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.
KARLYN BOWMAN, AEI
CHARLES MURRAY, AEI
Adjournment and Wine and Cheese Reception
Event Contact Information
For more information, please contact Lindsay Souza at [email protected], 202.862.5884.
Media Contact Information
For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.
Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women’s attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States .
Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at AEI. His latest book, ” Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010″ (2012), looks at the increasing class divide in America and its implications for our society. He is also the author of “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality” (2008), which provides a framework for rethinking what parents should demand from an educational system. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, “The Bell Curve,” co-authored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Mr. Murray first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of “Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980” (1984), which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.