In today’s lecture we’ve arrived in the geographical, cultural and political epicenter of the world. Of course, we’re talking of Norway.
The icy and windy northern throne, guarded by ravaging polar bears, is by the way situated next to the rather unknown and obscure country of Sweden. In our official state crest, the polarbears have been switched with a lion, for reasons unknown. In fact, we probably only have two or three lions in the whole country, which are located in the only zoological park, unless they haven’t frozen to death already. As an anecdote the custom in Norway is that our elders has two choices – departing to Spain or the brutal death of hypothermia in refusal to use electricity. The latter is of course the most popular, as the noble death of a true warrior is rewarded with endless drunken war on the plains of Valhalla.
In the old Norse language the coast of western and northern Norway was referred to as Norðrvegr – The road to the north. This name originated most of the European pronunciations, although the correct and Norwegian spelling is Norge. Be aware that we operate with two national languages in writing, and that the inferior one claims it to be spelled Noreg. We have an ongoing war between supporters of the different sides. Its an ugly war. It target civilians, and the militias will stop at nothing. This civil war has been going on since the eighteen hundreds, and the ancient struggle is now so common that the loss of tongues nearly go unnoticed. Focusing on spoken dialects is impossible in this country, the numbers are far to great. Personally I am unable to communicate with the forest people of the interior countryside, and conversations are reduced to guessing. We often gather sticks and draw images in the soil.
But I’m derailing. Lets get back on track.
If any of my esteemed readers ever have traveled to Iceland and experienced the native tongue (indeed metaphorically); the sounds that derives from the locals are in fact old Norse.
After the western empire of Rome fell victim to the dreadful goths, vandals and other scum around the end of the fourth century, tribes and nations were on the prowl for new lands to inhabitate. A mix of slavs and goths slowly ascended north and took hold of the lands that today are Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. They brought the teachings of Odin and the Norse gods with them to their new homes. Further north, the Samii people, related to Indians and Mongols, were already stewing their reindeer – peacefully and oblivious to the occupants in the south. The Samii and their fellow natives had long ago settled in the northern hemispheres of Eurasia, and most of the Americas. Later history told us thar prior ownership apparently don’t mean shit without decent contracts (and a taste of alcohol to blur the mind).
As the Norse settlers grew intimate with their new surroundings, they took up fishing and farming and established a fragile society based on local kings. They enjoyed most of their time in peace, carving obscenities on bone fragments, only interrupted by the bashing of sculls and drunken brawls. As fewer kings took control over larger amounts of land, they got most of their shit together and started planning expeditions overseas. In 793, the first recorded raid took place at Lindisfarne, with the pillage and plunder of the monastery. The newly branded vikings took ill to the infidel monks. The Norsemen’s lack of social skills also has to be blamed in the mass slaughter. Needless to say, the Saxons trembled in their trousers, and after disposing their stomachs in their pants they began to fortify the British isles. Soon came the danish vikings along with a renewed taste for blood, and conquered Ireland and Northhumbria. Bluetooth was actually not a transmitter system to begin with.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian warlords fought each other fiercely for control, and the first man to call himself king over the southwestern parts were Harald Hairfair, after the battle of Hafrsfjord. Yeah, even I’ve got problems pronouncing that. Harald simply refused to get an haircut before the job was done. Skip a century ahead and the bastard Olav Trygvason, influenced by the Saxon king, took up Christianity and swore to conquer his homeland and spread the religion. He pretty much walked the walk, and shoved a sword down the throat of every heathen rebel. But the decisive blow to the pagans came in the battle of Stiklestad, the year 1030. Olav Haraldson, was declared a saint within two years after his death.
After this violent period came another violent period, and the eternal struggle for power were carried on the shoulders of civil war. After a century with fighting, the enemies caved in, and with the arrival of Hakon Hakonson the country’s possessions were on an all time high. Then came decline.
In 1349 my hometown was the venue that hosted the spread of the black plague, Yersinia Pestis, in Norway. No less than two thirds of the entire population were viped out, and the health system was limited to carriages transporting the rotting bodies away to mass graves. Unfortunately all the scholars died as well, so little else of the times are known. Which is probably for the best.
The 14th century was indeed a disgrace. The Norwegian and Swedish royals started inbreeding in 1319 – and we were suddenly bonded by blood. But it would not last. By 1380, the royal family had perished, and by the end of the century the three Scandinavian countries created the Kalmar Union. The Union was intentionally founded to improve trade and defense, but as Sweden walked out on us, Denmark claimed Norway as a vassal state.
With the high taxes came strife and short-lived rebellions, and in turn all the Scandinavian nations fought each other from time to time. Parts of Sweden were lost in the wars, but at least we managed to annex today’s northern regions of Norway. The remaining two countries of the Union allied themselves with Napoleon, and suffered the defeats in Russia alongside the tiny frog.
Copenhagen felt free to turn Norway over to the Swedes in the peace treaty of 1814. But as the Swedish armies were occupied in other parts of the continent, the Norwegian aristocrats chanced on developing a constitution. The relationship between the Swede king and his brave and noble subjects deteriorated badly. It was out on the fields for yet another showdown, in which we did rather okay. None of the polar bear cavalry were killed in action. The king granted us independence under his rule, while Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were lost to Denmark. Still, it was a small victory.
The taste of freedom and independence led to the final nail in the coffin that was the repulsive union. It looked as a major war would follow the break, but the fine Norwegian artillerymen failed to fire the coast cannons, and the union imploded in peace. Celebrations erupted, in spite of the compromise to instate a Swedish prince as our monarch. But King Hakon the Seventh proved worthy of the task.
During the first world war Norway declared its neutrality, and sensationally the allied forces prevailed without us. Fast forward to 1940. A German psychopath had managed to sway the people to grant him dictatorial rights, and started his campaign by invading Poland. Soon followed Yugoslavia, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and France. His megalomania even reached Norway, and during operation Weserübung the 9th of April, he invaded us. We were caught off guard, and only managed to sink Blücher and hide our government before his experienced veterans landed in the major cities. Oh, and we had a major turd from the national nazi-party, Vidkun Quisling, to greet them. King Hakon had refused to surrender to the hun, and fled the country with chasing troops on his tail. Quisling then went on to declare his rule on the radio. Only too bad that the Germans thought less of him, and assigned Josef Terboven to govern the country instead. Some fighting in the forest commenced, and even the Brits helped out in Narvik, where the most brutal shoot-outs took place. By the end of the summer, Norway held the world record in resisting the German soldiers. Although this only represented the cramps of a fresh corpse.
All right, after a few years of bloodshed, the allies took the shores of Normandie and the Soviet Union was pressing for Berlin. Within april ’45 the supreme asshole committed suicide in fear of the Russians and the war ended. Sweet.
The government then returned from their British exile, and our over-the-top celebration of our national day (17th may) had begun. We hurried to execute our traitors, and war criminals like Quisling and Rinnan got a taste of lead. Then the wreckage had to be rebuilt, and with American dollars houses rose from the ashes.
As an result of the atrocities, the United Nations was formed – with Trygve Lie as the first chairman. This was yet another example of our righteousness and moral superiority, although Lie was perfectly unsuitable for the job. What slogan would suit us better than ‘Look to Norway’? But the newly installed organization couldn’t prevent the frosty relationship between the victors of the war. Especially the US took an bad attitude to the Soviet Union and their cold-blooded leader, the butcher; Stalin. The United States tried to drown us in dollars and chocolate, in order to undermine the communistic revolution that was already flooding eastern Europe. For the next fifty years, the nuclear threat was our main fear and reigned our foreign policies. Hence the inclusion in NATO.
Our next hurdle was the European Union, which we so far has declined twice. Our bad experiences with unions and scepticism towards spanish fishermen is probably the reason for our cautions. During the cold war, Norway was a poor country, steadily rebuilding. Walking the moon wasn’t quite in our price-range to put it mildly. When common car sales were allowed in 1960, Volvo, Volkswagen and Citroën were the means of transportation. This was long before Volvo became a symbol of might and money, of course. What happened next? Norway took govern of Spitsbergen far north in the Barents Sea, much to the indignation of the russkis, and still we argue about it. We kept on surveillance of our local reds, and solidified our reputation as peace brokers and financial commitments towards the third world. Then came the sensation.
The Arab states were a source of envy, with their sickening amounts of black gold. But in the mid-sixties we spotted large quantities of oil in our own backyard, the North Sea. So we were in a damn hurry to get those oil rigs up and about. The Americans taught us how to manage it, and in 1982 I traveled with my family to Texas, where my father was supposed to learn the trade from the hillbillies.
Well, we got it running – and economic growth led to the consumer decadence of the eighties. Cock rock and A-ha; cultural world dominance was secured – at least in some parts of Germany. Yeah, and we did great in the winter olympics too, not that I ever watched. And we still drank our minds to the state of neanderthals every weekend, an exercise that’s ever popular today.
As the 90’s arrived, we were shitload in cash, and nobody bothered working anymore. Making black metal, gaming, reading comics, writing useless books and study to death tends to affect society. We had to import our workforce, while bitching about it. Today, the norwegians are a small minority, only just surpassing the samii population – which of course loathe us. The rest are a mix of swedes, Pakistanis, Somalians, Chileans, Vietnamese, Yugoslavs and Polacs. God bless them for all their hard efforts to keep this society running, so that ethnic Norwegians can take the time to harass them, while dieting, exercising and being generally ‘creative’. In spite of all the burned calories – Norwegian women goes abroad for sex. The Norwegian male solves his frustrations indulging in sex with Nigerian and Russian prostitutes, importing Thai, engaging in sports and hating each other. But hey, we can afford it!
Nowadays we can wage wars in the middle east, and still have the decency to rebuild after the killing. We can harvest whales, produce oil and gas, fish the seas dry, bludgeon wolves and bears, pipelining rivers and STILL be mindful of the environment. We can have a state religion, with a priest appointed prime minister, and yet be horrified when thinking of the ayatollahs in Iran. We can be utmost supportive of the United Nations, while engaging in the latest illegal war ordered by the good christian George W. Bush. Norway is a country of wonderful and magical contradictions, or ‘contrasts’ if that suits your taste better.
My conclusion is that this is a stand up society, and a leading star for the rest of the world. With a rich and powerful past, and a intriguing present. With quality politicians and a legal system that recently sentenced a man to prison for tossing a cake at a minister of parliament. Nobody could say that we don’t keep our priorities straight!