There is right now unrest based on culture, and some are very much into protecting their national culture, the French, the Danish, Norwegian, etc.

Those cultures were established in Europe roughly in the 19th century. I recently read, actually in a book about Azerbaijani music, that there were intentions back then of internationalism, communication across borders, etc., and this is acually a very interesting point.

One problematic side of the voices eager to protect their own culture today, is the idea that a national culture is 100% itself, homogenous and impossible to mix with other cultures without destroying it.

Discussions about this has been too one-sided.

The cultures of course exist, in a more or less modern fashion, but the point is not…100% right. Some impact from other places is always visible, and usually digested in some way, and more important, there should still be room for this today.

In the 19th Century the need to establish the cultures firmly made them a little over-solid in some ways. At the time you could say it was a problematic, but necessary thing, but today we ought to be safe enough to accept other cultures into our own, as long as we don’t disappear.

As everyone should know the chauvinism then in some ways reached into the wars that came.

Still, we need some of this culture.

But not as a monument or a massive block, not 100% in all respects.

I also don’t need to bow my head to a flag to feel my Norwegianness…it is there anyway.

I ought to bow my head to people of all kinds, and without losing myself in a negative way. 

I believe that actually all cultures are under pressure today, also the national European ones.

Not so far into the past there was talk about American commercial culture as a threat, and this is in my opinion still the case. The most common focus is on music and language, I believe, and this is at least true as a part of this problem.

But more important, the way of giving priority to business before politics, and companies before customers, and the New Public Management as a pattern, system, for public administration, are all clearly imported from less nice parts of American culture.

There are many other sides of American culture that I love, and in any case, as long as it comes as impact, not invasion, most things are ok.

The way those things, the NPM etc, are implemented in society are often, in practice, hidden from public information and comment, the press.

The issue of culture mostly addressed by people on the far right and others, is the perceived problem of, in general, what is not seen as national.

I certainly don’t want Denmark to lose all its Danishness, I love it and love to be a tourist, a guest, physically or mentally, in Denmark and Danish cuture, experiencing its people, music, landscape and cities.

One point is that no culture is 100% itself, we are all a mix in some ways even if the basic pattern can be recognisable.

I can still recognise a Dane and a Norwegian.

I don’t believe any culture has the capacity of solving every problem totally in its own way, I believe every country, every person, even, every subculture of any kind, needs both to protect itself, but also to communicate and let itself be influenced by others. 

To be in touch with other thoughts and use them for one’s own and common purposes.

On the European continent this must in some places and in some ways have been a pretty obvious fact – if we exclude wars for a moment, and only consider the close contact between say Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, for instance, Denmark also – in normal, civil life…it is very easy to move between places, especially in modern times, you don’t have to travel very far to cross a border.

In Norway isolation has been more of an obvious fact, also because of geography, and we have had to adjust pretty fast to changing times of today. The opening up of the Russian border in the north was a boost for cultural exchange when it happened.

Still, reactions to the impact from outside today, by some, are panicky.

To solve this knot, the first thing to consider is the way to think about national culture in general. I agree that there is a certain pressure from immigrants’ culture, but much of the impact can be tackled through close contact between “hosts” and “guests”. 

It takes some time and some effort, but basic social contact, over the fence, at work and in cafés, is a really important key to avoiding social conflict between different cultures in a society, in the city or anywhere. Misunderstanding the neighbour’s habits and ways of thinking can only be eradicated by simple questions and relevant answers, so that in the end anxiety gives way to a more relaxed attitude and in the end…humour.

This process normally takes some time, but I guess if you know that this is possible, it is easier to avoid problems even if the time is short.

Meaning, many problems can be solved in the minds rather than with physical action or physical precautions in society.

There is, of course, a limit to how many newcomers a country can absorb, but it is also partly depending on how you do it, what attitudes and thoughts about the whole thing which are in play.

Another issue which should be addressed is the causes of immigration and the reasons for the great number of refugees today.

If you advocate war as a means to solving problems, in general…a war produces refugees.

This is not a very complicated point.

When it comes to poverty I don’t really have an overview, but the climate changes and COVID has an impact, and again, to argue in favour of cuts in emergency or development aid seems to me not very wise.

If you have no reference to poverty, ask someone what it means and how deep it goes. I am also absolutely not against helping local businesses etc, to fight poverty – in addition to direct help.

To those who don’t believe that the climate problems exist I don’t know anymore what to say. I believe you are really obstructing the solving of a huge problem.

This problem has an impact on the living conditions of many people in the world today.

But to go back to the issue of national cultures, I believe in protecting them, nurturing the arts etc in all possible ways, in order to being able to encounter, meet, any other culture and utilize whatever points those cultures may contribute to one’s own culture, and of course, protect things that you need to protect. This can be a mutual agreement, both parts may have a positive effect of this, as long as there is mutual respect and a certain amount of mental space, and time, which gives room for thought, for finding the positive sides of each other, and room for finding solutions to whatever problems that may occur.

The oversensitivity towards others which can be seen many places today, is a problem, and it comes very often out of not knowing the “others” very well, often the knowledge comes from reading about them or by superficial personal contact.

The lack of knowledge can go both ways in a society of today, obviously, so by all means, the people who come also have to think and adjust themselves. This is an obvious point. 

But the “hosts” have to be active too.

How the question of national culture works in other parts of the world than Europe I don’t know much about, the role of this may be very different. The question of regional cultures splitting up countries I also don’t have much knowledge about. 

But the way I think, in general – you need integrity to meet other people in a civilised fashion.