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Historisk tidskrift 122:3 • 2002

Innehåll (Contents) 2002:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

Den svenska mellankrigsfascismen – ett ointressant marginalfenomen eller ett viktigt forskningsobjekt?

Lena Berggren

Fulltext (pdf)


Summary: Swedish Interwar Fascism – a Tedious Marginality or an Important Area for Research?

This article has shown that interwar Swedish fascism, far from being a tedious marginality, is an important area for future study. Previous research in the field is incomplete as to which organisations and environments have been studied, and the area also lacks an analytical approach that tries to capture the ideological features of interwar Swedish fascism. With a few exceptions, we thus know very little about what exactly the Swedish interwar fascists wanted to achieve and which means they proposed to use to achieve their ideological goal.

Investigations into the ideological content of Swedish fascism and its dependence of and influence on the political and cultural climate of interwar Sweden at large is not only a missing piece in the general political and intellectual history of this country. The Swedish case is also interesting from an international perspective. Even if Swedish interwar fascism belongs to the minor and less influential national variants, it is still a significant piece in the jig-saw puzzle of formulating a generic ideal-type concept of fascism, a concept which aims towards a fuller understanding of fascism as a relatively coherent political ideology with its own core myth rather than a paradoxical and manichean terror system. Shifting the focus from the giants of Fascist Italy and nazi Germany also underlines the fact that fascism is a general western phenomenon, not a Sonderweg development in just a few countries.

There is no doubt that fascism in Sweden failed immensely in its ambitions to build a mass mobilising political movement. The only moment in time during the interwar period when the socio-economic crisis was so severe that there might have been a chance for a fascist movement to gain real momentum, in connection with the severe hunger demonstrations in 1918–1919, there were no fascists present to take advantage of the situation. And when the Depression hit the country in the early 1930s, the organised fascists failed to turn this in their own favour. The reasons for this can be found within the fascist movement itself as well as without it, but to use this fact to dismiss fascism altogether, as ideologically as well as organisationally insignificant, is jumping to conclusions.

In the 1930s, practically every conceivable barrier against the growth of fascism of a more practical, socio-economic character was in place, and it thus seems rather paradoxical that Sweden should have had a fascist movement in the first place. Despite this, Sweden had a relatively strong fascist movement, peaking in the mid-1930s at around 30,000 members out of a population of 6,5 million. There must be reasons for this, but so far we know very little about this. The conclusion that can be drawn from this, which also concludes this article, is that more research both into Swedish interwar fascism as such and into its indigenous context is needed.