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Spirit weak from Stoltenberg

Only the hearing impaired found something to enjoy in the prime minister's New Year's speech.


The most striking with Stoltenberg's New Year's speech was that he spoke very clearly and softly. In an interview afterwards, the Chief of Staff was pleased to say that it was a correct observation that Stoltenberg works a lot to speak more clearly (speak further in the mouth and not in the throat as it says in Einar Gerhardsens Tillitsmannen) and get better diction. The emphasis should therefore be placed on form and not content. But the problem with the New Year's speech became clearer. Stoltenberg spoke to the camera and the Norwegian people as if they were all idiots that one must talk very clearly to for something to penetrate their cardboard.

Jens Stoltenberg is a real child of social democracy. The proof of that is that he uses the word community every time he doesn't know what to say. In the speech, community was mentioned as much as 10 times. But Stoltenberg also belongs to what has been called generation X, the 40-year-olds who became adults when there were no longer any political struggles to fight. Once upon a time, the most important political characteristic was "to shoot when people were dying", understood that it was important for a political leader to cut through conflicts and regain focus on politics. For the conflict cloud Jens Stoltenberg, it is therefore fitting as a big head in a bicycle helmet that trend niches and other media experts have ushered in the dream community where the most important feature is telling stories. The focus has shifted away from the good political issues to the good stories where happiness has a central place. Therefore, Stoltenberg mentioned various variations of the dream word as much as 16 times and happiness / happiness / happy 10 times.

Therefore, it is the greatest matter of course that Stoltenberg could open his speech by quoting his good friend Roy Jacobsen: "" All children deserve to win "Roy Jacobsen writes in a short story". The tone is set. Where Einar Gerhardsen could punch the table and state that those who sat at the bottom of the table also deserved dignity, Stoltenberg looks at you through the screen with plate-sized eyes and says in slow motion that everyone can win over themselves and be seen. This development away from harsh realities and over to cliché-based stories can possibly be read in parallel with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At the bottom, it is man's basic needs that must be met. While at the top, when the material need has been abolished, self-realization remains where everyone will become unique people who purposefully hunt down their dreams and fantasies. But is it so simple and weak-minded – in the true sense of the word – even here, in our oil-dripping rich periphery?

Of course not. In 2005, the EU experienced its biggest crisis to date when a majority of the population in France and the Netherlands said no to the new constitution. The budget quarrel during the English presidency lasted until the beginning of Christmas. What does Norway do with these concrete, tangible realities? Nothing. Another EU without a skipper and direction hits Norway hard. Almost all Norwegian policy developments that have nothing to do with the districts come either through EU directives or through Norwegian bureaucrats intercepting new ideas during their frequent visits to the continent. Stoltenberg did not mention the EU in a word in his New Year's speech, although the Soria Moria declaration heralds an active European policy.

Instead, Stoltenberg chose in his speech to follow Bondevik's foreign policy line where little Norway will become visible globally by establishing itself as a humanitarian superpower. We have increased the development assistance budget in recent years from 0,613 of GDP to as much as 0,6135. In the New Year's speech, it was of course Stoltenberg's work to increase funding for the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) that was highlighted. All credit to Stoltenberg for this work being led by Bill Gates, but what about getting the EU more involved in using the UN, rather than establishing itself as an oppositional superpower to the United States? It would have lasting consequences for the world's poor countries if the whole EU chose to position itself against US dominance by running the UN track.

Stoltenberg mentioned nor the northern areas in their speech, even though the northernmost part of the country is facing a bonanza the few understand the range of. Russia has announced a large-scale development in the Barents Sea where both Statoil and Hydro are competing for assignments. The snow-white development on the Norwegian shelf has already created a golden rush atmosphere in western Finnmark. Just as the whole of Rogaland after they became the oil capital went from being a backward prayer house town in the early 70's to becoming the only county outside the Oslo region that really acts on the continent with the greatest obviousness.

The vast majority are probably of the opinion that it is finally Northern Norway's turn now after massive development of the main airport, the Olympics, motorways, double railway tracks throughout Eastern Norway and so on. This is how social democracy has modernized Norway. If it is a counter-cycle, you build yourself out of it by going into clinch with nature; whether it is dams that are being built, four-lanes that are being laid or oil fields that are to be tamed. Why does not the massive development of Northern Norway create greater enthusiasm in the government when it does so in the north? Should we not treat them to that joy, but rather paint black and warn of environmental disasters? Why should urban southerners protect northern Norway from development when the entire coast to the south has been developed?

Poverty in Norway is eradicated as a structural problem. But there are still groups that fall outside the general increase in prosperity. In his speech, Stoltenberg pointed out two examples of minorities in modern Norway occupying increasingly important positions: Farianne Rochan and Zaheer Ahmad left Lørenskog upper secondary school last year with dozens of sixes, and are now studying medicine at UiO. The example can be met with two different reactions, both equally unbelieving. Is it the case in Norway that 35 years of integration have only produced two minorities who have done well in school? In that case, it will mean that integration in Norway has gone bankrupt. Then it is impossible for immigrants to come here and be accepted by the white homogeneous Norway. Or is it the case that Stoltenberg lives in a white protected middle class on the northwestern edge of Oslo and still believes that all minorities in Norway are taxi drivers or own a kebab shop? Probably the reality is somewhere in between, but Stoltenberg's example must be met with a sigh of relief: When should minorities who grew up in Norway stop being defined as immigrants or as Stoltenberg calls them "another generation of Norwegians of foreign origin" and "immigrant background" ? The final sign of integration is that the distinction between us and them ceases. When people grew up in Norway, they are Norwegians. Not "our new compatriots". Not «second generation immigrants». Only Norwegians. The next time a prime minister mentions ethnic minorities in a New Year's speech, it must be like Norwegians, not immigrants.

A young Rune Gerhardsen wrote in the magazine Syn & Segn in the late sixties that social democracy had fulfilled its historical role. Welfare had spread to the broad masses of the people. The middle class had grown big and fat and the worker had jumped out of the blue coverall and into the barbecue suit. Stoltenberg's New Year's speech revealed that the Social Democrats are still looking for a new foundation for their policies. The Prime Minister used two stanzas from a poem by Jan Magnus Bruheim: "That man begs the heaviest burden / Who has nothing to bear". Transferred to Stoltenberg and the Labor Party: "That party asks the heaviest burden / Who has no project." The politicians in the once powerful state-supporting party have been reduced to bad storytellers who try to create engagement by telling us that it has become colder in the shade and that it is warmer in the sun. Why does Stoltenberg not leave the stories and clichés to his good advertising friend Kjetil Try and concentrate on creating enthusiasm among the Norwegian people for the good causes? They exist – although Stoltenberg has to look outside the circle of bad speechwriters in his office.

Erling Fossen is the leader of Oslo Byaksjon.

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