Son of the Third Way

Since I launched Dry Creek Bed, I have used a quote from one of my intellectual heroes, Christopher Lasch, as a kind of slogan for this site:

"Uprootedness uproots everything except the need for roots."

I first encountered this particular quote in Eric Miller's wonderful biography, "Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch."

Here is a review of Miller's work from Anamnesis.

I highly recommend this thoughtful review and Miller's work to you. If you want to head straight to Lasch, I view his magnum opus, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics, to be among the most challenging and satisfying reads of my life. More than any other single work, A True and Only Heaven has shaped my view of our contemporary politics and culture.

Here is a quote from the Anamnesis review:

He (Lasch) objected to the new radicals of the early twentieth century, whom he saw as dismissing the important issues of childhood, education, and sex—especially sex. While he participated in the campus demonstrations of the 1960s, he was not pleased with its drug scene, permissive sex, and hyper self-expression. Hedonism, he said, was a formula for “political impotence and a new despotism in which a highly educated elite through its mastery of the technological secrets of a modern society rule over an indolent population which has traded self-government for self-expression.” Many on the Left mistook nihilism for freedom. Ultimately, with its unwillingness to acknowledge objective truth, its disregard for tradition and a common culture, the Left and its intelligentsia had failed to deliver.

If the Left proved unsatisfactory, the Right fared little better with him. Conservatives promoted business at all possible costs, he complained early on, while failing “to protect the country from unwise innovation.” Miller points out that Lasch was labeled a “cultural conservative” soon after writing Haven in a Heartless World (1977), wherein he lamented the loss of family life. Yet he always saw the need to address the inconsistencies of modern conservatism, which was caught up in the cult of progress as much as the Left. “What is traditional about the rejection of tradition, continuity, and rootedness?” he asked in a 1986 essay. Contemporary conservatism was a false conservatism. Neoconservatives were really liberals because they were more interested in capitalism than cultural preservation. The old labels had lost their meaning because tradition was at variance with the modern economic order.