After its success in the Thirty Years’ War, Sweden harbored ambitions to establish an empire. To sustain its efforts, statesmen realized the need to generate more domestic wealth. The ensuing debates gave rise to an improvement discourse, centered on the harnessing of Sweden’s abundant natural resources. While most improvement writers were patronized by the state and offered state-centered analyses, the protagonist of this essay, Anders Kempe (1622–1689), was a staunch critic of Sweden’s warmongering state. In his mind, the state had become an obstacle to true human flourishing, which recent scientific development had put within humanity’s grasp. Free from wars, predatory taxation, and miseducation, the Swedish people would be in a position to create a society of abundance and righteousness. Kempe’s main recipe for progress was to use recent advancements in natural philosophy to transform nature into useable wealth. In his most famous publication, The Anatomized Spruce (1675), Kempe elaborated on the economic and medicinal benefits that a proper understanding of the spruce tree, its bark, branches, sap, roots, and needles might yield. In sharing the focus on the transformation of nature with other Swedish Cameralist writers, but wholeheartedly rejecting the state, Kempe can be categorized as an anarcho-Cameralist.
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Carl Wennerlind; The Magnificent Spruce: Anders Kempe and Anarcho-Cameralism in Sweden. History of Political Economy 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-8993302
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