Norway: the wealth beyond GDP

Joaquina Pires-O`Brien

The leading article in this sixth edition of Port Vitoria is The architecture of Utopia: Norway and the origins of the regime of goodness, a critical analysis by Nina Witoszek, showing that Norway’s wealth is not merely economic from its oil and gas but its ‘rich tradition of peaceful, reform-oriented, development, emancipatory politics, a generous welfare system, and an identity based on partnership with nature’. Witoszek, a Polish lecturer and researcher at the University of Oslo, holds the position of Head of Research of the Centre for Development and Environment. Her article is in fact the first chapter of her 2011 book called The Origins of the Regime of Goodness, which she kindly gave her permission to reprint in PortVitoria, in Portuguese.

According to Witoszek, Norway wants to be not just an Eldorado but a ‘moral superpower’, an unheard of combination in the world geopolitics. She points out that Norway’s current environmental and humanitarian morality did not suddenly appear simultaneously with its new wealth, but was already there from the time when Norway was still the backwaters of Scandinavia.

The smart way the Norwegians are managing their new wealth could serve as a great model for other countries which find themselves in the same predicament. One of the countries that has a great prospect of joining the club of the super rich is Brazil, with its huge pre-salt deposits of oil and gas already on the pathway towards commercial exploration. In the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme, which is an indication of how good a country is for those who live there, Norway has ranked in the 1st place for six consecutive years. In the 2011 report Brazil was ranked in the 84th place, which is disgraceful for a country that is the world’s eighth economy. This suggests that Brazil should not wait for the financial returns of its new oil and gas projects to continue the reforms it needs to improve the quality of life through health and education and to create the conditions for meritocracy to flourish.

Brazil is beginning to act to address its social imbalances and other problems that stand in the way of its future as a super power. During 2012, the Commission of Constitution, Justice and Citizenship of the Brazilian Senate approved a proposal by Senator Cristovam Buarque (PDT – Partido Democrático Trabalhista / Democratic Labour Party, of Distrito Federal), of an amendment to include the wording ‘the pursuit of happiness’ in the 6th Article of the Constitution. Supporters of the amendment are well aware that the insert has no real effect but hope for some psychological ones that could lead to improve citizenship awareness. Brazil’s paltry HDI rank and the proposed amendment to the Brazilian Constitution inspired the second article A Busca da Felicidade e o Estado (The Pursuit of Happiness and the State) in this edition.
January 2013

Pires-O’Brien, J. Norway: the wealth beyond GDP. Editorial. PortVitoria, UK, v. 6, Jan-Jun, 2013. ISSN 2044-8236.