A Liberal Answer to the Conservative Challenge

A Liberal Answer to the Conservative Challenge

A Liberal Answer to the Conservative Challenge

A Liberal Answer to the Conservative Challenge

Excerpt

In the years since the end of World War II, the decline if not the passing of liberalism has been noted and commented on by liberals, conservatives, and neutrals, in the press and on public platforms.

Immediately after the war, the commentaries were, for the most part, by friends of liberalism like Joseph C. Harsch who, in the September 1952 issue of The Reporter, suggested that time had run out on the liberals and they were in danger of becoming obsolete. About a year later, in the June 1953 issue of the same magazine, Erie Goldman called upon liberals to rethink their position and to do this "amid the shock of losing the old landmarks and more than a little hand-wringing defeatism."

Conservatism reportedly was rising in the meantime; after the second Eisenhower victory it was said to hold the high ground. Conservatives then asserted quite boldly that they had captured what they called the "American consensus," and were standing firmly astride the "authentic American center."

The warnings, the admonitions, and the suggestions of men like Harsch and Goldman were in order in 1952 and 1953. War, the passage of time, and the changes that had taken place during the war and were taking place in the postwar period called for new thought and new action. But the claims of conservatives as to their gains and positions of positive power were and are subject to serious question.

What liberals have been driven from the field? What kind of liberalism has been displaced?

Liberals come in many varieties. There are pure liberals, self-styled liberals, avowed liberals, and pseudoliberals--to give only the principal labels. There is the liberalism of the 19th century, the liberalism of John Dewey, the liberalism of Reinhold Niebuhr, the liberalism of the New Deal, the . . .

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