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On today's date, 21 February 1877, Johan Alfred Teodor Kämpe was born in Ringarum parish, Östergötland.
Alfred Kämpe was a Swedish writer, agitator, and editor of the newspaper Lantarbetaren. Kämpe came from humble beginnings, and in two pamphlets about his alter ego Fredrik Karlsson, he described his childhood home as "the comfortless gray peat", "terribly poor and naked". His parents were crofters on the Fyllingarum estate, and he began working on the estate as a child, as a herdsman and a day labourer. He is said to have come into contact with labour disputes and was also influenced in the 1890s by the temperance movement and the labour movement.
Kämpe was one of the first workers' writers, a forerunner of Ivar Lo-Johansson, and wrote works such as Thralls (1907) and Torpare (1909). After lengthy historical studies in the 1910s, Kämpe published the rare work The struggle for freedom of the Swedish common people, from the earliest times to the present day published in three volumes in 1918-20.
In this work, Kämpe attempts to describe history primarily from the perspective of the rural poor. For the first time, for example, the history of the Swedish peasant uprisings is depicted. Vilhelm Moberg used Kämpe's information about the common weapon, the morning star, when he wrote his novel Rid i natt! (1941). Especially in the two later parts, on the history of the 18th and 19th centuries, Kämpe's contribution was pioneering. Allmogens history was previously very incompletely researched." - Wikipedia
One can draw parallels between Kämpe's historical writing and Fabian Månssons, also a working-class writer and self-taught historian, where the same libertarian streak runs through his writing. The year before Månsson's death he published The history of migration. 1. (1937), and posthumously the year after his death published History of the Viking Age (1939). In his works Gustaf Vasa and Nils Dacke : a historical account of the decline of the peasant class and the birth of the manor house the libertarian streak is particularly strong.
But one can also draw parallels between Kämpe's and Månsson's time and our time. Their books were freely distributed through the socialist youth clubs of their time. But today it is not mainly social democrats who are inspired by our libertarian history. They seem to be too busy maintaining power and finding new ways to profit at the expense of aspiring workers and entrepreneurs. They are no longer young socialists digging into the cries of peasants, states and workers against oppressive bureaucracy, patronage and high taxes. They seem to have abandoned that legacy altogether in favour of subversive postmodern identity politics.
Instead, it is classical liberals, libertarians, libertarian conservatives and nationalists, anarchists, and other libertarian movements that have taken the legacy of universal freedom on their shoulders. As you might guess, I belong to this peaceful crowd. Sure, there are the occasional libertarian Marxist and socialist who still believe in voluntary mutual aid, but they are few and far between their state-socialist comrades who march tactfully down the road of state coercion. But I would think that our libertarian history strikes a chord with most ordinary people who do not have political aspirations or are career politicians.
Undue coercion and power, stifling bureaucracy, extortionate taxes. It's like the old saying goes; The old comedies are still played, but in a different way. The players have just changed places. But the struggle that Alfred Kämpe described in his history 100 years ago, that Fabian Månsson and Vilhelm Moberg described in their writing, is the same now as it was then. It probably always has been. This struggle is probably as old as man himself, and it certainly did not end with the advent of Swedish democracy in the history books. That struggle will Allmogen continue to illuminate. Perhaps that portrayal might even help some young socialist rediscover the libertarian origins of the labour movement. One can always hope. For that heritage is great enough to be shared by all Swedes, regardless of party affiliation.
Whoever wondered what Allmogen-The meaning of the symbol of the project can also be found in Kämpe's history. It is the morning star, the spiked stick. Kämpe tells how it was worn as a sign of rebellion at a peasant uprising in 1653. The morning star became a central symbol in Vilhelm Moberg's novel Ride tonight! (1941), and Moberg told in Otron's articles (1973) about how he read Kämpe's history in his youth, "unfortunately overlooked and now forgotten".
It was through Moberg's words that I discovered the work myself and had the enormous good fortune to find it in an antiquarian bookshop. Then I digitised and released the whole The struggle for freedom of the Swedish Ommogens freely here on Allmogen.org in 2016. You can download and read the three volumes here: 1, 2, 3.
But if you're like me and prefer to hold a physical book in your hand, don't worry! The complete work will be published in a new print edition on 30 June this year, for the first time in 100 years.
Project Allmogen is honoured to collaborate with the new book publisher Cultura Aetatis who is responsible for the reprint. You will hear more about the new edition in the future. After all, it's the 100th anniversary, and this book deserves to be on the bookshelf of every Swedish home! You deserve to own your own copy of this inventory of our common heritage of freedom.
I don't know how big the first printing will be, so if you want to be sure to get your copy this summer, you can already pre-purchase your own copy of this rare work here.
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