Sunday, September 27, 2009

I've never before heard of Jante's Law

So thank you, Larisa.

  1. Don't think that you are special.
  2. Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
  3. Don't think that you are smarter than us.
  4. Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
  5. Don't think that you know more than us.
  6. Don't think that you are more important than us.
  7. Don't think that you are good at anything.
  8. Don't laugh at us.
  9. Don't think that anyone of us cares about you.
  10. Don't think that you can teach us anything.


As I interpret her interpretation, this is a negative law. It destroys creativity and individualism and any sense of initiative. Taken as a whole, I agree.

However the individual pieces, and how they are interpreted, are much more mixed.

Don't think that you are special.
I see this in two ways. First, don't think you're a unique and beautiful flower, God's gift to mankind, so special that you get a category to yourself. However I also see how it is wrong, that we should think we are special in the sense that we are all different and only by acknowledging our differences can we achieve our full potential.

Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
This I just disagree with. This is the arrogance of a society. It is exclusion and elitism and the creation of an other for the sole purpose of raising up the self.

Don't think that you are smarter than us.
Is this shooting someone down or teaching humility? Is it "you are not above average" or is it "don't assume you are a above average."

Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
Well this is just a good rule in general. Many people need an ego check. The fact that I try to write as if I know this better than you doesn't automatically mean that I qualify, for I could be saying this with a sense of humbleness. Alas, I am not and so I, like most people, need a dose of this rule.

Don't think that you know more than us.
This is just a good rule to have. Humility again.

Don't think that you are more important than us.
Odds are, this is true.

Don't think that you are good at anything.
That's just a downer without the possibility of being a source of humbleness.

Don't laugh at us.
Unless they deserve it.

Don't think that anyone of us cares about you.
Sounds terrible, but, to those who don't give a shit about their fellow humans (you know who you are), why should society care about them? It's a reciprocal relationship. I believe that those who don't care about society should be left entirely to their own devices. That means no government police protecting them for free, no justice system to punish those who hurt them, no one so much as raising a finger to save them from their inevitable and justified execution.

Don't think that you can teach us anything.
That's a dumb rule. Everyone has something to teach someone else.

3 comments:

LarĂ­sa said...

Well, living under the oppression of the Jante Law I find it kind of hard to internprete it in such a positive way. Google it and you'll find a ton of testimonies from Swedish people (as well as some academic pieces about how it is reflected in our society). However, since you seem interested in this stuff I just wanted to point you to one of many "opposite" Jante Laws that have been invented as a reaction.

This one was a bit strangely translated into old language, but you'll catch the meaning. It's more this way I see the world.

http://www.qruiser.be/Moed/Old/Janteop.htm

Klepsacovic said...

@Larisa: We are all under the law to some extent (which you already said). The anti-law remind me that the opposite of bad is not always good, for the new law seemed to also fail to recognize reality.

The same-height poppies and the goblins are just bad in different ways, as is the habit of extremists.

What does it mean that we cannot seem to accept that we are not all the same, that we all have varying contributions to make, but at the same time, to avoid the elitism and hyper-individualism?

BTW, I want to echo Gevlon's comment; you are special. Whether you recognize it or not, you're fighting the law.

Charlie said...

I, too, live under the oppression of the jantelov.

While I do believe in humility, there is no doubt as far as I'm concerned that every part of the law has it's roots in fear, as opposed to love.

It is why we are a socialist country despite having had a "liberal" government for ten years.

The only good thing about it is that there are those who rise above it and grow with the experience. These people are then expected to feed the rest, but often they've become totally desillusioned with their own countries, leading many succesful businesses to move overseas for lower taxes since their owners have long since lost any shred of loyalty they might've once had.

Wasn't it Bill Clinton who promoted "Danish values"?