The Revolt of the Elites

The Revolt of the Elites

And the Betrayal of Democracy

Book - 1996
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In a front-page review in the Washington Post Book World, John Judis wrote: "Political analysts have been poring over exit polls and precinct-level votes to gauge the meaning of last November's election, but they would probably better employ their time reading the late Christopher Lasch's book." And in the National Review, Robert Bork says The Revolt of the Elites "ranges provocatively [and] insightfully."
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1996, ©1995
ISBN: 9780393313710
Characteristics: x, 276 pages ; 22 cm


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Apr 26, 2017

In his seminal work The Revolt of the Masses, Jose Ortega y Gasset identified the development of a deracinated, rootless mass society as the root of the disorders of the early twentieth century. In contrast to Ortega y Gasset, for whom the collapse of culture primarily affected the lower classes, leaving them lost and prey to the totalitarian ideologies of demagogues, Christopher Lasch, at the end of the century, sees the ascendant ruling class as the most thoroughly deculturated segment of modern society. In Lasch's view, the new meritocratic elite demonstrates all of the vices of the old aristocracy without any of the virtues. Technologically unmoored from space, insulated by wealth from the difficulties of everyday life, educated to believe in the primacy of innovation and "progress" and therefore bereft of any kind of historical consciousness, the members of this global class possess a boundless faith in technocratic methods and a smug contempt for those who have not acquired their advantages. According to Lasch, the old democratic ideal of the worker with a dignity and voice equal to that of the rich man has been replaced by social stratification into working and serving classes and a managerial class responsible for organizing political and economic life.

In Lasch's analysis, the provincialism of the elites is itself part of the larger self-segregation which characterizes post-modern society. The growth of self-contained social bubbles is enabled by a dominant worldview which sees human fulfillment as nothing more than the acquisition of wealth and power, self-assertion and self-gratification. True democracy, Lasch concludes, must be founded on something deeper than legal mechanisms.

Jan 16, 2012

This book was published posthumously and one can see the descrrepancy between
what the author writes and perhaps what he would have written had he been alive.
A number of themes arise; the revolt of the elites refers to a number of internationalists
but, current research indicates there are many such elites (albeit not as rich as some)
who are active in communities; the trend to a therapeutic culture combats religion -- but
research indicates strong relationships to this -- neuroscience, mental illness (see Dr. Sacks,
and Dr. Whitfield; then there's reference to the seeming purge of humanities studies -- which
could easily be shown to result in less innovation in the US, the liberal tradition from the
Englightenment, which seems to have been taken over by those who are not liberals, or
forget the tolerance of liberalism.
All in all, a good book and an inspiration to those seeking a sort of context to the corporatism
of current society.


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