People

Christopher Lasch

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 21

Christopher Lasch, "Conservatism against Itself"

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(From First Things, April 1990)

In this early article from First Things, historian Christopher Lasch poses the question of whether cultural conservatism is compatible with capitalism. If, as Lasch argues, conservatism is defined by a respect for limits — that human freedom has constraints imposed upon it by nature, history, human fallibility, and “original sin” — then the unrelenting and insatiable quest for ever-increasing standards of comfort that capitalism encourages is completely at odds with conservative values. Despite nineteenth-century attempts to bolster the family as the primary means of curbing the large-scale transfer of “private vices” to “public virtues” implied in liberal economic theory, the effects of twentieth-century capitalism have only underscored how vulnerable the family is when the integrity of its surrounding local institutions is destroyed. Also included in this article is an account of lower-middle class versus upper-middle class cultural values as well as the alternative — though now largely unheard of — economic approaches to liberal capitalism advanced by the distributists and syndicalists. 42 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 19

Jeremy Beer, "On Christopher Lasch"

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(From Modern Age, Fall 2005)

In this biographical sketch, Jeremy Beer describes the intellectual trajectory of cultural historian, Christopher Lasch, whose career spanned from the 1960s through the early 1990s. Beer recounts how, despite growing up in a “militantly secular” home and, throughout his career, sympathetically grappling with the works of Marx and Freud, Christopher Lasch distanced himself from the leftist “radical intellectuals,” whose version of progressivism did not coincide with Lasch’s understanding of a healthy democracy. In his scholarship and criticism, Lasch was concerned about democracy, both as an achievable ideal and as an imperfect reality. He rejected the Left-Right dualism of American politics, arguing that the ostensibly opposing ideologies were merely two sides of the same coin that amounted to the refusal to acknowledge human limitations. Lasch’s diagnosis of the modern, “anxiously narcissistic” self involved a sharp critique of the culture that produced it, namely, a culture that condoned the conquest of nature through scientific, technological, and economic methods without any regard for naturally or institutionally based limits on human freedom. 55 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 103

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Guests on Volume 103: Steven D. Smith, on how the law only makes sense in the context of certain metaphysical beliefs, and on why we aren't allowed to talk about such things in public; David Thomson, on the American Dream, acting, loneliness, the moral complicity of movie audiences, and the genius of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho; Adam McHugh, on how American culture distrusts introverts and on why their place in the Church needs to be valued; Glenn C. Arbery, on the Vanderbilt Agrarians, poetry, and the moral imagination and the shaping of virtue; Eric Miller, on Christopher Lasch's intense commitment to understand the logic of American cultural confusion; and Eric Metaxas, on how Dietrich Bonhoeffer's early experiences prepared him for his heroic defiance of the Third Reich.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 77

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Guests on Volume 77: Eric Miller on the conserving radicalism and revolutionary traditionalism of Christopher Lasch; Lisa de Boer on the depiction of everyday humanity in northern European post-Renaissance painting; Peter J. Schakel on seeing The Chronicles of Narnia as fairy tales, not just Christian allegory; and Alan Jacobs on how The Chronicles of Narnia reveal much of C. S. Lewis's thinking on almost everything, and on how Lewis's imagination was prepared to write such books.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 7

Guests on Volume 7: Dean Kenyon, on his fight for academic freedom at San Francisco State University; Phillip Johnson, on scientists' intolerance toward theories about intelligent design; Jane Metcalfe, on technology and community; John Hodges, on sacred music by Ralph Vaughan Williams; Dominic Aquila, on the late cultural critic, Christopher Lasch; Robert Royal, on "Reinventing the American People," multiculturalism and the shaping of national identity; Ted Prescott, on the British realist painter Lucian Freud; and Drew Trotter, on Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List.