Liberals and conservatives, with and against Democracy (working paper)

Chapter 18

Liberals and conservatives, with and against Democracy

***Draft for Chapter in The Cambridge History of Democracy: Vol III edited by Samuel Moyn and Christopher Meckstroth, (CUP, forthcoming). 


  1. Introduction: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy

Popular discourse about “liberal democracy” assumes the inherent compatibility between liberalism and democracy—despite their long complicated historical interaction.[1] That liberal democracy is presumed to be a coherent political idea owes much to the liberal triumphalism that marked the 1990s.[2] That decade witnessed history’s end, the arrival of the North Atlantic third way, and the dawn of a new globalized age. Political theorists contributed to this spirit of triumphalism. Throughout the 1990s, John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, along with their students, declared that they had discovered the theoretical keys for reconciling democracy and liberalism: deliberative democracy.[3] There were, no doubt, critics of this project. At the time, Chantal Mouffe regularly suggested that neither Rawls nor Habermas solved the riddle of liberal democracy: “Each of them ends,” says Mouffe, “by privileging one dimension over the other: liberalism in the case of Rawls. Democracy in the case of Habermas.”[4]

For his part, Sheldon Wolin shared Mouffe’s basic critique of Rawls: “the divide between liberalism and democracy is indicated by the relative insignificance Rawls attached to democratic ideals of shared power and an active citizenry.”[5] Although influential, their critiques of the political assumptions of the 1990s and 2000s, lived in the shadows of the theoretical presence cast by the towering influence of Rawls and Habermas. Twenty years later, however, there seems to be far more sympathy with Mouffe, Wolin and company’s basic claim about the inherent instability between liberalism and democracy.

The post-2016 “crisis of democracy” and/or “crisis of liberalism”—Trump, Brexit, the uncoordinated handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic shutdown, etc—have left a young generation of political theorists and intellectuals far less confident about the coherence of liberal democracy. The centrist public intellectual, Yascha Mounk, for instance, has explicitly argued that the major political assumption of the post-Cold War era is wrong: “liberalism and democracy,” explains Mounk, “do not go together nearly as naturally as most citizens—and many scholars—have assumed.”[6]  Others, such as the political theorist, Helene Landemore, suggest that what often gets labeled as a “crisis of democracy” is actually a sign of democracy’s vitality. On this reading, Brexit and Trumpism are, in reality, the products of resentment and distrust of political personnel and liberal representative institutions that are failing to deliver the promise of democracy.[7] Wendy Brown, inspired by Wolin, has made a series of recent interventions showing how the inherent tension between liberalism and democracy have been exacerbated by the neoliberal “reprogramming of liberalism.”[8]Such reprogramming buffers markets from democratic overreach, while the liberal states “social responsibilities” must be “entrepreneurialized.”[9]  Meanwhile Mouffe’s insights, going back to the 1990s, on the inherent political instability between democracy and liberalism, along with her calls for a Left Populism, proved a key inspiration for the French political party La France Insoumise, and especially its leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.[10]

 In spite of the times, defenders of the enlightened 1990s have not been swayed. Jan-Werner Müller, beholden to Habermas’s thought, sees the very idea of “illiberal democracy,” not only as contradiction, but as an unwitting validation of the dangerous populism of the Orbans, Erdogans, Trumps and Bolsonaros of the world. Even if fairly elected, says Müller, they quickly begin to undermine the “the institutional machinery of democracy” in the name of the so-called real people (as opposed to their political opponents).”[11] For Müller, liberalism and democracy are co-constitutive, thus rendering populism, by default, a threat to the political system of liberal democracy. Meanwhile, Francis Fukuyama, who proclaimed history’s end in the 1990s, has repeatedly changed his mind on the topic: sometimes seeing liberal democracy as dysfunctional and in decline;[12] and other times maintaining that the end of history isn’t going anywhere.[13]As Fukuyama’s waffling suggests, it would be difficult to deny that the happy marriage between liberalism and democracy that marked the 1990s is no longer so happy, leading some prophets of doom to herald its imminent demise.[14] If anything, today’s so called crisis of democracy should necessitate a sober reassessment of the 1990s, and whether the liberal democratic consensus that marked it proved coherent.

Rather than the decade of liberal democracy’s apogee, this paper sees the 1990s as the delayed continuation of the crisis of democracy that marked the 1970s. This previous crisis involved the undoing of the consensus politics that marked the postwar period as most notably depicted in the Trilateral Commission’s 1975 report The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies.[15] Much has been written on how the new system of liberal democratic governance that emerged out of the crisis prioritized neoliberal market freedoms over democratic equality; this paper will show how neoliberals sought to “to reinvent democracy,” as Daniel Zamora puts it, “by “invest[ing] the marketplace with a democratic legitimacy.”[16] At the same time, the crisis of the 1970s—galvanized by decolonization, stagflation, neoliberal welfare reform, and the unraveling of cultural norms—led to the rise to the emergence of New Right movements, parties and thought collectives throughout the North Atlantic.[17] In this process, as Simon Reid-Henry explains: “Actually existing democracy was overhauled; and long before the decade was out the reinvention of the West was underway.” Critically, the fall of communism between 1989 and 1991, explains Reid-Henry “represented a denouement to this process… Fatefully, it also provided Western political liberalism with an opportunity not only to overlook the difficulties already apparent in the new liberal democratic consensus, but in many ways to intensify their effect.”[18] The triumph of the West in the 1990s occluded the political and economic contradictions of the 1970s, which by the 2010s revealed themselves in full.

This paper is generally concerned with one instance of the wider North Atlantic crisis of democracy that emerged in the 1970s. It shows how the new American consensus of the 1970s involved not only a turn to neoliberalism, but a Cold War liberal infused neoconservative movement premised on international security concerns and military expenditures. The thought collectives behind these movements entered into an anti-totalitarian coalition with populist Evangelical forces, in their mutual defense of the “free world,” and disdain towards the “moral relativism” of the New Left. As such, the chapter seeks to outline how Cold War liberals, neoliberals and religious populists thought about democracy. Pinpointing to what degree they were with and against democracy can deepen understanding for what brought these strands of thought together forty years ago, and how, by the 2010s, they unraveled.

  1. Democracy and Cold War Liberalism

 There are good reasons for seeing today’s tension-filled relationship between liberalism and democracy as constituting the rule, rather than the exception, of the history of modern political thought. The clash of the masses versus a liberal bourgeois elite most certainly marked the “Long Nineteenth Century”—its revolutions, civil wars, social questions, populist movements, and imperial ambitions—which ended with the Great War. Moreover, much of nineteenth liberalism might be considered synonymous with laissez-faire economics, and the racist European imperial ambition to rule the world.[19] Yet recent works have shown the variegated nature of 19th liberal thought, especially as it concerns the subject of democracy and the people.[20] From the Atlantic Revolutions to World War I, liberalism was far from indifferent to ordinary people and was marked by spirit of moral and social reform. Its progressive era champions, for instance, sought improvements to urban infrastructure, monopoly busting and establishing public-private welfare states.[21]As the historian Samuel Moyn writes: “across the nineteenth century, accepting democratic self-government and counteracting in theory liberalism’s associations with “capitalism” in practice became the tradition’s permanent challenge.”[22] Moreover, to be a liberal in the 19th century typically meant defending universal values, science and rationalism. In France, for instance, liberals embraced anti-clericalism, secularism, universal human rights, and defended Dreyfus.[23] Such liberalism was perfectionist and comprehensive, in that it was marked by a high idealism, moral purism, and a view of history and human beings advancing towards an endless process of moral and scientific becoming.

Yet the rise of Bolshevism and National Socialism during the interwar period led to neo-orthodox reconsideration liberalism’s underlying Enlightenment optimism and reconfiguration of its commitment to democracy. A new generation of liberals believed that the ignorant, and now enfranchised masses, were all too easily duped by the shenanigans of a novel political form they called totalitarianism, and especially on account of its charismatic leaders.[24] In other words, they made a direct connection between mass democracy and the emergence of an unpresented form of political tyranny.  So called Cold War liberal thinkers, such as Isaiah Berlin, Reinhold Niebuhr, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Raymond Aron, Karl Popper and others believed that liberalism’s long-standing Enlightenment tradition of moral idealism and optimism regarding human and societal improvement had to be fundamentally rethought for two principal reasons. First, they argued, it proved naïve, and politically and morally irresponsible, given a new age of “totalitarian extremes”; liberals would need to toughen up, disabuse itself of its idealistic and moralist pretensions, and develop a doctrine of defense given the ruthlessness and fanaticism of National Socialism. In the aftermath of the Second World War, new threats emerged in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and later Castro’s Cuba. If liberalism had any chance of surviving, it would need to become more aggressive in its defense of freedom against the specter of communist totalitarianism.[25] To Cold War intellectuals, both inside and outside of the academy, liberal democracy was not predestined to succeed. It was fragile and in need of vigilant protection because it could transform into tyranny.[26]

And second, liberalism’s high idealism and moral perfection proved incompatible with the growing pluralism and diversity of values that marked modern society. Often drawing on Max Weber, they believed that, in a modern world of ever-increasing values, it would be not only naïve and ineffective but dangerously irresponsible to base one’s politics on the “flame of pure conviction.”[27] Such was the sin, Weber thought, of not only Bolshevism but of liberal pacifism. Without moderating its perfectionism, liberalism would provoke a permanent and dangerous clash of values and galvanize the very ideological forces that threatened its existence. If anything is to be accomplished, Weber argued, an ethics of responsibility must be embraced, one which allows for the wise and discerning management of divergent values.[28] This view of democracy involved an acceptance of the realities of mass democracy, and at the same time the threat this posed to domestic and international security. These Cold War liberals were avid anti-Communists and political realists who sought to contain democracy within a system of political pluralism—namely the post-war welfare state—in order to quell domestic social divisions for the purposes of domestic stability and national defense.[29] A brief examination of two leading Cold War liberal thinkers illustrates this ambiguous approach to modern democracy.

Raymond Aron—typically considered the greatest French Cold War liberal of the twentieth century—wrote much more, in fact, about democracy than liberalism. His ambiguous thinking about democracy moved in two directions. On the one hand, Aron, especially in the 1950s, often conflated democracy with liberal pluralist regimes. Such regimes are defined, affirmed Aron, by political parties agreeing to the legal organization of peaceful competition for power, and the party in office acting in accordance with the constitution and laws. For this reason, Aron accepted the political legitimacy of non-revolutionary labor parties, and on the grounds that they would represent the working class by agreeing to “play by the rules” of liberal parliamentary systems of governance. As Aron put it in his 1954 book Les Guerres en chaîne, “Group and social conflicts are softened by expression. The working classes adhere to a government that gives them the right to make themselves heard and allows them a better chance to improve their condition.”[30] On the other hand, this commitment to pluralism was not rooted in idealism, but in Aron’s anxieties about the dangers of unrestrained democracy.  In 1939, shortly before he fled the Occupation for London, Aron commented on the nature of totalitarian regimes by stating that “if by ‘democratic’ we mean primarily that sovereignty emanates from the people, nothing prevents us from calling totalitarian regimes democratic.”[31] Aron, very much shaken by the downfall of the Weimar Republic, and political divisions within France, believed that democracy contained the seeds of potential demagoguery, radicalism, and despotism. For this reason, in 1944, he called on the French government to implement policies that provided healthcare and other general social assurances to the working classes, lest they put their faith in dangerous political ideologies.[32] The basis of Aron’s political pluralism is rooted in security concerns about the radical potential of mass democracy, and the need to contain it. If it could be contained, Aron reasoned, perhaps there could be an end to radical ideologies.[33]

Aron devoted much attention during the 1950s and 1960s to exploring the intricate nature of modern democracy which, inspired by his newfound interest in Tocqueville’s thought, he rooted in the intensification of expanding demands for equality.[34] The demand for equality made pluralistic constitutional regimes inherently fragile, Aron argued, since the desire to erase inequality between individuals or groups, especially in movements of political fervor, could all too easily trump respect for legality and the constitution. Aron interpreted the May 1968 student protest movements exactly in this light, namely as a movement of direct democracy, which ignited a worker’s strike, and could have brought down France’s liberal pluralist regime.[35] In a rare dramatic moment, Aron responded to the May protest by claiming that Western civilization was at stake. Had the revolutionaries—Trotskyites, Maoists, and the like—succeeded, it would have most likely led, argued Aron, to a popular front type of government dominated by the French Communist Party or gave way to a right-wing authoritarian government.[36] His constant comparison of May 1968 to the collapse of the Weimar Republic lends support to such a reading. As such, he sought to implement the lessons that had gone unheeded in the 1930s. For this reason, he supported the 1973 military overthrow of socialist President Salvador Allende in Chile under the pretense that in doing so, the military avoided a civil war there.[37] His view that May 1968 represented growing discontent with the post-war liberal pluralist system, which he idealized, combined with his fears that the United States was losing the global Cold War. This pushed his thought during the 1970s in a decidedly neoconservative direction, a common trajectory for many Cold War liberals, which will be discussed below.[38] Behind all of this, stood Aron’s worries about the egalitarian nature of modern democracy and the need to contain it.

A similar political logic about democracy can be found in the writings of Reinhold Niebuhr, typically considered to be both America’s leading theologian of the 20th century, and the godfather of Cold War liberalism. Niebuhr, like Aron, arrived at a realist understanding of democracy during the 1930s, one that would fundamentally shape his mature Cold War liberal thought. In 1932 he published Moral Man and Immoral Society, which articulated a vision of social justice strongly at odds with the dominant liberal idealist trends at this time. The horrors of World War I, socialists advocating for violent revolution, the rise of fascism, and the brutalities of class struggle, proved to Niebuhr that the pacifism of the Social Gospel movement, and the powerful influence of John Dewey’s democratic humanism, were dangerously out of touch with dark political realities. Niebuhr argued American progressives must abandon one of their crucial, but misguided, assumptions: that the advancement neighborly love and good will between enlightened individuals will progressively evolve into “social harmony between all human societies and collectives.”[39] The problem with this view, Niebuhr reasoned, is that it doesn’t acknowledge the basic difference between the morality of individuals and the morality of collectives, whether races, classes or nations. Here Niebuhr presumed that at the level of human groups “there is less reason to guide and to check impulse…therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the group, reveal in their personal relationships.”[40] Niebuhr, therefore, argued that the only way large-scale cooperation between groups is possible is to accept a society in which “there will be enough justice, and in which coercion will be sufficiently non-violent to prevent his common enterprise from issuing into complete disaster.”[41] Social justice on these grounds—by which Niebuhr meant equal access to resources, power and opportunities—is pursued not through democratic deliberation, but through recognizing that a plurality of groups are striving to coerce power towards their political ends. Progressives must, therefore, prioritize how to think about and use coercion for achieving greater equality rather than putting their faith in visions of gradually actualized social harmony.

By the time he published The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944), Niebuhr explicitly claimed to be offering a “vindication of democracy and a critique of its traditional defense.”[42]Democracy itself now appears as a balancing act of collective forces. Hence the book’s famous aphorism: “man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”[43]  The “traditional defense of democracy,” as Niebuhr describes it, errors in its “excessively optimistic estimates of human nature and of human history… which are a source of peril to democratic society.”[44] Democratic idealism put into practice, for Niebuhr, was politically naïve and therefore dangerous: it results in either political fantasies or overlooking the reality of dangerous threats to the political order.

Whereas a commitment to class struggle marked his democratic thought during the 1930s, Niebuhr, by the early 1950s, now spoke of the “fluidity of the American class structure” and decline of “social resentments in the United States.”[45] In The Irony of American History (1952), Niebuhr, now a Cold War liberal, claimed that power had become “equilibrated” in the US; “disproportions” and “disbalances” in economic society, according to Niebuhr, redressed.[46] In turn, he reduced communism to a “demonic religio-political creed…a vast moment which generates more extravagant forms of political injustice and cruelty…than…ever known in human history.”[47] Paradoxically, The Irony of American History basically passes over in silence the question of race in America—a silence which has inspired some of Niebuhr’s most fierce critics. Meanwhile, Niebuhr categorically writes off the entire Asian continent as incapable of Western democracy since the nations that compose it lack the “honesty” necessary for it: “Few of the nonindustrial nations have sufficiently high standards of honesty to make democratic government viable.”[48] The greater irony is that the transformation of Niebuhr into an establishment intellectual made his democratic thought, in the words of the young Christopher Lasch, “almost indistinguishable from the liberalism against which he had initially rebelled.”[49] Indeed, George F. Kennan is purported to have said that Niebuhr was “the father of us all” by which he meant insiders like himself, such as Dean Acheson, McGeorge Bundy and Paul Nitze.[50]

 Inspired by the sociologist C. Wright Mills, New Left critics deployed “Cold War liberalism” to describe a defensive liberal ideology which linked social democratic welfare states to US military superiority and NATO. Such critics understood Cold War liberalism to compromise the social democratic legacy of the New Deal.[51] They did not see Cold War liberalism as a political philosophy of moderation or pluralism, but as a liberal ideology of military Keynesianism, which accepted a welfare state premised on the national security state, and faith in the United States and NATO as universal and exceptionalist projects.[52] Instead of a democratic welfare state, Cold War liberals put their faith in the military, and depended on spending related to it to deliver social benefits—employment, economic growth, civic purpose—in the absence of a broader welfare state. The fight against communism abroad also led to recognition of the problem posed by racial inequality at home. As Secretary of State Dean Acheson argued in 1947, “discrimination against minority groups in this country has an adverse effect upon our relations with other countries.” Political realism led Cold War liberals to embrace efforts to redress racism through the recognition of civil rights for Black Americans, push to strengthen trade unions, and advocate for full employment through the mechanisms of the national security state.

III. Democracy and Neoliberalism

Whereas Cold War liberals accepted mass democracy as unavoidable in “western societies” and see the welfare state as necessary to contain it, neoliberals typically prove resistant to mass democracy, and see either the constitution, the state or international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, as necessary to insulate free markets from democracy. In this sense, welfare states, for neoliberals, prove to be conduits for the greatest pathologies of modern democracy, namely “totalitarianism”. Debate, of course, persists on the legitimacy of the concept of neoliberalism.[53] But there is a wide scholarly consensus that the thought collective associated with the Mont Pelerin Society sees democracy as a major threat to how they vision of a free society.[54] The evidence for this is ubiquitous.  The thought of Friedrich Hayek—typically considered the doyen of neoliberalism—presents the most obvious example of this.

As with the Cold War liberals, Hayek’s thinking about democracy was forged during the interwar period, and under the specter of growing political tyranny. Indeed, Hayek and Raymond Aron met for the first in 1938 at the Colloque Walter Lippmann, which many scholars view as a seminal event in the founding of the neoliberal movement. At this time, Hayek’s thought was moving away from mere economic theory—earlier in the decade he had been embroiled in economic debates over business cycles—and toward the development of a social and political philosophy. In particular, the wide acceptance of Keynes’s General Theory (1936) made Hayek’s argument in Prices and Production (1931)that artificial stimulants or interventions would deepen the depression—seem wildly out of touch. Sensing defeat, Hayek decided to address the virtues of markets and the vices of intervention from the perspective of political theory. This led to the publication of Hayek’s article “Freedom and the Economic System” (1938), in which he asserts that economic planning requires government authorities to take control of economic outcomes; as such, he insisted, economic planning had inevitable political consequences.

It is a fateful delusion to believe that [planning] can be confined to economic matters. The tragic fact is that dictatorial direction cannot remain confined to economic matters but is bound to expand and to become totalitarian.[55]

A society, however, is only secure against political tyranny when governance is grounded in the rule of law and allows for the freedom of choice that can only be guaranteed in a market system.

This line of argument set the stage for Hayek’s famous book, The Road to Serfdom (1944), which makes a direct connection between the rise of modern democracy, the welfare state, and the emergence of totalitarian regimes. Hayek argued that “democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.”[56] He reasoned as follows: If we were in full agreement on what are the political ends to be achieved, “there would not only be no case for general rules [of law], to be adhered to, we would simply tell the people or it would be known, what was best for society to do in a particular instance.”[57] Yet this is not freedom, he argued, since it coerces individual action in the direction of a particular end. As such, “democracy resolves on a task,” affirms Hayek, “which necessarily involves the use of power which cannot be guided by fixed rules, it must become arbitrary power.[58] Insofar as democracy ceases to be a guarantee of individual freedom, it could persist in a totalitarian regime. Hayek, as such, saw “no inherent opposition between democracy and totalitarianism.[59] He therefore proved critical of representative democracy since it reconciled the enfranchised masses to a system of liberal democratic representation, who, in turn, could vote into existence and ever expanding and centralized welfare state. Neoliberals, like Hayek, therefore, sought to insulate the free market from social democracy, through lawmaking and constitutionalism. For this reason, he argued that he did not consider himself to be a democrat if this meant “that democracy is taken to mean government by the unrestricted will of the majority.”[60] Neoliberals often embraced Hayek’s line of reasoning about democracy, namely that it is simply majority rule.

The noted American economist Milton Friedman, inspired by Hayek, explicitly stated, “I don’t believe in democracy,” by which he meant majority rule. He argued that majority rule tends to require or enforce substantial conformity. As he and his wife, Rose Friedman, put in Free to Choose (1990), “the ballot box produces conformity without unanimity; the marketplace, unanimity without conformity. That is why it is desirable to use the ballot box, so far as possible, only for those decisions where conformity is essential.”[61] For Friedman, the market gives everybody what they want while politics only what the majority wants. Notice how Friedman transforms the market into a democratic “system of proportional representation” protecting the diversity of individuals.[62] It is in this rather peculiar sense that Friedman defended democracy. In the market, “each man can vote” he famously argued, “for the color of tie he wants and get it; he does not have to see what color the majority wants and then, if he is in the minority, submit.”[63] Friedman’s attempt to equate buying with democracy is commonplace amongst neoliberals.

For instance, Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist and mentor of Hayek, understood the marketplace to be more rational and less capable of being led astray by charismatic populists and propaganda than voters in a representative government. “From this point of view,” argued von Mises in the early 1920, “the capitalist society is a democracy in which every penny represents a ballot paper. It is a democracy with an imperative and immediately revocable mandate to its deputies. It is a consumers’ democracy.”[64] Likewise, Lionel Robbins, the British economist—who was very much influenced by von Mises—argued in his 1934 book, The Great Depression, that the market can be compared to a continuous election, in which every dime spent counts as a ballot in favor of a particular commodity. As such, he argued that the market could ascertain “the complex and changing tastes of the millions of different individuals constituting the community.”[65] And finally, the French philosopher Louis Rougier, who was responsible for organizing Le colloque Walter Lippmann in 1938, which some see as the birthplace of neoliberalism, claimed that “profit is the consequence and the sign of the ability of producers to serve the needs and tastes of consumers well.”[66] In this sense, he maintained that the market economy could also be called an economic democracy, since it expresses the needs and the tastes of consumers.

As the political theorist Thomas Biebricher aptly remarks, the views of Friedman, Robbins, von Mises, and Rougier attempt to “replace democratic procedures with market coordination”[67] Yet contemporary scholars critical of neoliberalism typically seem unaware that the Cold War liberals during the 1950s arrived at similar judgments of neoliberalism, as both groups competed to articulate a new vision of liberalism of the postwar order. For instance, one of Raymond Aron’s most pressing criticisms of Hayek directly harkens back to the former’s concerns expressed during the time he spent in London during the Occupation; specifically, his exhortation for European leaders to consider the special interest of the economically disadvantaged in their postwar rebuilding efforts. Less than a decades later, in 1952, Aron explicitly claimed that Hayek’s liberalism could not work “in a system of pacific competition for power between organized interest groups.”[68] It could only work, he noted, in a nineteenth century political context, in which the privileged did not have to take into consideration the lower classes. But the nineteenth century was a bygone era, Aron argued, and there was no going back.[69] In other words, Aron accused Hayek of promoting an atavistic and dogmatic conception of liberalism that fails to take into consideration the social demands of interest groups who plead their cases through a liberal democratic system of governance. Or as Aron put it: “Personally, I believe that if one wanted, in modern times, to have a liberal economic system as desired by Hayek, it would require political dictatorship.”[70]

Without a strong welfare state, Cold War liberals like Aron, believed the working classes would democratically mobilize and embrace revolutionary ideologies that threatened liberal systems of political pluralism. Containing democratic radicalism through the welfare state could thus allow for what Daniel Bell, Raymond Aron, Seymour Martin Lipset and others described as “the end of ideology.”[71] Neoliberals believed the working classes, despite even their best intentions, were using democracy to internally transform liberal systems of political pluralism into monolithic centralized governments that could be repurposed for totalitarian ends. Neoliberals, therefore, did not embrace Cold War liberalism view that welfare state worked to contain and moderate the social-economic demands of the masses. Instead, they viewed the market itself as the ultimate value, and not something to be compromised by the “rise of mass enfranchisement and the end of empire.”[72] It comes, then, as little surprise that mid-twentieth century Cold War liberals and neoliberals often viewed each other’s thinking about democracy critically.  The logic of the global Cold War explains their parting of ways. However, their anti-totalitarianism could and did lead to alliances, as the next section explains.

  1. Democracy and the Neoconservative Turn

Cold War liberal thinkers were committed to a liberal consensus that emphasized the commonalties shared by all democratic citizens. This consensus came under attack in the 1960s and ’70s. The global New Left challenged the cultural conformity that marked university education. And in the United States, it led to protest against the university system’s connections to the security state. Frankfurt School thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno, along with their American counterparts such as C. Wright Mills, offered a newly resonant critique of the militarization of the university and its place in what Mills called the “power elite.” The backlash to the New Left created a counterrevolution in thought throughout the North Atlantic. As a consequence, many consensus-oriented liberals remade themselves into neoconservative intellectuals who feared that student radicalism signified a new moral relativism—a disdain for religion, liberal individualism, and society premised on a discernible order. Given the global scope of this reaction, this rest of this chapter, due to limitations of space, focuses on the American neoconservative reaction to the New Left, and specifically its conception of democracy. In this regard, perhaps no intellectual did more to assemble a motley crew of political, economic and religious forces to stem the tide of the New Left than Irving Kristol—the godfather of the neoconservative movement.

Under Kristol’s leadership, The Public Interest became, alongside Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary, a forum for decrying the crisis of legitimacy brought about by the New Left and the counterculture.[73]Kristol drew on Daniel Bell’s explanation for the socio-economic roots of the crisis of the Sixties in The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism to lay out a conservative program of democratic counter-revolution. For Bell, the twentieth-century consumer economy had undermined the ‘Protestant Ethic’ of self-sacrifice that had once been capitalism’s moral logic. In the process, it generalized to a large segment of consumers the sort of hedonistic modernist attitudes that had once been confined to a small intellectual and artistic elite. The youth radicals of the 1960s and 1970s were led to revolt by their dissatisfaction with the disconnect between their modernist cultural attitudes and the persistent conservatism of ‘bourgeois’ life.[74] Kristol took Bell’s historical interpretation a step further.[75] As he saw it, New Left radicals continued well after the campus revolts to spread subversive attitudes, taking advantage of America’s changing demographics.

For Kristol, the ‘new class’ of white-collar professionals born during the post-war baby boom were particularly susceptible to the radical discontent Bell described, more widely educated than any class in history. Radical intellectuals exploited the impressionability of college-age baby boomers to disseminate an ‘adversary culture’ of hostility towards traditional culture, liberal democracy, and entrepreneurial capitalism. The crisis of the Sixties and beyond was in Kristol’s eyes nothing less than a cultural coup d’état, in which a small vanguard of radical theorists risked capturing the hearts and minds of the new generation of middle-class and upwardly-mobile Americans.  For Kristol, the solution to this crisis was a new kind of public thinker, a ‘counter-intellectual’ who could stand up for the majority of Americans that had conservative cultural leanings. Kristol intended to defeat the New Left on this territory by mounting a renewed defense of the traditional values he believed Americans still held deep-down.

Although a critic of populism in the early 1970s, Kristol came to embrace the populist forces of the Religious Right by the time of Reagan’s presidency. “To the degree that we are witnessing a crisis in our democratic institutions,” he observed, “it is a crisis of our disoriented elites, not of a blindly impassioned populace.”[76] Kristol pointed to the debacle in Vietnam, and the gulf between the common sense of the American people and the un-wisdom of its governing elites. Kristol drew direct connections between the New Left’s attacks on postwar ‘vital center’ liberalism on US college campuses and the Third World’s attacks at the UN on the liberal world order created, managed, and funded by the United States after World War II. The debacle in Vietnam and the defiance of those at the UN calling for a New International Order demonstrated all the more to Kristol a crisis of elite leadership.[77] “We have, since the 1960s, witnessed a veritable revolution in social policy in this country, a revolution-from-above, a revolution imposed on the people.”[78] On Kristol’s reading, the democratic populism of the Religious Right represented “common sense,” and Reagan, the leader who could guide these forces for the purposes of revitalizing economy through the Protestant work ethic, and bring the nation together to win the Cold War.[79] Leaving momentarily aside the question of how these populist forces understood democracy, Kristol brought mainstream legitimation to the Reverend Jerry Falwell and the Religious Right through the pages of The Public Interest and The Wall Street Journal.

Moreover, Kristol sought a rapprochement with neoliberalism in the hope of achieving a new political consensus. As a part of his strategy of moral and cultural insurgency that emerged during the 1970s – Kristol hoped to fill in the practical gaps of neoliberalism’s economistic understanding of the defense of American society by placing it within a broader conservative framework.[80] In 1976, Kristol joined the American Enterprise Institute in order to bring the neoconservative “counter-intellectual” movement into the growing neoliberal-dominated “counter-establishment.”[81] He saw entering the world of right-wing think-tanks and foundations as an opportunity to enshrine his take on cultural conservatism as what Sidney Blumenthal has called the ‘Leninist strategy for the right,’ in which ‘intellectual cadres would guide the masses of [the] “Silent Majority” against the class enemy.”[82] Kristol’s efforts helped integrate the neoliberal conception of the market into American conservatism, rendering it a veritable ally (and not just merely of convenience) with the grassroots traditionalism of the New Right. Neoconservatism’s seemingly paradoxical position as a movement of intellectuals engaging in populist social conservative discourse helped bridge the crucial gap between conservative enemies of the liberal elite – figures such as Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority – and the neoliberal elite largely populated by economists in major American universities. Kristol did much to legitimate neoliberalism and the Religious Right into a democratic program for the Reagan era, which until the presidency of Donald Trump, dominated the ideological orientation of the Republican Party. How did the Religious Right, though, view democracy in the 1970s?

  1. Conclusion: Democracy and the Religious Right

If Cold War liberals linked democracy to security, and neoliberalism equated democracy with consumer choice, it could be said that the populism of the Religious Right, in part, involved a political mobilization strategy for the legislation of conservative Christian morality. As such, it sought to use the institutional apparatuses—at this time voting and later a strategy of electing conservative supreme court justices—of liberal democracy as a means for theocratic legal ends. Three essential factors gave rise to the Religious Right, which mobilized not only millions of Evangelicals across the country, but also conservative Catholics, Mormons and some conservative Jewish voices into a populist force which by 1980 found acceptance in the Republican Party. First, by 1972, Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy—and campaign for law and order—successfully assimilated southern white Evangelicals, who had defended segregation, into the Republican Party, therefore uniting them with northern white Republicans Evangelicals who had accepted integration.[83] Second, both of these groups feared the growing expansion of the federal government and the ability of the Supreme Court to weigh in on “culture war” issues regarding abortion, gay rights, sex education, feminism and school prayer, which they viewed as essential matters of Christian faith; a fear that can be traced back to southern white Evangelicals initial rejection of Brown v Board of Education (1954), which ruled school segregation to be unconstitutional.[84] And agreement on policy issues allowed for long term theological differences and suspicions between these conservative faiths to be mitigated—most notably between Evangelicals and Catholics—for the purposes of waging culture war against abortion, pornography and the ban on religion in public education.[85] But it took something more than simply overcoming regional political divisions, or agreement over “Judeo-Christian” morality, to stoke a nationwide religious infused populist movement.

By the early 1970s, Evangelicals thought the United States was on its way to hell. The disgrace of Nixon’s resignation, economic stagnation, rebelling students, the gasoline shortage, unrest in the nation’s cities and Roe v. Wade indicated to the emerging thought leaders of the Religious Right, that America had turned its back on Christian values and principles.[86] Moreover, the Vietnam debacle, the oil embargo, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and détente proved to these Evangelicals that the Unites States was losing the Cold War; the pure evil of godless communism now imperiled the world like never before.[87] The idiosyncrasies of Evangelical theology, rooted in apocalyptic anxieties, saw in the domestic and international politics of the early 1970s tell-tale signs the end of the world was nigh.[88] The decadence and moral laxity of the American people, and, more importantly, the political leadership that had led them astray, now made the nation vulnerable to the imminent judgment of God. However, damnation, could be avoided if “the true Christians” resisted the political establishment by returning the country to its righteous path. This could come to pass by electing Christian presidents, who, domestically, would honor God’s moral law by nominating Christian Supreme Court justices, and, who, internationally, would defeat the evil empire of Soviet atheism. It would also demand that conservative Evangelicals become fully intergraded into the democratic process as voters, litigants, and candidates for school board, city council, state legislatures, Congress, and so forth.

All of this can be understood as a God and country populist revolt against the political establishment of the 1960s and early 1970s. Such a national mobilization effort, was now needed, according to the new thought leaders of the Religious Right, such as Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, due to a specific philosophy they blamed for leading America astray: They called it: “secular humanism.” Schaeffer—a Presbyterian minister turned intellectual guru of the Religious Right movement—published in 1976, How Should We Then Live? The rise of the modern era, Schaeffer argued, saw the emergence of a secular humanist culture and philosophies marked by will-to-power-relativism, nihilism and the exaltation of “Man” over God. Schaeffer explained to his readers that the totalitarianism of National Socialism and Soviet Communism emerged out of secular humanist thought: a very common view after WWII among European Christians (often former reactionaries) reconstructed as Cold War liberals. Despite its many moral failures, most notably slavery, Schaeffer believed that the US had proven adept at resisting the onslaught of secular humanism by way of its commitment to Christian universal moral truths. This changed, however, with the cultural and moral relativism of the 1960s, which indicated to Schaeffer that the United States was transforming into an authoritarian secular government. There was no greater indication of such rising authoritarianism, according to Schaeffer, than the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion with the Roe v Wade decision. Given these realities, Schaeffer’s book urged Christians to politically mobilize “against the special sickness and threat of our age—the rise of authoritarian government.”[89] Christian resistance to secularism through political engagement, Schaeffer claimed, turned the country back to biblical standards of morality and, in turn, staved off secular authoritarianism.

How Should We Then Live? —a book which explains two thousand years of intellectual and cultural history in 250 pages—sold millions of copies. It also influenced the Reverend Jerry Falwell—a fundamentalist Baptist and former segregationist—who in 1979 founded the Moral Majority and became one of the leaders of the Religious Right. During his days as fundamentalist preacher in the 1950s and 1960s, Falwell head refused to work with Catholics and other Protestant sects who he saw as heretical. However, a 1978 ruling by the IRS that stripped the tax-exempt status from all-white private schools formed in response to Brown v. Board galvanized Falwell’s anxieties about “big government” overreach. The result led Falwell to engage in direct political action, and it was Schaeffer’s influence that inspired him to overcome his theological biases and to join forces with other like-minded “cobelligerents” in their mutual struggle against the secular humanism of the establishment.[90]  “Dr. Schaeffer shattered that world of isolation for me…He was the one who pushed me into the area and told me to put on the gloves.”[91] Falwell regularly invoked Schaeffer’s notion of secular humanism when justifying his exhortation for Christians to embrace democracy by registering to vote.[92] As he proclaimed at one gathering: “If there is one person in this room not registered, repent of it. It’s a sin.”[93]

The Religious Right discourse calling for political mobilization against secular humanism was widespread throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, Ronald Reagan himself used it in 1976: “There has been a wave of humanism and hedonism in the land. However, I am optimistic because I sense in this land a great revolution against that. The people of this country are not beyond redemption.”[94] Reagan’s ability to use religious populist rhetoric made him a godsend for Evangelicals believing that the country’s stood on the precipice of a moral implosion. Sensing the opportunity at hand, Falwell helped launch the Moral Majority in June 1979, which succeeded in registering conservative white Christians nationwide to vote on behalf of Reagan’s campaign for the presidency. Falwell described Reagan’s election as “the greatest day for the cause of conservatism and American morality in my adult life.”[95]

The rise of the Religious Right under Reagan is a textbook example of a populist movement seeking to mobilize democracy not for greater equality, but instead for what the political theorist Jan-Werner Müller describes one particular group’s claim to represent the “real people” of the country.[96]  As such, it sought to mobilize conservative, nationalistic, and nativist Christian forces for the purposes of imposing conservative Christian mores on the entire population. Moreover, the Religious Rights views of democracy were linked to white supremacy, and specifically as a part off Nixon’s southern strategy. Such factors highlight the Religious Rights inherent anti-democratic exclusions of immigrants, racial minorities and women in public life. The great irony is that the fear Cold War liberals and neoliberals expressed in the 1930s and 1940s—that mass democracy could turn into fascist and communist commitments, marked by loyalty to charismatic leadership –they helped bring into political existence by mainstreaming the Religious Right in the 1970s as part of a new liberal-democratic consensus. What religious populist leaders like Falwell recognized, like with interwar Italian fascism, the Islamic Republic in Iran, 19th century French monarchists, etc., is that the popular vote, and the liberal-democratic political system in general, can be used to accomplish theocratic ends.

In the name of a liberal democracy pitted against Communism or the excesses of the New Left, the new Cold War anti-totalitarian movement of the 1970s held together a motley crew of centrifugal forces which included illiberal and populist components. Liberal democracy’s triumph in the 1990, thus initiated a process in which the religious populist elements of the 1970s consensus would eventually return after the fall of Communism to their different and diverging interests. Similar dynamics played themselves out in Europe, which, during the 1970s and 1980s, saw the emergence of rightwing populist and nationalist movements, who now take their ire out on the European Union and other institutions of liberal international governance. Unlike the Religious Right in the US, which worked within the liberal-democratic mainstream of the Republican Party, these European reactionary movements involved the formation of new parties, such as the Front Nationale (now called Rassemblement National), the British National Party, the Sweden Democrats, Golden Dawn, etc. The end of history thus opened the door for what, in due time, would become a populist rebellion against the very neoliberal political order, which these same populist religious and nationalist groups had once conspired against former enemies. The turn to post-secularism in the 2000s empowered these populist forces all the more[97]. Today’s so-called crisis of democracy—“the people versus elites”—was therefore two generations in the making. As that liberal-democratic consensus is now disintegrating, a new liberal democrat consensus waits to be forged.[98]  Cold War liberal democracy, this paper shows, offers an illuminating instance of a larger question of how liberalism does or doesn’t fit with democracy; of whether the ‘liberal-democracy’ we have inherited today makes sense.


Guide to Further Reading


Aron, R. Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes edited by Rémy Freymond (Paris: Editions de Fallois, 1993)

Balmer, R. Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right (Grand Rapid, Michigan: Eerdmans Press, 2021)

Bell, D. The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (Chicago, 1962).

Brenes, M. For Might and Right: Cold War Defense Spending and the Remaking of American Democracy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2020)

Friedman, M. Capitalism and Freedom, (Chicago, 1962)

Hayek, F.A. The Road to Serfdom [1944] (London: Routledge, 2006)

Kristol, I. Two Cheers for Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1978).

Moyn, S. The Cold War and the Unmaking of Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press)

Müller, J.M. What is Populism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016)

Niebuhr, R. Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics [1932] (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013)

Rosenblatt, H. The Lost History of Liberalism, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018)

Williams, D. K.  God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Wolin, S. Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought, expanded edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004)

[1] A Google Ngram search of “liberal democracy” indicates that usage of the term in English jump considerably in the 1990s. See: <

2019&corp us=26&smoothing=3>

[2] F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York City: The Free Press, 1992).

[3] See: J. Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998); J. Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York City: Columbia University Press, 1993); Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political edited by S. Benhabib (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

[4] C. Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox (London: Verson), 8. See also C. Mouffe’s, The Return of the Political (London: Verso, 1993).

[5] S. Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought, expanded edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), xx.

[6] Y. Mounk, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom is in Danger & How to Save it (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 97.

[7] H. Landemore, Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty First Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020)

[8] W. Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West, (New York City: Columbia University Press, 2019), 9.

[9] W. Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 27.

[10] On Mouffe’s most recent book length call for a “left populism,” see her: For a Left Populism (London: Verso, 2018). On Mouffe influence on Jean-Luc Mélenchon see: J. Hamburger, “Whose Populism? The Mixed Messages of La France Insoumise,” in Dissent Magazine Vol. 65, No. 3 (Summer 2018): 101-110.

[11] J-W. Müller, What is Populism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 57.

[12] M. Gibson, “Francis Fukuyama: “We could be facing the end of “the end of history,” in The New Statesman (30 October 2022): <>

[13] F. Fukuyama, “More Proof That This Really Is the End of History,” The Atlantic (17 October 2022): <>.

[14] See: S. Levitsky and D. Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (New York City: Crown Publishers, 2018); P. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).

[15] M. Crozier, S. Huntington and J. Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission (New York City: New York University Press, 1975).

[16] D. Zamora, “How Neoliberalism Reinvented Democracy: Introduction,” Tocqueville Review Vol. 41, No. 2 (2020): 9.

[17] For a general study see: S. Reid-Henry, Empire of Democracy: The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War (New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2019), 27-273.

[18] Ibid., 6.

[19] See: D. Losurdo, Liberalism: A Counter-History (London: Verso, 2011).

[20] See: H. Rosenblatt, The Lost History of Liberalism, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018); E. Fawcett, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).

[21] On the moralism of progressive era liberalism, see M. McGerr, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003).

[22] S. Moyn, The Cold War and the Unmaking of Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press), forthcoming.

[23] See: I. Stewart, Raymond Aron and Liberal Thought in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 9-14.

[24] See: J. Cherniss, Liberalism in Dark Times: The Liberal Ethos in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021).

[25] See: D. Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Yesterday’s Men: Cold War liberalism, what is it good for?” in The Baffler (16 December 2021): <>.

[26] See: U. Greenberg, The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University, 2015), 1-24.

[27] M. Weber, “The Profession and Vocation of Politics,” in Weber: Politics Writings edited by Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 360.

[28] On Weber’s connection to the Cold War liberals see: Cherniss, Liberalism in Dark Times, 40-67.

[29] See: J-W Müller, “Fear and Freedom: On `Cold War Liberalism’,” in European Journal of Political Theory Vol. 7, No. 1 (2008): 45-64.  

[30] R. Aron, Les Guerres en chaîne (Paris: Gallimard, 1951); The Century of Total War (Boston: Beacon Press, 1954), 273.

[31] R. Aron, “Essais sur le Machiavélisme moderne,” in Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes edited by Rémy Freymond (Paris: Editions de Fallois, 1993), 148.

[32] See: R. Aron, “Bataille des propagandes” [1942] available in Chroniques de guerre: La France libre, 1940–1945 (Paris: Gallimard, 1990), 248–65.

[33] See: R. Aron, “Nation and Ideology,” in Encounter Vol. 16 (January 1955): 24–33.

[34] See: R. Aron, Démocratie et totalitarisme (Paris: Gallimard 1965). On Aron’s interpretation of Tocqueville, and the Tocqueville revival in France, see: Serge Audier, Tocqueville retrouvé: genèse et enjeux du renouveau tocquevillien français (Paris, J. Vrin: 2004).

[35] R. Aron, The Elusive Revolution (New York: Praeger, 1969).

[36] Ibid., xix.

[37] See: R. Aron, “La tragédie chilienne,” Le Figaro, (14 September 1973)

[38] On Aron’s neoconservative turn see D. Steinmetz-Jenkins, The Neoconservative Moment in France: Raymond Aron, The United States, and the 1970s in Tocqueville Review Vol. 41, No. 1 (2020): 183-204.

[39] R. Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics [1932] (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), xxx.

[40] Ibid., xxix.

[41] Ibid., 22.

[42] R. Niebuhr, The Children of Light and The Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of its Traditional Defense [1944] (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972).

[43] Ibid., xxxii.

[44] Ibid., xxxi.

[45] R. Niebuhr, The Irony of American History [1952] (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 103.

[46] Ibid., 101.

[47] Ibid., 3, 22.

[48] Ibid., 115.

[49] C. Lasch, The New Radicalism in America 1889-1963: The Intellectual as a Social Type [1965] (New York City: W. W. Norton, 1997), 300.

[50] On the veracity of Kennan’s comments about Niebuhr see: K. Thompson, “Niebuhr and the foreign policy realists” in Reinhold Niebuhr Revisited: Engagements with an American Original, edited by D. F. Rice (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Press, 2009), 139.

[51] See: C. Lasch, “The Cultural Cold War: A Short History of the Congress for Cultural Freedom,” in Towards A New Past. Dissenting Essays in American edited by B. J. Bernstein (New York: Pantheon, 1968), 322-359.

[52] See: M. Brenes, For Might and Right: Cold War Defense Spending and the Remaking of American Democracy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2020).

[53] See: D. Rodgers, “The Uses and Abuses of “Neoliberalism” Dissent Magazine Vol. 65, No. 1 (2018): 78-87.

[54] See, most notably: W. Brown, Undoing the Demos; W. Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism; C. Crouch, Post-Democracy, (Polity: Cambridge, 2004).

[55] F.A. Hayek, “Freedom and the Economic System,” The Contemporary Review 153 (January 1, 1938), 438.

[56] F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom [1944] (London: Routledge, 2006), 86.

[57] F.A. Hayek’s Opening Address: International Association for Cultural Freedom Records, Box 396 Folder 7 (September 13, 1955).

[58] Hayek, Road to Serfdom, 74.

[59] F.A. Hayek, Opening Address: International Association for Cultural Freedom Records, Box 396 Folder 7 (September 13, 1955).

[60] F.A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol. 3: The Political Order of a Free People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979), 39.

[61] M. Friedman and R. Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (New York, 1984), 66.

[62] M. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, (Chicago, 1962), 15.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Quoted in N. Olsen, “Ludwig von Mises, the Idea of Consumer Democracy and the Invention of Neoliberalism,” Vol 41. No 22.

[65] L. Robbins, The Great Depression (London: Macmillan, 1934), 148.

[66] L. Rougier, “Le libéralisme de stricte observance et le néolibéralisme. Un essai de définition,” in: P. Harty (ed.), Travaux du colloque international du libéralisme économique, (Ed. du centre Paul Hymans, Bruxelles, 1958), 279-293.

[67] T. Biebricher, “Neoliberalism and Democracy,” Constellations Vol 22. No 2 (June 2015): 255-266.

[68] R. Aron, Introduction à la philosophie politique (Paris: Fallois, 1997), 128.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Aron, Introduction à la philosophie politique, 127.

[71] For a detailed explanation of the end of ideology, especially as it relates to Aron, Lipset and Bell, see: H. Brick, “The End of Ideology Thesis,” in The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies edited by M. Freeden, L. T. Sargent and M. Stears (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 90-114.

[72] Q. Slobodian, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 264.

[73] See D. Bell and I. Kristol, eds. Confrontation: The Student Rebellion and the Universities (New York City: Basic Books, 1969).

[74] D. Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1976).

[75] J. Hamburger and D. Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Why did neoconservatives join forces with neoliberals?” <>

[76] I. Kristol, “The New Populism: Not to Worry,” The Wall Street Journal (25 July 1985): < /articles/the-new-populism-not-to-worry-1541527937>

[77] For Kristol’s thinking on the New International Order see: I. Kristol, “The ‘New Cold War,’” in Wall Street Journal, (17 July 1975).


[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] I. Kristol, Two Cheers for Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1978).

[81] See: J. Hamburger and D. Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Why Did Deoconservatives Join Forces with Neoliberals?”

[82] S. Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: The Conservative Ascent to Political Power. (New York: Union Square Press, 2008), xiv.


[83] D. K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 89-104.

[84] On the racist origins of the Religious Right see: R. Balmer, Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right (Grand Rapid, Michigan: Eerdmans Press, 2021).

[85] See M. Noll, Is The Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005), 67-70.

[86] See: M.A. Sutton, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents (New York City: St. Martins, 2013), 1-28.

[87] Connolly, “The End of the World as We Know It,” 337-350.

[88] M.A. Sutton, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 293-325.  

[89] F.A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1976), 256.

[90] Sutton, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right, 21.

[91] J. Falwell, Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography (New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 361-362.

[92] See, for instance: J. Falwell, Listen America! (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1980).

[93] Quoted in Williams, God’s Own Party, 175.

[94] Quoted in Williams, God’s Own Party, 124.

[95] Quoted in Sutton, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right, 22.

[96] J-W. Müller, What is Populism? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

[97] See: M. Cooper “Why I Am Not a Postsecularist,” Boundaries 2, Vol. 40, No. 1 (March 2013): 21-39; U. Greenber and D. Steinmetz-Jenkins, “What Comes after the Critique of Secularism?” Journal for the American Academy of Religion Vol. 88, No. 1 (March 2020): 1-14.

[98] See: G. Gerstle, The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022).