In yesterday’s post, “The Neoliberal Political Economy of the Organized Crime Syndicate,” we discussed the important work of Professor Susan Strange (1923-1998), who was a professor at the London School of Economics and one of the founders of the field of international political economy. We recommend that Strange’s work be considered in tandem with that of Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) and combined with the work of Dr. Andrew Łobaczewski (1921–2008) [“Political Ponerology: A Psychological Anatomy of Evil, Politics and Public Trauma“]. Then, collectively, you will have a good, foundational, real-world view from more conventional academics. And, of course, there’s always Winter Watch to guide you much further down the rabbit holes.
Christopher Lasch was an historian and penetrating social critic. He was first to promote the idea that the values and attitudes of the elites and the working classes dramatically diverged. The elites have become a natural “fifth column” within the state, and they’re generally hostile to the nation-state’s well being and especially to the well being of the lower-strata of the population. The result is a loss of civic virtue.
Note: Lasch, like many others, uses the term “elite,” which we feel is a poor word choice. We favor kleptocracy, kakistocracy and Crime Syndicate instead. Nevertheless, Lasch is one of those rare souls who does not care about ideology. He tries, quite valiantly, to see the world as it is.
Civic virtue involves making judgments and demands on one another. Lasch opposes relativism.
If Lasch were observing today, he would see civic virtue completely swamped by mass migrations and foreign workers, who have little concept of American civics. Lasch would argue that this development makes democracy impossible in the United States.
In his groundbreaking book “The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy” (1996), Lasch pointed out: “The new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension.”
In 1994, Lasch had come to believe that the economic and cultural elite of the United States were not a mass revolt as envisioned by the pro-communist New Left of the 1960s but rather a rejection of its liberal and pluralistic values by the educated elite.
“In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses,” Lasch wrote.
He held that the elites — by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists — were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values and their absence of civic responsibility.
Lasch wrote these views in 1995. Now, almost two and a half decades later, the super rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society over which they rule. They have seceded from America. The salons of Versailles on the Potomac have a “new normal.”
His books — even the more strictly historical ones — include sharp criticism of the priorities of alleged “radicals” who represent merely extreme formations of a rapacious capitalist ethos. Winter Watch suggests that Lasch, as a former neoMarxist sensed that both Leftists and Neoliberals were hijacked by the same Trotskyite forces. Lasch understood this false left-right dialectic.
Lasch’s most famous work, “The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations” (1979), sought 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.
He posited that social developments in the 20th century, such as World War II and the rise of consumer culture in the years following, gave rise to a narcissistic personality structure in which individuals’ fragile self-concepts had led, among other things, to a fear of commitment and lasting relationships (including religion), a dread of aging (e.g. the 1960s and 1970s “youth culture“) and a boundless admiration for fame and celebrity, nurtured initially by the motion picture industry and furthered principally by television.
Lasch advances arguments showing how culture had lost faith in the traditional values and replaced them with unrestrained greed.
WInter Watch Takeaway: Lasch nails the symptoms but doesn’t fully grasp the organized Tavistockian Crime Syndicate hidden hand behind Eros and civilization narcissism. That’s what we’re here for.
However, he saw a threat as a new stage of political development in America where the elite have become increasingly detached from the concerns of the common man. Lasch demonstrates how an increasing division between rich and poor, in which the working class becomes alienated from the intellectual class of “symbolic analysts,” leads to an utter sense of apathy among the American people.
Lasch seemed to sympathize with the populists of old, who sought a sort of third way between the horrors of monopoly capitalism and the welfare state. Populists promoted the values of the common man, thus maintaining a cultural conservatism, while at the same time demonstrating an innate fear of bigness and far-off bureaucracy.
Additionally, Lasch saw new hope for the working class through communitarianism, as opposition to neoliberal globalism. Communitarianism seeks to emphasize the role of community, neighborhoods and organic connectedness. This is contrary to libertarianism, which emphasizes the individual at the whim of market forces and cultural pluralism.
Lasch argues for restraint in order to facilitate family and community growth. Individuality threatens democracy. Community connection and traditional rules and obligations with neighbors and a community is paramount, he believed, as well as reciprocity and responsibilities.
Winter Watch Takeaway: We couldn’t agree more; however, because the kakistocracy operates from malice, they cut off at the pass Lasch’s populist approach.
Lasch warned what was coming and showed how the left uses the issue of race — extended arbitrarily to include all minorities and underprivileged, as defined by them — to create further difficulties for the common man, who is utterly alienated by political correctness.
Next, Lasch makes his most memorable points and contributions. He explains the changes in America that led to morality becoming a code word for judgmentalism, standards becoming a code word for racism, multiculturalism becoming a code word for denigrating a so-called “evil European culture,” the loss of family and neighborhood hailed as necessary for individual freedom, and the death of social cohesiveness, which never was mourned.
“Most of our spiritual energy is devoted precisely to a campaign against shame and guilt, the object of which is to make people ‘feel good about themselves.’ The churches themselves have enlisted in this therapeutic exercise,” he notes.
He further states that self-esteem is overrated for societal health. Winter Watch in our examination of serial killers such as Jimmy Savile, George Hodel, Ted Bundy, Dylan Klebold/Eric Harris and Israel Keyes (just search by name) shows how inflated unrestrained self-esteem is a key driver of such individual’s behaviors.
Lasch also shows how respect and shame have been misunderstood by the modern age. A culture of narcissism developed in America, in which individuals became excessively self-interested. They rely heavily on psychotherapies that promote self-esteem and “happiness” as the highest good. He argues for a return to traditional religious values as a means for achieving hope and providing an inoculation against otherwise difficult times.
Read “For Shame: Why Americans Should Be Wary of Self-Esteem” (New Republic, 10 August 1992)
While economically Lasch is opposed to unfettered capitalism, he nevertheless finds room to criticize the welfare state and government bureaucracy that promotes dependency and a culture of victimization.
In “The True and Only Heaven,” Lasch developed a critique for social change among the middle classes in the U.S. that involves rehabilitating the populist or producerist alternative tradition.
“The tradition I am talking about,” Lasch wrote, “tends to be skeptical of programs for the wholesale redemption of society … It is very radically democratic and in that sense it clearly belongs on the Left. But on the other hand it has a good deal more respect for tradition than is common on the Left, and for religion too.”
“A Feminist Movement that respected the achievements of women in the past would not disparage housework, motherhood or unpaid civic and neighborly services. It would not make a paycheck the only symbol of accomplishment,” He wrote. “It would insist that people need self-respecting honorable callings, not glamorous careers that carry high salaries but take them away from their families.”
In “Women and the Common Life,” Lasch clarified that urging women to abandon the household and forcing them into a position of economic dependence, in the workplace, pointing out the importance of professional careers does not entail liberation, as long as these careers are governed by the requirements of corporate economy.
Lasch was not generally sympathetic to the cause of what was then known as the Reagan New Right, particularly those elements of libertarianism most evident in its platform. We addressed that yesterday, and of course agree again with Lasch.
Only populism satisfied Lasch’s criteria of economic justice — not necessarily equality, but minimizing class-based difference — participatory democracy, strong social cohesion and moral rigor.
In his last months, he worked closely with his daughter Elisabeth to complete “The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy,” in 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,” Patrick Deneen wrote in The American Conservative magazine.
He “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.”
Globalization, according to the historian, has turned elites into tourists in their own countries. The de-nationalization of society tends to produce a class who see themselves as “world citizens, but without accepting … any of the obligations that citizenship in a polity normally implies.” Their ties to an international culture of work, leisure, information, make many of them deeply indifferent to the prospect of national decline. Instead of financing public services and the public treasury, new elites are investing their money in improving their voluntary ghettos.
Winter Watch: What does transnational Bill Gates pour his money into? – Global vaccinations. Warren Buffet? to the Gates Foundation. How about transnational George Soros? Neoliberal shitstorms and bought politicians. Per Forbes 35% of American billionaires are Jewish. Almost all are generous benefactors to Israel and Jewish charity or to sub-zero neocon politicians they control.
“Composed of those who control the international flows of capital and information, who preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher education, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus fix the terms of public debate,” he wrote. “So, the political debate is limited mainly to the dominant classes and political ideologies lose all contact with the concerns of the ordinary citizen.”
Winter Watch Takeaway: The only route to regime change is to attack the kleptocracy hard where it counts: in the pocket book, and cut off all rat lines of escape. Tax benefits to fund voluntary ghettos should be choked off just for starters.