Raymond Aron, Friedrich Hayek, and “The Third World”: An Alternative History of the End of Ideology Debate

Abstract: This article explores the differences and similarities between neoliberalism and Cold War liberalism by looking at the decade’s long relationship between two of its chief representatives: Friedrich Hayek and Raymond Aron. It argues that the key to understanding their differences concern’s Aron’s notion of an “end of ideology”: the perspective that the post-War welfare state had made obsolete the need for something like a revolutionary workers party. Hayek, contra Aron, believed that such welfare states were inherently ideological and thus potentially totalitarian. What kept the differences between Aron and Hayek at bay was the early Cold War, and namely fears over Soviet expansion and Communist Party electoral victories in Western Europe. Their relationship became antagonistic in 1955 when Aron suggested that the North Atlantic Community had achieved an end to ideology. Yet at this time the political fate of the Third World remained undecided—a reality made sober to Aron and his fellow members of Congress for Cultural Freedom in light of the Bandung Conference which took place in April 1955. This larger international context, it is argued, explains the antagonism between Aron and Hayek after 1955, as the latter’s thinking came to be seen as detrimental to the Congress’s mission of fighting global communism.

This content is restricted to site members. If you are an existing user, please login. New users may click here to subscribe.

Existing Users Log In