How Industrialisation Evolved in Early Denmark

The Battle of Copenhagen, 1801.

Denmark is a European Scandinavian nation comprising the Jutland Peninsula and various islands. It’s connected to Sweden via the Öresund bridge. Its capital, Copenhagen, is home to colorful Nyhavn harbor and royal palaces, plus the Tivoli amusement park and the “Little Mermaid” statue. It is a good blend of modern era infrastructure and medieval half-timbered houses and cobbled streets.

Today, we will explore how Industrialisation arrived and evolved in this European Wonder.

Industrialization arrived in Denmark in the latter half of the 19th century CE. The country’s first railroads were built in the 1850s CE, and overseas trade and improved communications allowed the industry to develop despite Denmark’s lack of homegrown natural resources. Trade unions emerged starting in the 1870s CE. There was a substantial migration of families from the countryside to the major towns, and Danish agriculture became focused on the export of meat and dairy products.

Denmark’s success, according to researchers, as in the dairy industry, was not a result of co-operatives, which came in the late nineteenth century CE. Instead, leadership was in the eventual hands of the political elites and intellectuals. They adopted new technologies, made land reforms, and started trading and educational systems. Together these made Denmark a significant exporter of butter after 1850 CE. Land reform allowed the growth of a middle-ranking class of farmers. They copied the discoveries pioneered by wealthy estate owners and implemented them through newly established co-operatives.

Nationalism and internationalism have become very much an integral part of the history of the Danish Labour movement. The infamous Labour movement picked pace when social issues became linked with internationalism. Socialist principles and administrative contact with the First International, which linked labor movements in several nations, paved the way. Louis Pio appeared as the driving force. In 1871 CE, after the bloody defeat of the Paris Commune, he began publishing socialist journalism. He lobbied strongly for an autonomous organization of the workers under their management and created a Danish branch of the First International. This became the framework for the Social Democratic Party under Den Internationale Arbejderforening for Danmark. As a combination of political party and union, it adroitly brought together international and domestic elements.

Pio felt internationalism as necessary for the success of the workers’ struggle: without internationalism, no improvement. He pointed out that the middle classes joined across national frontiers and used nationalistic discourse as a weapon against the employees and their liberation.

The Danish division started organizing demonstrations and strikes for social reforms and higher wages. Demands were moderate but enough to ultimately provoke the employers and the forces of order and law. Things came to a head in the Battle of Fælleden on 5 May 1872 CE. The authorities arrested the three leaders, Poul Geleff, Louis Pio, and Harald Brix, charged them, and convicted them of treason. The three left Denmark for the United States to build the short-lived and ill-starred socialist colony near Hays City in Kansas.

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