Lucia Bonfreschi

Re-assessing France and Europe during the détente: French liberal intellectuals in the Seventies

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: French Liberalism; French Intellectuals; Raymond Aron; Détente; European Defense; Intellectual Networks.

The Seventies witnessed a «revival» of French liberalism thanks to the crucial figure of Raymond Aron, his intellectual network and two journals, «Contrepoint» and later on «Commentaire». This essay traces the origins of the two journals and studies how this group of intellectuals − not committed to any systematic work on political theory, but simply to the preservation of liberties in day-by-day politics − reassessed the international context as the main source of threats to freedom. They debated some crucial issues in a decade marked by the détente and the end of de Gaulle's diplomacy: the nature of the Soviet Union; the American foreign policy; the role of France and the one of Europe on the international stage. Especially, in their view common defense and the meaning to be given to Western democracies were crucial features of the building of Europe. These debates shaped a liberalism which was engaged in an anti-Marxist «war of ideas», which paid specific attention on the debate over totalitarianism and which investigated the international links of the French communist party, the problems of defense and of the moral survival of Western democracies.

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