Historisk tidskrift 133:1 • 2013
Innehåll (Contents) 2013:1
Rayon för rikets försörjning Kris, korporatism och beredskapspolitik, 1972–1983
Rayon for national security: crisis, corporatism and contingency planning, 1972–1983
Between 1972 and 1983 the Swedish state gave large-scale aid to the company Svenska Rayon AB (SRA). The company was Sweden’s only producer of rayon yarn during the era of the Cold War. Rayon was seen as a necessity for the Swedish state in case of crisis or war. In a situation where Sweden was shut off from the importation of cotton, rayon yarn would be the replacement material in the production of clothes and cloth. The Swedish government therefore protected the company and its production facilities, despite a poor economic performance. The government gave SRA some 250 million kronor in state aid between 1972 and 1983. What triggered the aid was the international textile crisis in Europe that began in the 1950s. The Swedish textile industry contracted and the economic results of the rayon company suffered under hardened international competition. In the beginning of the period analyzed, the aid was limited. It escalated over the years and culminated in the last agreement with the company in 1983.
The article argues that national security was one explanation for the large amounts of state aid given to the SRA. The government considered rayon production vital to state security. This explanation complements previous research about Swedish state aid in the time period, which has mainly been interpreted from the perspective of labour policies. A second explanation is provided by the Swedish system of corporatism. Sweden has been described as one of the most corporative states in Europe, and the analysis of the aid offered to the SRA shows that the state and the company became more and more interlinked. In the case of the 1983 agreement, most of the text was produced by the two parts together. The article ends with a discussion of the case of the SRA as an example of the dissolution of the prevailing economic policy model in Sweden. This policy had been shaped by the so-called RhenMeidner model, and the state’s aid to the company shows how the model was abandoned, starting the movement towards a new economic policy.
Sweden, twentieth century, Cold War, textile industry history, corporatism, contingency planning, national security, economic defence