Swedish Society and the Longhouse

What does Swedish Culture, the Longhouse, and Jantelagen all have in common? Did they arise separately or are they tied together?


I was listening to Prof. Dutton’s podcast The Jolly Heretic recently. It was a short episode about the different ways women and men bully each other within the in-group. It got me thinking about Swedish society, the Longhouse and our ”Jantelagen” (Law of Jante).

What is Jantelagen (Law of Jante)?

Jantelagen is, for those still not familiar with this phenomena, an unspoken set of rules within Swedish society. You are supposed to mind your own business, in quiet. You shalln’t tout your horn with your successes. The key principle of Jantelagen can be described as following:

  1. You’re not better than anyone else: This principle emphasizes that no individual is better or more important than any other person, and that everyone should be treated with equal respect and dignity.
  2. Don’t stand out: “Jantelagen” discourages people from standing out, being ambitious or drawing attention to themselves, as it is considered arrogant and unseemly.
  3. Don’t criticize others: Criticizing others is frowned upon as it can be seen as a sign of jealousy or insecurity.
  4. Don’t be too ambitious: Ambition is often viewed with suspicion, as it can be seen as a desire to rise above others and disrupt the social order.
  5. Don’t talk about yourself: Self-promotion is not encouraged, and people are expected to be modest and understated about their achievements and accomplishments.

If we look at this from a gender perspective, these are all female traits that Dutton brings up in his podcast episode. They are all related to female bonding and bullying.

Difference between male- and female behaviour in bonding

The main differences between male and female bonding relates very much to how males and females search for mates. For males to bond with other males is no big deal. We’ve evolved to be able to adapt to circumstances and easily bond with pretty much whomever we happen to stand with in the present predicament. That’s why males are more suited for combat roles and have been throughout time. We have no difficulty finding our place in an army or large warband.

Women, on the other hand, are pretty much centered around ensuring a safe environment for their offspring. Relationships with other females are no different in that regard. When a female choose her friend she basically choose another co-parent. Someone she can trust to babysit her offspring when she’s not present.

This leads to several different criterea:

  • Trust, Quality > Quantity: A female must be able to trust another female with her life (which a baby basically is the extension of). This means a strong one or two extremely close friends over many acquintainces.
  • Non-violent: Since violence is already very low with women having a very close and trusted friend who is also violent is not good for helpless babies who make annoying sounds all the time!
  • Complete equality: A female friendship must be felt by both parties as completely equal, as opposed to a male-male friendship where it’s no big deal. This sense of equality is achieved by sharing very personal information about themselves, their insecurities, etc.

This leads to:

  • Cliques/Small groups of very close friends who are unable or unwilling to take in new members and cooperate with other similar small groups.
  • Since a non-violent approach is needed and the main “currency” of the friendship is secrets and personal information. That also makes it the most potent weapon.
  • A place where all should be equal and none is better than the other.

Where have we seen such a longhouse phenomena before… Ah, yes, Jantelagen!

Jantelagen & the Longhouse

Jantelagen is essentially female relationship strategy made into a societal rule. The Longhouse from BAPs Bronze Age Mindset realized in our time and world. The main concern of BAP in his book is that young, adventurous men are now pushed aside. In previous times they toppled and built civilizations with nothing more than the energy of young men. They simply lack the needed conformity that a matriarchal society require of them and thus often bocome renegades, criminals, or depressed.

Discussion

The main problem with this type of evolvement for a society is that young boys will be pushed down and into line by their older more dominant matriarchs. That might also be a part of the reason for the Viking age. Perhaps, it was simply the only way for young men to escape and have some form of adventure without being forced into docile work.

The Influence of the Longhouse and Jantelagen on the Modern Swedish Society

If we look at the Swedish society today we can spot a lot of these tendencies all over the place. While we pride ourselves with our high trust-society and many technological innovations, there’s also a sense of adventure that has gone missing. Everything is carefully planned out and regulated, from birth to the grave, as a well-known Swedish social planner once said.

In Sweden, a lot of the boyish adventurous energy is channeled into organized sports. They are, however, just pseudo activities for the larger bands of young boys that would inevitably form.

What started with the good sense of equality has turned into a high trust-society. A place where men and women are more equal, but a lot less alike than they’ve ever been. In practice we’ve managed to channel the adventurous spirit of young boys into technological progress and an incredibly well-off society. But this has come to a great cost of the spirit of some of our young men of today.


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