Vincent Torley: Denmark: it’s no secular paradise. Neither is Sweden

Scandinavian societies are egalitarian, but tend to stifle individuality

A strong egalitarian ethic pervades Scandinavian societies. While this egalitarian ethic provides people with a sense of security, it also tends to stifle people’s individuality.

The Jante Law: the conformist social ethic that governs Scandinavia

Most North American readers may not realize that Scandinavian societies are governed by a set of social conventions, which are known unofficially as the “Law of Jante“:

The Jante Law as a concept was created by the Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose, who, in his novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933, English translation published in the USA in 1936), identified the Law of Jante as ten rules. Sandemose’s novel portrays the small Danish town Jante …, where nobody is anonymous…

Generally used colloquially in Denmark and the rest of the Nordic countries as a sociological term to negatively describe a condescending attitude towards individuality and success, the term refers to a mentality that de-emphasises individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers.

There are ten rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, all expressive of variations on a single theme and usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.


Reality check: Independence of thought are not prized, and achievement is not valued in a socialist paradise. The cult of mediocrity reigns.

They say Sweden is committing suicide, but how would one know?

See also: My dog had a peaceful death, so…