En vacker dag ska jag ta itu med det här gamla arbetspappret om Sveriges glömda revolution. Tills vidare nöjer jag mig med att droppa några fynd och spekulationer.
Man hittar den överallt: Myten om att Sveriges demokratisering gick långsamt, började tidigt, skedde genom stegvisa reformer och föll tillbaka på för-demokratiska traditioner i medeltiden. (Enda undantaget jag funnit: Dankwart Rustows bortglömda motsatta argument.)
Myten har också tidigt gått på export: Både svenskar och utländska Sverigeforskare har sett den svenska reformistiska, gradvisa demokratitransitionen som en modell för andra stater att lära av (vilket i sig är något motsägelsefullt: Andra länder kan ju knappast i efterhand skaffa sig medeltida ting och självägande bönder).
I pappret nämner jag litteraturer som faller tillbaka på samhällsvetarna Stein Rokkan och Barrington Moore för cirka 40 år sedan, och flera senare verk som åberopar den litteraturen.
Men det finns mer än så att ta av. Här ett axplock:
- Terry Congleton i Improving democracy through constitutional reform: Some Swedish lessons (Kluwer, 2003):
““The Swedish constitutional tradition of rule of law and parliamentary government is one of the oldest and most neglected in the world. The Swedish government has long had an explicit constitutional basis, beginning with a letter of privilege promulgated in 1319, which bound the crown to govern by rule of law, assured due process, and allowed new taxes to be imposed only after consultation with the Royal Council (Weibull 1993, p. 22). Indeed, it can be argued that the basic king and council template formalized in 1319 continues to the present day, although the balance of power between the king and parliament has changed dramatically through time, especially during the past three centuries.
Swedish constitutional history is striking not only for its length, but also for its many systematic revisions of voting rules, its fundamental reorganization of parliament, and its use of constitutional procedures to adopt those reforms. The past two centuries of Swedish political history has witnessed the Swedish state lawfully transform itself from a king-dominated government with a four-chamber parliament to a parliamentary system of governance in which the king plays only a minor role in policy formation. Most of these changes took place in three great episodes of constitutional reform each separated by approximately 50 years. Swedish history, thus, provides a series of natural experiments in which both the political cause and effect of constitutional reforms can be analyzed. In much of the rest of Europe, wars and revolutions rather than amendment determined the course of constitutional development. The peaceful ‘revolution’ in Swedish political procedures is nearly unique in scope and legal foundation.”
- Byron J Nordstrom, The history of Sweden (Greenwood Press, 2002):
“This system [Sweden’s constitution] is the result of historical developments that reach far back in the nation’s history. The monarchy and fundamental assurances of people’s rights and rule by law have medieval roots. The parliament traces its beginnings tot he fifteenth century, while local and provincial assemblies are far older. Many documents make up the sources of Sweden’s constitutional history, including accession oaths from medieval and early modern times and more extensive ‘forms of government’ such as those from 1634, the 1720s, 1772, and 1809. Democracy came to Sweden slowly and oftentimes quite grudgingly. Many milestones mark this process: 1809, because in that year an unpopular king was deposed and a new constitution written; 1865, when the number of houses in the parliament was reduced from four to two and election rather than social status became the primary means of determining members; 1909, when all men finally received the vote; and 1918, when this right was extended to women. Additional reforms in electoral laws made the system much more democratic in the 1920s and 1930s.” (6f)
- Franklin Scott, Sweden: The nation’s history (1988) beskriver processen så här, under en kapitelrubrik som placerar Sveriges demokratiska genombrott i 1800-talet:
“The social transformation that affected all aspects of Swedish life in the nineteenth century was characterized in the political realm by an irresistible trend toward democracy — slow, blocked at times by the forces of the old order, but always returning to the attack. By the end of World War I the victory was not yet complete, but the ‘democratic breakthrough’ was surging forward on all fronts.” (379)
- Forskarvolymen Nordic democracy (Allardt et al, Det Danske Selskab, 1981) har en hel del godsaker, men här bara ett smakprov:
“Institutions which have lent a democratic complexion to Nordic society are known from the very beginnings of its history. Chief among these is the assembly (Þing)… Nordic political history is, indeed, very much bound up with the rivalry between the assemblies and the kings, whose strength was continually increasing during the Middle Ages. … Modern Nordic democracy is, in significant part, the legacy of these and other historical developments.” (15)
- Forskarvolymen Scandinavian democracy (Lauwerys [red.], 1958) inkluderar de nödvändiga referenserna till förhistoriska bygemenskaper, medeltida ting, frihetstiden, etc, liksom beskrivningar av en unikt reformistisk, stegvis, kompromissorienterad process, som den här:
“The break with the past was most pronounced in Norway and Denmark, where the new constitutions [1814, 1849] replaced an absolute monarchy dating from 1660. Only in Sweden had the old Scandinavian tradition of government been preserved. [Era of Liberty…] The system of governance introduced in 1809 therefore represented nothing radically new but was a compromise between the systems of the earlier period.” (94f)
- Nils Herlitz Sweden: A modern democracy on ancient foundations (University of Minnesota Press, 1939):
“As a matter of fact, the historical development of the Swedish constitution may be studied with profit also by those who are interested rather in the general aspects of government than in the particular institutions of Sweden. Swedish history has indeed a character of its own. The country has retained throughout the centuries, from primitive times, some elements of popular government and political freedom. What the European peoples learned in the nineteenth century from the American and French revolutions, and from constitutional government in England, was not altogether new to Sweden, which affords the rare spectacle of a modern democracy with direct roots in the Middle Ages. Its constitutional history is comparable to that of England, but other countries offer no clear parallels. The other Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Norway, have gone quite another way, passing through that stage of monarchic absolutism well known from general European history. Therefore the constitutional history of Sweden may claim a certain amount of attention not only for its own sake but also as an indigenous and original contribution to the practical experiences of popular government and political freedom. / In writing on Swedish political institutions for American readers, many of whom may look to my country for guidance in the difficult social problems of today, I feel obliged to make some qualifying remarks.” (p. x)
Denna konsensus bland statsvetare och historiker skulle för all del kunna bero på att historien de återberättar är sann, men det är svårt att verifiera en historia som bygger på successiv tradering från äldre källor.
Och när vi kommer bakåt till 1930-talet börjar myten närma sig slutpunkten i demokratiseringsprocessen. Men jag tänkte här kasta ut hypotesen att myten faktiskt är äldre än så: Myten föregår inte bara demokratins genombrott: den uppfinns för att hjälpa demokratin på traven. Mer om det en annan gång.