Charles Murray talks with Peter Robinson about his latest book, Coming Apart:
Charles Murray’s profound and important new book has, for the most part, been received as merely the latest volley in the inequality debates. Its champions have tended to praise it for shedding light on overlooked aspects of the gap between rich and poor, while its critics have faulted it for ignoring some elements crucial to any proper understanding of the causes of inequality in America—and especially for paying too little attention to working-class wage stagnation.
Murray has made it easy to assume that his book should be understood as fundamentally an argument about inequality: It is, after all, a book about how America’s elite and lower classes are increasingly becoming separate cultures. Page after page, chart after chart, it copiously documents a growing distance between the top and the bottom. But Coming Apart is far more than a study of inequality and, indeed, when carefully considered it renders our ongoing inequality debates a little ridiculous.
To be carefully considered, the book must first be understood as the culmination of Charles Murray’s decades-long effort to define, describe, and protect America’s exceptional character. As with all of Murray’s books, every page of Coming Apart radiates an intense yet unpretentious love of country. And what makes America so loveable, in Murray’s telling, is its unique national ethic: “The American project,” he writes, “consists of the continuing effort, begun with the founding, to demonstrate that human beings can be left free as individuals and families to live their lives as they see fit, coming together voluntarily to solve their joint problems.” Sustaining such a balance between freedom and self-government requires a thriving civic culture, and the existence of such a culture has always made America unique.
Whole thing here.