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View Diary: Truth is, the Nobel committees don't give a s--t. (224 comments)

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  •  This Wiki essay explains it.... (22+ / 0-)

    ... from a historical perspective.

    No one knows why Alfred Nobel designated Norway as the country to select the Peace Prize winner.  He only left provisions for such in his will, but didn't explain why he chose Norway.

    Some have speculated that because Norway was still part of Sweden at that time (Norway was not independent until 1905) but neutral in political dealings with other countries that Nobel figured they'd be able to select a winner without any political prejudice.

    It seems they have been successful, so Nobel chose well.

    They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

    by NonnyO on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 09:52:38 PM PDT

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    •  They are civilized people (2+ / 0-)
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    •  Historical context (13+ / 0-)

      In my mind the reasoning has always felt obvious, based on what the political situation was.

      At the time Nobel wrote his will, the norwegian movement towards full independence was working in high gear and there was plenty of tension and saber-rattling going on, even something of an arms race. Military conflict was possible.

      The part in his will that says "have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations" ("verkat mest eller best för folkens forbrödrande", which better translates to "make the peoples more brotherlike"), is interesting since Norway and Sweden often refer to each other as brother peoples.
      By placing the responsibility of his peace prize into the hands of sweden's "little brother", at a time of conflict between the two nations, makes a strong demonstration of the spirit of the prize to me. It doesn't seem entirely unlikely that was what Alfred could have been thinking as well.

      Norway eventually achieved its independence in 1905 without bloodshed, and relations between norway and sweden have only improved since.

      •  True, as my Norwegian teacher explained (0+ / 0-)

        ... in his short version of Norwegian history.  It's online someplace, too; I found a web site with an English translation... I think off of the Aftenposten web site when they still had the daily paper in English.

        For those who don't know:  1347-49 the Black Plague swept through Europe.  It killed off the Norwegian royalty.  Norway ceded itself to Denmark.  By 1814 Denmark was losing land in the Napoleonic wars, so Norway ceded itself to Sweden.  By the late 19th century the intelligentsia of Norway wanted to "Norwegianize Norwegian" (my teacher's phrase) and pushed for Norwegian independence at the same time.  By 1905, as you said, a bloodless separation of Norway and Sweden took place (Norway just had a centennial celebration in 2005).

        However, because the language and customs of Norway were closer to Denmark, Norway took the second son of the Danish royal family as their king, and his descendants are on the Norwegian throne today.  [Women are not barred from the line of succession in the Scandinavian countries.  The Norwegian prince married a commoner who was divorced and had a son from that marriage; she's had two royal children since and they are just as cute as can be.  And, the Danish royal prince married a beautiful Australian woman (a commoner made into a Princess) and they have two adorable little children, a boy and a girl.]  The languages of all three countries are close enough that they mostly understand each other with only a few differences in pronunciation and spelling.

        Upon independence, the language was worked on and by 1917 the dictionary was published... and every school child learns TWO versions of Norwegian... and in early grade school they start teaching kids English as a second language clear through college.  Did you know that education is 100% free in Norway and Denmark (and I think Sweden, too) from kindergarten through college?  If a person attends college away from home s/he receives a stipend to pay for rent and food and utilities so they can devote all their time to studies and don't have to work to pay for living expenses or tuition.  They do not graduate from college with a mountain of debt.

        Thanks to the taxpayers of Norway, their old documents that were microfilmed are now online (they're mostly in old Dano-Norsk), other documents genealogy researchers rely on for records of their ancestors have been transcribed and they're online with the easiest search engine I've ever worked with.  Did I tell you that's all free to whomever uses that web site for genealogy research?  Denmark has the same thing; the taxpayers have funded putting old records online, but they have two web sites instead of one web site with two broad "sections." (a corporation in Sweden put theirs online and they sell CDs of info or require payment for people to use their genealogy web sites).  I do research in Norway weekly, if not daily (usually the latter), and have done so since I discovered the web site not long after I got my first computer in '01.

        Zenox (above your comment) said "they are a civilized people" - referring to the Norwegians.  Yes, as a matter of fact, they are.  Yes, there's the Viking reputation from over a thousand years ago to live down, but the people who followed the Vikings were farmers and merchants and fishermen and ordinary people and they led quiet and very civilized lives, quite different from the Viking warriors and traders who went to Byzantium via the rivers of Europe with many portages, to France (settled Normandy first by demanding tribute) to settling parts of England from York inward to the Midlands, to founding coastal towns in Ireland, including Dublin.  And, of course, Iceland; they still use the patronymic naming system in Iceland and their language is close to the gammel norsk of the Vikings.

        They are a civilized people, yes, and - in general - most are like the Scandinavian Americans I grew up with.  Quiet, hard-working, stoically determined (some would say stubborn), honest and honorable, and some are quite artistic.  (A Norwegian won Eurovision in May this year, and I hope he comes to America at some point.)  They often have a wry sense of humor, so they can laugh when their funny bone is tickled; they're not the dour sourpusses some think they are, but they are unfailingly polite and mannerly.  ...Yes, I am part Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish (plus four other countries my colonial ancestors came from).  In this case, I do know what I'm talking about....


        They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

        by NonnyO on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 11:16:13 AM PDT

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