Under hammermerket. Hvordan utvikler norsk arbeiderbevegelse en retorisk instruksjonslitteratur på 1930-tallet?
Doctoral thesis, Peer reviewed
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Under the Hammer Flag: The Norwegian labor movement’s development of rhetorical literature in the 1930s. This thesis has six chapters: Chapter 1 is an analysis of two contextual issues that define Arbeiderpartiets, The Norwegian Labor Party’s, pre-1933 rhetorical framework. The first issue deals with educating the working class in general, especially the labor movement’s elected officials. Unions and local party chapters raised funds to establish socialist evening schools where among other subjects students were taught applied rhetoric and agitation. The second issue concerns the 1920s revolutionary core of The Norwegian Labor Party. In the early 1930s the party shed its revolutionary rhetoric and developed a pragmatic political and rhetorical platform, suitable for a parliamentary system. In this way, the party sought to include voter cohorts outside the industrial working class, its original key membership. Chapter 2 deals with the “crowd” or “masses,” the latter a metaphor coined by late 19th century sociologists. The term and phenomenon drew from Darwinism, the “new science psychology” and its related fields: “social psychology,” “proletarian psychology” and “working class psychology.” Labor party strategists feared crowd behavior and crowd attitudes. Most private citizens were not interested in political issues and might be likely it was feared they could come to support extreme right wing parties who also claimed the working class for themselves. In popular culture, as well as in the political discourse of the times, “mass” was mistakenly, but often synonymously used with “working class,” or at least the low end of the socioeconomic hierarchy. Spanish José Ortega y Gasset claimed that the term potentially included members from all walks of life. Most period historians study links between propaganda as used in the USSR and Nazi Germany and the smaller scale political propaganda used in Scandinavia. This study also focuses on the American sources of political propaganda. Towards the end of World War I, White House officials developed a comprehensive propaganda campaign to rally popular support for U.S. intervention on behalf of the Allies. I therefore analyze relevant American propaganda practices, in Chapter 3. Chapter 4’s main focus is on psychology applied in academic works that influence the contemporary political discourse. Three German language works, each quite different, triggered interest in the European political communities. De Man’s critique of Marxists, not Marx or socialism, and Hetzer’s heartbreaking reports from Viennese working quarters raised interest in the labor movement, as did Alf Ahlberg’s denotative adoption of Werner Sombart’s sarcastic account of the phenomenon he called “proletarian socialism.” The two last chapters, 5 and 6, focus on handbooks and articles written by key labor movement officials to help refine persuasive power through speaker eloquence and rhetorical delivery. The terms “agitation” and “propaganda” are crucial. The 1930s labor movement rhetoric began with “agitation”: factual and informative argumentation for party politics. Officials worried, rightfully so, that agitators were preaching into thin air, as the general electoral public was disinterested in politics. To catch their attention, enter propaganda, with German-inspired slogans, one-liners and entertainment-style rallies that stirred audience emotions and persuaded the electorate to cast their votes for The Norwegian Labor Party.