Between Fatalism and Hope: The Continental Liberal Search for Light and Stability in a Dark Age

31 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2016

See all articles by Erwin Dekker

Erwin Dekker

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Date Written: July 11, 2016

Abstract

This paper analyzes the work of Wilhelm Röpke, Friedrich Hayek and Bertrand de Jouvenel in the years leading up to, during and following WWII. It argues that these three political-economic thinkers all went through a period of deep despair about the fate of Europe and its civilization. This despair was accompanied by a sense that the forces of history were stronger than humans. After that despair they regained (diminished) hopes about the economic and political future of Europe, and the power of man, including themselves, to shape that future. To do so they turned, unlike their peers, toward an analysis of the institutions and morality that sustained liberalism and away from the ideal of a value-free economic and political science. The paper thus demonstrates how three liberal political economists become involved in the formulation of a new liberalism for the post-war world.

Keywords: Friedrich A. Hayek; Wilhem Röpke; Bertrand De Jouvenel; World War II; Postwar Economics; Neo-Liberalism

JEL Classification: B20, B25, F50

Suggested Citation

Dekker, Erwin, Between Fatalism and Hope: The Continental Liberal Search for Light and Stability in a Dark Age (July 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2868005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2868005

Erwin Dekker (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

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