The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics

Christopher Lasch, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25 (591p) ISBN 978-0-393-02916-1
The thrust of Lasch's polemic is that progressives mistakenly cling to a faith in progress, i.e., the belief that a steady, indefinite rise in living standards is possible. The world's diminishing resources and America's shrinking middle class effectively doom the idea of such progress, he suggests. Lasch identifies a constellation of thinkers--Carlyle, Emerson, William James, Reinhold Neibuhr, syndicalist Georges Sorel, American populists--who were skeptical of material progress and its presumed benefits. He links their views to the ``petty-bourgeois sensibility'' of the lower-middle class, said to be rooted in family, neighborhood, respect for workmanship, loyalty, thrift, self-denial and a recognition of human limits. As self-appointed champion of lower-middle-class values, Lasch is less cogent than in his jeremiad, The Culture of Narcissism. He uses liberals as a whipping-post to advance his debatable thesis, accusing them of unrealistic optimism and a shallow secularism. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-393-30795-5
Open Ebook - 592 pages - 978-0-393-34842-2
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