The Jante Law

The Jante Law stems from the Viking times. Despite the long time., it still exist but is somewhat tabu to discuss. The paradox is that Sweden has so many inventions and “winners” despite the Jante Law. Maybe, it helps foster a team spirit where nobody dominates. It is a paradox. Its main 10 “commandments” are:

  1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
  2. You’re not to think you are as good as us.
  3. You’re not to think you are smarter than us.
  4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
  5. You’re not to think you know more than us.
  6. You’re not to think you are better than us.
  7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You’re not to laugh at us.
  9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

These ten principles or commandments are often claimed to form the ”Jante’s Shield” of the Scandinavian people. More info can be found on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante

Today, the Jante Law is mainly “allowed” during “day time.” After 5pm, when sports, music and similar activities dominate, setting goals, using “NE CEDE MALIS” is absolutely allowed and has created many Swedish winners, especially in these segments. During day time, (school and work time etc), Jante still rains too much but is gradually decreasing in impact. Many young people is interested in changing the paradigm.

The “NE CEDE MALIS” attitude was something that many of the emigrants from Sweden had to obey whilst in Sweden. This was probably a strong part of daring to break up with family and friends and leaving for a new “promised land” where Jante did not exist. USA is really the ”inverse” of Jante.

Some conflicts arise sometimes when the real Swedish Jante believers meet with Americans that are the inverse to Jante and follow the “NE CEDE MALIS” motto. Luckily, these real Jante believers are decreasing in numbers, but the history is interesting in its power on people is known.

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