the law of jante

roosh has got a post up about jante law — i guess it was impeding his game in denmark (oh noes!). jante law is a scandinavian phenomenon that sounds like tall poppy syndrome on steroids:

– Thou shalt not presume that thou art someone.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than we.
– Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art more [important] than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art going to amount to anything.
– Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
– Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
– Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything.

well, minnesota’s starting to make a lot more sense now! (~_^)

björn over at roosh’s offers an explanation for jante law:

“Janteloven is a stable social compromise that has stood the test of time in that part of the world. Since resources were traditionally so scarce, you could’t afford to make enemies by acting superior, or people would refuse to interact with you and you would starve to death – or kill yourself – in the long dark winter.”

maybe. but do jante law sorts of traditions exist in other places where “resources were traditionally so scarce?” i mean in such a strong form. do the russians, who also live through a pretty harsh winter every year, have their own version of jante law? how about the mongolians? or north american native americans? i’m genuinely asking, ’cause i dunno!

and jante law has “stood the test of time?” how long of a time? according to a couple of researchers, its spirit may have been around in the nineteenth century [in section titled Who Do You Think You Are?]…

“But there is more behind the spirit of envy than Jantelagen. There may be a historical basis for these beliefs as well. In Myterna om Svensken (Myths about the Swedes), David Gaunt and Orvar Lofgren explain that nineteenth-century farmers were required to help neighbors who were less well-off, due in part to a belief in Luck, the very unpredictable whim of ‘Lady Fortuna.’ People believed that there was only a finite amount of Luck in life; for one man to become rich, another must become poor. Thus anyone who had great luck, made a lot of money, or had a good harvest shared his success with his less fortunate neighbors, for Luck is fickle and can be reversed (Gaunt and Lofgren 1984).”

…but it seems like jante law wasn’t really applied across the board until the twentieth century [same source as above]:

“Envy, however, did not typically extend beyond one’s own class; there was a marked (and accepted) difference between the nobility and the peasants. Only in the twentieth century did equality begin to be seen as more universal. Swedish ethnologist Åke Daun speculates that the growing income differentials now emerging in Sweden ‘will in the end bring about the weakening of the famous Swedish envy in that gaps between people will be considered part of the natural order: it is between equals that envy flourishes’ (1996, 212).”

i was just reading about medieval scandinavia last night, and it’s not like there weren’t different classes back then, with some individuals having ENORMOUS wealth compared to others — and showing it off by doing things like building castles and such. one guy, bo jonsson (grip), owned one-third of sweden — and finland. like, ALL of finland. seriously! was jante law present in medieval sweden/scandinavia? enquiring minds want to know!

jante law sentiments would certainly go a long way in explaining scandinavia’s early and apparently enthusiastic adoption of political correctness. it also maybe explains their fondness for wealth redistribution.

and it fits with the scandinavian (and, more broadly, germanic) preferences for societal collectivism (from those who can see)…

…and Ordnung (strong preference for rules and order)…

re. the evolution of altruism genes/behaviors in scandinavia, remember that the swedes adpoted christianity rather late compared to other europeans, so they were probably inbreeding for longer than other populations in northwest europe (i’m gonna be looking more into this, and the other scandis, too). by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though, swedish inbreeding rates were very low, comparable to those of other northwestern (“core”) europeans (like the english and germans).

(note: comments do not require an email. typical swede. typical norwegians. typical dane. typical minnesotan. (~_^) )

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30 Comments

  1. Japan’s the same thing, especially up North. They call it Mura hachi bu 村八分, meaning than in a village setting, standing out meant the whole village will never help you or invite you to any feast, besides helping you with fires and funerals, as those affect everyone.

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  2. “jante law is a scandinavian phenomenon”

    “acting flash” was the UK version. although it’s gone now because of immigration.

    I dispute the alphaness but this is the gist

    “Jante Law has made sex more egalitarian. Instead of a few guys fucking all the women like in the States (while the sexual losers stay home and play World of Warcraft), you have more Danish guys getting laid, though with fewer partners. In other words, the alpha male is neutralized in Denmark. He’s not rewarded with more sex for his alphaness because alphaness breaks Jante Law.”

    it makes perfect sense if it evolved to promote monogamy in an environment where women couldn’t provision children on their own and a man couldn’t successfully provision more than one batch of kids.

    game is a copy of west african mating tactics based on an environment where a woman can provision her children herself and there’s limited opportunities for a man to amass large amounts of wealth to entice multiple women into a permanent harem. the best male strategies in those conditions are violence if there’s no rule of law or showing off if there is. this environment has been recreated among the welfare underclass in the west and thence into game so game is basically a way of trying to implement underclass mating strategies outside the underclass.

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  3. “Don’t forget Hierarchy in the Forest, which shows this tendency in hunter/gatherer societies”

    Yes

    “postulates that egalitarianism is in effect a hierarchy in which the weak combine forces to dominate the strong”

    again i’d dispute the word strong but that is the gist. in any environment where maybe 15% of the males have an advantage then it is in the interest of the middle 60% to change the rules – which more or less by definition tends to the greater good.

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  4. People believed that there was only a finite amount of Luck in life; for one man to become rich, another must become poor.

    This reminded me of George Foster’s Peasant Society and the Image of the Limited Good, written after living among Michoacin, Mexico (Indian) peasants in the 1950s.

    …broad areas of peasant behavior are patterned in such fashion as to suggest that peasants view their social, economic, and natural universes—their total environment—as one in which all of the desired things in life such as land, wealth, health, friendship and love, manliness and honor, respect and status, power and influence, security and safety, exist in finite quantity and are always in short supply, as far as the peasant is concerned. (emphasis his)

    He too observed the ‘tallest poppy syndrome’ among the villagers, and intense envy, but little cooperation:

    Mutual suspicion seriously limits cooperative approaches to village problems. […] At best an honorable man lays himself open to the charge of utilizing the venture to exploit friends and neighbors; at worst he risks his own defenses, since someone more skillful or less ethical than he may take advantage of the situation.

    Would be interested to know if higher / lower latitudes make a big difference in how these traits play out in traditional farming villages. (trust, collectivism, etc.)

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  5. Steve Sailer once made an argument that the reason Ashkenazi Jews are so argumentative is that Jews in Eastern Europe weren’t allowed to own weapons, which meant that their spats rarely led to serious violence. It’s kind of a throwaway hypothesis, but if it were true it might help to explain the extreme pacifism/politeness/conformism found amongst today’s Scandinavians. In Viking era Scandinavia all men were required to own weapons and permitted to carry them at all times. Up until roughly the 17th/18th centuries the descendants of those Vikings remained among the most homicide inclined people in Europe (see here http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2009/08/what-does-decline-in-homicide-rates.php). In a society that violent, non-retarded people would gradually learn that the best policy was to shut the hell up around strangers and not to brag.

    This hypothesis wins points for entertainment value, but I tend to doubt it because you also see this same egalitarian spirit in the descendants of uncivilized hunter gatherers everywhere, particularly in the north. Once David Reich publishes his big paper this year uncovering the fraction of Paleolithic European blood in modern day populations HBDers should have a field day trying to figure out how it explains the “national character” of say, Scandinavians vs. Italians.

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  6. jante law seems all about humility. which is good.

    jante law sentiments would certainly go a long way in explaining scandinavia’s early and apparently enthusiastic adoption of political correctness.

    i don’t understand how you would think it would explain early adoption of political correctness. i would think it would result in the opposite. “your ways are no better than ours, you our in our place, be humble and join us, but remember, you are no better than us.”

    @hbd – what post approver do you use?

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  7. @rjp – “jante law seems all about humility. which is good.”

    ehhh, i think it’s about a lot more than just humility. some humility is good, of course, but read the list again … carefully. it seems more about keeping everyone equal — even if they’re not, or maybe especially because they’re not. like:

    – Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than we.
    – Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything.

    well, what if mr. thou actually does know more than the group and could teach the group something they don’t know?

    and these two actually sound a bit hypocritical:

    – Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as we.
    – Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than we.

    sounds like the group thinks it is better and wiser than the individual. hmmm.

    and finally:

    – Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.

    indeed.

    the law of jante was put to paper by a norwegian-danish author in a novel that i hadn’t heard of until yesterday. it’s pretty clear that what he saw in jante law was “the suppression of the individual’s aspirations and personal development by the collective.”

    this is where i made the connection with political correctness, since the fundamental pc maxim is that all people are the same — jante law tries to make all people the same.

    maybe you had to have grown up/lived amongst scandis/germanics, without being one onself AND while being some with a contrarian personality on top of that, to find the jante law sort-of pressure for conformity to be REALLY ANNOYING. (^_^) really annoying and yet impressive … very impressive.

    @rjp – “what post approver do you use?”

    it’s just wordpress.

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  8. @halvorson – “…if it were true it might help to explain the extreme pacifism/politeness/conformism found amongst today’s Scandinavians. In Viking era Scandinavia all men were required to own weapons and permitted to carry them at all times. Up until roughly the 17th/18th centuries the descendants of those Vikings remained among the most homicide inclined people in Europe….”

    i’m gonna go with my favorite explanation — i.e. that the scandis began outbreeding sometime after 1000 a.d. and, thus, reduced the amount of “kin-altruism” genes in their gene pool, and so quit being so violent towards non-clan members. that it took until the 17th/18th century for pacification to reach scandinavia has to do with how late outbreeding began there as compared to, say, france or england or germany.

    (at least, the genes-for-altruism inbreeding/outbreeding theory is related to the violence question. clearly, conditions on the ground — egs. resource availability, population size — also contribute to violence leves.)

    that’s my theory and i’m stickin’ with it. (~_^)

    @halvorson – “Once David Reich publishes his big paper this year uncovering the fraction of Paleolithic European blood in modern day populations HBDers should have a field day trying to figure out how it explains the ‘national character’ of say, Scandinavians vs. Italians.”

    yes, that’ll be fun! (^_^)

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  9. @m.g. – Mutual suspicion seriously limits cooperative approaches to village problems. […] At best an honorable man lays himself open to the charge of utilizing the venture to exploit friends and neighbors; at worst he risks his own defenses, since someone more skillful or less ethical than he may take advantage of the situation.”

    this sounds awfully similar to g.w.’s pakistani indian peasants (i.e. little trust between the villagers)!:

    “Palanpur farmers sow their winter crops several weeks after the date at which yields would be maximised. The farmers do not doubt that earlier plantings would give them larger harvests, but no one, the farmer explained, is willing to be the first to plant, as the seeds on any lone plot would be quickly eaten by birds. I asked if a larger group of farmers, perhaps relatives, had ever agreed to sow earlier, all planting on the same day to minimise the loses. ‘If we knew how to do that,’ he said looking up from his hoe at me, ‘we would not be poor.’”

    thnx for the george foster link! haven’t seen that before.

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  10. @g.w. – “I dispute the alphaness but this is the gist”

    yes, the gameboyz have their own definition of “alpha” which bears little resemblance to anything found in the real world amongst primates. that’s ok. lots of disciplines define their own terms. (~_^)

    @g.w. – game is a copy of west african mating tactics based on an environment where a woman can provision her children herself and there’s limited opportunities for a man to amass large amounts of wealth to entice multiple women into a permanent harem. the best male strategies in those conditions are violence if there’s no rule of law or showing off if there is. this environment has been recreated among the welfare underclass in the west and thence into game so game is basically a way of trying to implement underclass mating strategies outside the underclass.”

    yes. and i hate to think of what sort of traits are being selected for in our current, polygamous system. =/

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  11. @luke – “Don’t forget Hierarchy in the Forest, which shows this tendency in hunter/gatherer societies.”

    there’s ANOTHER book i haven’t read — and hadn’t even heard of. thnx for pointing it out! one more to add to the “must read” list. (^_^)

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  12. hbdchick
    “that’s my theory and i’m stickin’ with it”

    i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead. this would help weed out some of the specific violence genes that were tolerated or even neccessary and high status before. i’m guessing the Scandi kings managed to impose a criminal law later than elsewhere also.

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  13. @g.w. – “‘In cultures that permit men to take multiple wives, the intra-sexual competition that occurs causes greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality than in societies that institutionalize and practice monogamous marriage.'”

    very interesting! definitely relevant.

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  14. @g.w. – “i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead.”

    absolutely. society becomes more “corporate.”

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  15. I think Roissy would say that his ideal of game is more James Bond than Snoop Dogg.
    Surely you can’t deny that there is an independent Western lothario tradition (always in the minority, of course).

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  16. @hbd – okay, i was looking at it from the perspective of me a “conforming” resident vs. an alien.

    if you look at it from the perspective of say a regressive (uh, a progressive) vs. the contituents, it would be nasty. a nancy pelosi liberal living in a gated community of properties with covanents on the deeds that keep out the “unwanted” telling us what’s good for us.

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  17. I think the law of Jante is being described by someone who doesn’t like it much. Someone who liked it would probably tone it down. If it were as bad as all that, I can’t believe there would have been any Niels Bohr or Alfred Nobel.

    As far as “to laugh at us”, well, that sounds like a translation with little margin for error. The Scandinavians I know laugh easily and laugh with each other easily. I always supposed they didn’t laugh AT each other because the victim would be laughing too hard. If the law of Jante is to make me believe that Scandinavians are ultra-serious and/or think-skinned, I’m skeptical.

    Where the law rings true is: (a) ostentatious displays of wealth are considered crass (not like in Italy or the UK); (b) egalitarian groups of younger males (like most groups) prefer to be similar in most ways including virtue.

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  18. @olave – “I think the law of Jante is being described by someone who doesn’t like it much.”

    oh, undoubtedly. the wikipedia page on the author, sandemose, says:

    “As in A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks the main theme in Sandemose’s books is the evil that people inflict on others by narrow-mindedness and limited imagination.”

    clearly sandemose was frustrated by the demands for conformity in his society — an example of hammering down the nail that sticks up.

    but that doesn’t mean that (heh) he didn’t hit the nail on the head. often it’s our enemies who see us the most clearly, yeah?

    @olave – “The Scandinavians I know laugh easily and laugh with each other easily.”

    well, everything’s relative. the scandis & germanics that i know don’t laugh as easily as the people from my own ethnic group — not that there’s anything wrong with that! — that’s just human biodiversity. (^_^)

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  19. @ihtg – “I think Roissy would say that his ideal of game is more James Bond than Snoop Dogg.”

    well, as long as we’re talking about the sean connery incarnation of james bond, i’m ok with that. (~_^) (snoop dogg — yuuuuck!)

    @ihtg – Surely you can’t deny that there is an independent Western lothario tradition (always in the minority, of course).”

    oh, of course not. but they need to be kept in the minority. otherwise — well, i don’t want to think about what sorts of personality traits will be selected for — both of men and women — if the whole society becomes full of cads and not dads. =/

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  20. I’ve been thinking about this law all day. On the whole I’d say it seems pretty familiar, but not particularly among an ethnic group but an age group – people aged about 13 to 25 (i.e. adolescent children).

    It always struck me that people in the overwhelming majority of a cultural divide tended to display curiously thin skins. I’ve had a lot of people get very upset and defensive when they found out I didn’t watch those two events on TV – basketball and American Idle*. Yet I never get upset and defensive when I find out someone never spends any time tracking the electoral success of the Social Credit Party in western Canada in the middle 20th Century.

    There’s a peculiar danger in numbers, apparently.

    I was thing about that movie about the dog that’s smarter than humans. If there really were a dog smarter than humans, noöne would note it out loud. They’d just say that the dog was arrogant, and that he lacked street smarts and “social skills”, and that IQ doesn’t mean anything anyway, and if the dog were really so brilliant he’d have solved all the world’s problems.

    * I figured if I limited myself to fresh and innovative puns I might alienate someone.

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  21. @olave – “I’ve been thinking about this law all day. On the whole I’d say it seems pretty familiar, but not particularly among an ethnic group but an age group – people aged about 13 to 25 (i.e. adolescent children).”

    are you saying that the scandis need to grow up? (~_^)

    @olave – “It always struck me that people in the overwhelming majority of a cultural divide tended to display curiously thin skins.”

    well, they have to be, don’t they? that’s how you set norms and boundaries and keep your in-group your in-group and the out-group those “others.” you can only share your resources/energies with so many people and one way to figure out who’s in your in-group — who’s like you — is to watch how they behave. human culture is a funny old thing.

    @olave – “Yet I never get upset and defensive when I find out someone never spends any time tracking the electoral success of the Social Credit Party in western Canada in the middle 20th Century. There’s a peculiar danger in numbers, apparently.”

    heh. (^_^) well that’s the funny thing, isn’t it? someone who’s a hard-core basketball fan might find a hard-core golf fan kind-of offensive (how dare you like golf and not basketball?! you must be one of “them.”), but at least the golf fanatic’s interest is something recognizable — another (*yawn*) sport. but to have an interest in stamp collecting or inclusive fitness — that’s just weeeeiiiird. that’s so far out that you’re not just from some other “out-group” — you must be from some other species! (~_^)

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  22. One of the things that has kept me out of so many in-groups for so long is that I’m very conscious of so many things others do unconsciously. In a (superficially logical) argument between an in-group member and an out-group member, typical people tend to truly believe that their ally is making the better case. I always separate my feelings from my analysis, and have no trouble bearing the cognitive dissonance of realizing that my friend is the debater with the weaker argument.

    It makes me a compulsive consensus-builder, but it also means I’m not a good in-group member. I would be a pretty good judge though. :)

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  23. @olave – “One of the things that has kept me out of so many in-groups for so long is that I’m very conscious of so many things others do unconsciously.”

    i’m like that, too. doesn’t really make one more functional in society though, unless you can overlook that you’re not functional. (~_^)

    @olave – “I always separate my feelings from my analysis, and have no trouble bearing the cognitive dissonance of realizing that my friend is the debater with the weaker argument.”

    most people can’t do that. and definitely most people can’t see their own cognitive dissonances. which makes sense, i guess — after all, that’s what cognitive dissonances are all about. (~_^)

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  24. […] the Finns—seem to have evolved a more socialistic/collectivist—as opposed to individualistic attitude towards the common good, at least when compared to the English and Europeans farther west. This may have to do with the […]

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