Gunnar Myrdal was a Swedish Nobel Prize academician who was many thing to many people; social scientist, economist, and classic social liberal of the 1940s and 50s. So far as I know, however, he had nothing to do with the invention of the hot tub, which I’d always associated with the Swedes’ brand of socialism, since that was always what American Democrats had pined for and finally found in the well-pressed trousers of Barack Obama.
No more blue jeans and Mao jackets, Givenchy from here on out.
Myrdal is also considered to be a father of the American welfare state and affirmative action. In 1944 he wrote American Dilemma, still regarded as a classic description of race relations in America.
Interestingly he didn’t condemn but praised America, claiming that
“it is the ‘American Creed’ that keeps the diverse melting pot of the United States together. It is the common belief in this creed that endows all people—whites, negroes, rich, poor, male, female, and immigrants alike—with a common cause and allows for them to co-exist as one nation.”
And he said it the same way conservatives say it today, which makes you stop and scratch your head.
When I went to college in 1964 my only political cause was civil rights, and I had always assumed my friends who said they shared this belief were as sincere as I was. (I was wrong.) I proclaimed myself a liberal on that account alone, but my Christian faith was never challenged, unlike today, when it is not allowed. And I hated Communism as much as I did the Nazis (since my dad had fought them). But I knew nothing of its hot-tub cousins, the Socialists.
My introduction to Gunnar Myrdal was when I picked up his large thick paperback at our college bookstore and the cover blurb told me that this book was a “monument” as he’d outlined the solution to all the problems of race in America. But thumbing through it, with page after page of sociological terms I had no idea what they meant, and 12-line paragraphs consisting of only one sentence, I concluded that Myrdal was not writing his book for ordinary people, let alone manage their racial problems at the ground floor. He was writing to another audience altogether. Or so I believed. So I set the book back down.
At this time, JFK was still warm in his grave, Vietnam was barely heating up, and the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society welfare state were still on the drawing board.
No one knew then that Gunnar Myrdal had judged the American people correctly, but misjudged the American political establishment by a wide margin, just as he had the Swedish political establishment who he’d helped design their version of socialism and welfarism, sans hot tubs
But he seemed like a typically distant scholar who really didn’t care whether ordinary people knew about what he was teaching or not, instead relying on government to convert his findings into policies. America had only been under that kind of government system for about 30 years and Americans had not yet totally bought into FDR’s management scheme from the top.
But Swedes had never known anything else. This had been the bane of “social democracies” since the end of World War II, their political class incrementally adopting the class pretensions of the nobility they supposedly replaced after World War I. But Myrdal would be long dead before that became manifest.
Gunnar Myrdal fooled me, although it would take almost 50 years after I’d first heard his name to find that out.
It seems he did realize how his 1944 study was limited in its outreach. So he asked Dr Arnold Rose, one of his book’s collaborators, to produce a condensed version of American Dilemma, which was published in 1948, under the title The Negro in America.
I found that book a few years ago and have had it on my bookshelf since.
It really is an easy read, and should be a starting point for anyone who wants a history of black-white relations in America before they became politically-charged, or before billions had been pumped into the fix, and had become a permanent home for profiteering race-hucksters and bureaucrats, leaving African-Americans pretty much where they began in 1865—odd man out.
Myrdal even included a Foreward explaining why this condensed edition was needed. So I don’t blame Gunnar Myrdal one bit for the failure of socialism in Europe, the Welfare state worldwide, or state-managed racial harmony in the United States. His fault was not in mistaking the reciprocal nature of the American people (as mentioned in his Creed) but of the fact socialism has to anoint the political class to carry out these humanitarian tasks, then blowing everything to hell.
(His forward is only a couple pages so maybe someone can print it up and send over to our #NeverTrump scholars, just so they’ll know that a true scholar actually did take the average man and woman seriously.)
Myrdal wrote his opus in ’44, and had it condensed in ’48, and I picked it up in ’66 or thereabouts then laid it back down. It was not until 2015 that I actually acquired and read his “Foreward” in The Negro in America and stood corrected. Almost 50 years later.
By then I’d had a first-hand taste of socialism in several venues, and how important it is for ordinary citizens to take a greater interest in their government, for it was obvious they had lost sight of several things about which, for over 150 years, Americans had taken for granted in their relationship with their government. Most Americans thought they still ran the government.
It was in that period that I met an American in Moscow who had given up a great career path in the early 60s (when JFK was elected) and who, instead had gone off to the Third World preaching the private sector gospel of America under that very assumption, that every American assumed he/she/they were totally in charge.
His pen name was Moses Sands and we collaborated on several projects, including a long 5000 word essay about the prospects of democracy in the Middle East in 2004. He was my mentor of sorts in the Soviet Bloc, and lived near Sedona, sending some work my way. I met him in Moscow in ’91 and we corresponded until he died in 2008.
Moses told me went to the Third World because he was secure in the belief the American people would never let the government get the upper hand over their affairs. Then in 1998 he called me, mad as hell, saying he’d been wrong. (Probably the Lewinsky thing.) And he wanted to tell average citizens where they’d gone wrong with a book, asking me to help him write (transcribe) it.
I told Moses he was asking me to write a book for people “who don’t read”, and we jawboned for another ten years. Had he lived to see 2010, he could’ve given me an “I told you so”, for when the Tea Party reared its head we found out they were paying more attention than anyone imagined.
That book never got written but I kept all his notes, and have been writing it piecemeal, 1500 words at a time.
Meanwhile I was running back and forth to the Balkans doing the same type of work Moses had done, trying to hitch clients who couldn’t pay up with corporate leaders in America who’d never been out of a corporate front office since they graduated from business school.
The real sadness of the fall of the Soviet system in the early nineties was that, more than anything else, Russians wanted to work with American businessmen. But their ideal of that kind of theAmerican businessman class had largely died out about twenty years earlier. They just didn’t know it. Then Clinton turned that lapse into a monumental tragedy.
To make ends meet, I did get to try my hand at college teaching in Cincinnati during much of the 90s, teaching both Russian émigré-professionals (doctors and engineers), who wanted jobs as assistants to American professionals because America wouldn’t recognize any of their advanced degrees or “certificates”, and inner city black mothers who wanted an Associate Degree in some skill so they could get jobs and move off welfare since Newt and his Congress had taken away their AFDC.
My job was to teach the “core curricula;” American Government/History and Business Law (offered I think simply because I was on staff). These had nothing to do why those students had enrolled, which were jobs in computer programming or office management. The school’s front office didn’t care if I taught them a single thing about Civics. It was simply a mark that had to be checked off. They had to show up, and I had to go through the motions of teaching things they could care less about.
One of my most rewarding lectures was explaining to some Russian professionals about the English Common Law notion of Contract. In Russia it was merely a writing. Required for almost everything. “Oh, no, there must be a meeting of the minds first. A mental handshake”, I said. When I shook one skeptic engineer’s hand, then looked him in the eye, he immediately know what I meant. And the look on his face?
Government classes were usually 12-15 in size, mostly young moms, their kids in a small care-center across the hall. Getting the lay of my audiences and their disinterested faces, I told them the entire course would be by lecture only, no reading assignments (standing ovation), then I proceeded to make America and the Constitution relevant to them and especially the lives of those children across the hall.
And I found out I was really good at it.
This lasted for about five years. For over a year now I’ve been pushing small programs for veterans called Vets in Class at VeteransTales.org based on the relevance of government and history, especially that America is unique in human history, and that American public schools don’t seem interested in teaching anything special about America anymore. No one has better street creds to grab young peoples’ attention…
…and if someone doesn’t teach this, then someday the resulting cancer may kill them all.
(Since we don’t have much money, all we can do is publish themes and sample lectures and hope some interested NGO’s will pick up on it.)
I’m not the first, and certainly not the best-known person to want to missionize Americans about their special place in world history. I’m just sort of the Billy Sunday of the movement, holding tent meetings when I can find a tent and a few bucks to print flyers.
Hillsdale College has been offering free online courses on the Constitution for many years. Dennis Prager and his PragerU is also popular. And it turns out Larry Schweikart, the co-author of the best-selling The Patriot’s History of the United States has begun doing the same thing online that he did in his classes at the University of Dayton for many years. I’ve read and dog-eared his book for several years as a primary reference. Now he’s launched WildWorldofHistory.com. where he also offers classes free.
So there are all sorts of options out there.
Just not a comprehensive national plan with a little more sense of urgency.
I want every family to have The Patriot’s History on their bookshelf. Several books in fact, The Federalist and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense are high on my list. both original sources, as important to our patriotism as our Bible is to our faith.
So I’m always searching for ways (there are more than one) to inspire adult Americans to break away from bad habits and read and learn more, then share more of what they’ve learned.
I worry even more for newer generations for even if they see the light, there is little for them to turn to other than dry old books, which they have been conditioned to reflexively avoid. As Gunnar Myrdal noticed in his own great work, sometimes the big words can turn people off. Well, the same is true about 18th and 19th Century ways of writing.
So a few weeks ago I suggested here that it would be nice if, as a 2020 campaign publication, a reprinted, and updated version, for modern readers, of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense were made available and heavily promoted. I even think it could be profitable, even though William Buckley reminded my annually that “National Review” was never profitable.
But as an investment it’s worthy of donors’ involvement.
Accounting for the difference in population size, Common Sense was the best selling book in American history (excepting the Bible), and moreover, was aimed entirely at the American “working classes” of 1776, not the political or educated class. It was so overpowering in pure common sense that it moved those citizens to move the Continental Congress to move swiftly in declaring independence.
Thomas Paine accomplished all that with a simple 48-page pamphlet.
New generations now need to know what Paine said in 21st Century words, so I’m hoping someone reading this will pick up the idea, then pick up the phone, and get things moving.
Those things are beyond my ability to cause.
Now, a more ambitious project might be Alexis De Toqueville’s Democracy in America, since it is several hundred pages. It also has its own unique history, since the French nobility he’d hoped to impress weren’t, while American readers loved it. De Toqueville freezes a “moment” in American history that lasted for over a century in time (1832-1932) when the American people were actually in control of their own affairs and their local and state governments. And the federal government in Washington still mattered very little.
If you are looking for a less complicated America read these books.
But preferably, annotated modernized versions.
I can’t do these things. I’m just a few months shy from being in my mid-70s, and since I turned to writing I haven’t had more than a $100 of disposable income, with over $100K in unsold inventory to prove how quickly people’s interests can change.
I’ve learned that young people don’t read books or like art, and think that 9/11 and Monica Lewinsky are ancient history, things they have to look up on Wikipedia.
Our side is slow to react to the fact that Leftists have learned to game the capitalist system. We are looking at a scandal created by a California fixer where rich Americans had been paying tens of thousands of dollars so that their average-minded kids could get into prestigious Ivy League schools just for the status of the sheepskin.
Today, leftists are spending millions every year, no longer to destroy our capitalistic society, as Stalin had wanted to do, but put all that wealth into the hands of a small class of people, as Chairman Xi has accomplished (and within a few short years of total collapse.)
My suggestion here, just one of many over several years, could provide citizens and their children with much needed ammunition for our free society to remain free and to be able to deal with the power sought by modern leftists who have discovered the real power of money once in their control.
This is an investment in the future.
I encourage your involvement. Give it the minutes of thought. Pour yourself a beer. Call a friend. Drop me a line, Vbushmills@Yahoo.com
(And if you’d like to get a little piece of the Cold War, I’m stuck with over $100K in Politica, Historica, Miltaria, and Art, and all you have to do to see them is visit the Sales Gallery at VeteransTales.org. The more you buy the more I’ll add to the inventory. We haven’t even opened up our book wing yet, but will be happy to lead you to where they can be purchased.)
And please have your staff see the Archives at VassarBushmills.com to see how many relevant essays have been published since 2011, all by a grown-up.