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The Discovery of Insane and Evil Enemies - Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, and the Making of Postwar Liberal History -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2023, (89), pp.5-44
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.089.01
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 17, 2023
  • Accepted : May 9, 2023
  • Published : May 31, 2023

Ilnyun Kim 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article aims to demonstrate that the discovery of conservative enemies played a critical role in shaping the contour of postwar liberal scholarship of American history. It approaches this argument through the lens of the relationship between two of the most eminent and influential postwar liberal historians: Richard Hofstadter and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. While later scholars generally regarded them as the representative figures in the postwar liberal camp in the American historical profession, their early works exhibited considerable differences and they got involved with each other in a series of controversies over the nature of the American past. Hofstadter criticized the liberal consensus in American history for its obsession with the capitalist order, whereas Schlesinger Jr. rejected the notion of consensus highlighting the conflict between the people and the interests. In the 1950s, however, the conservative camp, previously weak and disarrayed, had come to establish a coherent political and social movement by gathering libertarians and traditionalists under the common banner of anti-communism. Facing the organized challenge by the “insane” McCarthyites and “evil” capitalists, Hofstadter and Schlesinger, along with many other liberals, came to reconsider the virtue of postwar liberalism. In their efforts to prove this, Hofstadter and Schlesinger discussed the historical achievements of FDR’s New Deal in The Age of Reform and The Age of Roosevelt, respectively.

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