Backlash against the New Deal: Business Conservatives and the Modern Right in the United States

Cold War Ideologies
By Kim Phillips-Fein

The conservative movement in the United States is frequently seen as populist in its origins, rising out of a reaction against the cultural conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But this interpretation cannot adequately account for the importance of economic ideas in the movement’s history. This reconsideration of the history of conservatism suggests that it is important to recognize the role played in the development of the movement by conservative business leaders in the 1950s and 1960s, before the movement grew to prominence and political power. Business conservatives, who never entirely reconciled themselves to the New Deal and to postwar economic liberalism, adhered to the ideas of Friedrich Hayek, fought labor unions, and funded intellectual and political initiatives such as think tanks and right-to-work campaigns in an effort to turn back the New Deal.


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