The Late Christopher Lasch on the Tea Parties

Team Sarah

This post, entitled Tea Party Has Elites on the Run, by Tony Blankley writing in Rasmussen Reports, is very much worth reading. It analyzes the Tea Party in light of the “remarkably prescient book, Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy.

Lasch described the emergence of elites who “…control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate.” These elites would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages. Middle-class values, Lasch warned, would be hollowed out by a value-neutral educational system preaching multiculturalism. Their replacement would be narcissistic values based on self-gratification and worshipful of fame and celebrity as the ultimate values in a world devoid of deeper meaning.

This very similar to the argument of Angelo Codevilla, both book form and article form.

Blankley goes on:

The tea party movement will assert middle-class values, economic nationalism, patriotism and other concepts derided by post-modern elitists. The movement’s central tenets — small government, decentralization of power and end to profligate spending — are precisely what Lasch prescribed to restore American democracy.


BTW: This article about the Tea Party, by Jonathan Raban, from the usually Lefty New York Review of Books, from last February, is remarkable fair. Worth reading.

(I should mention that the NYRB’s review essays on historical subjects, including military history, are often very good. For example, this article about the French Foreign Legion by Max Hastings is very good. He warns “… only the foolish seek to romanticize this bleak, cruel fighting machine, loyal only to its own. ” But the foolish, myself included, continue to do so. And while we are at it here is Max Hastings’ list of the Ten Best Books About War. I’ve read five of them.)

[Photo credit: The picture above is from the Raban article in the NYRB.]

7 thoughts on “The Late Christopher Lasch on the Tea Parties”

  1. I saw this article linked at Real Clear Politics. It is very good.

    The bit about “economic nationalism” is interesting. I imagine it could take very different forms, everything from tariffs and trade-wars to decreasing bureaucracy and business taxes so that manufacturing would return to the US. At any rate, I thought that point interesting.

    – Madhu

  2. I read The Revolt of the Elites the year it came out. I can say with certainty that it shaped my political persuasion as a person. I’ve referenced it in conversations ever since. It was an amazingly topical book this many years later still. I’ve dumped books over the years with Half-Priced Books, but this one never leaves. It feels like it will hold the test of time like The Road to Serfdom or The Open Society and Its Enemies has for me.

  3. I bought a used copy today. Assessing what I will call the “Codevilla thesis” obviously requires that I at least, pardon the pun, taste the Lasch.

  4. I love Hastings. I just finished Armageddon and Retribution (back to back, bracing reading). He is a tremendous speaker too.

  5. “Economic Nationalism” struck me as well. I was hoping that intelligent commentators where beyond the trade protection childishness.

    The idea that every American should pay more for goods & services so that other Americans should keep jobs that other do cheaper is absurd.

    We should do the opposite, and outsource some government functions to people overseas. Education comes to mind.

  6. We should do the opposite, and outsource some government functions to people overseas. Education comes to mind.

    Currently we’re nationalizing education and outsourcing defense.

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