coming apart


American conservatives have rarely dwelt on the idea of class. It comes up only twice in Patrick Allitt’s The Conservatives (2009), for example. Conservatives held that slavery could eliminate the possibility of class conflict by “linking masters and slaves together in extended families”; later on, they thought that fascism might get us “complete centralization and rational economic planning… without the communist resort to class warfare.” If, for the Left, class-consciousness was central to the battle for the various rights and privileges that we take for granted today, the Right thought that class consciousness disrupted an otherwise peaceful society (if it thought about it at all). So you know something odd is going on when the popular public policy book of the moment is by a conservative and concerns the emergence of class conflict. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 builds on his previous bestseller, The Bell Curve (1994). That book caused a stir because it claimed that black people were, on average, less intelligent than white people. Murray used IQ tests as evidence, leading even conservatives like Brigette Berger to accuse him and his co-author of “methodological fetishism.” A less well-known argument of Bell Curve is that a permanent white underclass would develop just like the urban black underclass. Coming Apart, among other things, shows that Murray was right about that.

more from Justin Evans at The Point here.