Reform, Revolution, Riot? Transnational Nordic Sixties in the Radical Press, c. 1958-1968
Published inJYU dissertations
© The Author & University of Jyväskylä
Social movements inevitably encounter the conundrum of how the changes they advocate are actually going to be implemented. By definition, modern social movements operate outside the political establishment of parliaments and parties; but since these institutions are more often than not the ones responsible for implementing those changes, social movements will need to decide how to approach them. Whether to choose reform, revolution, or riot as the modus operandi is an important choice that throws into stark relief the political tensions inside social movements. This was particularly true of the 1960s – considered by many to be the heyday of modern social movement activism. This dissertation examines the political language of radical social movements of that era in Finland and Sweden from a transnational perspective. By using a combination of novel historical methods, the dissertation approaches political agency as an interconnected, rhizomatic network of local, global, physical, and textual action. Particular attention is paid to the transnational connections between these Nordic movements and other European and global actors, paying special attention to West German radicalism as a potential resource and point of reference for Nordic politics. This thesis covers the development of the wide range of movements that were considered “radical” in their societal approach during the “Long Sixties”. This means it deals with more than just the upheavals of 1968; instead, it covers a longer political process starting with the pacifist and modernist cultural movements of the early Sixties to the emergence of the Nordic New Left and its turn towards a more dogmatic and, in some instances, even a Maoist line. By incorporating these different political movements, the thesis not only traces changes in the politics of the independent Left; it also cover a gamut of political traditions from independent social democrats to Nordic liberals, and even protestant dissidents and anarchists. Consequently, the discourses covered in the thesis highlight the diversity of political positions that existed in the political debates of the era. The chapters cover topics such as gender relations and education, welfare policies and critiques of how social 'deviancy' was treated, attitudes towards the police, the emergence of revolutionary aspirations, anti-fascist rhetoric, third-world theories, and the transnational moment of 1968 itself. By discussing all of the aforementioned topics from a transnational perspective that takes into account different local political traditions, the thesis offers a detailed portrayal of the complexities of these Sixties movements and their anti-authoritarian politics. By focusing on the papers published and edited by the radical agents themselves, the thesis revives the original historical contexts of these Sixties movements, often neglected by secondary sources and polemical memoirs written in hindsight by both the proponents and opponents of these movements. This focus on extensive empirical work is thus also a significant methodological contribution to the wider field of transnational history. ...
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