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Aleksanteri Conference







Rainio-Niemi, Johanna

New Perspectives on the Policies of Neutrality:  Austria, Finland and the Cold War Battle of Ideas

In the Cold War “inter-systemic conflict” where the “the conventional forms of rivalry – military, economy, political – were compounded by, and often legitimised in terms of an overall divergence of political and social norms” and by “competition of values” (Halliday 1994), the credibility of the policies of neutrality was challenged in many ways. The aims of combining “western” ideas of society and economy with neutrality vis-à-vis the strongly bi-polarising tendencies of Cold War politics required special balancing strategies in various fields of political, economic, societal and cultural life.

The paper examines these balancing strategies with respect to the ideological dimensions of the Cold War confrontation, the battle over “minds and hearts” of the people. The focus is on the policy programmes of Geistige Landesverteidigung (GLV) in Austria and henkinen maanpuolustus (HMP ) in Finland, which provide illustrative and rarely studied cases in point regarding the efforts of formulating “own ideological doctrines” for countries following (armed) neutrality in the Cold War World. The policies focused on the definition and promotion of the “core values” of the state and society – defined as democracy and neutrality – and on making these values commonly shared amongst the citizens. The paper presents a comparative historical analysis of the conceptual and institutional designs of the GLV/HMP policies in Austria and Finland, ca. 1950-1975. Attention is paid to the broader Cold War context as well as to the ways in which the Swiss and Swedish policies were used as “models” in the drafting of the GLV / HMP policies in Austria and Finland. Even though the basic principles were highly similar across the countries, national “translations” varied greatly depending on the international and domestic conditions.

The paper is an article manuscript. It is based on the study of primary sources and leans on the author’s doctoral dissertation (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki 2008).

Friday 30 Oct, 9.00-11.00 SESSION 4
Panel: Choosing Sides: Was Neutrality Really Possible?