Daniel Denver of Jacobin Magazine’s podcast, The Dig speaks with Melinda Cooper about her book, Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservativism, out in paperback this spring 2019. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to listen to the full interview. An excerpt appears below:
Q: “I’d like you to layout out your overarching argument that social conservatives and neoliberals both turned against the Great Society for different reasons but to complimentary ends. What comprises these various groups you’re talking about in the book? What did each find to be so important about a certain sort of family, and what political economic change did they seek and effectuate as a result?
A: The Neoconservative movement was born out of its critique of the Great Society welfare state. They didn’t exist prior to the mid 1970s. What was interesting about them is that they didn’t have a critique of the welfare state, per se. Most of them remained in favor of some form of wellfare state and they had no fiscal critique of the welfare state, so they didn’t have that obsession about exorbitant public spending that you find among the neoliberals. They were very much attached to the New Deal welfare state and many of them came out of the left—even the Trotskyist left. But they were concerned that the Great Society, perhaps unintentionally, had ended up subsidizing forms of welfare that were contributing to a break down of the family. And the programs around that, particularly the increasing funding for higher education—anti-poverty programs, legal support programs,—they were funding wholesale assault against the New Deal familial order (so forms of anti-patriotism and student rebellion and critiques of the family). Their critique of welfare was a critique of the Great Society welfare state in particular.”