Sweden's Potato Revolution
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/11/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21717
Together with the other Nordic countries Sweden was spared from the First World War but suffered food shortages and other hardships due to the surrounding conflicts.
As in Petrograd in March, they began with working-class women protesting in small towns with demands for more ration cards and lower prices of milk and potatoes. The protests spread to the larger cities, and during the last two weeks of April more than a quarter of a million women and men participated in food protests all over Sweden -- this in a population of 5.9 million with 70% living in the countryside.
Worker protests were not only in the form of demonstrations and meetings. They were often followed by direct action in the form of inventories of stores and storehouses, farms and other places where the protesters hoped to find food, particularly potatoes.
A group of women would forcefully enter a grocery store demanding to inspect it for hidden food. If they found some, they forced the owner to sell the items at their posted prices. In some areas these inventories took the form of mass actions, as when 5,000 sawmill workers with families marched through the countryside in northern Adalen to investigate farms and village shops and force the owners to sell. In some places the investigations led to plundering.