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 Party…Ross 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’