â€œComing Apart – The State of White America 1960-2010″ by Charles MurrayÂ focuses on the increasing divergence of upper and lower classes in the United States.Â Besides the economic inequality, the two classes are actually becoming different cultures.
There, I just summarized the first half of the book, and saved you untold hours of wading through demographic minutia.Â And his conclusion makes sense, but whatâ€™s the point?
In the second half we find out, when the author veers from analysis to opinion presented as fact, such as:
1)Â Â Â Â Â There is â€œno doubtâ€ that America could not succeed without the â€œfounding virtuesâ€ of â€œindustriousness, honesty, marriage, religiosity.â€
2)Â Â Â Â Â â€œThe answer is that there are just fourâ€ (domains of happiness), â€œfamily, vocation, community, and faith.â€
In the last chapter (â€œAlternative Futuresâ€), we finally get to some meaty discussions such as â€œthe American Project vs. the European Modelâ€.Â Basically, the author feels that the Europe cripples its population by robbing them of self-respect and self-actualization.
Mr. Murrayâ€™s ultimate hope is that there will be a â€œCivic Great Awakeningâ€ in the response to the â€œcollapse of the moral pillars of the welfare stateâ€ and leading the change will be the â€œnew upper classâ€.
In the last few paragraphs, Mr. Murray invokes the popular concept of American Exceptionalism.
â€œHistorically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.â€
Really, is he serious? Continue reading ““Coming Apart” Book Review”