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date: 19 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The idea that ‘Western’ politics had witnessed a post-Second World War ‘end of ideology’ carried great weight among mid-twentieth-century liberal European and US intellectuals. Almost as soon as this idea was broadcast, however, it became the object of intense debate: what represented to some a welcome reprieve from ‘extreme’ and destructive political doctrines (‘isms’), and the conflict between them, struck others as an order of complacency that stifled vigorous political debate and meaningful visions of a better future. It remains exceedingly difficult to locate a clear meaning to the phrase, ‘the end of ideology’. Nonetheless, the most prevalent definition aligned it with a very moderate social-democratic perspective that was anti-Communist and allied with anti-Soviet Cold War policies, dedicated to the promise of the postwar ‘welfare state’ (in a ‘left-liberal’ sense that dismissed ideologies of free-market efficiency), and tinged with a culturally conservative disposition that was suspicious of disruptive protest movements and avant-garde culture.

Keywords: ideology, liberalism, social democracy, welfare state, free-market ideology, doctrine, protest, avant garde, Cold War, anticommunism

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