Melvyn P. Leffler

in International Relations Since the End of the Cold War

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199666430
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745607 | DOI:

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This chapter argues that the “state” meaning the importance of government capacity was critical to the victory of the “West” in the Cold War. After two world wars, a great depression, and mass extermination, liberal capitalism was in disrepute. There was great uncertainty about whether liberal democracy could cope with the miseries, challenges, and anxieties of the contemporary world. But “Western” governments, meaning Western Europe, West Germany, the United States, and Japan recalibrated the role of the state and harnessed it to help stabilize the business cycle, nurture economic growth, provide minimal social provision, stimulate innovation, empower civil society, enhance living standards, and make consumption the hallmark of modern civilization. In other words, the state complemented markets, structured markets, liberated markets, and helped allay the hardships caused by markets. In the 1970s, new challenges arose, but the role of the state did not wither; it was recalibrated.

Keywords: Cold War; capitalism; markets; social democracy; U.S. foreign policy

Chapter.  9830 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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