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'The Dark Side of Egalitarianism'

The Law of Jante (Janteloven) was codified by the Danish-born novelist Aksel Sandemose while he was living in Norway. The Law comprises ten 'commandments', and describes an unspoken code of conformity that Sandemose felt as a stifling inhibitive influence in the town where he grew up. Later commentators have used the term more generally to refer to the anti-individualist tendencies that have traditionally pervaded Scandinavian culture, and to denote 'the dark side of egalitarianism'. Of course, the Law needn't be interpreted in such a negative light, and egalitarianism has its good side too, the difficult question being: do the benefits of equality make it worthwhile suffering the strictures of Janteloven?
posted by misteraitch on Oct 27, 2004 - 31 comments

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