In the Winter 1980 special issue of Social Science History on working-class protest, James E. Cronin writes about labor insurgency during the European crisis of 1917-1920. He argues that a greater proportion of the semiskilled and unskilled workers were active in the 1917-1920 wave of insurgency than at any other time in our century. According to him, this emergent proletariat, created by rapid industrialization, constituted the very core of the insurgency. But he adds that many craftsmen, particularly in the engineering industry, were also strong supporters of the labor left (Cronin, 1980: 138-140).
The evidence is adduced from a number of European countries, but no mention is made of Scandinavia, except for one brief reference to Sweden (Cronin, 1980: 131). Actually the Scandinavian countries would seem to be relevant, and perhaps Norway more so than Sweden. In fact, the Scandinavian case has been cited by a number of authors as an illustration of the thesis that skilled workers and artisans represent the main obstacle to industrial militancy. The process of radicalism was much stronger in Norway than in either Denmark or Sweden, and it has been suggested that the pronounced differences in the economic development of the three Scandinavian countries provide an explanation. While growth of the manufacturing industry proceeded slowly and gradually in Sweden and particularly in Denmark, Norway experienced a sudden spurt of industrialization in the first two decades of this century.