“The world’s happiest country” and its ever-growing moral conflict

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) published his groundbreaking study on the United States’ racism problem in 1944. While Myrdal was a controversial figure and Sweden was into measuring the skulls of the Saami due to a pseudoscience called eugenics, his study leaves us with food for thought.

One of these is denial of a serious social problem like the endemic injustice and poverty of the black man in the United States. You did not need to, however, to arrive at the same conclusions as Myrdal if you took a long good look at US society back then – and even today.



The central thesis of Myrdal’s study was that the United States, or particularly white USAmericans, was a conflict with the USAmerican creed founded on freedom, justice, and opportunity on the one hand but carried out systemic violations of the blacks through social exclusion and disenfranchisement.

Finland is one country, like in Myrdal’s assessment of race relations in the US, faces the same moral conflict. On the one hand, we are taught and tell ourselves that we believe in social equality but on the other we practice, through systemic racism and exclusion, pervasive violations of the dignity of the Roma, Muslims, Sami, and other minorities.

If Myrdal were alive today and we’d ask him to assess the far-right Perussuomalaiset phenonemenon in Finland as well as racism in Sweden, he’d probably arrive at the same conclusion as his study on the blacks in the United States.

He’d conclude that we live in a moral crisis and conflict.