Monday, December 19, 2011

Maybe it’s time for a Norwegian spring?

How does one determine the strength of a democracy? Well a good way would be to measure the personal freedom enjoyed by its citizens. Another criterion is to gauge the accountability level of the elected representatives. If these indicators are modest the natural conclusion to be drawn is that so is the level of democracy. If one were to make a list of all the nations in the world and rank them accordingly, a country like North Korea would most likely end up at the bottom and the United States of America would most likely end up at the top.
So where would Norway end up on such a list? Unfortunately not among the top tier nations, at least not if it was an honest ranking. The myth that Norway is one of the most democratic countries in the world is incorrect. Norway’s low ranking would be the direct result of the authorities’ concerted effort to greatly limit the personal freedom of its citizens, a process which has picked up pace in the last decades. Just the mere fact that the authorities have the option to curtail the individual freedom of its citizens, and do so unchallenged by the courts, is a clear indicator that the country has a serious democratic problem.
There are several restrictions placed on Norwegian citizens’ personal freedoms ranging from their right to express themselves freely, the right to make personal choices without government interference and last but not least the severe repercussions for those who violates these ‘rules’.  To be publicly persecutes by the Norwegian state through the state sponsored media is a cruel fate. This political persecution is done with gloves off and with continuous blows below the belt.
Let’s take a closer look at freedom of speech.
Shouldn’t it be the most obvious and self evident rights of all? If this right is lacking does it really matter that the populace enjoy numerous other rights? A question that should be asked is whether a regime that deliberately curtails such a basic human right should be referred to as a democratic regime. Nations in the third world that ignore the right of its citizens to express themselves freely are referred to as undemocratic dictatorships, so why are regimes in the west given preferential treatment in this regard?
Why is it that whenever China arrests dissidents it is criticized for being undemocratic, but when western nations do the same with reference to so-called hate crime laws it is accepted as a legitimate democratic practice? When the leaders of the world’s worst dictatorship, North Korea, choose to ignore the wishes of the people it’s rightly referred to as a crime, but when western nations do the same it’s justified with being in the peoples best interest as was the case with the steamrolling through of the Lisbon treaty.
It’s a common misconception that a country has to employ brute force against its dissidents before it can be classified as a dictatorship. That’s not true; any nation that blatantly sets aside democratic principles to stifle political opposition is to a certain degree a dictatorship even though they don’t adopt the use of ‘third world style’ brute force to crack down on political opposition. Some ‘soft-touch’ dictatorships simply re-write the laws and then use those laws to silence its critics.
What is the democratic nature of a nation where an individual isn’t even awarded the presumption of innocence by the courts, where everything is geared to get a guilty verdict before the case has even begun?  This is the reality in Norway today in those cases dealing with alleged ‘hate crimes’, or to use a more correct term, alleged thought crimes.
When it comes to matters dealing with the political issue of multiculturalism, dissent is simply not tolerated in Norway.  Privately owned companies that don’t comply with the undemocratic hiring criteria prescribed by the state, but choose to hire staff solely based on skills and without giving consideration to skin colour and culture face hefty fines. So do home owners that refuse to rent out their properties to immigrants, and last but not least so do those who vent their frustration about non-western mass immigration in the presence of multiculturalists or immigrants themselves. This is how the socialist authorities in Norway deal with individuals who don’t follow their decree in matters dealing with multicultural affairs. Differing opinions in Norway on this subject is not tolerated and the punishment for opposition has been criminalized and the courts in Norway conspire with the authorities in silencing troublesome critics. In Norway the authorities are heavily involved in setting the standard of what is acceptable and what ii not and individuals who disagree with these standards are punished.
In Norway the authorities hand out NoK 6 billion in ‘media subsidies’ each year. These subsidies are given to media outlets that have almost identical political views as the Norwegian authorities. The main TV broadcaster NRK is owned and funded by the state and have by several conservative politicians in Norway been referred to as ARK - Arbeiderpartiets rikskringkasting (The labour Party’s broadcasting Channel) because of its political bias toward the Labour Party. This unfortunate sponsorship raises the question whether the media in Norway is truly independent, and the fact that the state condones the frequent media harassment of political dissidents makes this sponsorship of the media look even more suspect.
It’s accepted in most western nations today that for a media outlet to be truly independent it cannot be sponsored by the state. Such dependency will rightfully raise serious questions about its journalistic integrity and whether in fact it’s simply a mouthpiece of the state.
During the cold war the communist party in Soviet Union controlled the dissemination of information. The newspaper Pravda was controlled and sponsored by the Party. Independent distribution of news was nonexistent and Western powers called it by its proper name, but unfortunately the ideology that shaped the Soviet Union is still alive and kicking in Norway, admittedly not in the same strict form, but the urge to control and dictate is just as strong.
The Norwegian government has praised the Arab spring and encouraged Arab dictators to introduce democracy to the Arab world. Norway even played an active role in dethroning Colonel Khadafi in Libya by sending Norwegian fighter planes down to the region. Khadafi used many of the same methods that Norwegian authorities are using to cling on to power. Admittedly Khadafi went a lot further than Norwegian authorities, but his mentality towards democratic playing rules isn’t all that different to that of the Norwegian authorities. Maybe it’s time for a Norwegian Spring soon or will we have to face yet another dark Norwegian winter in which nothing changes?   

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