Neutral Principles in the 1950’s

In this Essay, I explore the intellectual setting within which Wechsler believed that defending freedom also required defending the legality of racial domination. I argue that the key to understanding this apparent paradox is to grasp the ideological/ cultural complex of the 1950’s within which mainstream American intellectuals in law and in other disciplines came to terms with the disintegration of the traditional, “old order” paradigms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by means of an intense and overriding distinction between controversial issues of values and noncontroversial questions of framework and structure within which substantive conflict would take place. On that distinction rested their conviction that their own work, and intellectual work generally, transcended ideology and politics.