Anna Leinonen, Socialization Committee and the direction of Finland’s economy
This article discusses the Socialization Committee, which operated in Finland after the Second
World War in 1946-1950. It further aims to highlight aspects of the parliamentary discussion
concerning this committee. The incentive for discussion of socialization came from the Social
Democrats. The key demand was to abandon the Capitalist economic system, which was said to
treat citizens unequally, and to replace it with state-controlled Socialist economy.
The Socialization Committee was a large committee of altogether 26 members. At first,
half of the members were Rightist and half Leftist. Following some replacements, however,
the committee soon came to have a Leftist majority. Consequently, the Committee’s statements
were largely based on Leftist values. The representatives of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and
Finnish People’s Democratic League (SKDL) were considered to represent the Left. The Rightist
section of the Committee consisted of representatives of Agrarian League (Maalaisliitto) and
Swedish People’s Party (RKP) as well as spokesmen for business and industry.
As the Committee’s work progressed, Communists, i.e. the representatives of SKDL,
emerged as the most vocal proponents of socialization. When the Parliament discussed abolition
of the Socialization Committee in the autumn of 1949, Social Democrats no longer defended
continuation of the Committee. Although the economic policies of SDP as a party changed during
the Committee’s tenure, the Social Democrats who were members retained their favourable
attitude towards socialization until the Committee’s abolition.
The operation of the Socialization Committee and the related discussion reflected Finland’s
post-war challenges. National economy was stagnant, and the situation was further exacerbated
by the growing inflation. The shortage of consumer goods and foodstuffs persisted even after the
war. National economy was encumbered by the payment of war indemnities to the Soviet Union.
The prevalent interest in economic issues was thus understandable. The Leftist predominance
in the Committee reflected the major change in the entire political setup. Communists were
allowed a public role after the war, and SKDL entered Finland’s politics as a powerful actor.
Although the Socialization Committee did not make concrete decisions during its term, the
discussions by and on it did highlight the change in political power relations and the major
transition of Finnish society.