Jantelovenn (Jante’s Law) is a term coined by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 book A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks. It captures the Scandinavian ideal of conformity, emphasizing that individual success is unworthy and inappropriate. To stand out or call attention to yourself in any way is to jeopardize the collective “we.”
Promoting the collective “we” above “I” ensures the survival of the group, the stability of society, and fairness and equality for everyone. The concept may have developed to reinforce the necessity for interdependency among members of small farming communities, combatting the “me first” attitude that can develop in times of extreme poverty.
- You’re not to think you are anything special.
- You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
- You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
- You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
- You’re not to think you know more than we do.
- You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
- You’re not to think you are good at anything.
- You’re not to laugh at us.
- You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
- You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
With these “Ten Commandments,” it’s kind of surprising Norwegians don’t have a serious inferiority complex. But they themselves will admit that in actuality, they’re a tad short on humility since discovering oil offshore and becoming one of the richest nations in the world.