The Culture of Narcissism, by Lasch

Lasch – culture of narcissism

7 new photos added to shared album

Cultural classic from around 1979. Nietzschean. Explains a strong aspect of white power conservatism of this last few decades.

The main point is: Americans have become wimpy and they hate themselves.

Why? It is hard to succeed in America as of 1979. No frontier, no payoff to the Protestant work ethic, diminished individualism in face of corporations, factories, bureaucracies and jobs. And frustration in political movements – no greater cause to be part of. The 60s failed, the little guy stays little.

So people turned inward: yoga, self-help, therapy, meditation, jogging. They also lost belief in the future (won’t be better, doesn’t matter – nukes, climate, oil prices, globalization.) And lost belief in the past (doesn’t help me, no legacy, the rules changed.)

Inside they found insecurity, and look for approval, positive feeling, validation. They didn’t have a fundamental source of personal pride and worth that religion once gave, nor a clear moral code to live under, or personal success to chase in an age of diminishing expectations.

This is what Lasch means by narcissism. You want to be loved by others. The book was reprinted under Trump – a guy who seemed to stoke these fires.

What to do? Well it doesn’t have a formula. Neither did Hillbilly Elegy. But Lasch’s other great book, about the myth of progress, makes the worthy point that the “progressive” value system does lack a few things that some people need. We don’t have a clear, unchanging value system passed down through the generations — or so it seems when our views of what is OK or not OK get updated a lot. There isn’t a legacy from our ancestors when we tear down the old monuments or redraw old class categories.

We should be updating our views – those monuments are to bad things, mostly. But I think it is also true that they meant something to some folks, and those folks didn’t have much else to hold on to as values and self-worth.

Next up, another conservative core curriculum text: Jordan what’s his name.