Now we will look at part of the Wikipedia’s article on Janteloven, namely:
“The Jante Law (Danish and Norwegian: Janteloven Swedish: Jantelagen Finnish: Janten laki Faroese: Jantulógin) is a concept created by the Norwegian/Danish author Aksel Sandemose in his novel A refugee crosses his tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933), where he portrays the small Danish town Jante, modelled upon his native town Nykøbing Mors as it was in the beginning of the 20th century.”
The Jantelov or Jante Law has ten rules:
- You shall not think that you are special.
- You shall not think that you are of the same standing as us.
- You shall not think that you are smarter than us.
- Don’t fancy yourself as being better than us.
- You shall not think that you know more than us.
- You shall not think that you are more important than us.
- You shall not think that you are good at anything.
- You shall not laugh at us.
- You shall not think that anyone cares about you.
- You shall not think that you can teach us anything.
The Jantelov, thus, works to preserve conformity. Its rules have generated great interest in Scandinavia ever since Sandemose first articulated them — he rang the proverbial bell. Copies of the Jantelov, and discussion of it, are all over the Internet (unlike some other, no less esoteric texts and topics I searched for today).
There is much to say about Janteloven, and much has in fact been said. It has positive aspects: for instance, it interdicts entitlement. It stresses cooperation above competition, and it can be a relief from that persistent, capitalistic pressure to always excel, all the time. It requires respect for all, not only for the most “respectable.” It has been rewritten in a much more encouraging tone, as a recipe for teamwork.
Some say the Jantelov no longer describes Scandinavian society, more open and cosmopolitan now than it was in Sandemose’s day. Lars Pind wrote a thoughtful post [in English] about his struggles with Janteloven, however, in the 21st century. Cognitive therapists have struggled with the effects of Janteloven, and have written a still hortatory, but less depressing version for use in their practices. And only three weeks ago there was a retreat for women recovering from Janteloven’s ravages, led by someone named, I believe, Windhawk.
Then there is a radical anti-Jantelov [with an English version], which I like. It appears to have been written by a gay Norwegian pantheist. Norway, I am told, is even more dourly Protestant than Denmark, and Sandmose based the Jantelov on the Ten Commandments. It just would take a pantheist to sort all of this out.