An International Dilemma: The Postwar Utopianism of Gunnar Myrdal’s Beyond the Welfare State


This article shows how Myrdal sought to build on the success of his An American Dilemma (1954) by showing American liberals that the conduct of Western states toward the developing postcolonial world was in conflict with their fundamental ideals. Judging by his contacts at Yale, Myrdal’s Beyond the Welfare State (1960) was aimed at an audience that, in the late 1950s, perceived America’s relationship to the postcolonial world to be at a critical juncture. Myrdal’s book offered them an attractive and reassuring, but ultimately unconvincing, narrative that reconciled the Western commitment to national welfare with international solidarity.