“Neoliberalism” and democracy in the 1930s: Louis Rougier and Louis Marlio

Serge Audier

Table of Contents


French “neoliberalism” was born in the 1930s, specifically during the Walter Lippmann Colloquium of 1938 organized by the philosopher Louis Rougier, in the context of the imminence of the war. The aim of this article is to understand how, given the totalitarian threat, the French neoliberal thought of this period conceived democracy. We shall compare to this end the conceptions of two founders of this current: that of Rougier, who preferred to speak about “constructive liberalism” (“libéralisme constructeur”) and that of Louis Marlio, who spoke about “social liberalism” (“libéralisme social”). Are these two expressions equivalent and are they underlain by the same conception of the democracy?

JEL classification: B20 – B31 – H10 – P16


  • neo-liberalism
  • Rougier (Louis)
  • Marlio (Louis)
  • the Walter Lippman Colloquium
  • democracy