Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Sparkling Mao title

Hans Petter Sjølie's story about AKP's growth and fall is a bit tabloid, but do they deserve anything but a feature article of 229 pages plus 431 footnotes?


AKP (ml) is thus the party that in relation to other Maoist movements outside the walls of China – and Albania – became startlingly large in Norway in the 1970s. This is extremely strange in a country where social democracy was almost dominant and the student uprising in May 1968 was just a storm in a pjolterglass on Blindern.

The Norwegian Maoists, the AKP, mainly started their business in the district Bryn-Hellerud in Oslo in the late 1960s. There, a bunch of theoretically and politically interested young people arranged study circles and read The Capital by Karl Marx so that his eyes became both wet and red. But it was important to keep the tongue straight in the mouth, it was important – as in all movements that consider themselves revolutionary – to understand the theory correctly. Sjølie writes:

"The whole ml movement was a product of the controversy between Mao Tsetung and the post-Stalinist regime in Moscow."

The end of the visa was that we have hardly seen a political party in this country that became more religious than the AKP (ml) – the party that started as SUF, SF's youth party, and relatively quickly became an object of hatred for both Finn Gustavsen and Berge Furre. It was not until Christmas 1972 that this youth and protest movement was transformed from a rapture to the AKP (ml).

In the midst of the Cold War, the AKP was "ingenious" enough to distance itself from both US and Soviet political projects. The AKP even had good political analyzes of the shortcomings of the prevailing policy in these great powers. The problem, of course, was that instead they found a stepfather: China, and worshiped the Middle Kingdom and Mao as if it were an earthly paradise and its savior. This was probably also in the end AKP (ml)'s path.

Another special feature of the SUF / AKP (ml) party building was the way in which the other parties and the movements on the political left were emphatically distanced. Here, many people, including those who have a relaxed relationship with the AKP today, probably believe that the party did more harm than good. The rarity of besserwisseri and political fundamentalism that the AKPs in their "days of prosperity" stood for, we rarely experience. Erling Borgen only asks what it was like to be exposed to some of these horny communist cadres in the 1970s.

"Only a consistent, revolutionary class struggle party can become the real tool of the working class in the struggle for socialism." This was serious, that's how they lived there.

The author of Mao, my Mao was born in 1974 and has not even been part of the ml movement (but he is now working in the Class Fight). This book is therefore not based on events experienced by the sea. This is a great advantage, not least considering how well the people involved, with Steigan, Øgrim and Allern at the forefront, have helped give others, we who never loved AKP, insight into this strange phenomenon: Maoism in Norway.

Still, it won't surprise me much if any of the people involved, and maybe just the three mentioned, will have strong objections to much in this book. They have, after all, been against most of what has come out on this topic in the past, with the exception of what little they have written about the matter. Or the case, as it is still called AKP sociologist.

It's a hassle when a book is so stung by footnotes like this one. It simply destroys the reading rhythm when anecdotal footnotes are queued at the back of the book. You flip and flip, but you almost never get on.

Footnote 218, however, told me something new: “It is a tenacious myth that the mls came from the bourgeoisie. The ML movement was always broadly composed in terms of class, and was, like most Norwegian parties, basically a middle-class party. ”

But as is well known – if they were not workers, then they would be. The key word was self-proletarianization. Many went from Blindern to industry, they made a kind of reverse class trip. And many have today gone home again, after the party is over and there is not a bit of cake left.

For – September 9, 1976 – Mao, my Mao, died, while the Norwegian ml movement was perhaps at its strongest. From here it went only one way. Though, they managed to turn the newspaper Klassekampen into a daily newspaper – a Norwegian media wonder that many of us still enjoy.

The most startling thing about Sjøli's book is probably the claim that the AKP monitored NKP members. Not the big issue in the more and more tabloid election campaign political Norway, perhaps – but important enough for those involved, whether the statement is true or not.

This book is of course not the truth about the AKP (ml). Who knows it? What is true and what is not here often becomes an exercise in debate technique and who was where at what time. Plus honesty in the use of sources, anonymous as well as open. Although much of the book is based on the author's master's work in history, this is not a research paper. As with all books, it therefore boils down to how well the story "Mao, my Mao" is written, how well the story is told.

The title is very good. The obvious allusion to Astrid Lindgren is an inertia. Unfortunately the rest of the book is not as good, but readable nonetheless. Because when the AKP people themselves do not bother to write anything special about this peculiar political growth that haunted our country, it is great that others than Bernt Hagtvet do. This is what the Norwegian Beijingers deserve.

Browse to read an interview with Hans Petter Sjøli.

You may also like