Svensk arbetarrörelse och det finska inbördeskriget 1918
The political and civil unrest during the last years of the First World War had a profound impact on the political life in many European countries. Academic research on the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the development of the parliamentary system during these years, often focus on the civil unrest and the mobilization of the labour movement during the spring of 1917, and the impact on Swedish politics of the Russian and German revolutions.
This study is an examination of the relation between the Swedish labour movement and the Finnish Civil War of 1918. The general aim of the study is to examine how different levels and organisations of the labour movement acted in regards to the situation in Finland, and how these different levels and organisations interacted with one another. A second aim of this examination is to better understand during what kind of processes of the Swedish labour movement’s history that the Finnish Civil War occurred, and how it affected them.
The conclusion of the study is that the there was a disparity between the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SAP), which at the time was part of the Swedish government together with the liberal party, and the grassroots of the labour movement, organized in trade unions, and in the local organizations of the SAP and the Social Democratic Left Party (SSV). The parliamentary leadership saw a neutralization of the Finnish revolution as in their interest, and the government were able to give considerable military help to the White Senate of Finland, against the will of the grassroots of the labour movement, who not seldom put the solidarity with the Finnish working class in the forefront. The government of Sweden were able to do so, because the leadership of the labour movement organized the grassroots making them think they were mobilizing for strict neutrality against any kind of war efforts, and against any attempt from the Swedish right wing of a coup d’ état in Sweden.
It is argued that the differences between the SAP leadership’s and the grassroot organizations’ views on Finland, shows us that the SAP leadership’s leading ideological and practical principle of parliamentary democracy wasn’t the leading principle for all the people who made up the labour movement. Our empirical sources tell us that the Finnish Civil War created a situation, where, once again, the leadership of the labour movement had to try to invoke the principle of parliamentary democracy in the movement. Doing this, The Finnish Civil War became a situation, where the leadership of SAP once again put their goal of winning the labour movement parliamentary success above the concrete demands of the grassroot organizations. Succeeding in this, and by helping the White Senate of Finland, they did not only pave the way for parliamentary democracy in Sweden, but also tightened their grip on the development of the Swedish labour movement in general.
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