- Jan Myrdal
Jan Myrdal (born
19 July, 1927in Bromma, Stockholm) is a Swedish author, leftist- politicalwriter and columnist. He is an honorary doctor of literature at UppsalaUniversity in Uppsala, Sweden, and a Ph.D. at Nankai Universityin Tianjinin China. He has lived at various times in the United States, Afghanistan, Iranand India. He is the son of the Social Democrats and Nobel Laureates Alva Myrdaland Gunnar Myrdal; he broke completely with both at an early age. He was married to Gun Kessle, a photographer, graphic artistand writer, until her death in 2007. She illustrated many of his works.
Myrdal is a prolific writer, both of books and newspaper columns; he was first employed as a journalist at a local newspaper, after having dropped out of high school to concentrate on his writing. He got his breakthrough in 1963 with the book "
Report from a Chinese Village", a report from Mao's China. Subsequently he has written many similar "reports" and travel notes from Asian countries, including Afghanistanand the then-Soviet Central Asian republics, in collaboration with his life partner, Gun Kessle. His 1968 book "Confessions of a Disloyal European" was chosen by the New York Timesas one of that year's 'ten books of particular significance and excellence'. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/094170226X]
Myrdal's best-known works include his many autobiographical books (he calls them "I-books", Sw. "Jagböcker"), mainly about his
childhoodand his complex, conflicted relationsship with his parents, Alva Myrdaland Gunnar Myrdal. The first of these books caused scandal when they were first published in Sweden, due to the bad light the cast on Alva and Gunnar, who were among the most uplifted public intellectuals and politicians of their time.
Myrdal is an eclectic author, who has developed a wide range of special interests in topics deemed obscure by many, and who seeks to place art, literature and popular culture in an ever-political context of historical and social forces. He has written books on such diverse subjects as
Meccano, wartime propaganda posters and French 18th-century caricatureart; he even edited a winecolumn for a short while. The line dividing art, literature and politics is thin and fluid, if at all existent, in Myrdal's works, and he will regularly dive into far-reaching historical and cultural exposés in his political agitation.
Politically, Myrdal belongs to the
far-leftand is an adherent of or at least associated with Maoismand other forms of third worldist anti- Soviet communism; he has been a fervent advocate of anti-colonialist and anti-Imperialist causes. His influence on the cultural and political life of Sweden was most prominent during the 1970s, when he was one of the main intellectuals of the radical left of the time, which culminated in the Vietnam warprotest movement, of which he was a central figure. However, unlike many of his former supporters, he has maintained his views up to this day, regardless of their diminishing popularity. Today, his direct political influence is less evident, outside radical leftist circles, but he remains a notable figure in political and cultural debate and a popular author; his visibility is enhanced by the aggressively contrarian positions he take to much conventional political wisdom.
Myrdal is rigidly opposed to the Swedish literary and cultural establishment, as well as, of course, the prevailing political order and its defendants. He is regularly involved in controversial debates, spanning a wide range of subjects. Over the years he has expressed at least some level of support for leaders such as
Joseph Stalinhttp://sv.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jan_Myrdal] , Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxhaand Pol Pot. In 1992 he said that the Iranian fatwaagainst Salman Rushdiewas "formally correct", according to Iranian law, and that it was hypocritical of Western politicians to seize upon this particular case of state repression, when they ignored others. This, and further comments in the debate that followed, sparked outraged protest from many Swedish intellectuals.
Freedom of speech and civil liberties
He is strongly opposed to limitations on
free speech, and argues in favor of the right everyone, including racists, Nazis and radical Islamists to make whatever political statements they want. This, perhaps coupled with his strong position on Middle Eastern issues (see below), has led allegations of anti-Semitismagainst him, something he protests. Instead, he argues that his defense of civil libertiesis in the liberal tradition, saying that in the absence of a truly socialist state, bourgeois constitutional democracymust be defended at all costs by the workers' movement, because it represents a historical achievement and a stepping-stone towards even more advanced social and political models.
Middle East and anticolonialism
His views on the
Middle Easthas met with strong opposition from some quarters. He vigorously opposes US influence, claiming it is driven by a quest for oil and hegemonic power; he further describes Israelas a colonial settler state, which must be replaced with a state for all faiths and ethnicities ( Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christianetc), and argues that Zionismis an ideology linked to Imperialism.
In his opinion, it is necessary to support those groups that are authentic movements for national self-determination or popular liberation, regardless of the ideological or cultural forms these movements take on; such differences as there may be are superficial and temporary in a historical and social perspective. While himself a leftist and
Atheist, he argues that it is right and just to make common cause even with conservative religious movements in so far as they are authentical representatives of popular aspirations. He takes a longterm historical view on these matters: just as one can identify progressive and democratic advances achieved by eg. religion-driven farmers' rebellions in the European Middle Ages, such as the Jan Hussor Engelbrektuprisings, so one should attempt to support authentic popular forces and anti-Imperialist movements today, without attempting to impose one's own time-and-place-specific political agenda on their struggles.
In 2006 he gave an interview to
Hizbullah's magazine al-Intiqad, in which he summed up this aspect of his world view, and defined the relationship that Western supporters should have to what they consider authentic liberation movements in the Third World:
Second World Warwas both a war between different imperial interests and of people fighting for their independence. In Europethe Norwegians, the French resistance, the guerrillas of Northern Italystruggled for their national liberation as do the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans today.":::"Where there is oppression people will rise in revolt. The ideologies will be different according to the time and the history but if people are oppressed they will react and revolt and their struggle will be just.":::"Today in many countries of the world - especially in Asia - Moslemor Islamic ideology has become a driving force in the popular resistance against oppression. The situation and thus the ideologies were different for the patriots of Europe or China during the second World War. But then as now: To revolt against oppression is just." [...] :::"The question of international solidarityis in fact very simple. We formulated it during the war against US aggression in South East Asia::::"- Support the Liberation front on their own conditions!" [cite news
title = Al-Intiqad's interview with Swedish intellectual and writer Jan Myrdal
url = http://www.arabeuropean.org/newsdetail.php?ID=120
date = February 28, 2006
language = English (original Arabic)]
Tiananmen Square controversy
In 1997 he faced controversy on another front, as he publicly defended the Chinese government's (of which he is not a supporter, post-Mao) intervention during the
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, on the grounds that it was a necessary action to preserve east- Asian stability. Responding to critics, he stated that "I have now come to the conclusion that China in June 1989 was faced with a situation that could have evolved into a political meltdown; a Bosnia of gigantic proportions, and the risk of a new great war in the Pacificarea. That is why I now feel that the intervention that time was necessary", and also that " [t] he question can not be whether it was moral or immoral to shed bloodon the square of Heavenly Peacein the summer of 1989, but whether it was necessary or not, to prevent a Bosnia in billion-size proportion, and a possible Pacific war. If it was necessary, as I now believe, then it was right and moral. If it was not necessary, then it was wrong and criminal."
He has also been criticized for his stance towards
homosexuality, due to his opposition to same-sex marriages; this is today a highly unorthodox attitude on the Swedish left. [cite news
title = Kommentar: Vad har du i fickan, Jan?
url = http://www.expressen.se/index.jsp?a=546944
date = March 17, 2006
language = Swedish] He argues that
marriage(as traditionally defined, between man and woman) is a "historically determined form of co-habitation" in this era, which has a crucial role in organizing social relations. He also presents marriage, in contemporary society, as a key support for children's rights, since -- in his view -- gay marriages and gay couple adoption rights will lead to a disintegration of the natural link between parenthood and childhood, to the detriment of children who will be disconnected from their roots. [cite news
title = "Kalla mig gärna heteronormativ"
url = http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/artikel_520071.svd
date = October 23, 2007
language = Swedish]
* [http://www.mahakavisrisri.com/home/janmyrdal.html Singing the poetry of the people] - a eulogy of
Indian poet Sri Sri, by J. Myrdal.
* [http://www.arabeuropean.org/newsdetail.php?ID=120 Interview in al-Intiqad] - 2006
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Look at other dictionaries:
Jan Myrdal — (Aussprache: [ˌ ʝɑːn ˈmyːɖɑːl], * 19. Juli 1927 in Stockholm) ist ein schwedischer Schriftsteller.. Leben Myrdal ist der Sohn des … Deutsch Wikipedia
Myrdal — is a surname, and may refer to: Alva Myrdal (1902–1986), Swedish diplomat, politician and writer Gunnar Myrdal (1898–1987), Swedish economist and politician Jan Myrdal (born 1927), Swedish author, leftist political writer and columnist Rosemarie… … Wikipedia
MYRDAL (K. G.) — MYRDAL KARL GUNNAR (1898 1987) Juriste de formation, le Suédois Karl Myrdal se consacre très tôt aux problèmes économiques internationaux. Professeur en 1935, il reçoit une chaire à l’université de Stockholm. En 1932, à l’arrivée au pouvoir de la … Encyclopédie Universelle
Myrdal — ist der Name von: Personen: Alva Myrdal (1902−1986), schwedische Soziologin und Nobelpreisträgerin Gunnar Myrdal (1898−1987), schwedischer Ökonom und Nobelpreisträger Jan Myrdal (* 1927), schwedischer Schriftsteller Orte: eine Bahnstation in… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Myrdal — Myrdal, 1) Alva, schwedische Gesellschaftswissenschaftlerin und Politikerin, * Uppsala 31. 1. 1902, ✝ Stockholm 1. 2. 1986, Mutter von 2), Ȋ mit 3); leitete als Direktorin 1936 48 das von ihr gegründete Sozialpädagogische Seminar in Stockholm.… … Universal-Lexikon
Myrdal, Jan — (1927 ) A Swedish novelist, journalist, and dramatist, Myrdal has been a controversial figure in the cultural life of his country and in the Western world since the 1960s. Always the radical, and often perceived as being on the extreme left,… … Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater
Myrdal, Alva Reimer — ▪ Swedish diplomat born Jan. 31, 1902, Uppsala, Sweden died Feb. 1, 1986, Ersta, near Stockholm Swedish diplomat, government minister, author, and advocate of nuclear disarmament. She was the corecipient with Alfonso García Robles (García… … Universalium
Jan Tinbergen — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Tinbergen. Jan Tinbergen Jan Tinbergen (La Haye, 12 avril 1903 9 juin 1994) … Wikipédia en Français
Alva Myrdal — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Alva Reimer Myrdal … Wikipedia Español
Gunnar Myrdal — (vor 1938) Gunnar Myrdal [ˌgɵnːaɹ ˈmyːɖɑːl] (* 6. Dezember 1898 in Gustafs; † 17. Mai 1987 in Stockholm) war ein schwedischer Ökonom und … Deutsch Wikipedia