Thus there developed an unholy alliance between the reactionary forces of the upper class, who found themselves losing their privileges and position as statism declined, and intellectuals, who fancied themselves as radical representatives of the future. The two groups were united in their snobbish disdain for the nouveaux riches, those supposedly uncultured boors who obtained their wealth by ideas, innovation, thrift, and effort rather than by birth. A similar association developed in the United States between certain wealthy businessmen threatened by growing competition (cf. Kolko's observations, p. 4.11:139) and anticapitalistic intellectuals. On both sides of the Atlantic, this coalition of the forces of reaction and false radicalism succeeded in engineering a return to statism toward the end of the nineteenth century, a reactionary about-face that would eventually overturn many of the achievements of liberalism. The confusion among American intellectuals led to a change in the very meaning that many attached to the word "liberal," transmuting it into something not entirely coherent, but in some respects diametrically opposite to its original, epistemologically correct sense. This change was not merely semantic, but reflected a basic reversal in what many people perceived to be the natural direction of history.