise her for giving us God’s deputy here on earth. They came with gifts, one with gold, the second with myrrh – so far everything is clear. But the third came with “incense”. What on earth would Mary do with “incense”? I think there was a hidden message in the gift, namely that Jesus, as an adult preacher, would ignore the “smoky messages”: i.e. do not talk so much about the coming life, about the life with God, but about our poor life here on earth – and how it could be made better!

The third Wise Man, who came with the symbolic incense, that must have been Sven. The scriptures say that the 3 wise men came from afar. Why not from Gothenburg? The man who came with the message to stand on the people’s side. As long as research does not come up with other facts, at least I will believe that.

There are other interesting, though vague, reports in the history books. When Martin Luther, on the castle church’s door in Wittenberg, nailed his 95 critical theses, aimed at the pope and his commercial marketing system, the indulgence system, which meant that one could buy oneself free from one’s sins and then continue to live as a sinful offender. Then Luther had to have had someone to help him hold the hammer. You can sense who I’m referring to.

150 years later, thus in the latter half of the 1600s, I find an interesting statement that the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) had an assistant “from the north” who helped the philosopher spread his publication that agitated for THE RIGHT TO REBEL. It must have been Sven Wollter. I do not doubt it.

The closer to our own time we come, the easier the research becomes, yes, I can even retrieve knowledge from my own family. My grandfather’s brother assembled the telegraph workers in a trade union and formed the Telegraph Workers’ Union. In our family, at home in Stockholm, various people came and went, among others the socialist agitator August Palm, the man who continually made seditious speeches to the workers and started the newspaper The Social Democrat. This man, however, was not so popular at home because he always stank of beer, they said. In a cafe in the Old Town, behind a drapery to an inner room, the revolutionaries had their meetings. August Palm brought a friend who did not smell of beer. You can guess yourself, Sven Wollter.

When Lenin came to Sweden for the sixth time in 1917 to join the ongoing revolution in Russia, the always talkative Lenin wanted company on the train to Norrland, from where he would go to Russia. Lenin hated to travel alone. Zäta Höglund was incarcerated at Långholmen so he could not come along. Lenin sent him a greeting and got himself another travel companion. Yes, by now you know who it was.

In our own time, we don’t need to look for written evidence, now there are pictures available. In a picture from the 30’s, I see the young Sven Wollter equipped to fight the oppressors and the authorities. Wearing short pants and with a weapon in hand, he is prepared for battle, a bow, a weapon effective enough, probably just returned to Gothenburg from his idol in Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood.

When you ask people in the street, who Sven Wollter is, then most people immediately answer: “Raskens”. You know the series in SVT based on Vilhelm Moberg’s novel, directed by Per Sjöstrand. The part as the soldier and tenant farmer Rask, made Sven Wollter known throughout the world, i.e. from Kiruna to Malmö. This mega success was followed by 5 million people, i.e. the entire Swedish people, including children and the elderly.

Seriously, it is impossible to summarize all the hundreds of roles Sven Wollter has played at the theatre, on television and in films, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Kent Andersson’s “SANDLåDAN” and “FLOTTEN” at Gothenburg City Theatre, from “The Clown” in the Tent Project to “We don’t pay” at Angered Theatre, from Gävle Theatre to Stockholm City Theatre, to all of Lars Molin’s TV plays, from Bo Widerberg’s film “Man on the Roof” to Bille Agust’s film “A Song for Martin”. It’s simply too much to go through, it would take the rest of the day and you would only be jealous of missing out on many of these amazing roles… Sven Wollter’s work covers more than you can really take in. For more than 60 years, Sven has struggled to portray human lives and has given us pictures of what life is and is about. Portrayals based on the vision that the Art can change the world.

At the same time, for 70 years he has been on the barricade and together with the rest of us fought for better conditions and a more dignified life. Over the years, many have dropped down from the barricade, but Sven has remained. The enemy has NOT been the wealthy industrial tycoon or the propertied landowners, but the very cause of oppression: CAPITALISM – the order that turns the good into evil, the helpful to greedy, the brave to a coward, the peaceful to bellicose, the solidary to selfish, the truthful to a liar, comrade to traitor. Capitalism, which sees the human being itself as a disturbing residual item in the shareholders’ profit calculations, a capitalism that allows the world’s richest man, the owner of the company Amazon, to earn $ 100 million. A day.

From Spartacus, who led the slave revolt in the Roman Empire, to Voltaire and Rousseau, from Marx to Stig Dagerman, from Rosa Luxemburg to Joe Hill, from Anton Nilsson to Nelson Mandela, from Brecht to Dario Fo, from Fidel Castro to Sven Wollter there runs a red line whose message reads: Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood, Peace, Justice! I remember how the rest of us in the 60’s after long days of demonstrating and late evening meetings, sometimes with too much bad wine, how, when we woke up the next morning, heard a voice outside the window at the entrance to Systembolaget, a loud voice shouting: “Buy the Proletarian, buy the Proletarian!”

I remember an early Sunday morning in a deserted Stockholm when I in an attempt to get rid of my aching sciatica by going up and down the stairs to Mosebacke Square, then I see a lonely man approaching. It turns out to be Sven, he is on this early Sunday morning on his way to a basement, he says, to repeat a new play for a small theatre. That image of a hard-working actor says more about who Sven is than anything else.

The state of our country is beginning to resemble the time and the balance of power between the authorities and the people before the French Revolution. There, the propertied lived a life of luxury at the expense of the people, there the upper class was freed from tax but had all privileges, there the Money set limits to freedom of speech and the voice of the people rang unheard.

In our country, though, we have food on the table and roof over our heads, but the richest percent will soon own as much as the rest of the population, this people where 50% do not have a single krona in the bank. Where last year, the wages throughout the economy increased by a measly 0.8 per cent and half a million are unemployed. At the same time as the stock market giants celebrate their gigantic bonus parties. Income differences have never been greater in modern times. People die in queues to health care while the Markets risk capitalists are in possession of one of Europe’s largest funds with ownership of hospitals, schools and elderly care. The number of billionaires increases faster than in other countries, homeless people stumble around in the streets and inequality has given the Grim Reaper a lot of work.

This country needs a voice like Sven Wollters, who keeps to his message, who does not fail despite all the crap the bourgeois press usually throws at him.

The man who always existed, the man who never gives up!

Finally, a few words from Sven’s autobiography:

“The most wonderful thing is, after all, that in this world with its horrible violence, its vast injustices, its cynicism, its psychopathic lack of compassion from the powers, its exploitation, its rightlessness for those who have nothing, that in the midst of all this chaotic world order, people create love and beauty around them – and succeed not only to survive, but even to live.”