The Nordic Secret of Beauty and Freedom: Uncovered

The beauty of Nordic countries is also the underlying social philosophy reflected in governance that every citizen should be taken care of by the State, directly or indirectly. On any social indictors of wellbeing, the Nordic countries are in the top order.



Nordic countries are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in northern Europe (and Scandinavian countries are Denmark, Norway and Sweden).

THE NORDIC SECRET: A European story of beauty and freedom is written by Lene Rachel Andersen and Tomas Björkman. It explores the factors that are responsible for the social progress, collective consciousness for a welfare state provided by the taxpayers and freedoms achieved over the centuries among others by providing data and representing facts in figures and charts. Written in a non-academic style but with the academic rigour, the book provides an insight into Nordic countries by looking at historical events to current socio-political developments ranging from arts to politics and education.

‘How remarkable are the Nordic countries? Really? Are we just self-promoting “Nordicists” running an errand for our national tourist departments, or is there something important about Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland that is worth exploring?’ the authors ask and set out to explain that in the first chapter. The book is divided in to five parts with the following chapters:

  1. Are the Nordic countries really that remarkable?

Facts and statistics about the Nordic countries today.

  1. Personal freedom and responsibility – psychology

Contemporary models of human development and meaning-making; what is ego-development?

  1. A very different kind of Europe

We go back 350 years to find out how Europeans understood the world before they invented Bildung.

  1. The Bildung prelude

A handful of philosophers explored our emotions and how our mind works.

  1. The German Spring

Concepts of freedom and human development in the late 1700s and the 1800s; what is Bildung?

  1. Bildung and ego-development

To what extent are they the same? There is quite the overlap but Bildung is more complex

  1. The Danish Spring

How Bildung was turned into folk-Bildung and transformed a country

  1. The Norwegian Spring

How the Danish invention made it to Norway and got an extra layer.

  1. The Swedish Spring

How German, French and Danish input inspired the Swedes.

  1. Summing up the Scandinavian spring – fold-Bildung0

Transforming all of Scandinavia after 1880.

  1. The Modern Spring – folk-Bildung 2.0
  2. What happened elsewhere? – Control cases

How can we test the importance and results of folk-Bildung when we cannot re-run history? We look at Finland, Switzerland, how bad things went in Germany during the Nazi era, the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Nordic immigrants to the United States, and cooperatives’ contribution to the economy in 19 countries.

  1. Does our thinking hold up? We conclude regarding our hypotheses 2,3 and 4.
  2. Scandinavian today – self-destruction in the making We look at how Denmark and Sweden are dismantling their heritage and success
  3. What we have discovered writing this book

We explore some bonus insights that came as a surprise to us. Among other things, we are rather certain that not only have we found the Nordic secret, we have also found the Freemasons’ secret –  read on…

  1. Can the Nordic experience benefit the rest of the world?

Some concrete lessons and concluding regarding our 5th hypothesis.

  1. Societal transitions

How do societies generally transform and become more complex due to technological development?

  1. Where are we now? –Challenges, obstacles and choices

What is actually happening in the world right now due to new technologies?

  1. What could Bildung and folk-Bildung0 look like?
  2. Concluding

Keeping the conversation going.

Lene Rachel Andersen is a Danish citizen but had lived in the USA. She is also a futurist, philosopher and an economist, and leads New Scandinavia.

Tomas Björkman is a Swedish social entrepreneur and applied philosopher, and runs a foundation.

The success of the book has propelled the authors to identify the current and coming challenges for the Scandinavian countries and in sustaining Nordic countries’ beauty and freedom.