Top Ten of 2017 – #8 – Revisiting the 1917 Stockholm Peace Conference: Indian Nationalism, International Socialism, and Anti-Imperialism

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Group portrait of the Dutch-Scandinavian Committee: van Kol, Troelstra, Albarda (sitting, l-r), Stauning, Branting (standing, l-r)

Ole Birk Laursen
The Open University

As we mark the centenaries of the Russian revolutions (1917) and the end of the First World War (1918), we should remember how these events are connected through the abandoned Stockholm Peace Conference and, given their anti-imperialist narratives, how they impacted the colonial world. Despite the attendance of Indians, Egyptians, Persians and Turks in Stockholm, the scant historical inquiries into this might-have-been moment tend to neglect how such anti-imperial ambitions were tied to world peace.[1]

In the wake of the hard winter of 1916-1917 and following the February revolution in Russia, Danish socialists Frederik Borgbjerg and Thorvald Stauning began discussions about a peace conference to be held on neutral territory, but they needed wider support among the divided Second International. On 15 April 1917, the Bureau of the Socialist International, led by Camille Huysmans, decided to relocate to neutral Stockholm to prepare for an international socialist peace conference to be organised by the Dutch-Scandinavian Committee (van Kol, Troelstra, Albarda, Branting, Stauning). [continue reading]