CMST 1a03: Introduction to Communication
Dr. Terry Flynn (Winter 2012)
ITC – C. Lasch “The Revolt of the Elites”
ITC – C. Lasch “The Lost Art of Argument”
The Revolt of the Elites
There used to be the threat of communism and the revolt of the
workers. Now the threat is more the revolt of the elites.
Lasch’s elites are those who control the international flow of
information: bankers, stockbrokers, executives, professors,
• These people have lost faith in the concept of the West and of reason.
• Behaviours and beliefs are more characteristic of the upper classes and
represent the betrayal of the middle and lower classes, especially the
• Lasch says that the middle and lower classes are much more socially
and morally conservative than their upper class wouldbe liberators.
• Elites think that they know what is best for the masses. Lasch believes
that this is arrogant.
The Decline of the Middle Class
• The middle class is treated with scorn and derision by the new elites. • Everything that is ugly in society is associated with the unenlightened
middle class (i.e. homophobia, racism, retrograde attitudes towards
• Lasch thinks that the crisis in the middle class must be addressed for
democracy to survive.
• The middle class is the silent backbone of society, paying an ever
growing proportion of the national tax receipts and working longer
• Meanwhile the welfare state generates complacency among the lower
class and the uppermiddle and upper class become more powerful
and separate from those who surround them.
Who are the New Elites?
• They are symbolic analysts. They live in a world of ideas, abstract
concepts and symbols: the stockmarket, financial trends, technology,
communications, universities, etc.
• They participate in a market in that s global in scope.
• They have more in common with their counterparts in foreign cities
such as London, Brussels, Hong Kong and Cairo than they do with the
average people whom they see every day.
• In these abstract circles, there exists the cynical idea that the circles of
power in finance, government, entertainment and the academe become
• This is product of the Meritocracy.
Lasch’s Concept of Meritocracy
• The meritocracy has many of the attributes of the aristocracy minus its positive traits.
• No sense of social chivalry and noblesse oblige.
• No sense of community and of place.
• Symbolic analysts often feel that they are selfmade people who owe
all their privileges to their efforts and talent.
• They tend to be transient and live in a community of contemporaries.
They do not accept the generational transfer of wisdom, knowledge