A Reluctant Right-Wing Social Movement: On the ‘Good Sense’ of Swedish Hunters

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In recent years, hunting and agrarian communities have increasingly risen in opposition to nature conservation policy that is perceived to infringe on their traditional ways of life. They charge ‘conservationists’ with having a disproportionate influence on policy and maintain that the state system now disenfranchises their needs and interests. In this paper, we suggest this particular brand of resistance can be illuminated by neo-Marxist social movement framework (Cox and Nilsen, 2014) on the dialectic of movements-from-below and movements-from-above, competing for hegemony in the context of an organic crisis of the system. Our paper examines the role of Swedish hunters’ activation of a counter-hegemonic ‘good sense’ to oppose the hegemonic common sense established by wolf conservationists in the state system. The case of Swedish hunters rising in resistance toward the newfound hegemony of wolf conservation is hence resolved as the rise of a right-wing movement from below, mobilized on the basis of defensive, conservative and agrarian values. The novel contribution of this paper lies in its examination of the (often) self-professed limits of hunters’ distinctively agrarian good sense, in light of their own reluctance as an oppositional social movement from below. Not only do hunters exhibit considerable reluctance in regard to their own ‘movement’ identity and ambivalence in regard to hegemony. But we argue that from a conceptual perspective the empowerment of a counter-hegemonic good sense as in traditional resistance studies can, at best, result in a dialectical reversal of movement positions with conservationists, without appropriate mediation or compromise. This leads us to some brief recommendations from democratic theory to mediate between the below and above movements of hunters and conservationists.