HT 1981


Norwegian Employers' Association 1927/1928. Withdrawals and Reevaluations

This article sees 1927/28 as a turning point in the history of labour relations in Norway. Throughout the twenties Norway experienced a series of lockouts and strikes. One important explanation for this was the dispute about real wages. The employers held that a cut was inevitable if Norwegian industry and business was to have a fair chance of consolidation and expansion. The trade unions, however, stood firm in their defence of the existing level. This controversy arose partly from the deflationary monetary policy. in 1927 the real wage issue promoted a conflict in the important export industries of iron, mining, and textiles. After 2 months the employers' confederation felt unable to carry the burden of the stoppage any longer. The central board had to admit that the trade unions were in a stronger position. A solution had to be found. By announcing a sympathy lockout, the employers forced the political authorities to intervene. The Storting passed a temporary compulsory arbitration law, and supplemented the labour law by regulation s imposing extensive economic responsibil ities on the union with regard to illegal strikes. The running conflict was submitted to arbitration. By this particular strategy the employers had managed to backtrack without exposing their weaknesses. On their own they were unable to continue fighting for their principal claim - reduced real wages. The only way out was to hand the solution over to arbitration, thereby putting their princi al position in Jeopardy. Contrary to previous experience and current expectations among many employers, the arbitration board ordered a cut in real wages. With reluctance the unions accepted this and also the rest of the so-called hostile legislation.

In 1928 the renewal of agreements expiring in the construction industries led to difficulties. Labour and management did not succeed in reaching a compromise. The government intervened by leaving the renewal to an arbitration board, and once again the outcome was a real wage reduction. The strategy of the employers proved successful. Having promoted governmental intervention, the confederation obtained those real wage reductions that otherwise, due to weaknes and lack of solidarity, seemed out of reach. The formation of an alliance between the political authorities and the employers was about to be established. For the first time in Norwegian history governmental intervention produced solutions favour~ able to the employers. The workers were faced with a situation characterized by substantial governmental participation and a new direction in the development of wages. This had to be stopped. The illegal strike among construction workers put an end to this new state of affairs. The liberal government found it impossible to enforce the arbitration law and backed out of this confrontation. The employers lacked the strength to endure a continued stoppage and had to reopen negotiations. Once again the employers had to jeopardize a newly won real wage cut.

On the basis of these events we can draw the following conclusions: The employers' confederation no longer considered real wage reductions an absolute claim. Standing in a weaker position than the trade unions, the employers had to take a softer attitude on this traditional conflict-promoting issue. The attempted co-operation with the government was initially a success, but in the end this experiment turned out to be a complete failure. The strength of the workers gave no room for such an alliance. The employers concluded that labour relations had to be settled by the two parties alone. Consequently, they no longer reckoned on governmental participation and legislation as a source of support. This put a final end to solutions by compulsory arbitration. The direction of future agreements would be decided by the strength of the two parties and that alone.

Svein Dahl

The Øydegard (Deserted Farm) Project - Methods and Results

The article is a continuation of a discussion about methods and results of the Nordic project for the study of deserted farms during the late Middle Ages (HT 2/1979 and 4/1979).

The main problem is, what total number of farms in the High Middle Ages can be considered logically compatible with the results of the local studies of the project. The article discusses the three main causes that jorn Sandnes (HT 4/1979) identifies for the differing national figures arrived at by the project and the present author, respectively. It is denied that the author's calculation depends any more on the sources of the seventeenth century than the project's calculation does, as they both rely on the results of the local investigators. It is demonstrated that the so-called overrepresentation of Ostlandet can have no effect on the national figures for farms (bruk) and people, other than a somewhat smaller sampling error for Ostlandet than average. (Ostlandet has a somewhat bigger sample relatively, and notably absolutely, than the average.) The author discusses in some detail the alleged misinterpretation of the local investigations and concludes that the project has handled these somewhat arbitrarily, notably by needlessly ignoring some of the results for some purposes.

The conclusions are that the total Norwegian settlement, and probably the population, had not at A.D. 1665 regained the level of A.D. 1300, perhaps no more than about 80% of the number of farms. This was most markedly the case for the pure agricultural districts, Ostlandet and the other regions surrounding the central mountain massives, the Langfjella.

Kåre Lunden

International "revolutionary" trends in Norway 1847-49. Some connections on the individual level

This article is primarily concerned with possible international socialistic and communistic currents in Norway in the years 1847-49. By means of passport and passport endorsement registers kept by the police in regard to travellers, it has been possible to ascertain at the individual level that foreign revolutionaries visited Norway at this time. Two of them, the German typographer's journeyman Heinrich Anders and the Swedish tailor's journeyman Car] Daniel Forssell, were both emissaries forBund der Gereckten in London, an organization that took the name The Communist League in 1847. There are circulars from this source which make it clear that these two operated in Scandinavia. Through the passport endorsement registers it has been possible to reconstruct their movements in some detail.

Heinrich Anders arrived in Finnmark in North Norway in autumn 1847 via Sweden, where he had been in contact with Swedish communists in Stockholm. His 'ourney can be traced southwards along the coast to Tromso, Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristlansand, and finally to Kristlania, the capital of Norway, which he reached in June 1848. Anders is particularly easy to trace, since he wrote poems in German In the local papers wherever he went. Some of these had a political message, which makes it possible to place him ideologically. Both he and his colleague, Carl Daniel Forsell, who is best known for his activity in Sweden and his connection with the G5trek circle in Stockholm, are characterized by a non-violent and Christian form of communism inspired by the ideas of Etienne Cabet. This trend, which was called Icarian communism, had a strong following among craftmen's journeymen in Paris and London in the 1840s. Whereas Anders can be traced all along the coast, Forssell has been identified only in Kristiania. But he was here in March 1848, at a time there were violent demonstrations inspired by the February revolution. Anders was also in Bergen at a time when there were a strike-movement there. However, it has not been possible to establish the fact that these two had any direct connection with these disturbances.

Anders and Forssell moved in craftmen's circles where communistic and socialistic ideas hardly were completely unknown. Through travels in pursuit of their craft Norwegians both at home and abroad had come into contact with such currents. The tailor's journeyman W. Weitling's brand of communism was also known in Norway through his book Garantierfor harmonien og fribeden (Guarantees for harmony and freedom), which was published in Norwegian at the beginning of 1847. Heinrich Anders also had connections with radical pressmen who were familiar with such currents and who spoke on behalf of the working class.

A third person associated with international revolutionary circles was the German, Georg Fein. He has been identified in Kristiania in September 1849. Fein was a newspaperman, poet, and political agitator who had had to leave Germany because of his activity. In the beginning of the 1840s he had stayed in Kristiania, where he established contact with, among others, Henrik Wergeland and other radical intellectuals. In 1848/49 the authorities in Norway were particularly aware of him, since a letter discussing plans to assassinate the Dukes of Baden and Hessen, which was believed to have originated from Fein, was by chance found in Kristlania. In spite of the fact that he was registered in the passport register, Fein's visit in 1849 was not discovered by those responsible for political surveillance.

Another agitator did not, however, pass unnoticed - the artist Harro Harring, who also came to Kristiania in the autumn of 1849 and who was expelled from Norway some months later. Both Fein and Harring had associations with the Young Europe movement and with the Italian, Mazzini, a much-feared rebel. Whether their visits to Norway were steps in some coordinated plan is, however, uncertain. Harring had meetings with radical oppositionists, among them the lawyer Peder Gaarder, a key person in The Democratic Association. and Marcus Thrane - the latter became the leader of Norway's first socialistic mass movement, the Thranite movement, in the years 1849-51. Other contacts were foreign refugees living in Norway.

The significance of the international - revolutionaries. activity in Norway in the years 1847-49 is difficult to evaluate. Nevertheless it is interesting to be able to establish the fact that such persons were in the country immediately before the Thranite movement. In Norway they operated in craftmen's circles and among intellectual radicals. In these circles socialistic and communistic ideas were not entirely unknown from before.

Tore Pryser

The Jurisdiction of the Church in Christian Court Trials before 1277

The article discusses the development of ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in Norway in the period before the Concordat of 1277 (sættargjerden) between the Church and the Monarchy, when the king formally recognised an independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the laity in spiritual cases (ratione materiae) as well as over the clergy (ratione personae). Since the last century, Norwegian historians have discussed whether this was an entirely new concession by the king or only the formal recognition of a custom that had gradually established itself during the century before 1277. In the most thorough investigation of the problem hitherto, J. A. Seip in 1942 argued that the judicial system implied in the different regional Christian Laws was incompatible with the existence of an independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction. He does, however, admit that there were tendencies in the old judicial system through which ecclesiastical jurisdiction could have developed, in particular the trend towards private settlements between parties to a conflict and the general reluctance to bring cases before the popular assembly, the þinge. Such settlements were also used when the bishop or his representative initiated a case, and this fact in the long run tended to blur the distinction between a judgement and a private settlement, and between the judge and the prosecutor. The distinction was, however, still maintained in 1277, and the Concordat was accordingly much more than a formal recognition of accepted practice. As further evidence, Seip points to the violent reaction against the Concordat after King Magnus' death in 1280, which shows that the king's concessions had been much greater than was generally acceptable in the long run.

The present article re-examines the Laws and concludes that they were not as incompatible with the existence of an independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction as Seip maintains. In particular, the Frostu þingslog entrenches the Church in a very strong position, notably by ordering the Ping to declare as an outlaw a person whom the Church has excommunicated, without the need for any further examination of the case. This provision, together with other similar ones, in reality gave the Church the ultimate decision in the more serious spiritual cases. A similar clause is found in a charter from King Magnus Erlingsson (1161-84), which grants the Church considerable privileges. Neither of these sources, however, contains any general provision concerning ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The most likely explanation of this must be that the Church during this period found it unnecessary to seek such a provision. What the Church needed, was not independence but active assistance from the secular power in enforcing its decisions. The þinges presented no obstacle, but could be used by the Church for its own purposes, and royal Jurisdiction was not sufficiently developed to offer any serious competition. The concessions which the Church obtained can thus be interpreted as a general indication of a positive attitude towards it. It is thus reasonable to assume that the Church gradually managed to establish Christian Courts during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, although the evidence is too fragmentary to allow us to analyse the development in detail. Our assumption is further confirmed by a statement from Cardinal William of Sabina from 1247 that the Church at this time had free and independent jurisdiction both over the clergy and concerning spiritual cases, a statement which the present author - contrary to Seip's opinion - has argued is perfectly acceptable.

Despite these gradual developments, however, the Concordat of 1277 was preceded by considerable tension between the Church and the Monarchy, a tension which led to open conflict in the 1280's. The reason for this is mainly to be sought in the growth of royal jurisdiction in the period before 1277. From the second half of the twelfth century, the king gradually established himself as the supreme judge in his realm, but only after the end of the civil wars (1240) was he really able to enforce his claims. During the following period, jurisdiction became the most important prerogative for the king and his officials. In the 1260's, the king brought forward the entirely new claim to the right to prosecute transgressions against the Christian Laws together with the bishop, whereas before the bishop, according to the older laws, had been the sole prosecutor. The more aggressive policy from the Church in the 1270's, which led to the Concordat of 1277, can therefore to a great extent be explained as a reaction against these claims. In a similar manner, the reaction against the Concordat in the 1280's can be regarded as a continuation of the royal policy from the 1260's.

Sverre Bagge

The State and Store Norske (Spitsbergen Coal Company) 1961-63

In March 1963 the Norwegian government decided to take over and, if necessary, to expropriate The Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompagni (The Consolidated Norwegian Spitsbergen Coal Company). This article discusses the reasons underlying the government's determination to take over the privately owned coalmines at Svalbard and its failure to do so. it also sheds light on the Department of Industry's - and the government's - attitude toward state-owned enterprise in the early 1960's and on the positions adopted by the various actors in the industrial decision-making process.

The take- over of Store Norske was seen as a preliminary measure to the full coordination of all coal production in The Store Norske mines with that of the state-owned mines and with the new coke plant in Mo 1 Rana.

Two of the companies were already state-owned and the third, Store Norske, was dependent upon government loans and guarantees. For national reasons and for reasons of foreign policy, the state in any case had to bear the economic responsibility for the activities at Svalbard, either directly or through the coke plant. Therefore, it seemed natural that the necessary coordination should be carried out by means of a state company.

The merger plans were first introduced in 1961, when co-operation problems between Store Norske and the state-owned Kings Bay Coal Company led to a price war over limited markets. Internal leadership problems in Store Norske increased the problem of cooperation and contributed to production problems in the company. The desirability of a merger was strengthened by an increasing conflict of interest between Store Norske and the coke plant, and by the anticipated economic problems for this company.

The plan for take-over of Store Norske shows that in the early 1960's the labour cabinet wanted to implement an active policy of expansion and rationalization within the coal and coke industry. By deciding to build the coke plant (1961), the labour cabinet demonstrated its willingness to use state enterprise as a means toward that goal. Now the government was willing to use state take-over - by expropriation if necessary - to promote its intent. We have every reason to believe that the shares in Store Norske would have been expropriated if the whole political situation had not been fundamentally altered in July 1963.

The government was trying to solve a comprehensive industrial problem by means of a particularly controversial solution - state ownership. The last time a comparable solution was advocated was in 1947 during the struggle for control over the Union Paper and Pulp Company (HT 57).

The merger plan was not the result of an initiative from the governing Labour party. Neither did it originate in the cabinet or with the political leadership in the Department of Industry. The merger initiative came from the bureaucrats in the Department of Industry who advocated an active state industrial policy. These men functioned as politicians without being engaged in, or bound by, party politics. The Minister of Industry and the cabinet followed up the initiative taken by these men. The Storting (parliament) was never consulted.

The plans for state take-over of Store Norske were dropped in July 1963. Neither the economical nor the political situation for coal and coke production had changed since March. The problems at Svalbard and at the coke plant were still present. No other solution was proposed. It was the so-called Kings Bay crisis which put a stop to all plans for state take-over. An explosion in the state-owned Kings Bay mines had cost the lives of 21 miners in November 1962. This tragedy in turn led to a serious parliamentary crisis in June 1963. The cabinet had to fight for its political survival against an opposition which found its main line of attack precisely in the government's and the ministry's handling of problems within the field of coal and coke production. Industrial policy and principle had to give way to political necessity. It was not party policy which initiated plans for the state take-over of Store Norske, but it was party policy which effectively put an end to such plans.

Tore Grønlie

F.L. Konow and the Last Act of the Party Tragedy

During World War 1 and the years immediately following the war, the Norwegian central government expenditures had reached unprecedented levels. At the same time, the national debt had multiplied. For the conservative cabinet led by Abraham Berge (1923-24), the fundamental issue had become the reduction of public expenditures. The last conservative government up to the present, led by Ivar Lykke (1926-28), was formed on the premise that it should bring about a reduction in public spending. This aim was complicated by the unnatural rise in the external value of the Norwegian currency which had taken place shortly before the Lykke cabinet took office. The falling price level necessitated even larger budget cuts.

Although the Concervative Party prior to the 1924 general election had committed itself in its party programme to a return to the gold standard at the pre-war parity, the Minister of Finance in the new government - F. L. Konow- attempted to stabilize the external value of the Norwegian Krone (crown). The reason for this initiative was Konow's recognition that the demand for budget cuts was incompatible with the continuous rapid appreciation of the Norwegian krone.

This article attempts to demonstrate how the attempt to achieve stability failed due partly to a split in the Conservative Party, between debtor and creditor interests, and partly to Konow being out-maneuvered by the director of the Bank of Norway, Nicolai Rygg, whose aim was a rapid return to pre-war parity. The result was that the government failed in its attempt to implement its economic policy and the Conservative Party suffered a catastrophic defeat in the general election of 1927. The economic crisis induced by the falling price level created the conditions for new alliances in Norwegian party politics. The hope of the Conservative Party for cooperation with the Farmer's Party (Bondepartiet) was ruined. Due to the debt crisis in agriculture, a direct consequence of the falling price level, Bondepartiet moved towards an alliance with the Labour Party. This rapprochement foreshadowed the understanding which developed between these two parties in 1935 and which introduced a 30-year period of Labour Party rule in Norway.

Rolf Dantelsen

Liberalism and Democracy

The article analyses the relation between liberalism and democracy from the point of view of German constitutionalism (Kant, von Stein, Jellinek et al.). It is maintained that this constitutionalism represents a specific liberal tradition which is different from the English and the French ones. The article discusses in some detail some of the central issues of the constitutional liberalism.

First, the theory of the Recbtsstaat is outlined, with special focus on the mechanisms of limiting and controlling the state activity. The essential aspect of the constitutional state is claimed to be the generality of laws and rules implying a high degree of predictability of the state actions and a way of binding the state. Secondly, the problem of self-binding of the state is sketched: how can the liberal state be legally committed to its own positive laws? Two prominent contributions to this problem from the point of view of legal positivism are exposed: Jellinek's theory of the 'normative power of the factual' and Kelsen's theory of the 'fundamental norm'. The problem of legal binding is related to the question of democratic sovereignty. The thesis of the article is that the constitutional democracy is a kind of mixed constitution, i.e., a constitution that is based on two different principles: sovereignty and legality. Thirdly, the article discusses the Marxist critique of political liberalism and claims that the critique is in some important regards misplaced. In one sense, however, the aim of constitutionalism and Marxism is the same, viz., the elimination of politics; in the constitutional system politics is supposed to be transformed into law, in the socialist planning system into administration.

The article concludes by making a short comment on corporatism, i.e., on the relation between the constitutional democracy and the expanding system of negotiative corporatism in advanced industrial societies.

Rune Slagstad

"The Commercial Bank of Norway" - A Failed Project from 1850

In the years after the Napoleonic wars - especially from the 1840s - British excess capital sought profitable objects of investment abroad. British capital was also engaged in Norway, though not to a very great extent. Around 1850 several initiatives were taken. The British were involved in the gas supply of Christiania (Oslo) and in the building of the first Norwegian railway. The "Commercial Bank of Norway" was a third British project from this period.

Behind the project were British banking interests and British businessmen with Scandinavian connections. They contacted Norwegian business circles and Norwegian authorities to get their backing for the project. Two representatives of the British capitalists visited Christiania during the summer of 1850, negotiating with the Norwegian Government on taking over the Norwegian State's discounting operations through the public Discount Offices.

In the prospectus and in the propaganda for the project, the "Commercial Bank of Norway" was presented as a joint stock bank on the English model. There are, however, indications that the bank was planned to act as an investment bank as well. Especially the enormous capital involved suggests that the bank was intended to undertake operations in addition to ordinary commercial banking. There are also indications that the "Commercial Bank of Norway" was a precursor of similar bank projects in Scandinavia, like "Svenska Handelsaktiebanken" in Sweden - which did not materialize - and "Den norske Creditbank" in Norway, which was founded in 1857.

The issue of foreign capital in Norwegian ventures was a controversial one. Objections to the British bank project were raised in the press. It appears, however, that the goodwill amongst the Christiania bourgoisie and on the part of the Norwegian government was widespread. As far as it is possible to judge, the government was as obliging to the wishes of the British capitalists as was possible, politically and practically. There was a strong need of a better organized credit market in Norway. The prevailing liberalist view of the relationship between the State and the business community demanded a liquidation of the direct participation of the State in rendering credit to private businessmen. At the same time the financial situation of the State was rather strained and the demand for mortgage loans was acute. The British bank project would release State resources and make possible an immediate increase of the public mortgage loans without incurring expenses for the national treasury.

These were all reasons for compliance on the part of the Norwegian authorities. The Ministry of Finance promised a liquidation of the public Discount Offices, but could not give any guarantee against private competition to the British project - the British investors had demanded a virtual bank monopoly in Norway. The refusal to grant such a monopoly may have contributed to the decision of the British capitalists to abandon the project. Another cause for this may have been the reduced demand for discounting facilities which occurred just at this time. Morgenbladet, a Norwegian news-paper, claimed that one of the reasons was that the project had rested on exaggerated calculations of our state of affairs.. This is very possible. The representatives of the British capitalists who visited Norway - one of whom was a professional banker - must have seen that there was not a sufficient basis for running a bank in Christiania on the scale envisaged. In a way history was to prove them right. When "Den norske Creditbank" some years later tried to establish itself on such a big scale, it almost failed to sustain the burden of its large capital requirements.

Åsmund Egge

Ingebjørg with the Mercy of God the Daughter of King Haakon, Duchess of Sviarike. Pieces of a political woman's portrait

Ingebjørg, the daughter of King Håkon V of Norway and a Duchess of Sweden, has a bad reputation in both Norwegian and Swedish history. When King Håkon died in 1319, with no son to succeed him, the three-year old son of Ingebjørg and Duke Erik of Sweden, Magnus, inherited the throne of Norway. The same year he was elected King of Sweden. An agreement was reached between the magnates of the two countries whereby it was determined that Magnus should spend alternating years in each country. Apparently Magnus was always accompanied by his mother.

Ingebjørg's legal position in the regencies of the two realms differed. Initially she attempted to gain political influence through negotiations with the Swedish and Norwegian councillors. Later Ingebjørg attempted to play a more direct role together with a group of favourites from the castle of Varberg in northern Halland, a fief which Duke Erik and his heirs held from the King of Denmark. Varberg was situated near Båhus, a castle on the border of Norway, where the Duchess often stayed when she visited Norway. In the summer of 1322 Ingebjørg and her favourite, the Danish knight and warrior, Knut Porse, were excluded from power in Sweden. Half a year later Norwegian nobles and prelates followed suit. They accused Ingebjørg of serious misuse of the Seal of the Realm, especially in connection with an adventurous foreign policy directed against Denmark, which was conducted without constitutional backing from the councillors of Norway and Sweden.

The following analysis of the documents concerning Ingebjørg's policy in the two countries during the early regency is not so much concerned with foreign policy as it is with Ingebjørg's collaboration with the lords and bishops. The main argument is that in both Norway and Sweden internal policy was directed by the councillors and not by the young Duchess and King Mother. In the King's name and under his Seal she had to issue letters in favour of the various magnates, lords, and councillors as well as in favour of the Church. There is scarcely a trace of any attempt on her part to influence internal policies in other fields.

In 1320 and again In 1324 Ingebjørg also acted in Norwegian judicial commissions, which were instruments of the Royal High Court. In 1320, together with eight Lords, Ingebjørg gave final consent to a judgement in favour of the Archbishop of Nidaros. In 1324 she was one of the three judges to decide that an estate reclaimed under the Crown by King Håkon V should be returned to the Bishop of Bergen. In both cases it was the councillors' policy, not the Duchess', that was enacted.

The view presented here, however, is not contrary to the traditional perception of Ingebjørg's foreign policy, but points to evidence that may indicate that Ingebjørg only began misusing the King's great Seal of Norway in 1322.

Grethe Authén Blom