Neo-Liberal Ideology: History, Concepts and Policies

By Rachel S. Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The 'rebirth of liberalism'

INTRODUCTION: LIBERAL REVIVAL

As the previous chapter has demonstrated, liberal ideas are seldom static and never uniform. The beliefs held by liberals in 1945 displayed, as they had in the past, considerable diversity. They continued to change and continued to produce internecine debates in the years that followed. A new liberal framework, clearly visible in the immediate years after the Second World War, while significantly different from the old, drew on the liberal traditions of the past as a source of guidance for establishing a new liberal discourse and a new liberal agenda.

The collectivist liberalism evident during the war and in the years of its aftermath was accompanied by the growth of a powerful counter-movement encapsulated within this framework. Economists, philosophers and social scientists of the 'old' liberal school became an important voice on behalf of old liberalism in modern society and bitter critics of the collectivism they saw sweeping through Germany, Britain and the United States since the 1930s. Neo-liberalism emerged in the late1940s as a revered symbol of antisocialism and a powerful voice of liberal hopes. This happened after it became evident to many liberals that liberalism had ceased to bear any clear relation to the ideological rationales that had supported its creation. This revival of liberal thought occurred slowly, at times almost imperceptibly, coming together from innumerable small adaptations which accumulated gradually but decisively.

It is the intention of this chapter to trace the path by which neoliberalism since 1930s articulated an important and serious critique of contemporary liberal culture. This path was awash in ideas – ideas of

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