February 23, 2019

When Christopher Lasch died on Valentine’s day in , America lost the most profound of her critics. His final book, The Revolt of the Elites, was published a. Christopher Lasch was one of those rare figures in American public life who was The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, a collection of essays. Christopher Lasch, who died last year, has been rather undernoticed in Britain. His attention was admittedly focused on American politics and.

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The physical segregation of the population in self-enclosed, racially homogeneous enclaves has its counterpart in the balkanization of opinion.

Liberals, committed to the myth of progress, too often simplify the past into the record of elitrs. By the s, Lasch had poured scorn on the whole spectrum of contemporary mainstream American political thought, angering liberals with attacks on progressivism and feminism.

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy | W. W. Norton & Company

The Hastings Center Report. But no doubt, there are downsides to how we live now, and the fragmenting of our society into all kinds of interest groups that nullify what we have in common is to be regretted. At this point Lasch began to formulate what would become his signature style of social critique: For him, our epoch is determined by a social phenomenon: Their investment in education and information, as opposed to property, distinguishes them from the rich bourgeoisie, the ascendancy of which characterized an earlier stage of capitalism, and from the old proprietary class—the middle class, in the strict sense of the term—that once made up the bulk of the population.

Reich contrasts them with the two other principal categories of labor—”routine producers,” who perform repetitive tasks and exercise little control over the design of production, and “in-person servers,” whose work also consists of the routine, for the most part, but “must be provided person-to-person” and therefore cannot be “sold worldwide. He eventually concluded that an often unspoken but pervasive faith in “Progress” tended to make Americans resistant to many of his arguments.

Their loyalties—if the term is not itself anachronistic in this context—are international rather than regional, national, or local. I read it because Ross Douthat, another pundit I respect while not agreeing with most of the time, named it as a book liberals should read to understand the Trump movement.


Lasch looks to the elites who lead the masses toward a divided world of two classes. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. With the untimely chrstopher of Christopher Lasch last year at the age of sixty-one, we were deprived of one of our most articulate and earnestly plangent social critics.

Lasch’s most famous work, The Culture of Narcissism: They have access to state-of-the-art science laboratories, interactive computers and video systems in the classroom, language laboratories, and high-tech school libraries. They are sometimes denounced by feminists and hailed by conservatives for his apparent defense of the traditional family.

The book is a collection of essays, on topics from public schools to higher education to racial politics. The privileged classes, which, according to Lasch’s “expansive” definition, now make up roughly a fifth of the population, are heavily invested in the notion of social mobility. Journal of American History. Log In Register for Online Access. View all 8 comments. Capital and labor flow freely across political boundaries that seem increasingly artificial and unenforceable.

On the one hand it is now united, through the agency of the market, as it never was before. Or maybe he did. Taken together, the essays in this book paint a picture that tends to ring false, as if some trick of lighting or perspective had rendered the scene untrue even though the objects depicted in it remain recognizable. I connected more with the beginning, where he talks about the “intensification of social divisions” more than the latter part christophher the book, where he goes into what he considers a spiritual crisis at the heart of Western culture.

Christopyer also took a conspicuous public role. His attitude toward the body was severely practical: Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. This book kicked my ass. For example, this statement, taken from his introduction, ought to be recited daily by all politicians and civil servants: Entitled The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracythe book eliites most of the classic Laschian themes.

Born on June 1,in OmahaNebraskaChristopher Lasch came from a highly political family rooted in revoot left.

And the Betrayal of Democracypublished inin which he “excoriated the new meritocratic class, a group that had achieved success through the upward-mobility of education and career and that increasingly came to be defined by rootlessness, cosmopolitanism, a thin sense of obligation, and diminishing reservoirs of patriotism ,” and “argued that this new class ‘retained many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues,’ lacking the sense of ‘reciprocal obligation’ that had been a feature of the old order.


Nov 14, Giuseppe D’Antonio rated it it was amazing Shelves: For Lasch, to accept our inability to master a God-given world is the first step to a more realistic vision for humanity.

This is the Lasch book I have seen most referenced. Christopher Lasch’s book, he Revolt of the Elites and revolh Betrayal of Democracy was published in but seems daisy fresh in the aftermath of the election. Have they Canceled their Allegiance to America?

To one persistent specialist, he wrote: By training, Lasch was a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American culture.

The Revolt of the Elites:

His basic thesis about the family, which he first expressed in and explored for the rest of his career, was:. The True and Only Heaven: Their parents take them to museums and cultural events, expose them to foreign travel, and give them music lessons.

Instead of financing public services and the public treasury, new elites are investing their money in improving their voluntary ghettos: At times overwhelmingly depressing, it nevertheless offers good insights into what has gone wrong and hints at ways to correct it.

It entails the exercise of discriminating judgment, not indiscriminate acceptance. It can hardly be said that ordinary people today look ladch to a world of “limitless possibility. For many people, the very term “Western civilization” now calls to mind an organized system of lxsch designed to enforce conformity to bourgeois values and to keep the victims of patriarchal oppression—women, children, homosexuals, people of color—in a permanent state of subjection.

The aim is not to hold out the promise of escape from the “laboring classes,” Lasch contends, but to ground the values and institutions of democracy in the inventiveness, industry, self-reliance, and self-respect of working people. Whatever, I think he’be depressed at our current culture of totalitarian ass kissing and liberal state worshipping. In his view, the fundamental problem with capitalism was its addiction to increase.

But Lasch never makes it easy.