Almost 40 Years Ago, Christopher Lasch Diagnosed The Rise Of Trump And Anti-Trump As Narcissism. The historian and social critic knew that the political and cultural movements of the Sixties would have long-lasting consequences for American democracy.
Excerpt: In his best-known book, “The Culture of Narcissism,” historian and social critic Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) outlined an emergent personality and style that have since taken control of elite and mass political culture. Appalled by the exploding therapeutic sensibility that promised freedom, creativity, and mental health, he argued prophetically in 1979 that self-expression and radical individualism could yield disastrous social results. Lasch was surveying “a way of life that is dying—the culture of competitive individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of individualism to the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self.” Twenty-five years later, in his collection of essays, “The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy,” he discerned the “venomous hatred” of sophisticates toward yeoman America. But only since his death has their revulsion toward “clingers” and “deplorables” become relentless and undisguised. Furthermore, despite all its blessings, the internet has changed the game, as it enables self-absorption and retreat from nature in ways that we still barely understand.