Fångna i begreppen?

Revolution, tid och politik i svensk socialistisk press 1917–1924

Omslag för Fångna i begreppen?: Revolution, tid och politik i svensk socialistisk press 1917–1924

Jonsson, Karin

This thesis studies the uses of the concept of revolution in Swedish socialist press from 1917 to 1924. Political revolution and civil wars shook several countries. The Russian February and October Revolutions were soon followed by uprisings in countries such as Germany and Finland.

While the social and political history of this period, with its mass demonstrations for bread and voting rights, often called the Swedish revolution, has been covered extensively in existing research, we know much less about the theoretical understanding of revolution among Swedish socialists. This thesis examines the concept of revolution from a perspective inspired by the Begriffsgeschichte of German historian Reinhart Koselleck. This foundation in the history of concepts aims at understanding how Swedish socialists, in a wide sense, understood their own time, how they related to the past and what they expected from the future, during the years of the First World War and the immediately following years. By focusing on what might be the most central, but also the most contested and most difficult to define, concept I hope to complement earlier research focusing on the social and political history of the period and its socialist movements.

The main purpose of the thesis is to analyse how the labour movement understood revolution with particular weight placed upon the theoretical and ideological tensions between revolution and reform, determinism and voluntarism and localized and universal revolution. The starting point is the political and social changes in Sweden and abroad at that time and the place of the political press as opinion leaders capable of negotiating the space of political action. A secondary aim is to discuss how focusing on temporality can inspire new perspectives on the use of conceptual history.

My research shows that how the concept of revolution was used was shaped both by already established notions regarding the socialist revolution as well as by the political situation at hand. The October Revolution forced a sharpening of its meaning, wherein different factions elaborated their understanding of it in relation to each other, which in turn determined how the concept was used fom that point on. 

Huddinge : Södertörns högskola, 2017. 359 sidor.

ISBN 978-91-88663-21-4

Serie: Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, 1652-7399 ; 147