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."
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.