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Little national spirit

Norway – a small piece of world history

It turns quickly when Bromark and Herbjørnsrud point out Norwegian complacency and Norwegian forgetfulness.

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

Stian Bromark and Dag Herbjørnsrud (B / H) have now completed the trilogy that began with Blank lies, dirty truths (2001) and The fear of America (2003). Last part, Norway – a small piece of world history, is described as a book about our perceptions of Norway and the Norwegian, as presented in textbooks and popular literature.

In the 1800th century, there was a conscious and unconscious cultivation of Norway in the arts, literature and science. This was part of a nation-building superstructure that focused on what one perceived as really Norwegian, and that diminished what came from outside, precisely because it not was Norwegian.

Voi Voi!

Something that was definitely not Norwegian in the 1800th century was the Sami culture. The Sami were well and positively in collaboration with the Vikings. No one heard about it in the 1800th century, and we haven't heard much about it since either. B / H points out how there are Sami heroes who are praised elsewhere in the world, and that few Norwegians today have heard of. And already the Roman historian Tacitus mentions the Sami in his work Germany. "Skrithifinoi" is skiing (!) And lives in Thule.

Why are you not proud of this in Norway? Sami law expert Kirsti Strøm Bull hits the nail on the head when she points to the Norwegian colonization of the Sami: "Norway will appear as the opposite of a colonial power, as a victim of colonialization, first under Denmark, then Sweden, and then the German occupation." From 1681, morality criminals were sent as prisoners to Finnmark – long before the British began to colonize Australia with their criminals.

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Today, the Sami have "gained" the totally immaterial Sami Parliament, and are content to require public flagging with the same flag on 17 May. They should rather demand guaranteed seats in the Storting, as indigenous people have in many other countries. With what right do non-Sami Norwegians today deny them this?

Four Hundred Years Night

"Four-hundred-year-old night / Rugged over the monkey," says the mad Huhu from Cairo Peer Gynt. The centenary night has become a concept in Norwegian self-image after this. That Norway itself is referred to as the "monkey cat" is not so many that have come along.

Johan Sebastian Welhaven had realized that, and he was given a lot of pepper Norway's Twilight, where he pointed out how Norway has benefited from foreign fruit. More receptive were the Norwegians of Nicolai and Henrik Wergeland's myth of "the black hole": From the Norwegian Viking Age via regrettable union with Denmark, and back to Norway, finally free and fair.

As early as 1920, historian Halvdan Koht claimed that Norwegian historical writing has for a long time sought to hide Danish control over Norway from the 800s onwards. Norwegian historians are aware of this, but as B / H points out: Why does this knowledge not come out in the public, in practice it will primarily be in the school books?

By the way, the union with Denmark was no black hole. Union times were more profitable for Norwegians and Norwegian farmers than for Danes. "Local communities became cleaner, richer and more dynamic in the coastal cities where contact with Danes, Dutch and foreigners was greatest."

B / H continues with many interesting examples: Norwegians' participation in the slave trade; Norwegian national romanticism imported with skin and hair from abroad, Asbjørnsen and Moe's folk tales which were largely imported from other countries; Wergeland's fascination with Islam; Einar Gerhardsen who shortly after the invasion in 1940 wanted to cooperate with the Germans (!); the immigration ban that was temporarily introduced in 1975 – until conditions had improved for those who had already arrived.

A historical facet?

Despite all the refreshing reminders, there is something unsatisfactory about it Norway – a small piece of world history. B / H consistently uses what is politically correct today. That is why there is something like a XNUMX-hour criticism about the criticism: Historical actors could have good, rational reasons in their time to think things we find today haunting. On the contrary, it may well be that past opinions that fit well with the present day appear to be based on a situational understanding or principles that were not at all plausible or "correct". B / H does not comment on this issue at all. And things have gone a little too fast sometimes:

Mary Wollstonecrafts Letter from a short stay in Sweden, Norway and Denmark is referred to as if she were in a romantic way looking for the original and the real in Norway because it was "health-giving". Where did they get this from? Wollstonecraft was an enlightenment thinker, not a romantic. She did not go to Scandinavia to describe people's life or recreation; she was going to help her ex-lover Gilbert Imlay find a shipload that had disappeared. Wollstonecraft was most concerned about the population, even in the cities, being educated. She saw some charm in this, but did not cultivate it in any way.

About the famous Jewish paragraph, B / H writes: "The exclusionary words in paragraph 2 of 1814, which Falsen so vigorously defended, [because Risnes reintroduced the paragraph in 1942] became a motivation for the extermination of Jews in Norway during the Holocaust." to say that historical actors cannot be held responsible for what kind of actions their statements "motivate" several generations later. This is reminiscent of Jens Bjørneboe's filler pipe, where he alternately launched Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner as the one who "really" blamed the concentration camps.

B / H writes that gays "were sent en masse to the Nazi chambers of death ». This is a modern myth. Probably 15 gays were sent to concentration camps. 000-4000 survived. Homosexuals were treated less favorably than other prisoners for various reasons, but the fact that gays were cleansed just as much as Jews and Gypsies is simply not the case.

Cheap morals

B / H also regrets that marginal groups were discriminated against during the Gerhardsen period. This wonder must be based on the notion that the welfare state is incompatible with discrimination or, more specifically, racial hygiene. But that's not true: Nazi Germany was built on the same welfare ideology as social democratic countries.

The sterilization of tatters, which lasted until the 1970s, is a blemish of dimensions, there is no doubt. But why doesn't B / H mention that mongoloid is still being sterilized in Norway? Do they not know, or do they actually agree (I can hardly imagine that)? Isn't this racial hygiene? "You have to distinguish between the right to have life and the right to give life," as Jon Alfred Mjøen said.

It is easy to be "critical" to the evils of the past. But it's not very enlightening. It's a cheap way to be moral. There is no doubt that Norway's history should be rewritten, but it will then also happen. Now let only the dessert generation historians spend some time. Norway – a small piece of world history in spite of all its important reminders, it is easy to read, in the double sense.

Kjetil Korslund
Historian of ideas and regular critic in Ny Tid.

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