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Swedish-German geopolitics for a new century: Rudolf Kjellén's ‘The State as a Living Organism’


Rudolf Kjellén was an important political scientist during the first half of this century. He is perhaps the most influential Scandinavian political scientist ever. Together with the political geographer Fredrich Ratzel, Kjellén was the founder of the German geopolitical school. All his major works were translated into German, but they were, to my knowledge, never translated into English. They were important sources of inspiration for the leading geopolitical theorist and military general, Karl Haushofer.Karl Haushofer, Grenzen in ihrer geographischen und politischen Bedeutung (Berlin Grünewald: Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, 1927); Dan Diner, ‘Grundbuch des Planeten’—Zur Geopolitik Karl Haushofer, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte,32: 1 (1984), pp. 1–28; Barbro Lewin, Johan Skytte och de skytteanska professorerna[Johan Skytte and the Skyttean Professors]. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis (Skrifter utgivna av Statsvetenskapliga föreningen i Uppsala, 100), (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1985); Rainer Sprengel, ‘Land und Meer—Eine diskursanalytische Betrachtung’, WeltTrends (1994), pp. 61–84. By the time of his visit to Sweden in 1935, Haushofer was about to publish the 25th German edition of Kjellén's Die Grossmächte [The Great Powers].Edward Thermænius, ‘Geopolitik och politisk geografi’ [Geopolitics and Political Geography], Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift, 19 (1937), pp. 213–328. The idea that states were not fixed juridicial entities but dynamic organisms competing on the international scene, was something that appealed to Haushofer. He was to fuse this thought with Ratzel's concept of Lebensraum, that was later to reach Hitler.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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