Modern Discontent

Bernard Williams

  • The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch
    Norton, 288 pp, £6.95, February 1980, ISBN 0 393 01177 1
  • Nihilism and Culture by Johan Goudsblom
    Blackwell, 213 pp, £15.00, May 1980, ISBN 0 631 19570 X

All around him in American society Lasch sees intellectual and moral feebleness, cultural decay, despair and inner rage. There is no personal love, only a snatching at gratification, or domestic skirmishes in the war of all against all. There is no politics, only manipulation; no radical protest, only street theatre; no education, only organised illiteracy. The ‘elitism’ of earlier educational functions has been purged – by robbing the educational process of content. Sport is corrupted into mass entertainment. Therapy has replaced genuine moral reflection, and superstition has replaced genuine therapy.

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