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Newsletter from the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication

The Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication recently opened at the Stockholm School of Economics. Read more about our research, events, and career opportunities in the first quarterly newsletter.

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Dear Friends of CSSC,
It is a great pleasure to announce the start of the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication (CSSC) at the Stockholm School of Economics. Together with our partner centers at King's College London, the University of CambridgeJohns Hopkins University, and the Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit, we form part of the Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy (AJI). AJI's mission is to recruit, train, and mentor the next generation of historically minded scholars and practitioners in statecraft, diplomacy, and strategy. 

At CSSC in Stockholm our mission is to foster a historically informed understanding of strategic communication in statecraft. Strategic communication (stratcom) is the purposeful use of information by states and other political actors to achieve their strategic objectives. Such communication has throughout history been a key dimension of statecraft; in today's hyperconnected world, it is more central than ever. Communication is now fundamental to the art of governing, in domestic as well as international affairs. In recent years, especially with the return of geopolitical tensions and a war in Europe, stratcom-related issues have become increasingly important.

In addition to myself and our senior fellow, Dr. Carl Ritter, we now have three postdocs and a PhD student at the center with research interests spanning from elite values in Ancient Greece to free trade agreements in the EU. We have recently begun our own higher seminar series; please send me an email if you wish to be on our invitation list. During the fall we all look forward to digging into our research projects and deepen our collaboration within AJI. In December, all of AJI will gather at Engelsberg in Västmanland for a physical launch event.

We are also excited about being part of SSE's new initiative House of Governance and Public Policy (GAPP) which gathers research centers at the school with an interest in governance-related issues.

Please follow us on Twitter and visit our webpage for more details on what we are up to. We expect to send the newsletter twice per semester.
With best regards, and remember what Churchill said in 1953: "Study history, study history – in history lie all the secrets of statecraft".
Dr. Rikard Westerberg
Meet our roster of early-career scholars
→ Additional information on our website
Mara Bălașa, PhD Fellow 
Bălașa completed an MSc in Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics in 2022. Bălașa's doctoral research studies the nexus between economic statecraft, free trade agreements, and the environment, with a focus on European Union Member States.  
Matt Hefler, Postdoc Fellow
Hefler was awarded a PhD in War Studies from King's College London in 2020. Hefler's postdoctoral project examines secret intelligence and international diplomacy around the Middle East between the USA, Great Britain and France during 1945-1947.
Fredrik Sixtensson, Postdoc Fellow
Sixtensson was awarded a PhD in Ancient Greek from Uppsala University in 2021. His postdoctoral project examines the expression of controversial values and opinions in ancient Athenian democracy. Sixtensson chairs the Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication.

Klas A.M. Eriksson, Postdoc Fellow
Eriksson completed a PhD in Economic History at Stockholm University in 2022. At CSSC, Eriksson plans to research diplomatic history, Sweden's role as a link between east and west during the Cold War, and the influence of German and American institutions on Sweden in the twentieth century.
Carl Ritter, Senior Research Fellow
Ritter was awarded a PhD in Media and Communication Studies from Stockholm University in 2020. His current research foci are strategic narratives and the use of history in political propaganda. Ritter is responsible for CSSC's educational program.

Our public lectures and seminars
→ Additional information on our website

13 October
Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication
Klas A.M. Eriksson: German and American influence on Swedish business and culture, 1920-1960

26 October
Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication
Stephanie Christine Winkler: Analogy change in International Relations: The Case of the Return of the Cold War and the future of US—China relations

9 November
Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication
Carl Ritter: Equilibrium and Disequilibrium in Strategic Narratives: Vladimir Putin's History of the Russo-Ukrainian Conflict

23 November
Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication
Rikard Westerberg: Swedish Business as a Social Movement? Mobilizing the Masses Against Wage-Earner Funds, 1975-1991

12 December
Public Lecture (StratCom Lunch)
Martin Kragh: The Fallen Empire. Russia and the West under Vladimir Putin

15 December
Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication

Mara Bălașa: Presentation of Research Plan
Take part of our recently published work
Westerberg Evaluates the Swedish Wage-Earner Funds in Enterprise & Society
A renewed political interest in profit sharing and employee codetermination prompts an analysis of the Swedish wage-earner funds, implemented by a Social Democratic government in 1983 and dismantled by a center-right government in 1991. This article explains the funds' financial performance and the political decisions surrounding their dismantlement. It finds that the funds underperformed slightly in relation to financial targets. Reasons include inexperienced boards, limited investment opportunities, and a hostile attitude from the business community. For the center-right parties, getting rid of the funds was an ideological decision. Transferring the assets to research foundations and public venture capital funds would improve the business climate, compensate firms for taxes paid to finance the wage-earner funds, and ensure that the Social Democrats would not be able to reinstate the funds. The intense debate surrounding the wage-earner funds, their implementation, how they functioned in practice, and their dismantlement clearly contributed to Sweden's sharp market turn in the 1980s and 1990s.

Westerberg on the Swedish Market Turn in Engelsberg Ideas
"Sweden's radical economic policies during the Cold War decades inspired socialists worldwide. However, its wage earner funds found little support and instead generated a new vision of Sweden, a society centred on free market principles rather than collectives", Rikard Westerberg contends. "The policy shift away from Keynesian demand management towards market-based reforms and lower taxers was a global phenomenon in the 1980s and 1990s. But in Sweden, the ‘market turn' went further than in other countries. A major reason was the reaction to the wage-earner funds (löntagarfonder), implemented by a Social Democratic government in 1984 and dismantled by a centre-right government in 1991."

Eriksson Comments on Digital Witch-Hunts in Expressen
"Every technological  transformation has its destructive side effects. The printing press was initially used to intensify the witch trials; Linnaeus's system of classification has been used for racist purposes; the internal combustion engine facilitated the industrial slaughter of the twentieth century. Before humans learn to handle new innovations, they often slip back into a pre-civilizational stage. It is the same with digitalization", Klas A.M. Eriksson argues (in Swedish).

Westerberg Draws Lessons from the 1948 Swedish Election in Smedjan
"The 1948 election was shaped by Russian expansionism, massive price increases and a polarized debate", writes Rikard Westerberg (in Swedish). "The vitriol in the media, the entrenched hostility between the two political blocs and the business community's campaigning against the policies of the Social Democratic government made the second chamber election in 1948 one of the most fiercely contested ever. The rightwing opposition and the business community believed that the government mismanaged the country and that dictatorship and a planned economy were looming, while the government accused the opposition leader, the Liberal Party's Bertil Ohlin, of being a lackey of big finance."
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