INTELLIBRIEFS Note: Our Empathy to families who lost their loved one.
To outsiders, Norwegian nationalism seems a robust, if romantic, affair. Independence was hard won, shaking off Swedish and Danish occupying neighbours only to be lost again under Nazi occupation. The country went to work after the war to rebuild its ruined cities and, parallel to the physical reconstruction, a remarkable cradle-to-grave welfare state.Financed by high taxes, it has given Norway one of the highest living standards in the world.
Unscathed by the recent financial crisis – and with a €370 billion sovereign wealth fund from oil revenues – Norway has managed better than its neighbours to hold together the Nordic social model.
This model, equidistant from the Anglo-American and continental European social models, pushes an unfettered individualism, underpinned by solidarity and trust in fellow citizens and state institutions. The shock left by Breivik’s attack is not just down to his bullets and bombs but his hate-filled attack on the country’s centuries-old social contract.
It’s a contract that is feeling the strain of late: this small country of 4.8 million people has an immigrant population of 10 per cent, half of whom are from non-European backgrounds.
FROM IRISH TIMES