Images of Liberal Democracy and Freedom and Welfare in Sweden 1930-1958

Below you find an article that has been refused by the Scandinavian Journal of History, in March 2012. It was reviewed by two persons. It turns out that the quality of the reviews was truly substandard, especially one of the reviewers, but the second also seems to have completely misunderstood the object of study. This is clear when we compare the reviewers. What is a source of critique from reviewer 1 is a strength according to reviewer 2, etc.

Here are some examples of statements by the reviewers:

Reviewer 1 Reviewer 2
Novelty The article does not bring anything new to the table. Most of the publications analyzed are well-known and have been analyzed in a more convincing way elsewhere [Perhaps, but not with this particular focus, which is the whole point as reviewer number 2 notes.] Although there are a number of studies of the image of Sweden and the Swedish/Nordic model, it is harder to think of any that look in detail at the discussion of democracy in texts written about  Sweden … There might be the scope for an empirically strong and original article here  [Indeed, but not according to the first reviewer]
Topic There is no justification of the topic, no real research question and almost none methodological reflections or references to the existing literature … Is the purpose of the paper only to divide a few “easily available English-language sources” into three not very well-defined categories? This is hardly a proper research question. [What the article says is that existing research has avoided or misrepresented the most important aspect of images of Sweden during the 20th century. That should be motive enough. Also, easily available is central to the method, not because it is easy to find them as an historian – most other historians have failed where this article has succeeded – but because the fact that the sources were easy available at that time proves a point regarding the selectivity and lack of quality of Sweden-reporting 1930-1958.] the aim of the article seems to be to examine the apparent paradoxical representation of Sweden as a model democracy, but one which lacked many of the classic features of liberal democracy if examined more closely.  That might be an important question if framed slightly differently – is there in fact a Swedish model of democracy and how does it differ from the liberal democratic or other ideal types? [This article is about images, not about how Swedish democracy actually was during this period, nor does it claim that there are versions of Sweden as a model democracy – at least one version is not that of a model democracy at all. This reply from the reviewer is both clearly manipulative and political.]
Method I agree this is “easy available” [Royal Library] but it is not a convincing strategy for paper in a serious academic journal. “Serious minded” people looking for stuff on Sweden in English would focus also on international data bases: Library of Congress, J-Store, google-books, Pro Quest etc. [This reviewer has apparently totally missed the point – there were no databases in 1958. As above, easily available is a methodological point in relation to those who have written about Sweden, not easy from the point of view of research for this article.]
Sources In order to be turned into an article it would need to … develop a more ambitious strategy for collecting source material etc. [Again, a main point of the article is that almost all other articles about the same topic use too few and too selective sources compared to this article. This is, again, recognized by the second reviewer. How is it that an academic that serves as a reviewer for a journal can be allowed to lie the journal straight in the face in this way? What is the underlying agenda? Or it is just a question of jealousy, feeling threatened or incompetence?] It should be acknowledged that a lot of work has gone into this piece: the list of sources consulted is fairly extensive, and the author has clearly read them in detail [Again, compare this with what reviewer number 1 had to say. The greater issue here is that if the topic had true promise and the empirical basis is well executed, then why not accept the article? As we have seen, this reviewer also has an agenda, and tries to slip away from what the article is really about. Why? Is it politically – or perhaps academically – threatening?]
Scope The context in which Huntford wrote his book in 1971 was hugely different to that of the 1930s – all this needs to be discussed. [The article only covers the period to 1958, not 1971. Here we get a indication of this reviewer agenda. She is not comfortable with the critical perspective on Swedish political culture, and therefore attempts different strategies to mitigate or avoid validation of such criticisms]

The reviewers were also not happy with the lack of contextualization. It seems that today no historical research is possible without “contextualization”. However, historians most often lack a sense of what real contextualization requires, and therefore their attempts in this regard are often extremely slipshod, from an anthropologists point of view.

In fact, the conclusions in this article are damning to especially one specific article by Carl Marklund (reference below), but also to almost everyone who has contributed to this field of research. Why? Because current academic research about images of Sweden in the 20th century reproduces the political-rhetorical strategies used by the American fellow travellers, when it disregards or summarily dismisses important critical sources that have contradicted the utopian images.

The greatest irony of all, given the quotes above, was that the Icelandic Editor-in-chief of the journal argued that the reviewers had the exact same opinion and that therefore the article should be refused. That is nothing less than perverse.

Images of Liberal Democracy and Freedom and Welfare in Sweden 1930-1958

Introduction

This article analysis images of liberal democracy and freedom and welfare in Sweden in easily available English-language sources 1930 to 1958. Overall, the sources were few, poorly sourced and the images were highly contradictory. The contradictions are illustrated with the help of three ideal types. The most critical image suggested a semi-authoritarian political system based on an archaic political culture. The second noted Swedish deficiencies in formal trappings but combined this with reassurances about political culture, mentality and practice. The third image claimed that Sweden was equally or even more liberal democratic than the US.

Sweden as a paragon of liberal democracy

1938 and 1939 were signal years for Sweden-propaganda in the US. HRH the Crown Prince of Sweden held a lecture at Harvard University in which he gave his more neutral view of the reasons for Swedish social and economic progress. However, he had little concrete to say about liberal democracy; even if he, in passing, assured his audience that “It would be difficult to find in the whole world a people more given to the love of political and personal freedom than ours”. He also felt “certain that there does not exist to-day a more thorough form of democracy than ours, the rights this gained being jealously guarded by the whole people”[1]. These claims were loosely based on a romantic interpretation of a Swedish peasant history of self-government, ownership of land and political representation[2].

Gunnar Myrdal wrote two articles for the American journal Survey Graphic. He assured his readers that Sweden had preserved “individual liberty and free institutions” and that the “internal front of democracy” in the Nordic countries was strong, “stronger perhaps, than in any part of the world today”. In the Nordic countries there was also “an ingrained respect for law even, if you like, a legalistic bent of mind”. Due process meant much to everyone and “the common citizen could not conceive of accepting arbitrariness even if it meant security and higher income, and that, of course, is not the choice”[3]. In Myrdal’s view, “Life and work, attitudes and patterns of behavior in Sweden” were “closer to American patterns than those of any other country”[4]. These were clear statements indeed about Swedish mentality in relation to freedom and welfare.

When Myrdal described the “machinery of Swedish democracy” he, inter alia, claimed that appointments were only based on competence[5]. Regarding property rights he clarified that state intervention in Sweden was an expression of a national tradition, not something socialistic and new; and that it had been “a long time since Swedish business and finance were frightened by a socialist government”[6]. This description of a tradition of state intervention was partly self-contradictory, since it suggested that his comparison with US values had been overstated.

Marquis W. Childs followed up his 1936 best seller Sweden: The middle way with the 1938 This is Democracy: Collective bargaining in Scandinavia. Interestingly, despite the title, the latter had very little concrete to say about democracy, as this topic usually is understood. Childs’ focus was instead labour relations and labour-farmer co-operation. Liberal democracy was addressed in one paragraph: “Despite the extent to which existence is organized, or even perhaps, because of it, one has a strong sense of the independence of the individual. Whether individual liberties are jeopardized by the power or organized business, organized labor, or organized consumers is a matter for deep and constant concern. No other people in the world today seem so aware of the need to not only protect the ancient rights of man but to reexamine them realistically in the light of modern practice”[7]. It seems that Childs needed to reassure his readers that the fundamentals of liberal democracy were not threatened by Swedish collectivism.

These were overall relatively brief, superficial and propagandistic sources with regards to liberal democracy in Sweden. No doubt, both leading Swedes and an influential American journalist believed that Sweden was a world leader in democracy; and not just by any definition of “democracy”, but indeed also with preserved respect for fundamental tenants of liberal democracy.

However, there was also more authoritative, in-depth, concrete and also critical information about liberal democracy in Sweden, during these two signal years.

A semi-authoritarian political system

The Smaller Democracies by the experienced British politician Sir E. D. Simon, had little to say about the concrete trappings of liberal democracy, but he did have interesting things to say about political culture.

He claimed that there was an absence of graft in the state bureaucracy, but then added that it was “said to occur to some extent in local government”[8].

Conservatives that he had interviewed had told him that there was a widespread fear in industrial circles that developments would result in something like a socialist dictatorship. The social democrats had already made dangerous proposals, such as state monopolies of petrol and coffee, and confiscatory death duties, while at the same time being vague about their final goals for socialisation[9]. This no doubt contradicted what Myrdal had to say about a lack of the very same fears.

Simon also noted the influence of the Swedish bureaucracy. For example, he had been told that forty years ago a junior clerk in the Treasury was much more highly regarded in society than a big business man. Civil servants were also allowed to be members of parliament, and there were at that time a good many of them in the parliament. According to Simon, this was wholly foreign to the British tradition[10]. This was another piece of information that suggested that Myrdal had taken his comparison with Anglo-Saxon values too far.

The most authoritative source from this decade was probably the American political scientist Ben A. Arneson. In his The Democratic Monarchies of Scandinavia there was, for example, an entire chapter about the “Administration of justice”.

According to Arneson, in Sweden there was nothing resembling a bill of rights; and Swedish guarantees for life, liberty and property differed materially from the American due process, in that the only check against potential deprivation by statute was at the ballots[11]. Were Myrdal’s assertions in Survey Graphic about due process in Sweden really correct?

There was more troubling information of this kind. According to Arnesson, “The king (in reality, the ministry) has broad ordinance powers, especially in that field of legislation which deals with the administration of social services”[12].

The attentive reader may have wondered about the combination of ordinance powers in the social services and little formal protection for individual liberty. Did this not suggest that in Sweden the formal status of individual freedom was weak, and especially so in relation to welfare policy?

The by far richest source in English about liberal democracy in Sweden from these two years was Nils Herlitz, one of Sweden’s leading constitutional scholars. He toured the US in 1938 with lectures about the Swedish political system and political culture. They were edited and published separately the year after in the booklet A Modern Democracy on Ancient Foundations.

Among other things, we could learn from Herlitz that “American students may thus, for several reasons, be inclined to think that the constitutional principle is not very important in Sweden”[13]. The Swedes had also been “little affected by that great movement which aimed at defining and securing a sphere of freedom for the individual”[14]; and they “retained some habits and forms originating in a society with class distinctions, a society where the royal court, nobility, and bureaucracy held strong positions in men’s minds”[15]. Concerning the courts, we could learn that “on the whole… it may be said that the general courts do not play nearly the same role as in the Anglo-Saxon countries as safeguards against the encroachments of administration”[16].

Fear of a socialist dictatorship? Broad ordinance powers, especially in the social services? No real constitution? No bill of rights? Not affected by the great movement to secure individual freedom? A pre-modern tradition of state intervention in the economy? The only protection of liberties against deprivation through statute at the ballots? Deference to the administration and to traditional authorities? A powerful bureaucracy? Weak courts?

These more authoritative and in-depth sources hardly suggested an image of liberal democracy, nor, pace Myrdal, shared political values with the US. Instead, they sketched the contours of a semi-authoritarian political system based on an archaic political culture, especially in the areas of economic and social policy.

Did the Swedish model really combine freedom and welfare? Despite fantastic claims about world leadership in democracy, other information about formal trappings and some aspects of political culture suggested something else.

Reassurances about political culture, mentality and practice

However, the more critical observations were not the last word in these sources, because more often than not they were propped up with reassurance about political culture, mentality and practice. Simon was apparently not impressed by the concerns of Swedish conservatives, when he in his grand finale concluded that Sweden had “an exceptionally wise and able government, and has perhaps the best prospects of any country in the world of establishing something approaching a perfect democracy during the next generation”[17]. Arneson, despite his relatively detailed descriptions of a lack of formal trappings of liberal democracy, was nonetheless convinced that it was improbable that deprivation of liberty by statute would occur in Sweden[18]. It was not clear on what he based this. Also Herlitz, after several musings back and forth in the first chapter, landed in the following overall assessment about constitutionalism: “the Swedish government may really … be described as a government of laws, not of men, a constitutional government”[19].

Sweden was perhaps different but it was nevertheless equally or even more liberal democratic than the Anglo-Saxon countries. And, if something suggested the opposite it seems that it was relatively easy to disregard or gloss over.

Gunnar Myrdal and the spurious nature of images of mentality

For anyone consulting these sources for information about liberal democracy in Sweden, it must have been difficult to make heads and tails of the contradictory information.

  1. If the liberal democratic ethos was so strong, why were the formal trappings so weak?
  2. If both the formal trappings were weak and in important respects also political culture, what was the basis for all the praise?
  3. Why were there important contradictions, between authors and even by the same author?
  4. How could one, in any reasonably objective way, verify the many sweeping claims about political culture, mentality and practice?

To illustrate this dilemmas it is worth taking a closer look at a 1941 book in Swedish by Alva and Gunnar Myrdal.

In Kontakt med Amerika they discussed how to maintain and improve Swedish relations with the US. They recommended that contacts with America should be via Swedish individuals, instead of state institutions and official government representatives. The reason for this was that Americans were sceptical about everything that was associated with a government. They especially applauded Herlitz book from 1939 as an example of constructive expert-level exchange. They also suggested that articles by Swedish individuals in “Harper’s, Atlantic or Forum, in Fortune or Survey Graphic” would be “ideal cultural propaganda”[20].

After this they turned to their personal concerns about political developments in Sweden. The parliament had begun to issue so called mandate laws, and these resulted in a surge in government regulations that they saw as a serious threat to the rule of law. In their view, especially property rights were endangered; as was the integrity of the constitution. As the Myrdals explained it, their concern was due to the “manifest circumstance that neither the people in general nor their representatives in parliament seemed to be particularly concerned about the constitution”. In their view, “The general public [in Sweden] has at present no real understanding about these issues”; “The fundamental tenants of the rule of law are much more known and understood by the general public in America. Sweden is more psychologically and ideologically unprepared for the trials of these hard times and more helpless in this regard than any other nation that we know”. There were “too many Swedes that glibly believe that citizen rights are only of importance to journalists and members of parliament”.

These characterizations of Swedish political mentality no doubt directly contradicted what Gunnar Myrdal had written a few years earlier, for consumption by his American audience.

To further stress their point, the Myrdals provided their explanation to why the Swedes had so little interest in the constitution and the rule of law. Supposedly, the Swedish people were more concerned with the practical aspects of life and were therefore very little concerned or aware of the fundamental principles of political life. This again directly contradicted what Gunnar Myrdal had written in Survey Graphic about the relation between arbitrariness, security and higher income.

Finally, the Myrdals criticized that Swedish legal experts had so far refrained from communicating directly with the general public. In their view, this was a reason why there was very little knowledge in Sweden about issues that had to do with constitutionalism and the rule of law[21].

It was as if Gunnar Myrdal in Survey Graphic had taken his true understanding about Swedish political mentality and inverted it.

The point here is not so much Gunnar Myrdal’s glaring self-contradictions – the Swedes shifted from being world leading to laggard, from similar to the US to very different, from democratically strong to weak, and from highly legalistic to highly materialistic -, as the potentially spurious nature of the sweeping reassurances about political culture, mentality and practice that Sweden-reporting was so full of, and that at the same time were crucial for the image of the relation between freedom and welfare in Sweden.

Three ideal types and three concepts of democracy

I have tried to deal with the contradictory and spurious, and not seldom self-contradictory, nature of 20th century English-language images of liberal democracy and freedom and welfare in Sweden by resorting to three ideal types.

  1. The first image suggested that Sweden was only barely modernized and that tradition was strong. The formal trappings of liberal democracy were deficient and mentality was even worse. This was the image of Sweden as a peasant society and a surviving 17th century Lutheran orthodoxy and absolutist state.
  2. The second image could not avoid observing that the formal trappings of liberal democracy in Sweden were very far from the US ideal of a constitutional state, but added reassurances about political culture that suggested that Sweden should be understood as similar to the UK.
  3. The third image could find no real deficiencies of any kind. Existing formal trappings were interpreted as similar to, or even better, than those in the US, as was political culture, mentality and practice. This was the image of Sweden as a paragon of not only democracy but also liberal democracy.

At the same time, we should note that there were two more concepts of democracy at work in these sources. As already mentioned, one was not really about political democracy, but rather about labour relations and corporatist arrangements in general. The other was, as we shall see, a socialistic view of democracy, based on majoritarian rule, “social rights” and limited individual rights, especially property rights. Nonetheless, propounders of both these concepts could not avoid recognizing fundamental tenants of liberal democracy as a superior norm.

Freedom and welfare

As Kazimierz Musial and others have pointed out the issue of democracy became crucial to the image of the Swedish model during the 1930s[22]. It seems that the images of social and economic progress hardly were challenged, but in order for Sweden to be a Utopia or model, this could not have been achieved at the prize of freedom. An example of the importance of this topic was that one of the first mayor joint publications by the Nordic countries in English was the 1954 Freedom and Welfare. The first mayor set-backs for this image, with regards to Sweden, seem to have been the statements by President Eisenhower in 1960 and especially Roland Huntford’s book The New Totalitarians, 1971. If earlier criticism focused on alleged mental health problems, alcoholism, suicide, shyness, boredom, etc, from the 1960s existing images of a successful combination of freedom and welfare were directly challenged[23]. Eisenhower claimed that there was “paternalism” and a record of “socialistic operation”, and Huntford compared Sweden to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984[24].

Despite the apparent centrality of the issue of freedom and welfare for the image of the Swedish model, and especially the image of Swedish political democracy, depictions of liberal democracy in Sweden during the 20th century have not yet been studied systematically. Existing research with a closely related topic is Marklund’s article “Sharing Values and Shaping Values” and Frederick Hale’s article “British Observers of the Swedish Welfare State, 1932-1970”. However, their focus is different. Marklund’s study is broader than mine. He does not have the same limitation with regards to sources and he also contextualizes American debate. However, he has a strong focus on Childs’ concept of democracy, while I focus on the issue of freedom and welfare. Hale is also broader because he uses all types of sources and treats all aspects of the image of Sweden. However, he is also narrower because he is limited to British contributions. I can recommend reading and comparing these articles with mine, and especially the use of references. My conclusions may also have some relevance to Frederick Hale’s article “Brave New World in Sweden?”.

Theory and method

I have operationalized freedom as a combination of the concrete trappings of liberal democracy with political culture, mentality and practice. The reason for the three latter is that – as the commentators that we have already been acquainted with above were fully aware – culture and mentality may influence practice in the direction of more or less freedom than suggested by formal regulations.

According to a standard university text book by Held, the main objective of liberal democracy is to assure the rights and freedoms of the individual against all powerful organized interests in a society[25]. I have operationalized this as a number of concrete trappings of liberal democracy. I have located descriptions of such trappings by looking in the tables of contents and indices for a number of relevant key words (including their derivatives and synonyms). These key words have been “democracy”, “constitutionalism”, “checks and balances”, “judicial review”, “judiciary”, “civil rights”, “administrative appeal”, “tort”, and “accountability”.

There is also a growing academic discussion about the culture of liberal democracy. A good example is Taylor[26]. In his view, such things as individual rights and an independent economic and public sphere are important characteristics of liberal democracy. I have only included information about political culture if it could be found in relation to descriptions of concrete trappings; or if it could be found in more important sources.

I have focused on easily available English-language sources. This includes books and pamphlets but excludes journalistic and academic articles, unless they had been published separately, were listed in official bibliographies, or were of special importance.

I have combined a search in the catalogue of the Royal Library in Stockholm based on the terms “Sverige” and “politik” with sources listed in official bibliographies under the headings “general”, “politics” or “government”[27]. Finally, I have cross-checked the results against references found in the located books and articles. The result can be described as a simulation of what a serious-minded journalistic effort or a preliminary academic literature search could have uncovered about liberal democracy in Sweden, in 1958.

It is worth mentioning that I do not believe that my method can say anything definite about images of Sweden in other countries. This would require a different study altogether. Ultimately, we would have to ask a large number of people directly; or choose a better proxy, such as everyday political debates and journalism in newspapers and radio. It is also difficult to know the relative impact of the selected sources. Maybe Childs’ 1936 book was influential, but how influential was his 1938 book? To answer such questions would require a different study.

An early Swedish contribution

Our first source is an ambitious official Swedish publication from 1930 with the title Sweden today: A survey of its intellectual and material culture. It was large, had glossy paper and many photographs. In it we could find critical comments about the constitution and individual rights. The constitutional expert Georg Andrén lamented, over almost a whole page, that “Probably no Acts of any constitution in the world have been so frequently patched up as our Act of Constitution” [28]. This suggested that Sweden did not take its constitution very seriously. In a separate article, Nils Alexandersson described the dawn of a new era in which individual pursuits had come into conflict with the weal of community. This had led to restrictions in individual freedom, especially with regards to property rights. Apparently, opinions had been sharply divided regarding these developments[29].

The early Anglo-Saxon enthusiasts

In his 1933 article and 1934 pamphlet Marquis W. Childs had surprisingly little to say about liberal democracy. If anything, he suggested that Sweden could take final steps towards a socialist economy[30]. In his 1936 book, Childs could have expanded on the topic of freedom. But, even if we learnt a lot about co-operatives or the balance sheets of state-run businesses, the closest he came to this was a romantic interpretation of Swedish history, according to which “At a remarkably early period the rude forms of democracy began to evolve, as though they sprang from something inherent in the nature of the people”[31]. Likewise, in 1938, as already mentioned above, despite the promising title, his second book limited itself to the quote above about the relation between organizations and individual rights[32].

Two other influential commentators from this period employed much the same techniques as Childs. They were brief and propagandistic. According to Agnes Rothery’s 1934 travel guide Sweden: The land and the people, Sweden’s social structure was “fundamentally democratic” and the government of Sweden was “in actuality as democratic as any modern government can be”, and that was it[33]. The British correspondent George Soloveytchik wrote an article in 1935 with the title “Democracy in Sweden”, in The Contemporary Review. Despite the title, his topics were predominantly social and economic. However, he also reassured us that “freedom and liberty” were “congenial” to the Swedish people and that they had “an instinctive belief in the fundamentals of political democracy”. To be sure, “Idealism, humanity and freedom are very real sentiments with them”; and it flared up “when something happens to wound their sense of fair play, or decency, or humanitarian spirit”[34]. These were strong claims to the effect that the Swedes were in the possession of the highest Anglo-Saxon and liberal democratic virtues.

Walter Sandelius

An odd man out in the early 1930s was Walter Sandelius, with an article in 1934 in the Political Science Quarterly. Sandelius explored the risk that Sweden could chose dictatorship instead of parliamentary democracy, an important concern during the 1930s. According to Sandelius, there was separation of powers in Sweden, but it was only two-fold, between the king and the parliament. In other words, the courts were not included. On the other hand, the courts were described as independent. This independence had evolved since 1809 and was achieved fully in 1909. Furthermore, the Swedish government had sole authority in a special “quasi-legislative” field called “economic and administrative legislation”. We recognize this from Arneson, as above, who had noted the government’s broad ordinance powers, especially in the social services[35].

The influence from Childs

The co-operativist E R Bowen chose to define democracy in the same way as Childs, in his 1936 pamphlet Sweden: Land of economic democracy. However, like Childs, he also reassured his readers that Swedish development had occurred “without denying or abridging the constitutional guarantees of freedom, the foundation stone of their whole life and culture”[36]. This description sounded more adequate for the US than for Sweden, given what we could learn about the Swedish constitution from Andrén and Sandelius. The same year Hubert C. Herring noted two archaic features of Swedish democracy, a king and a state church that most were born into[37]. Nonetheless, he was inclined to describe Sweden as the promised land of democracy, due to the organization of its economy and labour market, but also because “She [Sweden] says in effect, you can plan socially without abdicating democracy” [38].

The Fabian society

As we have already seen, towards the end of the 1930s there were more informative and serious-minded contributions. The British Fabian society produced an ambitious anthology in 1938 with the title Democratic Sweden. The first two articles were indeed dedicated to the constitution and the administrative system, respectively, even if the rest was about social and economic issues. Even if this source was less propagandistic, its strategy was nonetheless to gloss over the issues.

H. R. G. Greaves and C. P. Mayhew claimed that there was separation of powers but they did not, like Sandelius, explain that it did not include the courts. They further noted that the constitution had been changed often, but added that this had always been in the “same democratic direction”[39]. What they meant by this was not clear.

The most important novelty in Democratic Sweden was more detailed information about the topic of administrative appeal. According to J. E. MacColl, municipal decisions could be appealed to the county government and then to the administrative court. Under the subtitle “Administrative courts” he wrote, “Sweden is famous as one of the most democratic of countries, and a major test of democracy is the remedying of grievances. Yet at first sight there does not appear any high degree of public accountability in the Swedish system”[40]. He then, somewhat contradictory, proceeded to claim that the “system of administrative courts” did provide “a wide and easily operated means of redress to every citizen”. This was the Swedish institution of besvär. He further claimed that the courts could try the legality of an administrative decision, but only the cabinet could try policy.

The problem with these descriptions was that they glossed over important distinctions between appeal within the executive, appeal to administrative tribunals and appeal to independent courts; as well as due process and limitations in the right of appeal[41].

Finally, under the subtitle “The Judicial system”, we could learn that judges were not appointed on political grounds, but they could be dismissed by parliament every four years, but this had only formal importance.

Ben A. Arneson

Arneson did not only combine critical descriptions of formal trappings with sweeping reassurances about mentality and practice, he also wavered a bit and was factually incorrect on important issues. For example, even if there was no bill of rights and the only real protection was at the ballots, he claimed that there were “in the various parts of the fundamental law many definite guarantees of individual freedom”. In reality, he only mentioned two, and one was incorrect. Freedom of press was correct, but in Sweden at that time there was not and would not be for another decade “complete freedom of worship” (see further below!). His description of administrative appeal was also problematic, if not directly partial. Arneson claimed that jurisdiction over cases in administrative law had been transferred to a supreme administrative court in 1909 and that “every field of civil and ecclesiastical administration” could bring cases to this court, within statutes. Despite some deficiencies in the make-up of this court, Arneson’s view was also that it was “nevertheless correct to refer to this agency as a court and its members as judges” [42]. This was Arneson’s take on the issue of administrative appeal in Sweden, and it was problematic in the same way as that of the Fabian society.

Nils Herlitz and Roland Huntford

Nils Herlitz’ Sweden: a modern democracy on ancient traditions, 1939, was a refreshing contrast because Herlitz turned the tables on the choice of topics. He preferred to speak about how government worked. He had noted that this had often been left out in accounts about Sweden and that these aspects of Swedish society were “very little understood in foreign countries”[43]. He even pointed out that he did not want to contribute to the idea that Sweden was a democratic Utopia. However, this did not necessarily mean that he intended to be critical. He wanted to describe the “features that give the institutions of my country their spirit, their proper character” and was therefore going to lay more stress “on the rationality of the institutions than on criticism and discussion”[44].

There was so much information in this book that I have to be selective. Also, Herlitz’ meandering and therefore often self-contradictory style makes it difficult to summarize him.

Like Arneson, Herlitz claimed that civil rights in Sweden depended entirely on the will of the parliament. He also confirmed Arneson and Sandelius when he mentioned that the government could legislate on matters that infringed on civil rights, not just parliament. Apparently, the latter had happened during the First World War, something that Arneson did not mention[45]. On the other hand, Herlitz assured his readers that parliament had a close control over this type of legislation, and that the area available for such legislation had shrunk to “nearly nothing”[46]. Similar to Gunnar Myrdal, his understanding of the spirit of Swedish regulation of the economy was that it was a return to a Swedish tradition that existed before the 19th century[47]. We could also find confirmation of Simon, when Herlitz claimed that “to many people” the social democratic government “looks like the beginning of dictatorship”[48]. Part of this fear was, according to Herlitz, that many people believed that the social democrats would remain in power for a very long time[49]. One area of particular concern because of the new and powerful social democratic government was the power of appointment. There had been suggestions that it already had been abused by the social democrats and that more could follow[50]. This was not the image projected by Gunnar Myrdal and the Fabian society, on the same topic.

The Swedish attitude to individual rights was perhaps difficult to understand, according to Herlitz. Somehow, they were both protected and not protected in Sweden. He used property rights to illustrate this further. There was no formal protection of property rights and never had been, yet such rights had always been recognized and respected. However, there was the issue of regulation of property: “Swedish law has developed many restrictions of this sort that would perhaps in the United States be regarded as contradictions to the proprietor’s rights /…/ The town planning statute, the building regulations, and the health regulations form a considerable check on the chances of proprietors, in the rural districts as well as in the cities, to exploit their real estate /…/ Similar observations may be made as to the regulation of industry”. To this he added that “Banking and insurance are very closely controlled”; “agricultural production” had “in many forms been put under public control”; and that “parental authority” was restricted. He also surprisingly mentioned that the free Swedish peasant was never really that free. Community rules and government needs had always implied restrictions on property rights[51].

When discussing freedom of speech, Herlitz began by noting Sweden’s extreme Lutheran history: historically, “It was felt, with something of the same intensity as in modern dictatorships, that a national unity requires a basis of common moral and human ideals”. Comparative studies had also showed that in no country was religious unity as strict as in Sweden[52]. In other words, Sweden had a strong historical tradition of religiously based conformity. Somewhat surprisingly, the formal trappings of freedom of speech had nonetheless been strong in Sweden, especially the freedom of the press. According to Herlitz, the public sphere was also different in Sweden compared to the US: “The Swedish people are not, I believe, organized to such an extent as Americans, or at any rate they are not organized in such a way as to affect government”[53]. This was an interesting example of the potentially spurious relation between formal regulations and political culture, because in this case the relation was inverted. Formal regulations were described as strong, while political culture was described as weak.

Given Taylor’s view of the culture of liberal democracy, it would seem that the Swedes had missed out on all the mayor cultural developments of western modernity. Neither the economic nor the public spheres were particularly independent, and Sweden had missed out on the historical development of individual rights. If modernity was defined in terms of culture, then the frequent characterizations of Sweden as modern and progressive were not compatible with Herlitz’ description of Swedish political culture.

Regarding Childs’ definition of democracy as labour relations, Herlitz’ view was that the powerful Swedish organizations had many means of coercion. Apparently, this had been discussed much in the early 1930s, and attempts had been made at legislation, but it came to nothing. The result was that now “The organizations are, so to say, accepted, along with their methods of opposition and coercion”[54]. This suggested that Childs was right about the debate but not right about the results.

The next time that we encounter Herlitz is at the end of the 1950s, with the topics administrative appeal, accountability and tort. It is therefore worthwhile to carefully note what he had to say about these topics in 1939. The besvär process was written, not oral; something he claimed was going to be reformed. As a rule, it was also not possible for private citizens to sue state officers, or even the state. On the other hand, he claimed that court-like tribunals could process almost all appeals, that there could be indemnities for abuse of administrative power, and that there was a very strict sense of legality in the handling of administrative appeals[55]. If we compare this with what he had to say about the same topics in an academic article in 1959, this was misleading in a way that suggests that Herlitz partly sugar coted his description of administrative appeal in Sweden[56]. However, somewhat shockingly and contradictory, he also suggested that the main purpose of the Swedish system of administrative appeal was internal rather than external control of the bureaucracy[57].

This should give some idea of the style and contents of Herlitz’ contribution, even if I have been selective. To further illustrate his meandering style, we can quote him again on the issue of constitutionality. Similar to Childs, he claimed that “The constitutionality of various acts of government is a constant topic of public discussion”. However, he also claimed that “Political life and the development of society are allowed to proceed without too much regard for principles once embodied in the constitution”[58]. If so, why was constitutionality a constant topic of public discussion? One consequence of this, in terms of the three suggested ideal types, was that Herlitz probably could be used to muster arguments for all three images, even if the “British system” and “17th century absolutism” images dominated.

If nothing else, one conclusion that could be drawn from reading Herlitz in 1939 was that the Swedish political system was both idiosyncratic and difficult to characterize in a comparative perspective.

The most important aspect of Herlitz’ lectures was that he presented almost the full panoply of critical issues that would appear thirty years later in Roland Huntford’s The New Totalitarians, 1971; including similar interpretations of history, culture and mentality. There were of course also differences, but there is no doubt that the contours of the political system that Huntford described in 1971 had already been provided by Herlitz in 1939.

A point of special interest was that both Gunnar Myrdal and Nils Herlitz suggested that the roots of the Swedish model could be found in Swedish tradition, rather than some loosely defined modernity.

Lean pickings during the 1940s

There were lean pickings during the 1940s. If anything, the few sources from this decade confirmed the continued influence from Childs and the co-existence of extreme propaganda with more sceptical and critical images.

In the 1942 publication Sweden: A wartime survey, from the Swedish press bureau of the Royal ministry for foreign affairs, there was a brief and propagandistic article about “The Swedish constitution”[59]. It was written in the historical and national-romantic style that we recognize from Childs in 1936 and the Crown Prince in 1938.

The only other source of some consequence during the war was the disaffected foreign correspondent Joachim Joesten, who returned to Sweden in 1943 to assess Sweden’s future loyalties in the Great conflict, in the book Stalwart Sweden. Among other things he had experienced that “By contrast [to larger countries], the Swedish and Danish press have a habit of hitting, not the writings, but the writer, and frequently the blows are delivered below the belt”. He saw a connection between these attacks and the utopian myth. In his experience, the Danish and the Swedish did not like criticisms of their “great little countries”, but if you “Call them The Great Utopia, The Perfect Model Country, The Golden Middle Way, and what not, and they will make a great writer out of you”[60].

This was an early indication that the myth created by Childs and others had become serious political capital, to the detriment of its critics.

Unabashed propagandists

An example of a “great writer”, in Joesten’s vocabulary, was probably Hudson Strode in the 1949 book Sweden: A model for the world. Strode is interesting because he followed in the footsteps of Childs, but took both the praise of Swedish mentality and the contradictions on this topic to a new extreme.

According to Strode, the Swedes had a high respect for the dignity of individuals, would not bear to see injustice, would fight tenaciously for a principle, meted out the same justice to the rich and the powerful, were “individualistic” and had such a “goodly regard for private enterprise”, had courage aplenty and would risk their life to save both men and beasts, had dependable and incorruptible law courts, had not striven to pull down the upper classes, had freedom based on law, and were kind to not just the mentally sick but also to malefactors and asocial beings that had run afoul of the law[61]. It is probably difficult to find a more comprehensive list of the highest American ideals for civic virtues.

However, at the end Strode also provided some critical descriptions of Swedish mentality. He claimed that the Swedish were “bludgeoned with discipline from birth” and were “the most thoroughly self-disciplined people on the globe”. For better or for worse, the Swedes also could not “bear not to conform” because of a fear of criticism and because they cared “tremendously what their fellows think of them”[62]. It was not clear how this fear of not conforming and self-discipline could be squared with individualism and the list of American civic virtues.

Another unabashed propagandist from this decade was David Hinshaw, in the book Sweden: Champion of peace, 1949. In a muddled comparison of constitutional traditions, Hinshaw claimed that there was a basic soundness in the Swedish constitution. According to Hinshaw, it had proved elastic enough to meet the needs of Sweden in a fast-changing world: “In that sense it is kin to the constitution of the United States, which has similarly proved its ingenious combination of rigidity and elasticity”. He even claimed that checks and balances in the Swedish constitution were more effective than those in America, and that “The constitution also guaranteed to all citizens security of life and property, liberty of conscience”. Exactly how this squared with the observation that “Sweden’s Supreme Court has no authority to interpret the constitution” and “Sweden’s courts are completely insulated from political influence” was not clear[63]. Given that both Arneson’s and Herlitz’ publications must have been available to Hinshaw, this can best be described as a both unabashed and muddled attempt at propaganda. This said, we should once again note the importance given to Anglo-Saxon and especially US political ideals.

A sceptical voice

A more sceptical assessment could be found in Frederic C. Nano’s The Land and the People of Sweden, from 1949. This was an illustrated traveller’s guide and general description of Sweden, with the explicit intent to learn from Sweden and with freedom and welfare as its main topic. Nano noted archaic features in the Swedish political system, but compared them favourably with the UK. At the same time, he was sceptical about the social democrats and their attitude to individual liberties. In his view, “The only safe conclusion one may draw is that it is too soon to pass judgement on the Swedish experiment”[64].

Gunnar Heckscher

For the 1940s, this leaves us with a reprint of an article from Social Research, 1948, by the professor of political science and later Swedish conservative party leader Gunnar Heckscher. Its main topic was the role of large organizations in Swedish democracy. It would have been interesting if Heckscher had elaborated on the way that these organizations limited freedom, the topic that was suggested by Herlitz, but there was no such information. There was really only one piece of information that was directly about liberal democracy. Heckscher mentioned that it was not possible to leave the state church entirely, but new legislation was under consideration[65]. Apparently there was not full freedom of religion in Sweden, as claimed by Arneson ten years earlier.

Introduction to Sweden

The 1950s, until 1959, saw the publication of two ambitious joint Nordic volumes. Despite promising titles such as “freedom and welfare” and “Scandiavian democracy” they contained little concrete information about liberal democracy in Sweden. At the same time, the foreign interest seems to have almost dried out, with one notable exception.

In the 1950 version of Introduction to Sweden from the Swedish institute there was an article by Ingvar Andersson about “The legal system”. Andersson introduced the idea that §16 in the Swedish 1809 constitution was a Swedish Magna Charta. This was another example of the national-romantic style of interpretation.

Freedom and welfare

The 1953 joint Nordic Welfare and freedom was a project that was initiated already in 1947, and was sponsored by the ministries of social affairs. As could be expected by now, it was mostly about socio-economic issues, and the real discussion about freedom and welfare was relegated to a few pages in the closing chapter. This volume also had a distinct tone of slick diplomacy combined with a facetious advocacy of a socialist view of democracy and individual liberties. There was probably a connection here to the 1948 UN declaration of human rights, and the so called “social rights”. For example, we find an initial declaration that described the Nordic countries as “free democracies dedicated to the basic humanitarian rights”. What exactly was a “basic humanitarian right”? This phrasing suggested a more social and limited view of rights than the one found in the liberal democratic tradition.

On the other hand, the authors also admitted that “no doubt that subsequent decades have involved a steady and by now quite considerable restriction of individual freedom”, and “Some might feel inclined to call this a return to the paternalistic days of the absolute monarchy” [66]. Somewhat surprisingly, their only real objection to the latter characterization was that the difference was that now the people ruled. This amounted to a socialistic definition of democracy where there are few or any impediments to majority rule. It could also be read as an admission of sorts that the basis of the Nordic political systems was not modernity, but rather a heritage from 17th century absolutism.

The authors continued this line of argument based on a social view of rights by claiming that “Increased welfare may have involved numerous infringements upon individual freedom as conceived by Liberalism. But freedom from want, and from the fear of want, are also essential freedoms”[67]. It seems that the freedom that had been most restricted was property rights.

A brief passage did discuss something more concrete: the appeal of administrative decisions to independent courts, in relation to some social services. Apparently, Denmark had recently strengthened the recourse to the courts, something that in this country was a “traditional and basic principle”. It was then vaguely suggested that there were similar possibilities also in Sweden and Finland through administrative courts[68].

In the case of Sweden, this most likely was a conscious attempt to obfuscate if we compare with what Herlitz and Ragnemalm later wrote about these topics (see above!).

What this volume primarily introduced was a more pure socialistic definition of democracy than the one launched by Childs in the 1930s. It also showed that the authorities were aware of comparisons with 17th century absolutism. However, we can also note that despite the leftist leanings some aspects of liberal democracy remained a superior norm, for example administrative appeal to independent courts.

The Danish developments were probably a result of the heated debates about administrative appeal during the first half of the 20th century in several western countries. This formal trapping of liberal democracy was at that time viewed as crucial for the relation between welfare and freedom. A classical description of this can be found in Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, 1960. Apparently, the debate both peaked and was then settled in most countries in favour of administrative appeal to independent courts during the 1950s[69].

Nils Andrén

The mid 1950s saw the introduction of Nils Andrén, a new Swedish writer on Swedish government, who would return with several publications about the same topic. His first was The Government of Sweden, 1955. It was published by the Swedish Institute. This rather brief pamphlet did mention the risk of arbitrary exercise of power in the Swedish administration. However, it was suggested that this risk could be eliminated because the possibility of prosecution in cases of malfeasance, the parliamentary ombudsman, public access to documents, and because of a supposed “spirit of humanity that has come to public administration in the wake of the social welfare program of recent years”[70].

Nils Andrén provided an early example of a standard official Swedish response to questions about the protection of individual rights. It consisted of a description of a handful of formal trappings that looked good to a foreign observer, while not mentioning those that did not look so good. Three of the most often mentioned were then the ombudsmen, freedom of print and access to public documents.

Dankwart Rustow

Given the later importance of Dankwart Rustow’s The Politics of Compromise from 1955, it is perhaps surprising to find that it contained very little detailed information. Instead, he was mostly brief and sweeping in his claims. Regarding the rule of law, he claimed that the publicity of administrative decisions and the citizen’s right to appeal them were securely and historically established, and that there was a meticulous regard for law and legal procedure. At the same time, Rustow noted that the more mechanical checks and balances had disappeared. Few formal checks had remained after the separation of powers had been overcome. By this he meant that the advent of parliamentarism had reduced the powers of the king and that parliament was more or less sovereign. This suggested that Sandelius had overstated the separation of powers in Sweden. Rustow also noted that the judiciary could not invalidate statutes as contrary to the constitution, but that this was partly compensated by judicial preview. At the same time, Rustow had some strange opinions about checks and balances, for example that “Formal checks and balances invariably open many avenues for obstruction. While concentration of power does not itself ensure a sense of responsibility, division of power is apt to thwart it” [71]. In this revision of US ideals in order to elevate the Swedish political system Rustow reminded of Hinshaw.

However, Rustow did have something surprising to say about political culture. He had concluded that the intimacy of an earlier period elite, bound together by ties of personal friendship and family, had carried over to the new elite. There were oligarchic rule traditions of intimacy, good manners and mutual respect. He also claimed that hierarchical patterns of deference to rank and social position in Swedish society were further evidence of the strong grip of custom and tradition. In the same vein, he concluded his book with the claim that the recent “progressiveness of social reform in Sweden should not obscure the conservatism of her politics”[72].

This is of special interest because Rustow here probably provided a competing explanation to Swedish political attitudes, compared with Childs. The oligarchic attitudes that Rustow described may have been what Childs preferred to interpret as reason, civility, modesty, etc. If so, this was another reminder of the potentially spurious nature of interpretations of political culture and mentality.

All in all, it is astonishing that this important academic contribution was so biased and contained so little concrete information about liberal democracy. It is also strange that despite the many indications of an archaic political culture, in this and other authoritative sources, such as Gunnar Myrdal and Herlitz, the image of Sweden as progressive and modern was not more challenged.

Another joint Nordic volume

The 1958 Scandinavian democracy – development of democratic thought and institutions in Denmark, Norway and Sweden was a collaboration project between the Swedish institute and its counter-parts in Norway and Denmark. Unfortunately, its contents were mainly about the historic development of Nordic democracies. There was very little about current Swedish conditions. In this sense, it was similar to the 1953 Welfare and freedom, with a promising title that did not deliver.

The chapter about “Justice, security and government” addressed the issue that increased state-intervention threatened individual rights. Could this development lead to democracy being replaced by bureaucracy or even totalitarianism? – was the explicit question. This seemed relevant. However, there was no Swedish contribution to this chapter, even if the Norwegian Kristen Andersen spoke for Sweden when he claimed that the other legal states of Scandinavia, like Norway, placed a great emphasis on the independence of judges.

In a contribution with the topic “Some general observations on Scandinavian democracy” by the Swede Jörgen Westerståhl, we learned that these countries had achieved social security without relinquishing democratic liberties. Civil rights and security under law were supposedly rooted in ancient traditions. This was not really the image that Herlitz had conveyed. The administration was also competent and objective. On the other hand, Scandinavian democracy had moved a long way from the individualistic ideals put forward with such enthusiasm by the early champions of popular government. It would have been interesting if this movement had been described in more detail, but it was not.

What was striking about this volume was that, compared to the other countries, there was surprisingly little material about contemporary Sweden. Together with Freedom and Welfare this suggested that the official Swedish strategy in joint Nordic volumes from the 1950s was to be brief, vague and to piggy-back on generally positive descriptions of the other Nordic countries; while obfuscating that which may have separated Sweden from these countries.

Conclusion

The serious-minded journalist or scholar who in 1958 wanted to learn more about the status of liberal democracy in Sweden must have been disappointed, amazed and confused.

He or she must have been disappointed at the dearth of sources; and the relatively brief, superficial and marginal treatment of the topic of freedom and welfare, despite its centrality to the image of the Swedish model and the many promising titles of books and articles.

He or she must have been amazed that there was so much unabashed propaganda, despite the availability of more critical information, especially in the more authoritative sources from the late 1930s.

He or she must have felt a certain sense of unease and confusion because of the many contradictory images that in the end suggested three quite different images. The frequent sweeping claims about political culture, mentality and practice were then especially problematic. How could he or she determine what was true or false in these images?

Besides the three ideal types, I have made four other observations of some importance.

Administrative appeal was a topic that was central to the issue of freedom and welfare. I have found overly positive and misleading information about this topic in almost all sources.

I have made an archival find of sorts. A book in Swedish by Alva and Gunnar Myrdal in 1941 reveals Gunnar Myrdal’s bad faith and unabashed propagandism when communicating about Sweden to an American audience in 1938. At the same time, this clearly illustrated the potentially spurious nature of sweeping characterizations of political culture, mentality and practice.

I have noted that already in 1939, the Swedish constitutional expert Nils Herlitz had provided almost the full panoply of critical topics and interpretations found thirty years later in Roland Huntford’s The New Totalitarians.

From the point of view of the culture of western modernity, as understood by Taylor, Herlitz analysis suggested that Sweden failed on all three mayor accounts. This suggested something very different than the dominant utopian myth about modernity and progressiveness. In this, Herlitz was not alone. There was similar information provided by Gunnar Myrdal and Dankwart Rustow.

An important implication of this for Swedish historiography is that what Mary Hilson has described as a recent “historical turn” in the understanding of the Swedish model does not seem to be something new, but rather something that has been forgotten or abandoned during a period, in favour of a myth of radical modernization[73].

Bibliography

Afzelius, Nils. Books in English on Sweden: A bibliographical list, 3 ed. Stockholm: The Swedish institute, 1951.

Alexandersson, Nils. “Law and justice”. In: Sweden of today: A survey of its intellectual and material culture, Blomsted, Magnus and Böök, Fredrik (ed.). Stockholm: Hasse W. Tullbergs förlag, 1930, 53-59.

American-Scandinavian Foundation. A list of five hundred books by Scandinavians and about Scandinavia. New York, 1938.

Andersson, Ingvar. Introduction to Sweden. Stockholm: The Swedish Institute, 1950.

Andrén, Georg. “The Constitution”. In: Sweden of today: A survey of its intellectual and material culture, Blomsted, Magnus and Böök, Fredrik (ed.). Stockholm: Hasse W. Tullbergs förlag, 1930, 39-52.

Bowen, E R. Sweden: Land of economic democracy. New York: The Cooperative League, 1935.

Childs, Marquis W.. Sweden: Where capitalism is controlled. The John Day Pamphlets, no. 39. New York: The John Day Company, 1934.

Childs, Marquis W.. Sweden: The middle way. New Haven: Yale University press, 1936.

Gledhill, John. Power and its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics, 2 ed.. London, Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 2000 [1994].

Glover, Nikolas. “Imaging Community: Sweden in cultural propaganda then and now”. Scandinavian Journal of History, volume 34, number 3, 1999, 246-263.

Greaves, H. R. G. and Mayhew, C. P. “Constitution”. In: Democratic Sweden, Cole, Margaret and Smith, Charles (ed.). London: George Routledge & Sons, 1938, 11-26.

H. R. H. Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden. A Short Survey of Economic Conditions and Social Welfare Arrangements in Sweden: As seen by a Swede. Stockholm: Sverige-Amerika Stiftelsen, 1938.

Hale, Frederick. “Brave New World in Sweden? Roland Huntford’s The New Totalitarians”. Scandinavian Studies, volume 78, no 2, 2006, 167-190.

Hale, Frederick. “British Observers of the Swedish Welfare State, 1932-1970”. Scandinavian Studies, volume 81, No. 4, 2009, 501-528.

Hayek, F. A.. The Constitution of Liberty. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960.

Heckscher, Gunnar. “Pluralist Democracy: The Swedish Experience”. Social Research, vol 15, No 4, dec. 1948.

Hedin, Naboth. Guide to Information About Sweden. New York: The American Swedish News Exchange, 1947.

Held, David. Models of Democracy. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Herliz, Nils. Sweden: A Modern Democracy on Ancient Foundations. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1939.

Herlitz, Nils. Swedish Administrative Law: Some characteristic features. Reprint from Scandinavian Studies in Law. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1959.

Herring, Hubert C.. Sweden: A School in Democracy. New York: Council for social action, 1939.

Hilson, Mary. “A Consensual Democracy? The Historical Roots of the Swedish Model”. In: Political Outsiders in Swedish History, 1848-1932. Edgren, Lars and Olofsson, Magnus (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009, 133-155.

Hinshaw, David. Sweden: Champion of peace. New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1949.

Håstad, Elis. “The Swedish constitution”. In: Sweden: A wartime survey. Stockholm: The press bureau of the royal ministry for foreign affairs, 1942, 22-35.

Huntford, Roland. The New Totalitarians. London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1971.

Joesten, Joachim. Stalwart Sweden. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., 1943.

Lauwerys, J.A.. Scandinavian democracy: development of democratic thought and institutions in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Copenhagen, 1958.

MacColl. J. E. “The Administrative system”. In: Democratic Sweden, Cole, Margaret and Smith, Charles (ed.). London: George Routledge & Sons, 1938, 27-42.

Marklund, Carl. “The Social Laboratory, the Middle Way and the Swedish Model. Three Frames for the Images of Sweden”. Scandinavian Journal of History, volume 34, nr 3, 2009, 264-285.

Marklund, Carl. “Sharing Values and Shaping Values. Sweden, “Nordic democracy” and the American Crisis”. In: Rhetorics of Nordic Democracy, Kurunäki, Jussi and Strang, Johan (ed.). Studia Fennica Historica 17. Helsinki: Finish Literature Society, 2010, 114-140.

Musial, Kazimierz. Roots of the Scandinavian Model: Images of Progress in the Era of Modernisation. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2002 [2000].

Myrdal, Gunnar. Maintaining Democracy in Sweden: Two articles by Gunnar Myrdal. I. With dictators as neighbors. II. The defenses of democracy. Reprinted from Survey Graphic. New York City: Albert Bonnier Publishing House, 1939.

Myrdal, Alva och Myrdal, Gunnar. Kontakt med Amerika. Stockholm: Bonniers, 1941.

Nano, Frederic C.. The land and people of Sweden. Philadelphia: Lippincott, [1949].

Nilsson, George R. (ed.). Freedom and Welfare. Social Patterns in The Northern Countries in Europe. Sponsored by the ministries of social affairs of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, 1953.

Ohlsson, Per T. Gudarnas ö: om det extremt svenska. Stockholm: Bromberg, 1993.

Ragnemalm, Hans. Administrative Appeal and Extraordinary Remedies in Sweden. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1976.

Rothery, Agnes. Sweden: the land and the people. New York: The Viking press, 1934.

Rustow, Dankwart A. The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955.

Sandelius, Walter. “Dictatorship and irresponsible parliamentarism – a study in the government of Sweden”. Political Science Quarterly, vol. XLIX, No. 3, September, 1934. New York: Academy of Political Science, 1934.

Sandler, Åke and Ekman, Ernst. Government, politics, and law in the Scandinavian countries: A selective critical biography. University of Minnesota, 1954.

Soloveytchik, George. “Democracy in Sweden”. In: The Contemporary Review, volume CXL VII, January-June 1935. London: The contemporary review company limited, 1935.

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The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, volume 197, no. 1, May, 1938.


[1] Crown Prince of Sweden, A Short Survey, 7.

[2] Two other important events were a 1938 special issue of the The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and a world exhibition in New York. Cf. Ohlsson, Gudarnas ö, 153.

[3] Myrdal, Maintaining Democracy, 4.

[4] Myrdal, Ibid., 8.

[5] Myrdal, Ibid., 11, 12.

[6] Myrdal, Ibid., 13.

[7] Childs, This is Democracy, 34.

[8] Simon, Smaller Democracies, 69.

[9] Simon, Ibid., 75-77.

[10] Simon, Ibid., 69-71.

[11] Arneson, Democratic Monarchies, 140.

[12] Arneson, Ibid., 86.

[13] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, 9.

[14] Herlitz, Ibid., 7.

[15] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, 89.

[16] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, 120.

[17] Simon, Smaller Democracies, 191.

[18] Arneson, Ibid., 137-138.

[19] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, 9.

[20] Myrdal, Kontakt med Amerika, 330. My translations.

[21] Myrdal, Ibid., 346-355.

[22] Musial, Roots of the Scandinavian Model, 111-119.

[23] Cf. Glover, Imaging Community, 251-252, about the early criticisms.

[24] See Marklund, Social laboratory, 276, about Eisenhower.

[25] Held, Models of Democracy.

[26] Taylor, Social Imaginaries. Cf. also Gledhill, Power and its disguises!

[27] See references in the bibliography!

[28] Andrén, ”The Constitution”, 39.

[29] Alexandersson, “Law and justice”, 56.

[30] Childs, Capitalism Controlled, 31-32.

[31] Childs, Middle Way, xii.

[32] At the same time, Childs was facetious. What did he mean by “reexamine” ancient liberties “in the light of modern practice”? Was this an admission that such liberties were nonetheless being curtailed?

[33] Rothery, The land and the people, 117 and 147.

[34] Soloveytchik, “Democracy in Sweden”, 47-48 and 53.

[35] Sandelius, “Irresponsible parliamentarism”, 358-359.

[36] Bowen, Economic Democracy, 22.

[37] Herring, School in Democracy, 7-8.

[38] Herring, ibid., 9 and 32.

[39] Greaves and Mayhem, ”Constitution”, 11.

[40] MacColl, “The Administrative system”, 32-34.

[41] Cf. Herlitz, Swedish administrative Law; and Ragnemalm, Administrative Appeal.

[42] Arneson, Democratic Monarchies, 138-141.

[43] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, ix.

[44] Herlitz, Ibid., xi.

[45] Herlitz, Ibid., 7-8 and 96.

[46] Herlitz, Ibid., 50 and 97.

[47] Herlitz, Ibid., 99-100.

[48] Herlitz, Ibid., 54.

[49] Herlitz, Ibid., 49.

[50] Herlitz, Ibid., 58-60.

[51] Herlitz, Ibid., 98-101.

[52] Herlitz, Ibid., 102.

[53] Herlitz, Ibid., 93.

[54] Herlitz, Ibid., 107.

[55] Herlitz, Ibid., 118-124.

[56] Herlitz, Swedish Administrative law.

[57] Herlitz, Modern Democracy, 127.

[58] Herlitz, Ibid., 8-9.

[59] Håstad, ”The Swedish Constitution”.

[60] Joesten, Stalwart Sweden, 123.

[61] Strode, A Model for the World, xix, xxii, 224, 233, 249, 250.

[62] Strode, Ibid., 254-256 and 357.

[63] Hinshaw, Champion of Peace, 42 and 45.

[64] Nano, Land and People, 111.

[65] Heckscher, Pluralist Democracy, 437.

[66] Nilsson, Freedom and Welfare, II and 518-519.

[67] Nilsson, Ibid., 520-521.

[68] Nilsson, Ibid., 454.

[69] Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, 245-249.

[70] Andrén, Government of Sweden, 100, 119.

[71] Rustow, Politic of Compromise, 174, 180, 195-196.

[72] Rustow, Ibid., 236-237.

[73] Hilson, ”A Consensual Democracy”.

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