Anarchism in Norway first emerged in the 1870s. Some of the first to call themselves anarchists in Norway were Arne Garborg and Ivar Mortensson-Egnund. They ran the radical target magazine Fedraheimen which came out 1877-91. Gradually the magazine became more and more anarchist-oriented, and towards the end of its life it had the subtitle Anarchist-Communist Body. The anarchist author Hans Jæger published the book "The Bible of Anarchy" in 1906, and in recent times Jens Bjørneboe has been a spokesman for anarchism - among other things in the book "Police and anarchy".
The history of anarchism in Norway can be traced back to the beginning of the labor movement in 1848, when Marcus Thrane started the country's first workers' union in Drammen. The following year he founded the "Arbeider-Foreningernes Blad". The magazine brought extensive excerpts from the writings of the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the utopian socialism of the tailor Wilhelm Weitling, the communist creed of Etienne Cabet, references to Henri de Saint-Simon, Louis Blanc, and the works of other early socialists. Thrane was an admirer of Proudhon, whom he characterized as "arguably the greatest genius of our time", but he did not perceive himself as an anarchist. He is considered Norway's first socialist, and the father of the cooperative movement. At the end of June 1850, the workers' unions had 20,854 members in 273 unions. In 1851, Thrane was arrested and eventually imprisoned. The workers' unions were closed down or their grades changed. Thrane was released in 1859, and emigrated to the United States in 1863. He distanced himself from the assassinations of some anarchists after the Haymarket riots in Chicago in May 1884. Thrane personally knew one of those hanged.
In his youth, Henrik Ibsen was involved in Thrane's movement, and was possibly inspired by the writings of Proudhon and Wilhelm Marr. Among other things, he is said to have read Marr's book "Anarchy or Authority". He wrote in Arbeider-Foreningernes Blad, and was a teacher at the Sunday school for Kristiania Arbeiderforening. Ibsen himself believed that it was a coincidence that he was not arrested when the authorities stormed the workers' unions in 1851. In private letters, Ibsen expressed his "Non-state theory". This became known to the public in fragments when Ibsen's "Letters" were published in 1904. Ibsen was perceived by many in his time as an anarchist, and later he became popular with both the Swedish and the Norwegian Young Socialists. It is not easy to say for sure how Ibsen himself viewed his relationship with anarchism. He never called himself an anarchist, but he also never protested when people in his day called him an anarchist.
Søren Jaabæk founded the first peasant friends' association in 1865, in Mandal. The peasant friends stood for a communist or localist tendency, with emphasis on decentralization and local self-government. The co-operative movement was an important element in the peasant-friend policy. In the middle of the 1870s, the associations disappeared. For a period, Jaabæk had close contact with the radical peasant student Olaus Fjørtoft, and in 1871, Fjørtoft wrote that "Jaabæk is our Karl Marx". Liberals characterized Jaabæk as Norway's first liberal.
In the 1880s, a group arose around Hans Jæger called Kristianiabohemene. Bohemian life was a form of big city life, and occurred in parallel with a student explosion. Socially, bohemians were mainly a group of upper-class intellectuals with a relatively secure social background, who were captured by the new ideas of the time, and who therefore came into steep and hostile opposition to their own family and family traditions. They broke with their parents' lifestyle. It was an expression of a youth uprising within society's higher strata - with «extravagant partying», sex and drunkenness. Central values for bohemianism were personal freedom, individualism and modernity. The extravagant life of the bohemians in the cafés was an expression of the fact that they broke with the norms that characterized bourgeois life, and that they refused to maintain the distinction made by the bourgeois way of life between public and private life.
Arne Garborg, Ivar Mortensson-Egnund and Hans Jæger were some of the first to refer to themselves as anarchists. They ran the magazine Fedraheimen which was published in 1877-91. The circle around Fedraheimen perceived their ideas as a further development of Jaabæk's radicalism. Gradually, the magazine became more oriented towards the working class, plus it was marked by anarchist material. At the very end, when Rasmus Steinsvik was editor, the magazine had the subtitle "Anarchist-Communist Body". Steinsvik later became a member of the Anarchist-Communist Group "Libertas" where Kristofer Hansteen was a key figure. The group was started by some Germans in 1891/92, and existed until Hansteen's death in 1906. The later LO leader Ole Olsen Lian, and his brother Sigwald, were also involved.
Garborg's interest in anarchism is based on Døleringen, which arose in the environment around Aasmund Olavsson Vinje and Ernst Sars and was a counterpart to the political and cultural nationalism that prevailed in Norway in the 1860s. In the disappointment of Sverdrup-Venstre's policy in connection with the union cause, cultural nationalism flourished and now many young nationalists called themselves anarchists. Olaus Fjørtoft and Søren Jaabæk received a place of honor.
The student and newspaper man Rasmus Steinsvik was one of Garborg's apprentices, and in 1887 he established the radical target magazine Vestmannen in his hometown of Volda. Steinsvik tried to merge anarchism with unity and cooperation in the rural community. He advocated that smaller regional and local units should govern themselves through a fully developed local democracy. He called this freedom of government. In 1889, Steinsvik believed that Norway had to leave the union, the sooner the better. The anarchists in Norway were convinced that behind the shaky contemporaries there was a separate Norwegian form of society with an underlying message of equality, justice and the right to self-determination. At the same time, the anarchists were extremely international in their basic attitude, but they established themselves completely when their views were to be linked at the same time with national identity and self-assertion. The Norwegian anarchist movement "died out" after this, although there were traces of it in the Liberal Party's national democratic project.
In and outside the social democratic associations, a strong young socialist, partly anarchist, campaign was run. The Libertas group, led by Kristofer Hansteen, were pioneers in this work. Liberal Swedish immigrants, as well as Russian refugees, also contributed. In 1909, the Young Socialists broke away from the Social Democratic Youth League and started the Norwegian Young Socialist League. In 1911, the Trade Union Opposition of 1911 began, with Martin Tranmæl at the helm. This was not an anarchist organization, but anarchists, youth socialists and syndicalists at times made a strong case. The trade union opposition died out when Martin Tranmæl and his men took control of LO and the Labor Party. The Norwegian Syndicalist Federation (NSF) was established in 1916, mainly by Swedish workers affiliated with the SAC. NSF reached its peak in 1920-21 with 3100 members in 62 local co-operatives. In 1923, the Norwegian Young Socialist League changed its name to the Norwegian Social-Anarchist Association. The last major syndicalist strike was at Fosdalen mines in Malm in Nord-Trøndelag in 1925. A strike the syndicalists lost. The Federalist Propaganda Association, a syndicalist information and propaganda organization within LO, was started in 1924 by people within the Norwegian Social-Anarchist Association. This disappeared in 1928.
In April 1932, the Russian-American anarchist Emma Goldman visited Norway. In Oslo, she spoke at 2-3 meetings organized by the Oslo Labor Party and the Labor Party's student group, when the Student Society in Oslo refused, due the communist rule, to let her speak there. The themes were "American Class Justice" and "The Life of an Anarchist". To Alarm, she lamented that the anarchist movement was currently dead in Norway. In 1935, the "Syndicalist women's group Samhold" was founded. From 1935 onwards, members of the NSF needed to have double membership to get a job: in addition to being part of NSF, they also had to be a member of LO. The LO had for several years demanded a monopoly on the workplaces. The bosses agreed to this, and the monopoly was enshrined in a number of collective agreements. By 1937, the number of Local Co-organizations (LS) in the syndicalist federation had dropped to about twenty, and there was also an "aging process" underway. In the winter of 1940, Carl O. Tangen was sentenced to one year in prison for defamation against a foreign head, at the request of Nazi Germany. The occasion was an article in Alarm on 9 December 1939 where Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels were mentioned in an unflattering way. On 9 April 1940, the Germans invaded Norway. NSF's premises were occupied and Alarm was stopped by the occupying forces. The Oslo LS was dissolved by the Germans, but still existed illegally. Carl O. Tangen was taken by the Gestapo and put in the Grini detention camp.
After the war, trade union activity was resumed in Oslo and in the stonemason district in Østfold (Fagerholt LS). They had approximately 200 members. Alarm changed its name to Solidarity in the 1950s. In 1950, the Norwegian Syndicalist Youth Association was started, but the "aging process" continued, the stone industry in Østfold ebbed out, and thus the movement slowly waned. One LS after another was dissolved. In 1951, when Solidaritet was in its 7th year, the last issue of the magazine came out. The 8th year did not come until 1957. At this time, the Oslo LS was the only local co-organization left in the NSF.
A push from Helge Kongshaug to start a syndicalist youth organization within NSF in the early 1960s was unsuccessful. He and Jan Bojer are said to have been the only members of the Oslo LS who were under 70 years of age. Bojer started a Freedom Youth Group, which was active in 1964/65. NSF is said to have moved out of its premises in the Folketeaterbygningen in the mid-1960s. It became quiet around NSF. Zernikow Henriksen, longtime secretary of the NSF, died in 1967, the meetings were held more informally in private homes, but international contacts were maintained. The NSF was invited to the SAC Congress in 1968, but was unable to attend. In 1973, the NSF was dissolved.
The Federation of Anarchist Youth (FAU) started up in Kristiansund in 1966/67, but it was only after the student uprising in Paris in 1968 that interest in anarchism was really revived. Jens Bjørneboe wrote the essay "Anarchism as a future" in 1969. In 1971 he gave an introduction to the Student Society in Oslo on the topic "Anarchism... today?". Bjørneboe had a great influence on the new budding anarchist movement.
Another of the larger groups was the Bodø Anarchist League (BAL). They published Sort Kamp, and published several other printed matter. BAL was central in both national and international contexts, and was well known abroad. This was an anarchist group with contacts to several foreign anarchist organizations. In Norway, BAL collaborated especially with FAU in Kristiansund, Hjelmsgate and the Municipality of Oslo, it also collaborated in environmental protection and with indigenous movements in Mardøla, Masi and Alta.
Various small groups with anarchist tendencies emerged. In 1970 there were 2-3 scenes of anarchist organization. "The 'center' of the anarchist movement in 1968-1972 was Kristiansund and Bodø, which had the only really functioning and large groups. In 1973 the number had increased tenfold. Black and black/red flags waved on 1 May. A number of libertarian socialist groups began to appear. In addition to these groups, there were a number of individuals who stood as local contacts.
The need for firmer federation arose, and at Easter 1973 a "National Meeting of the Anarchist Groups" was held. The Federation of Anarchists and Freedom Socialists (FAFS) became a reality in 1974. Folkebladet, which was started in 1971 by a group of libertarian socialists in Blindern, now became a body for FAFS. Folkebladet had a circulation that varied between approximately 2000 to 4000.
In 1975, the FAFS' Kragerø group, parts of four other groups, plus some individuals, broke out of FAFS. They then formed the Revolutionary Workers' Union (anarchist) - RAF (a). This was an anarcho-syndicalist cadre organization, which in theory and practice was based on the political economy of Marxism, as well as the combat experiences and experiences of independent workers' rule during the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Revolution.
FAFS disbanded in January 1976, shortly after Folkebladet entered. The reason was not least the controversy over Marxism. In October 1976, RAF (a) was closed down.
In addition to these wings, there were representatives of alternative movements, with an emphasis on putting the ideas into practice. They formed small societies with democratic structures, gender equality and environmental awareness in practice. The collectives in Karlsøy, Troms and around Farsund are perhaps the most famous. This progressive "centrist" direction was represented in the 1970s in the student group Grønt Gras and later in the Green Party. This direction was strongly critical of capitalism, but not necessarily part of the radical left-wing.
In 1977, old NSFs and young workers came together and reorganized the NSF. The background was a network of contacts within a small group of workers. Ahead of the LO congress, they tried, with some success, to coordinate proposals for the congress through the unions. On 16 April, the foundation of the Norwegian Syndicalist League was formalized, as a coordinating organization for syndicalist workers. These were the heirs of the Norwegian Syndicalist Federation.
The Anarchists' Organization (ANORG) was founded on 13 September 1977. In 1979 Folkebladet was published again, now as a body for ANORG.
The following projects are related to anarchism or anarchists:
There are many anarchists in the Adbusters network without it being said to be an anarchist network. In addition, there are many disorganized anarchists and a few more collectives on Karlsøy and elsewhere. Among other things, the Anarchists' Organization (ANORG) and the Norwegian Syndicalist Association still exist.