Cold War liberalism

Cold War liberalism

The Cold War was primarily a dissent between two political philosophies. It was the result of the fundamental difference between the political ideals of Communism and Capitalism. Although the models and ideologies of Communism were worthy, yet their applications were flawed. On the other hand, the commercial success of Capitalism made it the dominant economic process in the world. The Cold War resulted in the development of a new style of socio-political thinking. Rapid industrialization and technological advances also helped to promote this particular style of thinking. Some of the characteristics of Cold War Liberalism have been discussed below.

The difference in political ideals and nuclear weapons.

The primary trigger for the Cold War between the USA and the USSR was that both countries had nuclear weapons. Hence, both were proficient from a military perspective. Along with that, there was a difference in political ideals between the two nations. Thus, the Cold War also made the world leaders realize the devastating effect of nuclear war and the urgent requirement of imposing nuclear embargos. As the panic of a nuclear war spread throughout the world, leaders, political thinkers, philosophers and economists realized the importance of increased international communication and understanding. It is common knowledge that the Cold War primarily came to an end with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The removal of the metaphorical Iron Curtain meant that the citizens living in the West of the curtain now could have all information about the economic, social, and political conditions of the people living on the Eastern side of the curtain. This growing concern and social activism gave rise to what is known as Cold War Liberalism. The liberal thinkers opined that human rights and freedom must be prioritized to help society become successful.

Along with the establishment of human rights, political thinkers believed that all forms of discrimination must be condemned. People must be allowed to pursue the professions of their choice without any fear of persecution. All of these notions together started gaining shape in the form of the political ideology, which will be later on known as Cold War Liberalism.

Growth of social liberalism in the form of labor unions.

The most important contribution of the Cold War liberals is the growth of the human rights movement. The establishment of the notion that people must fight for their rights did start with the French Revolution but gained momentum extensively during the Cold War. The Communist Party's regime was dictatorial, and hence, fighting for both human and fundamental rights once again became crucial. One of these was in the form of labor unions. Although such unions had existed even before the Cold War yet, these unions became very proactive during this time. These unions fought for the rights of the laborers and sought to provide them with humane work conditions. The labor unions were very active in both the USSR and the USA. In the USSR, they worked to establish equal rights and prevent the persecution that poor laborers faced in the hands of the Communist Party leaders. What these union members noted was that though the Communist Party was built on the notion of equality and that political power should rest with the people, but over period Party leaders became corrupt. Hence, the Party that had initiated a political thought soon denigrated itself to a dictatorial power where human rights were denied. Therefore, the labor unions became essential to introduce a liberal form of thinking that once again made the common man more powerful. The demands made by the labor unions and the subsequent agitations carried out by the unions helped in developing a more liberal atmosphere.

Introduction of Roosevelt's four forms of freedom

According to President Roosevelt, to help a country thrive, its citizens must be provided with four types of freedom. These freedoms were freedom of speech, freedom to practice a religion without fear of persecution, and freedom from the interference of the government in the personal lives of people. The final type of freedom, as described by Roosevelt, was freedom from any form of a tyrannical government. This particular sense of freedom was embedded in the notion of human rights. This meant that the people of the USSR were suffering in the hands of the brutal Communist regime. Hence, the people of the USSR were entirely within their rights to revolt against the Party leaders. When Roosevelt described these freedoms to be fundamental to the growth and development of any nation, it gave new impetus to the thinking styles of the Cold War liberals. The notion of these freedoms is also embedded in the political idea of human rights and political freedom. 

Free market economy

This was the most significant contribution of the Cold War liberals, i.e., the establishment of a free market economy. Here the price of commodities would be decided by the market forces, i.e., the effects of demand and supply. Thus, the government could no longer interfere in determining the price of goods. Moreover, it also reduced government interference in the economy of the country but promoted the participation of the common man in the economic processes of the nation. This went against the Communist idea, where the government decided the price of goods and services. This proved to be detrimental to the growth of the economy. The cost of labor was forcibly reduced, which made people accept the most inhumane working conditions.

Moreover, laborers were paid a meager amount of wages, which further resulted in dissatisfaction and dissent amongst the working class. With the advent of the free market economy, all of these notions changed, and the cost of labor began to increase. Subsequently, this led to a better standard of living. It also granted people with greater freedom of selecting the type of work they wished to do.

ThusCold War liberalism, the Cold War completely changed the thinking styles of political theorists. It gave rise to a modern and liberal form of governance and economy. 


1003 Words


Apr 17, 2020


3 Pages

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