Staten, ordningen och friheten : En studie av den styrande elitens syn på statens roll mellan stormaktstiden och 1800-talet : a study of ideals of state and state regulation among the ruling elite in Sweden c. 1660-1860
Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to study the ideas among the ruling elite concerning the contents, scope and limits of state activity in Sweden between the 17th century and the middle of the 19th century. Theseideas are primarily studied as they were expressed in practical political debates. Specific attention has been paid to the discussions concerning government regulation of the economy and state control of the market for printed publications (i.e. newspapers, books).The study shows that an authoritarian ideal of state dominated in the 17th and 18th centuries. Based on a concept of society as an organism in need of active guidance and order, the state was responsible for co-ordinating an economic system based on privileges that would create order and balance within industry and trade. The state should also create uniformity and harmony in religious and political thought by rigorously regulating and controlling the contents of printed publications.In the 19th century a liberal ideal of state based on an atomistic, individualistic concept of society appeared. By now, it was often emphasized that society would function with greater efficiency without state regulation. The basic requirement among many politicians was that state activities must be limited to a general level, and that individual citizens must be given the opportunity to act and work unhampered by detailed government regulation. In practice, the state should still support the economy, but in a more general, indirect manner and without detailed regulation. Similarly, the demand was made that government control of the contents and distribution of printed publications must be reduced.An important point in this thesis is that the second half of the 18th century was a crucial phase in this ideological change. From the 1760s and on, criticism grew against mercantilist, arbitrary state regulation. This criticism was very much the result of a revision of the 17th century, authoritarian concept of state and society; a revision whereby the state was assigned a slightly less active and authoritarian role than before, and whereby it would be better apt to uphold and develop the prevailing social system. This revision did not represent a radical break with earlier thinking, but it must be seen as the beginning of the liberal concept of state that appeared in the following century, which, consequently, was not an entirely new phenomenon.
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