From Basel to Brooklyn: Liberal Cultural Pessimism in Burckhardt, Röpke, and the American Neoconservatives

Part of the The European Heritage in Economics and the Social Sciences book series (EHES, volume 20)


Kahan argues that cultural pessimism has always been a characteristic of some strands of liberal thought and that therefore Wilhelm Röpke’s cultural pessimism does not mean that he was a conservative. Liberal cultural pessimism can be found in both anti-modernist and modernist forms. Jacob Burckhardt and Röpke share an anti-modernist liberal cultural pessimism, whereas the American neoconservative Irving Kristol is an example of a modernist liberal cultural pessimism. Even though many liberals have been optimists, optimism has never been a requirement for liberalism.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English StudiesUniversity of Versailles/St. QuentinVersaillesFrance
  2. 2.Institut Universitaire de FranceParisFrance

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