Charles Murray’s Account Of The Middlebury College Affair

Full piece here.

The revolution probably won’t be televised:

‘Some were just having a snarky good time as college undergrads have been known to do, dancing in the aisle to the rhythm of the chants. But many looked like they had come straight out of casting for a film of brownshirt rallies. In some cases, I can only describe their eyes as crazed and their expressions as snarls. Melodramatic, I know. But that’s what they looked like.’

Will the administrators stand firm in the face of the student pressure?:

Much of the meaning of the Middlebury affair depends on what Middlebury does next. So far, Middlebury’s stance has been exemplary. The administration agreed to host the event. President Patton did not cancel it even after a major protest became inevitable. She appeared at the event, further signaling Middlebury’s commitment to academic freedom. The administration arranged an ingenious Plan B that enabled me to present my ideas and discuss them with Professor Stanger even though the crowd had prevented me from speaking in the lecture hall. I wish that every college in the country had the backbone and determination that Middlebury exhibited.’

See the previous post.The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College

Via Youtube: ‘Are We Really Coming Apart?’ Charles Murray and Robert Putnam Discuss

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Charles Murray argues that controlling the data for just for whites in America, a gap has opened up between working-class ‘Fishtown’ and professional-class ‘Belmont.’ Fishtowners have increasing rates of out-of-wedlock births and divorce, more isolation from churches, civic organizations and the kinds of voluntary associations that Murray suggests can make a life more fulfilling, regardless of income beyond certain basic needs. Fishtowners have higher incidences of drug and alcohol use and intermittent work.

Belmonters, on the other hand, are mostly college-educated and beyond, still tend to court, marry, engage in family planning and tend to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues. Folks in Belmont are still living more moderate personal lives and working to stay ahead in the changing economy through academia, the professions, government, tech, business and global business.

Being a social scientist with a more limited government/small ‘c’ conservative/libertarian worldview, Murray likely sees a smaller role for government and limited ways in which some people acting through government can actually solve problems in other people’s lives. As a contrarian social scientist in a small minority, then, he disagrees with many basic assumptions often found amongst a majority of social scientists.

Murray thus advocates for people in ‘Belmont’ to increasingly preach what they practice, to look outside the bubble of their daily lives and wealthier enclaves, and perhaps reconstitute the kinds of family and civic associations, moral virtues and opportunities for independence and success he’d like to see more broadly.

What this would look like in practice, exactly, is unclear.

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Robert Putnam, author of ‘Bowling Alone‘, seems to agree with Murray about what much of what the data highlights: Working-class whites are behaving more like working-class non-whites, and college-educated non-whites are behaving more like college-educated whites.

Putnam also focuses more on economic factors, the decline of manufacturing and the disappearance of working-class jobs that has without question affected large parts of America and small-town life. Globalization has opened American firms to global competition, global capital markets and mobile labor. Whatever your thoughts on race, Putnam creates some daylight between the data and strictly race based interpretations (often aligned with ideology, especially in academia nowadays) and focuses more on ‘class’ in a way slightly differently than does Murray.

An interesting discussion, in which the empirics of social science can highlight important differences in political philosophy and try and transcend the inevitable political and ideological battles of the day.

Also On This Site: Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Race and IQ: Malcolm Gladwell On The Flynn Effect

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working. Check out his series at The American Interest. Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs. Even so, we can’t cling to the past. This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

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Likely worth your time.

Thanks to Malcolm Greenhill for pointing this out.   In response to Megan McArdle’s post “America’s New Mandarins,” it might be worth revisiting Charles Murray’s Coming Apart.

Murray argues that since 1963, America’s civic culture, one that prized marriage, one that was more religious and more influenced by organized religion, and one that created a network of civic associations, clubs and shared expectations and obligations has sharply declined (Murray does not advocate a return to 1963).

He tells a tale of two cities: Belmont & Fishtown.  Belmonters are upper-middle class folks, and however much they followed the 60’s zeitgeist (however radical or not radical they were), they could afford to bounce back.  They’ve since come to run many of our institutions and are doing ok for themselves in the professions albeit with less religion in their lives (NPR’s mainstreaming of institutionalized feminism, environmentalism, moral relativism etc. might be a good example).  The upper 20%, and a professional class of lawyers, doctors, professors has held together pretty well.

Fishtowners, on the other hand, haven’t rebounded according to Murray. Working-class whites in Fishtown now have marriage rates of 48% (to 84% in Belmont).  They have much higher out-of-wedlock births, and 1 out of 8 males are not even looking for work alongside only 1 out of 8 people going to church regularly.  Religion has declined in both areas, but much more so in Fishtown.  The social fabric that once held these two groups together, and formed the core of pre-1960’s society, has weakened considerably.

In lieu of Murray’s lost civic culture, the clubs and associations that once bound us together, perhaps we could think of McArdle’s mandarins and meritocrats having been born of the newer, more self-selecting, Belmont. Perhaps some there are more open to government uniting us, or open to more European-style governance.

***Murray also addresses the rise of technology and technological dislocation (brains, STEM training, the rise of the quants) as well.  There are many other moving parts here.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

The point of this post:  The mandarins are us!  Egads!

Related On This Site:   Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism