Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Egalitarianism Irony

Reading Culture Shock: Norway, it all sounds quite lovely, though the preachiness comes through.  A combination of government regulation and social pressure lets you know the proper way to bring up your children and what your family life should be like, and how education should be managed.  These aren't necessarily bad ideas - I agree with many - but it sounds odd to an American.  The Swedes and Finns are apparently worse, and the Danes about the same.  Icelanders are also quite convinced that they have achieved a proper balance between personal freedom and government regulation that others should emulate.

The poet Aksel Sandemose made the famous (well, famous to Norwegians, anyway) statement "Don't you believe that you are any better than anybody else."  Egalitarianism is rather fierce in Norway, and the author of the book, who seems to be a Chinese woman who married a Norwegian, stops short of criticising them for not encouraging gifted students, or even allowing them to go forward on their own, nonetheless telegraphs her approval that this is changing (in 1995).

This insistence on egalitarianism is one of the reasons why Norwegians believe they are better than other countries.  Heh.  As with socialism, they do a marvelous job of sharing with each other, and making you share, too.  They, and the other Scandinavians, are a bit more ruthlessly free-market in the world economy. 

Yes, I am criticising this, and making fun of the hypocrisy.  But I do envy it.  Socialism at home for the few million citizens, free-market abroad for those other countries who are fine in their own way, but...

Not a bad system.

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