We will weather any storm
A response to Jan Brøgger’s op ed “Any port in a storm for Norway?”
Anders Langøy Isaksen
Norwegians don’t have to struggle to understand the infatuation our elected leaders have with the EU. As common Norwegians, we have for decades seen our leaders sell off our national resources and hollow out our sovereignty, as they chase power and influence in global positions. We still recall when our parliament had a short discussion among themselves before deciding to drag us into a bombing campaign of Libya, which only seemed to secure former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg a job at NATO.
We are estranged from our leaders. Their world and ours are far from the same. Recently, we have had a scandal with our social services (NAV) in which about 70 innocent Norwegians were imprisoned for fraud. They were incorrectly found guilty of leaving the country while receiving welfare from the state. In the past few days, a new scandal has erupted in which our Minister of Fisheries has received a double salary and financial recompense he was not entitled to. But unlike the sick who were jailed, the well-to-do politician was spared any judicial consequences. This disparity is provoking. And it is, alas, not the first example of the law being different for the commoners and the elite.
The world powers may shift, but I just want to do my job and pay my taxes. For the last four years, I have had a permanent job. Before that, I was a part of the precariat. The precariat is a class of society below the working class, the proletariat. What separates the classes is a sense of precariousness. A temporary state of life. I have been working since I was 18 and failed at school. After that, I was on temporary contracts, living my life six or three months at a time. Drifting from job to job. No point in planning for the future, since I didn’t know if I would have any income in six months. Doing this year after year eroded any faith I once had in politicians. For throughout my working life (I am now a grumpy 42-year-old man), they have taken every step possible to screw me over.
I have learned that if I work hard and help make my company more money, the reward is to be cut. I have learned that when any policy is enacted, I lose, and those who already have the most win. I have learned that regardless of what political party a politician belongs to, they are not working for me. My role is to toil. And to pay.
“Politikerforakt” is a popular Norwegian word. It means contempt for politicians. But it can also be understood as the contempt the politicians have for common people. In modern day Norway, many despise the political system and politicians, as they only seem to serve themselves and their friends.
And this extends to the EU debate. When politicians like Erna Solberg say they are in favor of Norway joining the EU and that we the populace don’t know our own best interest for not agreeing with her, this breeds contempt. For I seriously doubt Solberg ever has had to choose between paying the bills and buying food, with no idea of where her next money is coming from. I have done that. I have stood there with nothing and no one to help me—and I survived.
When the elite tell me that joining the EU will be good for the economy, I know through experience that the economy may benefit, but I personally will lose. What is good for the economy is rarely good for me.
I am nobody. I don’t have any education, I don’t own a house or a car, and I work menial labor. When the rich and powerful talk about their bold visions and the “big picture,” I know they don’t see me.
And if they don’t see me now when we are just a tiny land of 5 million, how will they see me if we join the EU and the picture becomes so much bigger?
This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.