In the “Era of Tyrannies”: The International Order from Nazism to the Cold War

  • Matthias Oppermann
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)


It all started with Germany. Without having experienced German politics and philosophy during the first three years of the 1930s, Raymond Aron would have hardly become the thinker we know today. In this respect, many of those who have dealt with his thought have made much of his academic or philosophical experience—of his discovery of the newer German philosophy of history, of phenomenology, of Marx’s original thought, and of Max Weber’s political sociology. All this was important, of course. Studying German philosophy and sociology helped Aron to overcome what he regarded as the shortcomings of the academic education he received in his native France. However, this academic or philosophical discovery only put him on the path to political liberalism. It was not congruent with it. Far from it: Although Weber gave Aron the munition to repel the positivistic trust in progress, based on several varieties of historical determinism he had been confronted with during his studies at the prestigious Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, the great German sociologist bequeathed him another problem: the naive faith in value-free science totally unfit to an age of ideologies. It took him nearly twenty years to free himself from this intellectual burden, but after the Second World War he came to regard Weber as a “nearly Nietzschean”1 nihilist. By contrast, the political insights Aron received in Germany were much more influential in bringing about his own brand of conservative liberalism. One should never forget that he denied being the representative of an abstract liberalism based on any speculative theory.


Foreign Policy Liberal Democracy German Philosophy Totalitarian Regime Political Education 
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© José Colen and Elisabeth Dutartre-Michaut 2015

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  • Matthias Oppermann

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