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Ideology, Materiality, and Counterpublicity: William E. Simon and the Rise of a Conservative Counterintelligentsia

Asen, Robert

As a conceptual term, ''counterpublic'' serves scholarship best when contributing to a critical-theory project, which means that particular constellations of materiality and ideology may bolster some calls for counterpublicity while gainsaying others. This may be investigated by examining how a text upholds or betrays an advocate's values, seeking out textual markers of access and influence that belie claims of marginalization, and assessing whether an advocate's discourse implicitly or explicitly widens or narrows discursive space for others. From this perspective, although William Simon claimed that pro-business advocates had been excluded from public debates in his 1978 book A Time for Truth, he nevertheless asserted a commitment to negative liberty that discounted potentially conflicting values in a pluralistic society, evidenced strong financial and political connections as well as a patrician background and bearing, and restricted discursive space for others.

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