Charles Murray is going to be on The Agenda tonight. Yes, that Charles Murray. When he co-authored The Bell Curve in 1994, critics were in an uproar over his thesis that socioeconomic and personal success are largely determined by intelligence.
Murray is an important conservative thinker and an unapologetic libertarian. And his latest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, contains another polemic: America’s widening socioeconomic divide has more to do with cultural differences than economic opportunity. Turning away from traditional institutions such as marriage and religion, having children out-of-wedlock, a lack of industriousness, and a growing lack of respect for the law has led the bottom 30 per cent of white Americans to lose the social capital that enriches families, children, and American life as a whole. These values, Murray argues, are still alive and well in the top 20 per cent that make up the elite and upper middle-classes, and are part of the reason for their success. And not only are these subsets of Americans no longer alike, they tend to live apart, rarely intermingling.
The New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote upon Coming Apart's release:
I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart.” I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.
The book has already drawn the ire of the left and the right. David Frum, a frequent guest on The Agenda, has a personal history with Murray, one he fully discloses in part one of his five-part review of Coming Apart. Here are parts are two, three, four, and five of Frum's review.
I hope you'll enjoy tonight's program. Charles Murray has agreed not only to come on The Agenda to discuss his argument on the divide in white America, but to also stay and debate his ideas among our other guests.
I hope you'll tune in, and then return here to let us know what you thought of the interview and debate.
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