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Why Read Christopher Lasch?

When I grew up in the overwhelmingly white blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia known as Levittown, a soft white supremacism was pervasive. When blacks were spoken about at all, it was rarely if ever positively. The conversations generally involved words such as “lazy,” “uneducated,” “immoral,” and “irresponsible.” The stereotype employed to justify this judgment was that of the able-bodied black man on some form of public assistance who sired a few children with a few women who were also on welfare. It was a decidedly decadent and self-destructive culture, according to the adults outside my home.

Some 20 years later, the problems once identified with the black community—joblessness, out of wedlock births, criminality—have taken on a lighter hue. As the social critic Charles Murray recently chronicled in Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, the white working class has been ravaged over the past half-century by the same afflictions they once looked down their noses at their black neighbors for. Marriage rates have declined. Divorce rates have increased and out-of-wedlock births have exploded, meaning more children raised in single-parent homes. The number of blue-collar white men in their prime working ages who dropped out of the labor force more than doubled. Disability claims skyrocketed. The number of white prisoners is up nearly 500 percent since 1974. For the new white upper class, however, as Murray shows, experiencing these problems is like taking a dip in an otherwise tranquil sea and drowning due to the undertow: it happens, but only rarely.

What makes Murray’s book even more horrifying reading is when he pulls back at the end to extend his analysis to the entire U.S. population, “induc[ing] recognition of the ways in which America is coming apart at the seams—not seams of race or ethnicity, but of class.” A new upper class, marked by high IQs and great wealth, is self-segregating into affluent bubbles—which Murray calls “SuperZips”—and occupies the commanding heights of our economy and government, while the rest of us become mere spectators. But if you’re looking for Murray to explain how this came about, you’re out of luck. “I focus on what happened, not why,” he says at the outset.

What Murray shows empirically was predicted by another social critic, now dead for more than two decades, who put forth a damning indictment of American capitalism’s inability to recognize any limits in its quest for economic growth. Its voraciousness destroyed the very things conservatives hold most dear, he argued, ultimately producing the same destructive tendencies in white working-class suburbs like Levittown that residents previously associated with the inner city.

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“In some ways middle-class society has become a pale copy of the black ghetto,” this social theorist, Christopher Lasch, wrote in his most popular work, The Culture of Narcissism. “We do not need to minimize the poverty of the ghetto or the suffering inflicted by whites on blacks in order to see that the increasingly dangerous and unpredictable conditions of middle-class life have given rise to similar strategies for survival,” he continued. “Indeed the attraction of black culture for disaffected whites suggests that black culture now speaks to a general condition, the most important feature of which is a widespread loss of confidence in the future.” thisarticleappears [1]

Over the course of his life and work, Lasch, who was the son of progressive parents and was himself initially drawn to Marxism, grew more culturally conservative as he grew more and more tired with American society’s tendency to equate the good life with mere consumption and consumer choice. Both Democrats and Republicans, he believed, adhered to the “ideology of progress,” a belief system whereby, either through redistribution of wealth or economic growth, “economic abundance would eventually give everyone access to leisure, cultivation, refinement—advantages formerly restricted to the wealthy.”

But Lasch’s conservatism was always idiosyncratic, fusing respect for the conservative traditions of working-class life also celebrated by Charles Murray—such as faith, family, and neighborhood—with a genuine desire for egalitarian democracy based on broad-based proprietorship. As a former Marxist, his analysis always held labor, particularly when self-directed or done voluntarily in cooperation with others, in high esteem because of the ethic of responsibility it produced. Work wasn’t, or shouldn’t be, just a means to put food on the table or a roof over your head. Rather it provided meaning, dignity, and moral instruction, something not found by repeating mind-numbing tasks over and over at someone else’s direction.

After surveying American history, Lasch increasingly latched onto what he described as the producerist ideology animating the young United States throughout much of the 19th century. This meant a celebration of the self-reliance, independence, and modesty of the farmers and artisans who went to work on their own initiative and controlled the means of production, whether that was the plow or the tools of their particular trades. Because of their independence and competence, they could be citizens in the truest sense of the word.

They loathed extreme disparities in wealth and looked upon luxury suspiciously because of the corrosive effect it had on people. “‘Wealth and splendor, instead of fascinating the multitude,’ ought to ‘excite emotions of disgust,’” wrote Lasch, quoting Thomas Paine, whom he considered one of America’s earliest populists. What motivated this revulsion was the belief that the only honest way to accumulate wealth was by what could be produced with one’s hands, which also assured that whatever economic inequality there was would be not only be tolerable but just. “Freedom,” Lasch wrote in The True and Only Heaven, summarizing majority opinion in the early 19th century, “could not flourish in a nation of hirelings.”

Lasch understood the paradox that much of the modern American left and right find contradictory: property could be theft, particularly under capitalist property relations and wage labor, but it also meant freedom for small producers—such as farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers in the 19th century or what today have become small business owners and sole proprietorships—who were able to control the conditions under which they made their living. The rise of mass production for ever-expanding markets and with it the shift to salaried labor destroyed this radical yet deeply conservative outlook on life, turning skilled craftsmen who worked for themselves into interchangeable cogs in somebody else’s machine, both literally and figuratively. Workers understood this, noted Lasch, and reacted by “defending not just their economic interests but their crafts, families, and neighborhoods.”

Revolting against the dehumanizing conditions of deskilled wage labor, yet understanding that large-scale factory production was here to stay, skilled craftsmen and owners of productive land exemplified by organization like the Knights of Labor and the Farmers’ Alliance envisioned a new society that resisted both state capitalism and state socialism. Centralization, whether it was at the behest of the boss or the bureaucrat, was their enemy. Their nemesis, however, prevailed, as Americans accepted that the cost of affluence and abundance was the loss of control over their very lives. With no sense of how history could have gone any other way, any pursuit of worker control today has been lost to history, smeared as communist rather than authentically American.

But producerist populism, Lasch believed, should be revived for the 21st century as contemporary liberal and conservative politics—which both see average Americans as spectators and consumers in matters of policy and production—prove worthless and devoid of popular allegiance. Only a producerist and populist politics could revitalize the notion that direct and local citizen control over politics and the workplace is the best synthesis of radical and conservative American ideals, as people realize the bipartisan consensus around progress-as-consumption is ultimately hollow and illusionary.

Self-sufficiency seems a dream for many today who have become a surplus population, dragging down wages as technology quickens the obsolescence of their labor and eats away at their livelihoods. Even before his death in 1994, Lasch could see that most of those lucky enough to have steady work toiled at jobs they could hardly care less about, dead-end careers without purpose outside of economic survival. Self-expression and mastery of a skill were things left to leisure time, if there was any.

Lasch understood that democracy is a fiction when people spend their lives working in conditions over which they exert little or no control, compensated by shoddy consumer goods that bring faint comfort when the things that really matter—such as adequate schooling and homeownership, the last vestige of proprietorship for most people today—are out of reach. These social facts don’t produce citizens capable of self-governance but a people who are ruled over by a remote technocratic elite, as Murray has correctly observed, who make decisions for the masses they know little and care even less about.

Even with President Obama’s recent championing of “middle-class economics” and the Republican Party’s occasional concessions to belief in the social destructiveness of economic inequality, both parties cling to different branches of what Lasch called the ideology of progress, redistribution on the left and “a rising tide lifts all boats” on the right. By contrast, Lasch’s vision of the good life is truly radical yet profoundly conservative; it harkens back to traditions now largely dormant in American life where those who worked for a living wanted to build local communities, in the words of 19th-century labor leader Robert MacFarlane, based upon the now forgotten American ideal of “small but universal ownership” of property, which was the “true foundation of a stable and firm republic.” In other words, independence rooted in both liberty and equality.

This producerist ideology, according to Lasch, “deserves a more attentive hearing, on its own terms, than it has usually received.” It holds the answer to the questions critics like Charles Murray raise—and reveals that too many libertarians and conventional conservatives are confused apologists for a system that produces everything they despise: authoritarianism, centralization, and widespread dependence.

Matthew Harwood’s work has appeared in Antiwar.com, The Guardian, The Washington Monthly, and elsewhere.

28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "Why Read Christopher Lasch?"

#1 Comment By Reinhold On July 28, 2015 @ 1:51 am

Lasch then seems to draw primarily on the Free Labor ideology promoted by the Radical Republicans as the alternative to slavery AND wage labor––enacted briefly in Tecumseh Sherman’s Field Order No. 15 (the 40 acres and a mule) and the small commune settlements he oversaw––as well as the Populist Party’s ideology. The only problem I see with reviving these is that they don’t address the tight-knit relation of the market and wage labor––wage labor after all takes place in a labor market, so it has never seemed very convincing to me that we could get rid of capitalist ownership without getting rid of markets of small proprietors––since everyone owning their own land and working it themselves is a fundamentally pre-industrial social organization (how would small proprietors preside over large-scale industry, like energy or transportation?). The difficulty then is to eliminate wage labor and capital investment in a fully collective society without maintaining some domineering central government, and I don’t know if anyone has worked that one out yet (I don’t hold much hope for anarchism, e.g.). Still, I think people like Lasch are valuable precisely in challenging the mainstream liberal/conservative nexus, which really has proven totally incapable of addressing its own problems, even understanding them adequately. Good article.

#2 Comment By Mike Alexander On July 28, 2015 @ 7:34 am

Ladish errs in the rose-colored glasses with which he views antebellum America. He looks at the country from the viewpoint of its citizens, which excludes slaves and the largely immigrant, landless laborers in North, a group that corresponds to our poor and working poor today.

The bulk of the population were subsistence farmers who farmed their own land, like in many preindustrial societies. Even so the trends were negative. After around 1820, the average height of men went into a 60 year decline, indicating increasing nutritional deficiencies. Age at first marriage rose indicating increasing uncertainty about one’s like chances. American alcohol consumption reached levels in the 1830’s much higher than any seen since. It was NOT good times for regular folks.

If conservatives really wanted to nudge societies in the direct that Ladish suggests, without wrecking the country it takes only a few tweaks. One is pass confiscatory taxes on very high incomes so as to make accumulation of vast fortunes impossible. The other is to repeal corporate charters for firms that are not 100% employee-owned (with a 10 year adjustment period so existing corporations can adjust). That is convert all present corporations into proprietorships or partnerships. Very large firms will carry too much liability risk for the owner(s) and so it would be wise to sell pieces to other owners. The trend would be to make privately-owned firms much smaller, or if it is necessary to preserve economies of scale, become employee-owned and so keep corporate status. Leveraged buyouts were originally invented in order to facilitate transition to employee ownership

The combination of no private corporations and high taxes would create an economy of smaller firms that would push things in the direction Ladish would like, without requiring a return to a pre-industrial mode of life.

#3 Comment By Johann On July 28, 2015 @ 9:15 am

Its the culture stupid. The protestant work ethic and morality is gone.

#4 Comment By Richard Williams On July 28, 2015 @ 9:40 am

I suppose a quick response might be “Oh, so the Luddites were right.” In the American context, Reinhold and Mike Alexander make good points, especially Alexander’s correction of some of Lash’s assertions about early 19th Century America.

Perhaps, the wayward ancestor no one wants to discuss is the inherent flaws in the of the Constitution. The framers wrote for their time and what they assumed would be the future; things changed quickly and the society no longer fit the framers’ assumptions. The framers thought they had given us an amendment process so that we could deal with change; they made the process too difficult to achieve and they over estimated the national commitment to the weak compromises that had made the Constitution possible in the first place.

#5 Comment By seans On July 28, 2015 @ 10:23 am

““I focus on what happened, not why,” he says at the outset.”

Which makes the book almost worthless because if you can’t ask why, then asking what becomes redundant.

#6 Comment By Gene Callahan On July 28, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

Nice synopsis!

#7 Comment By Gene Callahan On July 29, 2015 @ 5:32 am

@Reinhold: “how would small proprietors preside over large-scale industry, like energy or transportation?”

There is no particular reason these industries *need* to be large-scale, except for regulatory capture and other forms of favoritism shown to large industry.

#8 Comment By Rob G On July 29, 2015 @ 7:27 am

“Ladish errs in the rose-colored glasses with which he views antebellum America.”

I assume you mean Lasch. I’ve read quite a bit of him, and he definitely does not look at antebellum America with rose-colored glasses. Neither is he a Luddite.

Schumpeter called the effect of capitalism “creative destruction,” but one need not limit this description solely to economic modernism. Because of their respective appropriations of the myth of progress both left and right tend to downplay the destructive aspect while putting the creative on a pedestal. The work of writers like Lasch serves to help put things back in proper perspective: the destructive side of modernity is real and thus should not be ignored.

#9 Comment By GSS On July 29, 2015 @ 8:54 am

Interesting academic debate but culturally (in our particular culture), all potential solutions are non-starters. I live amid an Amish community & they manifest Lasch’s lessons in daily life. It’s because they have the character & dignity to pull it off. They exercise their talents at an early age, hone them into manufacture & production as young adults, & lead simple, self-sustaining lives that yield individual contentment and healthy community. Yet when “outsiders” visit, they see the Amish as poverty-stricken Luddites. And horror of horrors, they toil and sweat. As I read this article there seems to be cognitive dissonance … there’s no possibility for “Laschian” cultural reformation amid a decadent, lazy, narcissistic, & hyper-entertained people.

#10 Comment By JLF On July 29, 2015 @ 9:15 am

There are a few problems Mike Alexander and others need to consider before tossing out the corporate baby with the bath water. Foremost would be the need to raise large amounts of capital. Redistributing existing capital is relatively easy; raising it from willing investors – not the same kind of creatures as unwilling taxpayers – becomes increasingly impossible as ever larger amounts become necessary to meet new conditions. There are a myriad of problems with modern capitalism and corporate ownership that should be fixed or abolished, but the ability to raise capital has no peer and must remain somehow.

A second feature Alexander addresses in passing is the relation of ownership and management in the corporate structure. The corporation gives protection to its shareholders from the liabilities of the business. I own stock in General Motors, but I not liable for its debts. By substituting a partnership arrangement for stock ownership Alexander ignores the fact that each partner is liable jointly an severally with all other partners for the debts of the business. A creditor need not bother with my assets when he has the assets of, say, Warren Buffet to attach for his entire relief. And to say that Buffet can sue me (and millions of others) for contribution is both silly and too expensive to contemplate.

Lastly (for now) there is the almost intractable problem of capital flight. Unless there are almost simultaneous barriers to international investment and effective ways to repatriate the invested capital of American citizens – not to say (yet) barriers to renunciation of citizenship – nothing will stop the 1% from taking their marbles and going to their new homes in Switzerland, the Caymans, or other, more hospitable climes.

All this isn’t to say that we can do nothing about the increasing wealth divide. We just need to carefully adjust for windage before pulling the trigger.

#11 Comment By Brendanyc On July 29, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

Employee ownership, partial or entire, of large corporations is hardly unknown in the US, and has included some national or even global brand names, even if this model has never been close to a dominant form of doing business here.
Coops also are well known here and tested in many market segments such as agriculture and of all things, finance(credit unions, mutual insurance cos., etc.).
these are all successful models for business in the US, and Lasch approved. (So do I, but i don’t have much of a readership!). My point is that his ideas and values do have application to our world, our culture, our economy. They have not caught the public’s imagination in the recent past, but have been of greater interest at other times in our history, even in this lifetime.
So, the question is not (to me) whether there is any way to make progress along the lines Lasch suggests, but rather how to build a constituency for this approach. If there is the will , there is a way. More than one way. ESOPs were popular for a while and could be again.
Of course, there is also always the option of socialist/syndicalist revolution, but the current culture seems unmoved by this prospect. So, we can try something more incremental, see if it fits our tastes better.

#12 Comment By Reinhold On July 29, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

“There is no particular reason these industries *need* to be large-scale, except for regulatory capture and other forms of favoritism shown to large industry.”
Oh, please. We will certainly want to maintain industries which serve millions of people globally. That’s essentially large-scale; please explain how railroads could be owned and operated by a private family, without extensive employment of wage labor. If they’re employee-owned, they’ll be quite large regardless. Moreover, capitalist enterprises are large because they have an institutional imperative to expand; not just because the government incentivizes bigness.

#13 Comment By Reinhold On July 29, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

Just a general note to everyone who fetishizes family-owned businesses in localized small towns, I actually grew up in a small rural town in a household supported by a small family business, and every single aspect of its economic life depends heavily on credit from big finance and trade with big industry––a small business is existentially dependent on the larger economy. Small-scale capitalism is a contradiction in terms! Even the Amish depend very significantly on sales of their products in centralized tourist towns; I’ve visited Amish farms in Indiana and Michigan and, though they live a very ascetic labor-intensive lifestyle, their economic lives involve market exchange with the wider world.

#14 Comment By Rob G On July 30, 2015 @ 6:53 am

“capitalist enterprises are large because they have an institutional imperative to expand; not just because the government incentivizes bigness.”

True, but how big is “big enough”? If the idea of subsidiarity is embraced companies only need to be as big as they have to be to do their respective work. The rest comes from avarice.

Also, in U.S. agriculture the working principal has long been “get big or get out.”

“I actually grew up in a small rural town in a household supported by a small family business, and every single aspect of its economic life depends heavily on credit from big finance and trade with big industry”

So did I, except in a small semi-rural suburb. This very dependency is exactly what the Southern agrarians of the 20s and 30s were predicting and warning against. They saw it occurring in the North and didn’t want to see it duplicated in the South.

#15 Comment By GSS On July 30, 2015 @ 8:04 am

I trust my earlier comment referencing the Amish wasn’t translated as a “fetish” for asceticism or a neo-agrarian economy. My point was that our cultural decadence does not comport with the ideas being espoused for reformation. The epidemic of parasitism is all around us … from individuals on the take to big finance/industry who survive by legal plunder (as opposed to free market capitalism, which doesn’t exist.) When morals & legal systems allow, parasites will ALWAYS outnumber genuine producers. Not sure how one builds a constituency of producers without first dealing with cultural/moral depravity … and that’s not something one fixes with policy prescriptions.

#16 Comment By Reinhold On July 30, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

“True, but how big is “big enough”? If the idea of subsidiarity is embraced companies only need to be as big as they have to be to do their respective work. The rest comes from avarice.”
No, it comes from competitive pressures. If you don’t expand, someone else will, and with everyone operating by this logic, everyone is trying to expand. It’s called profit and market share, and it’s got little to do with the greed of the individuals running the firms; if they don’t contribute to expansion, they’ll be out and someone else will be in. It’s markets and capital investment that drive all this indefinite growth, not just bad values.
“This very dependency is exactly what the Southern agrarians of the 20s and 30s were predicting and warning against.”
Also, civil rights for blacks imposed by the federal government. And if they didn’t want big capitalism, they shouldn’t have prepared the ground for it with small capitalism. That’s a precondition for expansion, not a challenge to it.

#17 Comment By Reinhold On July 30, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

“I trust my earlier comment referencing the Amish wasn’t translated as a “fetish” for asceticism or a neo-agrarian economy.”
I wasn’t targeting you specifically. My point was just that if something is going to be an alternative to something else, it’s got to be in some way incompatible with it. I like the Amish, they’re good people; but they don’t offer our ‘decadent culture’––more to the point, our global industrial capitalism––a way out.

#18 Comment By Rob G On July 31, 2015 @ 6:52 am

“No, it comes from competitive pressures.”

Which in turn comes from “self-interest,” i.e., avarice. While it may be endemic in corporate/industrial capitalism the “Get big or get out” mentality isn’t a necessary or automatic component of markets per se.

“if they didn’t want big capitalism, they shouldn’t have prepared the ground for it with small capitalism.”

The “small capitalism” was already there and had been for a long time. If you read them you find that their beef was with industrial (e.g. corporate) capitalism, not with markets per se. Industrialism was what was pushing the “bigness,” not anything inherent in market principles themselves.

#19 Comment By ManassasGrandma On July 31, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

it seems to me all solutions offered are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Pray and fast a lot. Unless we have some inner renewal, everything else will come to naught. John Adams said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. But if we were all authentically striving toward goodness, very little government would be necessary,and almost any arrangement of economy and governanace would work.

#20 Comment By Reinhold On July 31, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

“If you read them you find that their beef was with industrial (e.g. corporate) capitalism, not with markets per se”
Yes, I understand that; and both they and you don’t understand markets. You’re denying that markets are premised on competition for market share; that is a truly unique understanding of markets, which does not jive with ANY economic theory in existence, not a general equilibrium theory, not a Keynesian disequilibrium theory, not a Marxian theory, none. Your sentimental agrarian view of small markets is charming, but it says nothing about the nature of markets, big or small. Industrial capitalism does not arise in a vacuum; we had it in my Northern area for a while too, and it took a neo-feudal form all the way until the 1870s––the development of big capitalism was the result of the agrarian concentration of land ownership in literally 9 hands throughout the entire regions, and these agrarian barons went on to spearhead industrial expansion.

#21 Comment By Reinhold On July 31, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

*When I wrote “we had it in my Northern area” I was referring to “small agrarian markets,” not industrial capitalism, as the sentence structure might suggest.

#22 Comment By Thomas On July 31, 2015 @ 5:47 pm

Excellent article.

I think those commenters suggesting that production on a small scale is no longer a practical reality are correct – industrial capitalism has succeeded precisely because it has been the best system for creating value in our increasingly stable society. There are significant analogies with the ecological r/K selection theory here – small, nimble producers were competitive on the American frontier, but were gradually outcompeted as the frontier became settled and larger producers moved in.

In ecology, the equilibrium shifts back in favour of small, nimble organisms mainly in highly unstable, rapidly changing environments, which the larger, slower organisms are unable to adapt to quickly enough.

I think we can see the best economic example of this pattern in the late Roman empire – production became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a handful of large plantation owners, at the expense of small farmers, until the constant wars made trade unfeasible and the economic system reverted to the smaller scales of the medieval ages.

The upshot of this is that so long as economies of scale exist, we are unlikely to see a return to small scale production without serious instability – and the concomitant decline in living standards, which would seem to make it undesirable.

And yet small production really does seem like a good – so what’s the answer? Is there some market failure, with positive externalities being generated by small production that aren’t being adequately captured by the small producers?

The obvious benefit to small production is responsibility for one’s own destiny, and all the virtues that accompany that. It could be that we are simply more fulfilled in riskier environments – maybe this explains the lure of the casino and the lottery – an illusion of empowerment.

Some way must be found to genuinely empower people, giving them responsibility for their destiny, without simultaneously causing a decline in productivity.

#23 Comment By Thomas On July 31, 2015 @ 6:03 pm

Some more thoughts on this. Young people are starting to pay for internships at influential organizations – they desire the responsibility a job with the organization will bring them badly enough that they’ll actually pay to work.

So there’s obviously a significant monetary value which can be attached to responsibility, to the point that the traditional labour paradigm is upended and people are paying to work at a meaningful job.

Maybe we should charge large corporations a tax equal to the value of every meaningful job their economies of scale eliminated.

#24 Comment By Rob G On August 1, 2015 @ 8:43 am

“Yes, I understand that; and both they and you don’t understand markets. You’re denying that markets are premised on competition for market share; that is a truly unique understanding of markets.”

No, I’m not. My argument goes back further upstream, so to speak. Once usury was allowed and avarice morphed into “self-interest”, there were no longer any moral brakes on competition other than those prescribed by the law. The problem is not with markets per se, but with a market system in which usury is tolerated and rampant and avarice is seen as a virtue.

“Some way must be found to genuinely empower people, giving them responsibility for their destiny, without simultaneously causing a decline in productivity.”

Well put. The question is how, in an economy which tends to value efficiency and productivity over all, and in which non-tangible costs are given very little weight?

#25 Comment By cicera On August 1, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

This is a very good article. Anyone who hasn’t read The Culture of Narcissism is missing out.

#26 Comment By Reinhold On August 1, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

“The problem is not with markets per se, but with a market system in which usury is tolerated and rampant and avarice is seen as a virtue.”
Usury and capital investment––lending with interest and investing for profit––were considered, by the Roman Church, basically the same. Once the prohibition on usury fell, so did the prohibition on capital investment. So I fail to see how you can have markets in any meaningful sense WITHOUT capital investment; that seems to be the productive basis for markets. But now I do understand your argument about moral constraints on capital investment, even though I think that once you introduce it you’ve basically insured that eventually market nihilism will triumph over any piddly little virtues that stand in its way. So let’s agree to disagree about the structural consequences of markets for morality.

#27 Comment By Curtis Price On August 6, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

This is a superb article about a prescient critic who is mosrly forgotten today. Lasch is one of the few critics of the past 50 years who can intelligently bridge the divide between traditional right and left. As someone on the left – my idea of a paleo conservative is Noam Chomsky- I found to my surprise Murray’s book to be the best analysis of class relations in the U.S. today. Joel Kotkin’s “The New Class Conflict” also makes similar points and can be seen as a link between Murray and Lasch, although Kotkin doesn’t have Lasch’s depth and flair.Thanks to The American Conservative for publishing this thoughtful piece.

#28 Comment By Benjamin Glaser On December 14, 2018 @ 5:48 am

Ditto to RobG referencing the Southern Agrarians. They prophesied correctly concerning this age.