Oprøret fra midten 1978 ...demokratisk vision eller totalitær drejebog?

Sune Stender

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The thesis at hand discusses the book Oprør fra midten (English edition: Revolt from the Center, London 1981) and the intellectual debate that followed its publication in 1978 in Denmark. The book, co-authored by Danish writer and philosopher Villy Sørensen (1929-2001), Danish politician Kristen Helveg Petersen (1909-1997) and Danish professor Niels I. Meyer (1930-), put forward a critique of its contemporary society in the fields of governance, ecology, democracy and economic growth, demanding public action to meet perceived future threats from democratic failure, economic collapse and resource depletion. It presented an alternatively conceived society in the shape of a utopia based upon ecological balance, radical democracy, economic de-growth and a fixed and positive view of human nature. In the debate that followed the book, however, intellectual opponents saw grave theoretical inconsistencies in its ideas as to how this conceived society should function democratically. Another crucial part of this thesis deals with the transcript from a meeting held between the three authors and Danish then-prime minister Anker Jørgensen, which shows the authors’ views and ideas applied on contemporary society and politics first hand. Here, it becomes clear that a huge gap existed between their utopian ideas and the immediate economic and societal problems Danish society faced at the time, and that their political ideas were largely unrealistic. The thesis’ main theoretical conclusion is that a conflict exists between the authors’ idea of a fixed view on human nature and a functional democratic society, because democracy is an ever-changing concept, and therefore cannot be dependent on a conceived and fixed view of human nature. The thesis’ main historical conclusion is that the themes of democratic failure, economic hardship and resource depletion put forward by the book in 1978, must be seen as signs of a pessimistic change in zeitgeist during the mid- to late seventies. As a result of this, political winds in Denmark changed, and belief in ideology, especially social democracy, waned. The thesis’ demonstrates that both the book and the following debate can be seen as reactions to this political change.

UddannelserHistorie, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 sep. 2014
VejledereHenrik Jensen


  • Late 1970's, democracy, Denmark, growth/de-growth, political change, ideology, zeitgeist