Alternative Futures for a Fractured American Culture
Bradley Lecture by Charles Murray

Video

Post-Event Summary
In a Bradley Lecture on Monday evening at AEI based on his new best-selling book "Coming Apart: The State of White America: 1960-2010," Charles Murray described America's increasing divergence into two cultural classes that are different from anything our nation has ever known. Murray illustrated his point by describing two fictional towns: Belmont, where residents have bachelor's degrees and work in professional positions such as managers, physicians or professors, and Fishtown, where residents have at most a high school diploma and work (if at all) in blue-collar professions. Murray argued that beginning in 1963, America's founding virtues -- marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity -- continued to be practiced in Belmont but declined in Fishtown. According to Murray, the disappearance of the founding virtues corresponds to declining social capital in Fishtown and in America's lower classes. He proposed that America's nonjudgmental culture provides no validation for lower-class Americans who aspire to the founding virtues and admonished the upper classes for failing to enforce codes of conduct among themselves.
Murray also decried the financing of the US welfare state, stating that it will at some point become "ridiculous" to everyone. He suggested that America now faces two scenarios: one that ends with America as a European social democracy and another in which America experiences a "civic great awakening."

Event Description
In his April 2011 Bradley Lecture at AEI, Charles Murray presented data documenting America’s divergence into classes that are different from anything our nation has ever known. In this companion lecture, Murray will discuss how this divergence is affecting American life and what we can expect in the future. He will present two scenarios--one that ends with America as a European social democracy and another in which America experiences a "civic great awakening"--and assess the forces that work in favor of each. 

Copies of  "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010" (2012) will be available for purchase.

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About the Author

 

Charles
Murray
  • Charles Murray is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. He first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of Losing Ground, which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve (Free Press, 1994), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Murray's other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian (1997), Human Accomplishment (2003), In Our Hands (2006), and Real Education (2008). His most recent book, Coming Apart (Crown Forum, 2012), describes an unprecedented divergence in American classes over the last half century.


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  • Assistant Info

    Name: Caroline Kitchens
    Phone: 202-862-5820
    Email: Caroline.Kitchens@aei.org

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
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Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
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