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Review Essay

When Progressives Were on the March

The Postwar Era’s Lessons for the Left

In This Review

The Postwar Moment: Progressive Forces in Britain, France, and the United States After World War II
The Postwar Moment: Progressive Forces in Britain, France, and the United States After World War II
By Isser Woloch
Yale University Press, 2019, 560 pp. Purchase

The rise of illiberal politics around the world is generating understandable anxiety over the future of the liberal international order. Most of that concern focuses on the fate of the international institutions that Washington and its allies created after World War II to promote peace and economic openness and to ward off the return of the protectionist, nationalist, and imperialist ideas that had produced so much bloodshed in the first half of the twentieth century. But equally important to the liberal order are the domestic policies and programs that accompanied these international arrangements. These involved a redesign of capitalism, with states balancing markets in order to ensure full (or at least fuller) employment and constructing comprehensive systems of social welfare. Historians have described these changes in various ways: a Keynesian compromise, a social democratic settlement, embedded liberalism. Whatever one calls them, the domestic changes that took place in Western countries

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