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Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
(2008)

Scott, Carl-Gustaf
The Swedish left's memory of the International Brigades and the creation of an antifascist postwar identity,   pp. 151-173 ff.


Page 156

NATION AND CONFLICT IN MODERN SPAIN 
foreign policy, they were free to adopt a far more radical stance on the
war.8 This phenom- 
enon was replicated throughout Western Europe, as many other Social Democratic
parties 
also risked being outflanked on the left over the Spanish Civil War.59 
The battle over Spain engulfed the entire Swedish left, 60 but the major
contest pitted 
the Social Democrats against the Swedish Communist Party (Sveriges Kommunistiska
Parti, 
SKP), which rapidly became the government's most strident critic. Just as
Soviet assistance 
to the Republic had done much to boost the USSR's international image,6'
the SKP's Spain- 
related activities provided a huge public relations boon for the party.62
As was true virtually 
everywhere in Europe,63 in Sweden the Communists played a highly conspicuous
role in the 
Spanish aid collections, and tried to profit politically from this effort.M4
This was naturally a source of anxiety to the Social Democratic establishment,6
whose 
prohibition against any collaboration with the Communists was not always
followed on the 
local level.J6 (The British Labour Party experienced the same type of difficulties.)67
Yet, from 
the Social Democratic leadership's perspective, Communist agitation would
have been of 
little concern in itself, but for the fact that the SKP's militancy on the
Spanish question was 
often shared by the SAP's own left wing, which was generally more positive
about cooperat- 
ing with the Communists.68 As the bankruptcy of the Non-Intervention Agreement
became 
more and more transparent, so did the problem of escalating internal dissent.69
Originally, the Social Democratic press and most party activists dutifully
backed the 
government's decision to comply with the agreement,70 but there had always
been a few vo- 
cal detractors of this policy.71 Georg Branting (the son of Sweden's first
Social Democratic 
Prime Minister, Hjalmar Branting) led the dissenters. In addition to being
a central figure in 
the Spanish aid campaigns,72 Branting had at a very early stage expressed
skepticism about 
the Non-Intervention Agreement, as well as an interest in the united front
strategy-two 
positions that did little to ingratiate him to the SAP leadership.73 
As party discipline over Spain started to break down by mid-1937, Branting's
position 
on the war won ground within the party. Communist propaganda did much to
incite Social 
Democratic unrest about the Spanish question, and, as time passed, louder
and louder internal 
protests were directed against the country's continued adherence to the Non-Intervention
Agreement. By now, criticism of the agreement had spread well beyond the
party's left 
wing, and even to the normally loyal party press.74 At this juncture, Social
Democratic pa- 
pers had also begun to question the government's handling of this issue,
complaining that 
non-intervention only played into German and Italian hands.75 Some party
members went 
so far as to suggest that the cabinet should lift the arms embargo against
the Republic. While 
the SAP hierarchy in the end stood fast by the Non-Intervention Agreement,
this position 
became increasingly hard to defend, particularly after the British Labour
Party renounced 
the agreement.76 
To varying degrees, all European Social Democratic Parties were confronted
with 
internal divisions over Spain as agitation favoring a more pro-Republican
line eventually 
156 


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