7. “How Anticommonism ‘Cemented’ the American Conservative Movement in a Liberal Age of Conformity, 1945–64”


Abstract: With the publication in 1976 of George H. Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, interest in post-WWII opposition to the dominant liberal consensus of the time has steadily grown. Most commentators on the subject, in the attempt to construct a coherent narrative, try to find the shared values that united the conservative movement in the early Cold War era. Invariably, they regard, in Nash’s word, the “cement” of conservatism in this period as anticommunism. Three other subjects, however, hold a greater claim than anticommunism in fusing together the disparate strands of conservative thought. Two of them, constitutionalism and opposition to the aims and methods of the United Nations, are topics for another essay. This article deals with a third conservative “impulse”; a disdain for the use of the power of the state, and cultural pressures, in forcing Americans to conform to the strictures of a liberal-dominated society. Focusing on conservative critics of education, the arts, mass media, social scientists, and the economy, the article contends that “anticommonism” helped tie together a conservative intellectual movement after 1945, because anticommunism could not.