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It was established in 1921 under the initiative of Erling Falk, partly with origins in the debate forum in the Social Democratic student government in Oslo (later the Student Communist Organization); partly from a Falk-led study circle which from 1919 involved Viggo Hansteen, Axel Sømme, John Hazeland, and Arnold Hazeland. The first editor was Sigurd Hoel.
Mot Dag was a collective member of the Norwegian Labour Party from March 1922 until August 1924, but was excluded after a series of disagreements. In 1927-29 Mot Dag was a part of the Norwegian Communist Party (NKP). Viggo Hansteen was one of very few members who were in NKP when Mot Dag broke out.
The organization had at most approximately 200 members, and, when it was dissolved in 1936, had about 100.
In the middle of the 1930s, Mot Dag made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a new labor party. After the charismatic leader Erling Falk fell sick, the leader of the Storting's finance committee, Trond Hegna, took over the actual leadership. Mot Dag was dissolved in 1936, and most of the members followed the internal orders to register in the Labor Party.
The people associated were known as motdagists. Many well-known authors, intellectuals, and future leading politicians and officials were among them. Of mention are filmmaker Olav Dalgard; the authors Helge Krog, Odd Eidem, Sigurd Hoel, Arnulf Øverland, Nic Waal and Inger Hagerup -- the latter two of the few women who were connected to Mot Dag; future director of Norway's military intelligence Vilhelm Evang, future director-general of health Karl Evang (chairman 1931-) and economist (future professor) Johan Vogt, who, together with Falk, were behind the first translation of Das Kapital to Norwegian.
After World War II, many of the members were leaders in Norwegian politics and culture. Norway's first three post-war Prime Ministers Einar Gerhardsen, Oscar Torp, and John Lyng were all at one point in time part of Mot Dag. In addition were Gro Harlem Brundtland's father, Secretary of Defense Gudmund Harlem; the Labor Party's longstanding secretary Haakon Lie, Oslo's longstanding mayor Brynjulf Bull, and future West German chancellor Willy Brandt.
- Christophersen, Jens A. (1966). " ‘Mot Dag’ and the Norwegian Left". Journal of Contemporary History. Left-Wing Intellectuals between the Wars 1 (2): 135–148.