The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy

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9780393313710: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy

"[A] passionate, compelling, and disturbing argument that the ills of democracy in the United States today arise from the default of its elites." ―John Gray, New York Times Book Review (front-page review)

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."

Controversy has raged around Lasch's targeted attack on the elites, their loss of moral values, and their abandonment of the middle class and poor, for he sets up the media and educational institutions as a large source of the problem. In this spirited work, Lasch calls out for a return to community, schools that teach history not self-esteem, and a return to morality and even the teachings of religion. He does this in a nonpartisan manner, looking to the lessons of American history, and castigating those in power for the ever-widening gap between the economic classes, which has created a crisis in American society. The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy is riveting social commentary.

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About the Author:

Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) was also the author of The True and Only Heaven, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, and other books.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A sure sign that Lasch's latest (and, sadly, last) book deserves wide acclaim is that it will infuriate those who cling to conventional notions of left and right. Lasch remains as relentless a critic of liberal progressivism as he is of unfettered capitalism. In many ways, this sharp and penetrating study culminates his career as a social critic of the highest order. It's an articulate challenge to the anti-democratic notions of both market and statist liberals: Both, in Lasch's view, share an exalted sense of the professional and managerial class, thereby diminishing a vital middle class in this country. Throughout his many books, Lasch (The True and Only Heaven, 1991) notes, from his early work on liberals and the Russian Revolution through his biting analysis of self- styled radical intellectuals, he has always concerned himself with one overarching question: Does democracy have a future? More so than his earlier, often naysaying books, this wonderfully vigorous and urgent set of essays makes explicit Lasch's hope for a renewal of our best democratic values: the civil arts of public discourse and debate; an educational system that stresses commonality, not difference; and, quite simply, religion--one of the best disciplines against professional arrogance. For Lasch, to accept our inability to master a God-given world is the first step to a more realistic vision for humanity. The course of our century, as he argues with great historical nuance, has steered us from a sense of the ``common good.'' Our public spaces continue to dwindle, and the language of politics, journalism, and the academy no longer invites the average person into the argument, as democracy once promised. The ``democratic habits'' of ``self-reliance, responsibility, and initiative'' have degraded into a mad rush for social mobility. The common wellsprings for a civil society- -families, neighborhoods, traditions--are now seen as impediments to financial success or as oppressive representatives of sexism and racism. This brave piece of social criticism answers Lasch's critics with a message so simple and obvious, it's sublime. (First serial to Harper's) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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