The following are excerpts from my forthcoming book (now in the final stages), Western Individualism and the Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future.
Extreme egalitarianism is especially apparent in northwest Europe. The “Jante Laws” of Scandinavia are paradigmatic: 1. Don’t think you are anything; 2. Don’t think you are as good as us. 3. Don’t think you are smarter than us. 4. Don’t fancy yourself better than us. 5. Don’t think you know more than us. 6. Don’t think you are greater than us. 7. Don’t think you are good for anything. 8. Don’t laugh at us. 9. Don’t think that anyone cares about you. 10. Don’t think you can teach us anything. In short, no one must rise above the rest. Such egalitarianism is typical of h-g groups around the world, and are antithetical to the aristocratic ideal of the I-Es.
Extreme egalitarianism results in high levels of conformism and social anxiety. Individuals fear social ostracism for violating egalitarian norms and standing out from the crowd—a phenomenon that has played a major role in creating a public consensus in favor of mass migration and multiculturalism. In Sweden especially there is no public debate on the costs and benefits of immigration; sceptics remain silent for fear of shunning and disapproval. Discussing the cancellation of a talk because it was sponsored by a politically incorrect newspaper, journalist Ingrid Carlqvist comments that “everyone with a different opinion in Sweden really is a Nazi! That’s the way it works in the New Sweden, the country I call Absurdistan. The country of silence.”
Similarly, in his Fairness and Freedom, David Hackett Fischer describes the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (envy and resentment of people who are “conspicuously successful, exceptionally gifted, or unusually creative”) that is characteristic of New Zealand. “It sometimes became a more general attitude of outright hostility to any sort of excellence, distinction, or high achievement—especially achievement that requires mental effort, sustained industry, or applied intelligence. … The possession of extraordinary gifts is perceived as unfair by others who lack them.”
The expression ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ originated in Australia but seems more characteristic of New Zealand. Successful people are called ‘poppies.’ This tendency is perhaps not as strong as it used to be, but, although some successful New Zealanders are accepted, “other bright and creative New Zealanders have been treated with cruelty by compatriots who appear to feel that there is something fundamentally unfair about better brains or creative gifts, and still more about a determination to use them.” Doubtless because of the same egalitarian tendencies, the New Zealand system encourages laziness and lack of achievement—workers insist that others slow down and not work hard. “Done by lunchtime” is the motto of a great many New Zealand workers.
Such egalitarian social practices are common in h-g groups around the world and support the general view that this important strand of European culture, especially apparent after it came to power beginning in the seventeenth century (see Chapter 6), reflects the culture of northern h-gs. Reflecting this pattern, Scandinavian society in general has a history of relatively small income and social class differences, including the absence of serfdom during the Middle Ages. A recent anthropological study of h-gs found that economic inequality approximated that of modern Denmark. Chapter 4 discusses the individualism of Scandinavian family patterns, including relatively egalitarian relationships between spouses—extreme even within the Western European context.