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poetics and politics in social science discourse

After the World War, even when National Socialism in Germany had been defeated from the outside, the Soviet Union was not only one of the victorious war powers, but had come to reign over the Eastern half of Europe. What, if anything, could ensure that American liberalism would be safe from external threats and internal conflicts? As the Cold War tightened its grip, the nature and grounds of American freedom no longer seemed self-evident: the liberal individual was altogether too nebulous and fragile a basis on which to rest one’s hopes. In this new Cold War 6 Liisi Keedus world it was only technical know-how about channelling mass political impulses in a favourable direction – or so argued the advocates of the ‘new political science’ – that could protect the United States from suffering the political fate of Europe (Gunnell 1993:126–145). If the political imagination of the American social researchers had been greatly disturbed by the atrocities of the war, their scientific imagination was stimulated by the role that not only technology, but also natural sciences, had played in winning the war. Few, if any, could doubt the key role of science in shaping the future of the world – and the new task of the social scientist was to find and take his due place in this new sphere of influence.