Anders Chydenius

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Anders Chydenius
Anders Chydenius.jpg
Anders Chydenius
Born26 February 1729
Sotkamo, Sweden (now Finland)
Died1 February 1803(1803-02-01) (aged 73)
Gamla Karleby, Sweden (now Finland)
Era 18th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Liberalism, Age of Liberty
Main interests
Mathematics, natural science, economics, political philosophy
Notable ideas
Economic liberalism, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and migration

Anders Chydenius (Swedish:  [²anːdɛʂ kʏˈdeːnɪɵs] ; 26 February 1729 – 1 February 1803) was a Finnish priest and a member of the Swedish Riksdag, and is known as the leading classical liberal of Nordic history.

Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Closely related to economic liberalism, it developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanisation and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States. Notable individuals whose ideas contributed to classical liberalism include John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo. It drew on the classical economic ideas espoused by Adam Smith in Book One of The Wealth of Nations and on a belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. The term 'classical liberalism' has often been applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from social liberalism.

Nordic countries Geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic

The Nordic countries or the Nordics are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, where they are most commonly known as Norden. The term includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands—which are both part of the Kingdom of Denmark—and the Åland Islands and Svalbard and Jan Mayen archipelagos that belong to Finland and Norway respectively, whereas the Norwegian Antarctic territories are often not considered a part of the Nordic countries, due to their geographical location. Scandinavians, who comprise over three quarters of the region's population, are the largest group, followed by Finns, who comprise the majority in Finland; other groups are indigenous minorities such as the Greenlandic Inuit and the Sami people, and recent immigrants and their descendants. The native languages Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese are all North Germanic languages rooted in Old Norse. Native non-Germanic languages are Finnish, Greenlandic and several Sami languages. The main religion is Lutheran Christianity. The Nordic countries have much in common in their way of life, history, religion, their use of Scandinavian languages and social structure. The Nordic countries have a long history of political unions and other close relations, but do not form a separate entity today. The Scandinavist movement sought to unite Denmark, Norway and Sweden into one country in the 19th century, with the indepedence of Finland in the early 20th century, and Iceland in the mid 20th century, this movement expanded into the modern organised Nordic cooperation which includes the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Especially in English, Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries, but that term more properly refers to the three monarchies of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Geologically, the Scandinavian Peninsula comprises the mainland of Norway and Sweden as well as the northernmost part of Finland.

Contents

Born in Sotkamo, Finland (then part of Sweden) and having studied under Pehr Kalm at the Royal Academy of Åbo, Chydenius became a priest and Enlightenment philosopher. He was elected as an ecclesiastic member of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates in 1765–66, in which his Cap party seized the majority and government and championed Sweden's first Freedom of the Press Act, the most liberal in the world along with those of Great Britain and the Seven United Provinces. Vehemently opposed to the extreme interventionist policies of mercantilism preached by the previously predominant Hat party since decades, he was ultimately coerced into retirement for his criticism of the Cap administration's radical deregulation policies and their social and political consequences.

Sotkamo Municipality in Kainuu, Finland

Sotkamo is a municipality of Finland, located in the Kainuu region.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Following Gustav III's coup d'état in 1772, which meant the end of parliamentary rule for another century, Chydenius briefly returned to prominence and worked to increase civil liberties and economic freedom as part of Gustav's doctrine of enlightened despotism, and contributed the abolishment of torture as means of interrogation, the limitation of capital punishment, and the legalisation of Jewish and Catholic immigration into Sweden. Ultimately, the king's increasingly autocratic position brought Chydenius out of favour again, and he retired to private life in Ostrobothnia, where he died at age 73.

Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Economic freedom or economic liberty is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debates as well as in the philosophy of economics. One approach to economic freedom comes from classical liberal and libertarian traditions emphasizing free markets, free trade, and private property under free enterprise. Another approach to economic freedom extends the welfare economics study of individual choice, with greater economic freedom coming from a "larger" set of possible choices. Other conceptions of economic freedom include freedom from want and the freedom to engage in collective bargaining.

Torture intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering upon a person or an animal, in order to punish or to coerce, or for sheer cruelty

Torture is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action from the victim. Torture, by definition, is a knowing and intentional act; deeds which unknowingly or negligently inflict suffering or pain, without a specific intent to do so, are not typically considered torture. Torture has been carried out or sanctioned by individuals, groups, and states throughout history from ancient times to modern day, and forms of torture can vary greatly in duration from only a few minutes to several days or longer. Reasons for torture can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, coercion of the victim or a third party, interrogation to extract information or a confession irrespective of whether it is false, or simply the sadistic gratification of those carrying out or observing the torture. Alternatively, some forms of torture are designed to inflict psychological pain or leave as little physical injury or evidence as possible while achieving the same psychological devastation. The torturer may or may not kill or injure the victim, but torture may result in a deliberate death and serves as a form of capital punishment. Depending on the aim, even a form of torture that is intentionally fatal may be prolonged to allow the victim to suffer as long as possible. In other cases, the torturer may be indifferent to the condition of the victim.

An early pioneer—also by international standards—and proponent of economic liberalism, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and migration (writing a pamphlet on the invisible hand a decade before the publication of The Wealth of Nations ) he was one of the first comprehensive philosophers of liberalism. [1] [2] [3]

Economic liberalism is an economic system organized on individual lines, which means the greatest possible number of economic decisions are made by individuals or households rather than by collective institutions or organizations. It includes a spectrum of different economic policies, such as freedom of movement, but its basis is on strong support for a market economy and private property in the means of production. Although economic liberals can also be supportive of government regulation to a certain degree, they tend to oppose government intervention in the free market when it inhibits free trade and open competition.

Freedom of religion freedom practicing of religion

Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs.

Freedom of speech political right to communicate ones opinions and ideas

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

Biography

Early life

Chydenius Chydenius.jpg
Chydenius

Anders Chydenius was born in 1729 in Sotkamo, Ostrobothnia (now part of Kainuu region) where his father Jacob was a chaplain. The family moved to Kuusamo in 1734 where his father became a parish rector. Anders' childhood was spent in the barren area of northern Finland. He and his brother Samuel were taught privately by their father and then they went to Oulu grammar school (Uleåborg trivialskola). After the Russo-Swedish War (1741–1743), the boys studied privately in Tornio and entered The Royal Academy of Åbo in 1745. They also studied at Uppsala University. Anders studied mathematics, natural sciences, Latin and philosophy. In 1746 the father Jacob and family moved to Kokkola. [4]

Ostrobothnia (historical province) historical province of Finland

Ostrobothnia, Swedish: Österbotten, Finnish: Pohjanmaa is a historical province comprising a large western and northern part of modern Finland. It is bounded by Karelia, Savonia, Tavastia and Satakunda in the south, the Bothnian Sea, Bothnian Bay and Swedish Västerbotten in the west, Laponia in the north and Russia in the east.

Kainuu Region in Ostrobothnia, Finland

Kainuu is one of the 19 regions of Finland. Kainuu borders the regions of North Ostrobothnia, North Karelia and Northern Savonia (Pohjois-Savo). In the east, it also borders Russia.

Chaplain Provider of pastoral care, often a minister of a religious tradition, attached to an institution

A chaplain is, traditionally, a cleric, or a lay representative of a religious tradition, attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, school, labor union, business, police department, fire department, university, or private chapel.

Nedervetil

In 1753, after graduation, Anders was appointed preacher of the Chapel of the dependent parish of Nedervetil (today, part of Kronoby) in Ostrobothnia. He was married in 1755 to Beata Magdalena Mellberg, daughter of a merchant from Jakobstad. The couple was childless. While in Nedervetil he was active in many projects such as the clearing of the marshes, experimenting with new breeds of animals and plants, and adopting new methods of cultivation of potatoes and tobacco. His aim was to enlighten the peasants by example. Chydenius practiced medicine and became known by inoculating ordinary people against smallpox. He also performed cataract operations and prepared medicines. [4]

Kronoby Municipality in Ostrobothnia, Finland

Kronoby is a municipality of Finland.

Jakobstad Town in Ostrobothnia, Finland

Jakobstad is a town and municipality in Ostrobothnia, Finland. The town has a population of 19,303 and covers a land area of 88.31 square kilometres (34.10 sq mi). The population density is 218.58 inhabitants per square kilometre (566.1/sq mi). Neighbour municipalities are Larsmo, Pedersöre, and Nykarleby.

Tobacco agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana

Tobacco is a product prepared from the leaves of the tobacco plant by curing them. The plant is part of the genus Nicotiana and of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. While more than 70 species of tobacco are known, the chief commercial crop is N. tabacum. The more potent variant N. rustica is also used around the world.

Statue of Anders Chydenius in Kokkola, Finland. Anders Chydenius statue.jpg
Statue of Anders Chydenius in Kokkola, Finland.

The 1765–1766 Riksdag of the Estates

Some of his first writings were about practical matters such as the moss overgrowing the meadows, and improvements in the design of horse carriages. Then he moved on to social questions and became known as a writer and speaker. He was sent to the Diet in 1765 to obtain free trading rights for the towns of Ostrobothnia. The cities of Gamlakarleby, Vasa (Finnish: Vaasa), Björneborg (Finnish: Pori) and Uleåborg received navigational rights which helped with their later development as well as helping all of Ostrobothnia. At that time, the tar which should have brought prosperity to his town and the coast had to be sold abroad through Stockholm, which made most of the profits. Largely due to Chydenius' efforts, Stockholm's monopoly was broken and from 1765, the towns gained freedom to sell and ship tar directly to foreign customers.

Chydenius participated actively in the Diet, and published several articles of criticism which caused a great stir. One of the results of his activities in the Diet was a stricter parliamentary control of the government budget. He considered that one of his greatest achievements was an extension of the freedom of the press. His radical activities caused him to be excluded from the Diet by his own political party in 1766. [4]

Kokkola

In 1770 he was appointed rector of Gamlakarleby where he concentrated on parish work. He maintained his own orchestra, and rehearsed with them. They gave concerts in the rectory's reception hall. His father lived in the parsonage at Gamlakarleby from 1746 to 1766, and Anders lived there from 1770 to 1803.

Between 1778 and 1779 Anders Chydenius once again participated in the Diet, at which the position of hired hands was brought up. He championed the rights of the servant class. At the suggestion of King Gustavus III, he introduced a bill whereby foreigners were also granted limited rights to practice their own religion. He participated in the Diet again in 1793 and was active as a writer covering the development of agriculture, the burning of saltpeter, smallpox, and the settlement of Lapland. One of his main tasks during his latter years was the supervision of building an extension to the old parish church. He died in 1803. [4]

Ideas

Free trade

In 1765 Chydenius published a pamphlet called The National Gain (Den nationnale winsten), in which he proposes ideas of free trade and industry, explores the relationship between economy and society, and lays out the principles for liberalism, capitalism, and modern democracy. [5] In the book Chydenius published theories closely corresponding to Adam Smith's invisible hand, eleven years before Smith published his book, The Wealth of Nations.

Chydenius also put his theories into practice by proposing to the Riksdag of the Estates a drastic trade liberalization of towns along the Gulf of Bothnia. However, most of his other propositions were not realized, such as turning Lapland to a nightwatchman state to make the poor province prosper economically:

 – free state, private ownership and individual freedom. Inhabitants could choose whatever profession, freedom of trade would be complete, there would be no privileges, regulation or taxes. Bureaucracy would be nonexistent, and the only officer would be a judge who would oversee that no-one's rights would be suppressed. [6]

Freedom of expression

Chydenius became a great proponent of freedom of the press. In a report published in 1776, he wrote: [7]

No evidence should be needed that a certain freedom of writing and printing is one of the strongest bulwarks of a free organisation of the state, as without it, the estates would not have sufficient information for the drafting of good laws, and those dispensing justice would not be monitored, nor would the subjects know the requirements of the law, the limits of the rights of government, and their own responsibilities. Education and good conduct would be crushed; coarseness in thought, speech, and manners would prevail, and dimness would darken the entire sky of our freedom in a few years.

Natural equality

Chydenius was outspoken about universal rights and the abolition of privilege. He wanted to give the poor the same freedom as for everybody else and argued for the good of the poor, which was then rather exceptional among politicians. He promoted democracy and defended the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of trade and industry, and the workers rights. He called for an oversight of the way the state funds were spent. In modern language we would say he advocated openness and good governance.

In a 1778 essay, Thoughts Upon the Natural Rights of Servants and Peasants, he wrote: [4]

Nature shapes them exactly like us. Their posture in the crib is the same as ours, their souls have the same reason as other peoples', whereby it is plain to see that the Lord of creation also had intended them to have equal rights with other people.

Legacy

Chydenius can be seen as a major influence on Nordic thinkers as well as real-life politics, strictly promoting classical liberalism. He has been labeled the father of Swedish liberalism. Both Sweden and Finland include him among their historical notables, and he is variably categorized either Swedish or Finnish by nationality.

Anders Chydenius is remembered as a man ahead of his time, expressing ideas that were radical in his day, but are now the backbone of the Nordic ideology. [5] He can also be seen as an Enlightenment thinker, an advocate of science, arts, rational thinking and freedom. He was also a scientist and skilled eye-surgeon, the maker of several inventions, a pioneer of vaccination in Finland and the founder of an orchestra.

Chydenius was featured on the highest valued bank note (1000 marks) of the Finnish mark's last design series. [4]

Anders Chydenius was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Anders Chydenius commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The obverse features an open book, referring to Chydenius's numerous publications and the Bible. On the reverse, a traditional village with a church and other buildings can be seen.

In the book Historiens 100 viktigaste svenskar ("100 Most Important Swedes in History"), written by Niklas Ekdal and Petter Karlsson, Chydenius was ranked as the seventeenth most important Swede in history. [8] In Finland, Chydenius was ranked on the place #40 in the list of "Greatest Finns" in a voting contest organised by the national broadcasting company. [9]

Selected works

See also

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References

  1. "The World's First Freedom of Information Act (Sweden/Finland 1766)"
  2. freedominfo.org, "Sweden"
  3. Johan Norberg, Den Svenska Liberalismens Historia, pp. 30–43
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pelo, June. "Anders Chydenius". Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  5. 1 2 "Acton Institute: Anders Chydenius (1729–1803)". Archived from the original on 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  6. Norberg, Johan. "Liberalismen.com: Anders Chydenius – den svenska liberalismens fader". Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
  7. Luoma, Jukka. "Helsingin Sanomat – International Edition". Archived from the original on 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  8. Ekdal, Niklas & Karlsson, Petter (2009). Historiens 100 viktigaste svenskar. Stockholm: Forum. ISBN   978-91-37-13402-4.
  9. YLE.fi [ permanent dead link ]
  10. Hyttinen, Pertti. "Chydenius, Anders (Nordic Authors)" . Retrieved 2007-11-26.

Further reading