CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

The Radical Paradox of Sweden’s Consensus Culture

Our Inclination to Agree Pushes Political and Social Policies to Extremes

Swedes have succeeded in satisfying the demands of the global middle class for modern cultural products, from furniture and fashion to easy-listening music, like the pop group Abba, pictured here in 1977. They are, from left to right: Benny Anderson, Annifrid (known as Frida) Lyngstad, Agnetha (known as Anna) Faltskog, and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Photo by Associated Press.

In the 1930s, the American journalist Marquis Childs, after spending time in Sweden, wrote the bestselling book Sweden: The Middle Way. Childs described a country without major social conflicts between the upper and lower classes. He was fascinated by the Swedish economic system, which he described as a perfect compromise between free and controlled markets. In the United States, the book made a great impact on President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he sought support for the New Deal. Childs found it remarkable that you could have “a royal family, a …

More In: public policy