This article is part of a special issue on the political thought of Norberto Bobbio, that I co-edited with David Ragazzoni (Columbia) for the Journal of Political Ideologies. Co-written with Maurizio Griffo (Federico II University, Napoli), the article examines Norberto Bobbio and Raymond Aron's view's on the role of the intellectuals in modern society and focuses on Bobbio's Politics and Culture and Aron's The Opium of the Intellectuals. Published in 1955, both books show how the two thinkers interpreted the duties and the responsibilities of intellectuals during the Cold War. Bobbio and Aron refused to embrace political Manichaeism and effectively practiced the art of dialogue and civil disagreement as an antidote to the rising political polarization and sectarianism of their time. The article explores their exchanges with the Italian and French communists and fellow travellers and focuses on their critique of the intellectuals' preference for bold narratives and good acting at the expense of providing careful analyses of concrete institutions and practices. We conclude that Bobbio and Aron continue to serve as models of responsible public intellectuals who can teach us how to appreciate and defend liberal democracy today.