The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in modern non-Scandinavian literature, sometimes Pan-Scandinavianism), a bourgeois trend in the Scandinavian countries that promotes Scandinavian state, political, economic, and cultural unity.

In a narrow sense the term “Scandinavianism” designates a movement of the 1840’s, 1850’s, and 1860’s, but in a broad sense it refers to all bourgeois trends during the capitalist epoch that exhibit unifying tendencies. Although bourgeois historians use the term to refer to any unifying trend in the Scandinavian countries from the Middle Ages on, Scandinavianism is in fact linked to the capitalist epoch and is one of the essential elements of bourgeois ideology. The rise of Scandinavianism was conditioned by the strengthening and growth of the bourgeois class in the Scandinavian countries after the Napoleonic Wars.

Scandinavianism first appeared during the 1820’s and 1830’s in Denmark as the ideological basis for the expansion of the national market. Before 1848 the proponents of Scandinavianism were primarily students, literary men, and scholars, and hence the Scandinavianism of this period came to be called “literary” or “academic” Scandinavianism. After the bourgeois revolution of 1849 in Denmark, Scandinavianism acquired an anti-German tenor and, to some extent, a nationalistic quality. In Sweden the monarchy took its ideas of Scandinavianism from the bourgeoisie and sought to use these ideas to unite all the states of Scandinavia under the aegis of the Bernadotte dynasty. During the 1850’s this “dynastic” Scandinavianism took on an anti-Russian coloration. By the 1860’s important differences in the understanding of Scandinavianism had manifested themselves in Sweden and Denmark. Scandinavianism was necessary for the Danish bourgeoisie as a form of military, political, and ideological support in the struggle against Prussia, and for the Swedish ruling classes it served as a screen for great-power aims.

The ideology of Scandinavianism suffered a heavy blow when Sweden refused to assist Denmark during the German-Danish War of 1863–64. Attempts to salvage the idea of “economic” Scandinavianism failed, the Scandinavian Union lasting only from 1872 to 1914. Similarly, “constitutional” Scandinavianism, as reflected in the plan proposed in 1865 by the Swedish public figure and scholar S. A. Hedin for a confederation of the Scandinavian countries, did not produce any results. During the second half of the 19th century the bourgeoisie of the Scandinavian countries refused to implement the political aims of Scandinavianism because the movement was hindering the countries from carrying on a competitive struggle with each other. From 1903 to 1918, Scandinavianism aided the ruling circles of Sweden and Denmark in their attempts to stave off self-determination for Norway and Iceland, to distract the masses from social struggle, and to arouse great-power chauvinism. After the creation of the Nørden societies in Scandinavia between 1919 and 1924, Scandinavianism became a primary cultural and educational movement (Neo-Scandinavia-nism). Tendencies toward Scandinavian economic and cultural unity have been growing since the 1950’s in connection with the activity of the Nordic Council, which was founded in 1952.

Scandinavianism has exhibited the capacity to modify itself in accordance with specific historical circumstances.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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