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Transformations and Crises

Transformations and Crises: The Left and the Nation in Denmark and Sweden, 1956-1980

Thomas Ekman Jørgensen
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Transformations and Crises
    Book Description:

    The Left in the 1960s and 1970s has a powerful, almost mythical, place in the history of the 20th century. It was during these decades that the radical Left managed to renew the language of socialism as an alternative to communism and liberalism alike, but also when radicalism often led to extremism and social movements turned into political sects. Focusing on the Left in Denmark and Sweden during those turbulent decades, this study pays close attention to the political language in the two countries and shows the constant challenge to the concepts of the Left in the face of rapid social, cultural and political changes. The precarious relationship between the Left and the nation serves as a starting point for the exploration of the development of the New Left after the break with communism, the subsequent student revolts and radicalization of the late 1960s until the movement's apparent collapse at the end of the 1970s. This book illustrates the challenges the Left was facing in its attempt to articulate a credible political language at a time of social, cultural and political transformation.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-861-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Preface
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    The nation and the political left had a precarious relationship in the twentieth century. Socialists have often been torn between an internationalist heritage and their individual national political cultures and loyalties. The left has ultimately worked for global change, but found itself on political scenes determined by the nation state, and all shades of leftism have in one way or another related themselves to the all-pervading political power of the nation.

    In the interwar period, socialist and social democratic parties adapted to the national political scenes by entering governments in individual countries and left their working-class-based ideology to embrace ‘the...

  8. Chapter 1 Communist Concepts in Crisis
    (pp. 21-44)

    After the Russian Revolution, the left has been split between a social democratic and a communist movement. The first moved from political persecution to power and influence in national politics in Europe from the 1930s onwards. At least in Scandinavia, the second one remained on the edge of the political system, shunned by others for its commitment to violent revolution, its totalitarian traits and its dependence on the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, it is this marginal position, always in opposition to the system and aligned with the perceived forces of progress, that would be the continuous attraction of communism. While social...

  9. Chapter 2 Adaptation and Innovation
    (pp. 45-84)

    The crisis of communism at around 1960 was a watershed in the history of the left. Within the world communist movement, the Sino-Soviet split and attempts to form a specific Western European communist identity undermined the previous monolithic image of communism. At the same time, decolonisation and the rise of the non-aligned movement provided new perspectives that replaced the bipolarity of the cold war. In Western Europe and the USA, New Left groups began to emerge in the wake of the invasion of Hungary and the twentieth congress of the CPSU or in connection with the civil rights and peace...

  10. Chapter 3 Contesting Pragmatism
    (pp. 85-124)

    By the mid-1960s, the creation of a new language of the left had prevailed. Those who had proposed to reinvent the concepts of communism, the SF and the modernists, held hegemony over the left. However, this hegemony was soon to be challenged by a new generation, who actively contested the eclectic and pragmatic elements of the renewal.

    At this time, the baby boomers had come of age. The big generation born in the 1940s now entered adult – or semi-adult – society filling the expanding educational systems and providing the market with a large and fairly affluent group of consumers. Cultural phenomena...

  11. Chapter 4 Turning Inwards
    (pp. 125-162)

    On the threshold of the 1970s, the left had developed very fixed concepts of capitalism as a system of exploitation and oppression. Whereas the 1960s in many ways had been the culmination of capitalism as it had developed since the Great Depression, the 1970s would see a crisis and transformation of capitalism, which at first seemed to prove its inherent faults, but later would evolve beyond the concepts of the left.

    Signs of crisis had been appearing since the late 1960s, not only through the global unrest of 1968; there were also indicators that the global economic system and Keynesian...

  12. Chapter 5 The End of the Road
    (pp. 163-180)

    At the end of the 1970s, the left had lost its hegemony in the public debate. It was no longer the place where the problems of society were being formulated and spread to the rest of the political field. Also, it was increasingly difficult to recruit new members to the groupuscules; it was even hard to keep the members that were already there. In Denmark, most of the remaining members of the political subculture sought out VS as a gathering point for the wreckage of the many revolutionary endeavours of the early 1970s. In Sweden, even successes likeFolket i...

  13. Chapter 6 Summary, Conclusions and Outlook
    (pp. 181-198)

    These final remarks are divided into three parts. First there is a thorough summary to recapitulate the history that has been told in the preceding five chapters and emphasise the most important points for the following considerations. The summary will deal with the overarching narrative to separate it from the subplots of the individual chapters, as well as summarising the differences and similarities between Denmark and Sweden.

    The second part will be a closer consideration of the theoretical perspective of the research, namely, the relationship between crisis and conceptual change.

    The third and largest part will present a short outlook...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-212)
  15. Index
    (pp. 213-220)