Anarchism in Norway
Three authors of the 1800s are widely regarded as predecessors of Norway’s anarchist movement: Marcus Thrane (1817–90), who instigated the “Thrane movement” by founding the Drammens Arbeiderforening (Drammen Labor Union) in 1848 under the influence of Pierre Joseph Proudhon; famed playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906), who proclaimed a “no-state theory”; and Hans Jæger (1854–1910), most prominent representative of the Kristiania Bohème, a movement of the 1880s best known for propagating sexual liberty and gender equality.
Arne Garborg (1851–1924) and Julius Mortensson-Egnund (1857–1934), who founded the journal Fedraheimen (Home of the Forefathers) in 1877, are commonly referenced as the country’s first self-declared anarchists. Fedraheimen was published as an “anarchocommunist” journal by editor Rasmus Steinsvik (1863–1913) until 1891. In the same year, the anarchocommunist group Libertas was founded by German anarchists. Its most prominent member became Kristofer Hansteen (1865–1906), who also published a paper called Anarkisten (The Anarchist) (1898–9). In 1906 Hans Jæger published Anarkiets bibel (Anarchy’s Bible), one of the best-known anarchist books published in Norwegian.
Radical Swedish workers – among them the prominent Swedish anarchist Albert Jensen (1879–1957) – had a big influence on Norway’s anarchist movement in the early twentieth century. They were involved both in the foundation of Norges Ungsocialistiske Forbund (Norway’s Young Socialist Alliance) (NUF) in 1909 (later Norges Social-Anarkistiske Forbund, or Norway’s Social Anarchist Alliance), and the Norsk Syndikalistisk Føderasjon (Norwegian Syndicalist Federation) (NSF) in 1916. The latter had strong ties to Sveriges Arbetarers Centralorganisation (Central Organization of Sweden’s Workers) (SAC). Notable NUF journals included Storm (1909–12) and Direkte Aktion (1912–18). Of particular importance for the anarchist movement was the NSF journal Alarm (1919–40).
In 1940 the Nazi Occupation all but put an end to the country’s anarchist movement. However, in the 1950s Alarm reappeared under a new name, Solidaritet, and some anarchosyndicalist organizations were founded, most notably the Syndikalistiske Ungdomsforbund (Syndicalist Youth Alliance), although all of them were shortlived. Solidaritet ceased publication in 1960.
Various anarchist organizations emerged in the following decades. Among the most popular were the Bodø Anarkistiske Liga (Bodø’s Anarchist League) in the early 1970s and Folkemakt (People Power) in the late 1990s. In 1977 the Norsk Syndikalistisk Føderasjon was revived. The influential ongoing anarchist journal Gateavisa (Street News) began publishing in 1970.
Since the 1970s, anarchist ideals have also featured strongly in practical attempts at egalitarian communal living. Projects have reached from rural communes around Karlsøy (in the country’s far north) or Farsund (in Norway’s southwest) to a relatively strong squatting scene in Oslo and the occupied Svartlamon neighborhood in Trondheim. Current focus points of the country’s anarchist counterculture are the community centers Blitz, Hausmania, and Hjelmsgate (Oslo) and the bookstore Ivar Matlaus (Trondheim).
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READINGS
Bals, J. & Beyer-Arnesen, H. (2006) Utopi, revolusjon, sosialisme (Utopia, Revolution, Socialism). Oslo: News From Nowhere.
Bull, E. et al., (Eds.) (198590) Arbeiderbevegelsens historie i Norge. 6 bind (History of the Workers’ Movement in Norway. 6 Vols.). Oslo: Tiden.
Fagerhus, H. (2004) Anarkismen og syndikalismen i Norge gjennom 150 år (150 Years of Anarchism and Syndicalism in Norway). Available at www.home.no.net. Accessed February 3, 2008.
Nettlau, M. (1996) A Short History of Anarchism. London: Freedom Press.