Yesterday, the police vacated one of Copenhagen’s most significant bastions of alternative culture of the last two decades, Ungdomshuset (the “Youth House”) in the borough of Nørrebro. While the community of Ungdomshuset has not always behaved in ways that helped their cause, or just plain made any social sense, this is nevertheless emblematic of certain worrying tendencies in Denmark.
In this particular case, the responsibility primarily lies with the Copehagen city government who sold the building to the fringe religious sect Faderhuset in 2000. Justifying their purchase in a command from God, these people have – despite numerous, generous offers – refused to resell it to various bodies wanting to preserve Ungdomshuset. The blasé attitude of the city government is mirrored in decisions of national policy taken by the present government, to “normalise” one of the most unique alternative communities in Europe, the Copenhagen Free Town of Christiania. In the new Danish society proposed by the government and supported by the people who vote for them, there is little room for the different, the “antisocial”, and generally people who do not “contribute” in the same, measurable way as everyone else. A sad, though unfortunately unsurprising state of affairs in a country whose latest attempt at homogenisation is a 40-question pop quiz on Danish society and culture to be taken by anyone applying for citizenship (no shit!).
These are depressing times in Denmark. Here’s to the hope that things will change for the better in the future. A hope kept alive at Ungdomshuset for more than two decades.