Business, College of


Date of this Version

June 1992


Published in the Journal of Economic Issues Volume XXVI, No. 2, June 1992. Copyright © 1992, Journal of Economic Issues. Used by permission.


When Gunnar Myrdal visited the United States in 1929, he was struck by the extremes of poverty and wealth that existed at the onset of the Great Depression and perplexed by the seeming lack of "class struggle" or "class consciousness" [Jackson 1990,63- 651. Addressing an audience in Geneva, Myrdal later remarked that "patriotic conservatism, capitalist Americanism, spiced with hate and contempt for 'European' subversive dogmas, are not only Main Street's petit bourgeois froth and triumph, but also the slum's compensation for a sad and wretched daily life" 11931, 205- 61. In this speech, Myrdal identified the almost "religious nature" with which Americans held the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and viewed this reverence as a "conservative force" that allowed the capitalist system to grow "almost without any restraint" [1931,205-6].

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