Neutrality and State-Building in Sweden by M. Malmborg

By M. Malmborg

The profitable upkeep of peace considering 1814 made neutrality a generally well known doctrine in Sweden. instead of a safety coverage within the strict experience, it has turn into a cornerstone of Swedish nationwide identification. but, long ago decade the neutrality culture has been known as into query. what's intended by way of neutrality? Has Sweden ever been impartial? This publication analyses the emergence, institutionalisation and reassessment of neutrality, of the proposal of peace as a countrywide strong, from the 16th century to the current debate on NATO club.

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Neutrality in the Old Regime 25 First, merchants had a strong interest in defending their right to business as usual in times of war between the states of their customers. The need for a generally accepted set of regulation of international trade was already felt in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea in the days of the Hanseatic League. The opening of vast new seas, and of lands beyond those seas, to commercial enterprise and to political activity set the stage for commercial rivalry at sea. The growth of cities with an independent bourgeois class of merchants and corporations of skilled workers, resulted in new concentrations of riches and a consequent transfer of administrative power.

In 1773, for instance, the British Parliament passed a regulating act that prohibited civil servants of the East India Company from running ‘private’ trade and taking bribes. The trading companies were gradually subjected to parliamentary and government control and ultimately dissolved: the Swedish one already in 1813, and the others in the course of the nineteenth century. A second promoting factor for neutrality was the increasing state Neutrality in the Old Regime 27 protection of citizens and the establishment of regular state naval forces.

The Dutch used the opportunity to develop peaceful shipping and trade in the Baltic. They began to make large-scale investment in this trade and developed cheap, largely unarmed cargo-carriers, the fluits, specialised for the non-violent Baltic trade. By the 1580s, Glete concludes, ‘the Baltic had become a unique haven for seaborne trade in a Europe where civil wars, piracy, loosely controlled privateering and unpredicted royal action causing high protection costs for shipping were the norm. The Baltic, only a few decades earlier a rather 28 Sovereignty from the Top-Down backward area, suddenly enjoyed the benefits of unhindered peaceful trade’ (Glete 2000: 125–6).

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