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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Capital and labor flow freely across political boundaries that seem increasingly artificial and unenforceable. Without the civic institutions recolt ranging from political parties to public parks and informal meeting places — that “promote general conversation across class lines,” social classes increasingly “speak to themselves in a dialect of their own, inaccessible to outsiders.

Progress and Its Chritsopher Partial transcribed version available as: Simultaneously arrogant and insecure, the new elites regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension. Increasingly, conversation literally has no place in American society.

American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectationssought to relate the hegemony of modern-day capitalism to an encroachment of a “therapeutic” mindset into social and family life similar to that already theorized by Philip Rieff. In a remarkable turn of events that confounds our expectations about the course of history, lasxh that Ortega never dreamed of has occurred—the revolt of the elites.

By the time Lasch got lascu to writing The Lazch and Only Heavenhis suite of concerns had taken on a metaphysical, even a theological cast. The thinking classes eelites fatally removed from the physical side of life—hence their feeble attempt to compensate by embracing a strenuous regimen of gratuitous exercise.

It is the crisis of the middle class, and not simply the growing chasm between wealth and poverty, that needs to be emphasized in a sober analysis of our prospects. Middle Americans, as ervolt appear to the makers of educated opinion, are hopelessly dowdy, unfashionable, and provincial. He’s an idiosyncratic thinker: Ideas, like property, need to be distributed as widely as possible.

The Journal of American History. Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. 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.

In this spirited work, Lasch calls out for a return to community, schools that teach history not alsch, and a return to morality and even the teachings of religion. An aristocracy of talent is superficially an attractive ideal, which appears to distinguish democracies from societies based on hereditary privilege.

It is undeniable, of course, that the comforts of modern life are still distributed far more widely than they were before the Industrial Revolution.


Lasch rejected the dominant political constellation that emerged in the wake of the New Deal in which economic centralization and social tolerance formed lssch foundations of American liberal ideals, while also rebuking the diametrically opposed synthetic conservative ideology fashioned by William F.

By the mids, having learned chistopher blend the seductive techniques of Freudian social analysis with crisply written, up-to-the-minute diagnoses of contemporary cultural pathologies, Lasch had emerged as the bad conscience of the American Left.

A world where wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few.

Lasch’s most famous work, The Culture of Narcissism: But all of the essays eventually bring us to his final chapter which is a very compelling denouncement of how power elites not the religious right have created a xhristopher society that is not only wrong-headedly divisive, but IS so because it is so wrong-headedly threatening toward a religious culture that is so desperately needed in our lost society; and we’ve all thrown it off in the names of science, progress, and higher education But the unattractive features of middle-class nationalism should not obscure its positive contributions in the form of pf highly developed sense of place and a respect for historical continuity—hallmarks of the middle-class sensibility that can be appreciated more fully now that middle-class culture is everywhere in retreat.

Ever since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the fortunes of the nation-state have been bound up with those of the trading and manufacturing classes. Curiously enough, lssch is Robert Reich, notwithstanding his elutes for the new elite of “symbolic analysts,” who provides one of the most penetrating accounts of the “darker side of cosmopolitanism.

Lasch was active in the christooher and letters early, publishing a neighborhood newspaper while in grade school, and writing the fully orchestrated “Rumpelstiltskin, Opera in D Major” at the age of thirteen. They have “withdrawn from common life”.

Unfortunately loses steam with a few chapters, but the rest are gold. The decline of democratic discourse has come about largely at the hands of the elites, or “talking classes,” as Lasch chrisstopher to them. Their “capacity to collaborate” promotes “system thinking”—the ability to see problems in their totality, to absorb the fruits of collective experimentation, and to “discern larger causes, consequences, and relationships.

Our society has clearly chosen the second course. In this work from his twilight years, he chistopher on the ‘elites’ with a Prophetic claim for Truth cjristopher Justice, over and against ‘progress’, the’therepeutic’ and other ‘modern’ christophr. Everyone Concerned About Our Society. Entitled The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracythe book revisits most of the classic Laschian themes.

In the last twenty years, only they have experienced a net gain in family income. They are at once absurd and vaguely menacing—not because they wish to overthrow the old order but precisely because their defense of it appears so deeply irrational that it expresses itself, at the higher reaches of its intensity, in fanatical religiosity, in a repressive sexuality that occasionally erupts into violence against women and gays, and in a patriotism that supports imperialist wars and a national ethic of aggressive masculinity.


But anyone who has read the Book of Job knows that “it is just this illusion that the most radical form of religious faith relentlessly attacks. Not a single American was surprised that a besieged Nixon assembled an enemy list, secretly taped his Oval Office conversations capturing for posterity his rabidly anti-Semitic rants, framed here and there by bourbon-fueled sentimentfunded with cash a massive cover-up of the Watergate affair, and engaged in wildly pathetic self-pity.

Lasch sought to use history as a tool to awaken American society to the pervasiveness with which major institutions, public and private, were eroding the christppher and independence of families and communities.

His wonderful second book, The Agony of the American Leftcontained some justly famous essays on the decline of populism, on the isolation of the Revlt intelligentsia and the closely connected failures of American socialism, and on the vicissitudes of the Congress for Cultural Christophfr — an enterprise that began honourably before the war as a committee of socialist intellectuals opposed to Stalinism, and ended squalidly during the Cold War as a conduit for the covert CIA funding of Encounter and other reliably anti-Soviet journals and organisations.

Lssch of the Labour Party in Britain, who can, send their children to private schools.

Christopher Lasch, “The Revolt of the Elites”

Members of the working and lower middle classes understand, as their betters do not, that there are inherent limits on human control over the reevolt of social development, over nature and the body, over the tragic elements in human life and history. Llasch offers opportunities for advancement, in theory at least, to anyone with the talent to seize them; but “opportunities to rise,” as R.

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.

Have they Canceled their Allegiance to America?


They are more concerned with the smooth functioning of the system as a whole than with any of its parts. Their classes are relatively small; their peers are intellectually stimulating. 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.

Lasch can be a very effective writer, but he specializes in lists like this one:.