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Transformations and Crises: The Left and the Nation in Denmark and Sweden, 1956-1980
Volume 2

Protest, Culture & Society

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Transformations and Crises

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

Thomas Ekman Jørgensen

236 pages, 10 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-366-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2008)

eISBN 978-1-84545-861-4 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


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.

Thomas Ekman Jørgensen received his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, in 2004. He has published a number of articles on the left in the 1960s and 1970s, on comparative European history and on youth movements around the Great War. In 2008, he published 1968 – og det der fulgte (1968 – and that which came after) together with Steven L. B. Jensen. He presently lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Northern Europe


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Comparison, Time and Narration – Methodological Remarks
What is the Left?
Going beyond Ideology
The Concept of Nation
Literature and Sources

Chapter 1. Communist Concepts in Crisis
The Communist Party – Leader of the People, Protector of the Country
The DKP – For the National Independence of the Danish People
The SKP – Completing Swedish Democracy
1956 and Beyond – Towards an Unclear Future
The Twentieth Congress of the CPSU
The Invasion of Hungary
More than One Communism – the International Perspective

Chapter 2. Adaptation and Innovation
Renewal of Communism
SF and the Danish New Left
The Open Marriage of Swedish Communism
Reinventing Internationalism
Third World Solidarity and Virtual Internationalism
Europe and Norden – the Regional Identity
Welfare, Culture and Class – the Domestic Aspect
The Pros and Cons of Welfare
Culture, Modernity, Alienation
Class and People

Chapter 3. Contesting Pragmatism
The Late 1960s and the Radical Youth
The Global Contestation.
Vietnam, America and the World Revolution
Vietnam in Denmark: from Moral Indignation to Revolutionary Consciousness
Vietnam in Sweden: the Leninist Renaissance
America and Anti-Americanism
Party Splits
Return of Europe
New European Threats, Fascism and Imperialism
Capitalism at Home – the End of Exceptionalism
Welfare or Capitalism
The Fascist Threat
Nordic Colonialism

Chapter 4. Turning Inwards
The Transformation of Capitalism and the Establishment of Estrangement
Splits on Common Ground, the ‘Groupuscules’ Phenomenon
Popular Movements Revisited
Return of the Working Class
Popular Culture
Revival of Nationalism
Revivalism and Conservatism
The End is Near!
Countries in Crisis

Chapter 5: The End of the Road
The End of Leftist Hegemony
The End of Progression
The Radical Trap
The Left on the Defensive

Chapter 6: Summary, Conclusions and Outlook
Summary: Transformations and Crises
Concepts and Crises
Outlook – the left in the 1980s
Militancy and Pragmatism – the Danish left
Alternative Roads, Beyond Left and Right in Sweden


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