The Clare Spark Blog

October 17, 2016

Is there a liberal consensus?

Women's Strike for Peace, NYC 1969. Getty Images

Women’s Strike for Peace, NYC 1969. Getty Images

I was taught that the correct answer on the PhD oral exams was to claim “yes”; that since WW2, there was agreement regarding the welfare state of the New Deal, including its turn toward emphasizing social relationships as the sine qua non of a healthy society. See or

Classical liberals were invisible, as were the Stalinist underpinnings of this “liberal” line. So when I read historian James B. Gilbert’s summary of postwar political history, Another Chance: Postwar America 1945-68 (Knopf, 1981) eventually I got the message of postwar liberalism/social democracy. Yes, there was majority agreement that conservatives were all crazed McCarthy-ite reactionaries (similar to the conservative Catholic Church); that we missed the boat by not “negotiating” with the willing Soviet Union; and that the 60s movements were necessary, but inadequate to solve the vexed question of (white male supremacy). Hence we need a real revolution (this explains the title, Another Chance…. ).

Although the claim that structural reform was necessary to realize the aims of peaceniks, women, and blacks, was saved until the very last chapters, in retrospect, I could see that Professor Gilbert’s popular book (un-footnoted) was typical of the New Left generation. Gilbert, formerly a full professor at the liberal University of Maryland, now emeritus, like so many other (unconscious?) Stalinists following the tumultuous 1960s, may not have even seen that he was following the lead of the Popular Front against Fascism.

I finally understand the message of Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1962).

Revolt Against Masses, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Revolt Against Masses, Hulton Archive/Getty Images



  1. […] probably is no liberal consensus (, but (liberal) elites are in agreement that the masses are asses […]

    Pingback by “Are Historians Pundits?” | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — January 7, 2018 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  2. As usual you get me scurrying back to my books on liberalism. To answer your question in a word – yes. The reason is the Holocaust and the atomic bomb. See “Suicide of The West” by James Burnham and “The Kindergarten of Eden” by Evan Sayet . Fantastic insight into the liberal mind and why individuality (freedom) has moved way down and consensus (peace) is at the top of their value system.

    Comment by Aram Hagopian — October 20, 2016 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

    • I think that “liberal consensus” refers to the preservation of the New Deal. See

      Comment by clarelspark — October 20, 2016 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

      • You got me scurrying again. You are correct about “liberal consensus”. Having being a Republican my whole life and one who didn’t care much for the “soft sciences” ,I had never heard of the the term “liberal consensus”. My first impressions ( always dangerous) is that it is a phony strawman put out by liberal revisionist historians. It wasn’t as pervasive as made out to be, and due to it’s false construct ,started decomposing almost as soon as it started – LT himself is a perfect example . In the years since 1950 we have had ~31 years of a Democratic presidency and 36 years of a Republican presidency. And no those Republican presidents we not as liberal as “historians” claim.
        I want to give you some white supremacy numbers 750,000, 111,516, 405,399, 58,209 and 54,246. The number 405,399, after all the kvetching, is the real reason IMHO why our generation ( late depression babies) lived in the greatest era of American history.

        Comment by Aram Hagopian — October 22, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

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