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Outsiders Looking In In the United States something very odd happened during the period of time from the middle of the 1950s up to the impact of the crisis of the 1960s For once in the storied history of the United States a majority of Americans accepted the same system of assumptions This shared system of assumptions is known as the liberal consensus The main reason there was such a thing as liberal consensus was because of the extreme economic growth we experienced in the US during the post World War II era However the consensus didnt apply to one important group of people These were the combat soldiers it the Vietnam War Their experiences at home and abroad suggest that they were outsiders to the ideology that Godfrey Hodgson outlines in his book America In Our Time and that they were not motivated by the promises and values of the liberal consensus To understand what makes these soldiers outsiders we must first understand what the liberal consensus was Hogson argues that the social and intellectual world view of the 1950s and early 1960s was based on the ideology that capitalism was a revolutionary force for social change that economic growth was supremely good because it obviated the need for redistribution and social conflict that class had no place in American politics This is the reason for such a liberal consensus but what is it really First the liberals consisted of the Democratic Party middle class college students the civil rights movement and some members of the labor community Also known as the Left these groups of people shared a common belief in anti-communism the rights of minorities the willingness to accept the existence of the labor unions and that the federal government had to play some role in the economic life of the US capitalist system Since the consensus had made converts on the Right as well as on the Left only
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