What Charles Murray Gets Right

Ross Douthat, New York Times, February 14, 2012.


Coming Apart” offers a convincing account of how meritocracy has exacerbated the problems that Murray describes — encouraging the best and brightest to work and live and (especially) mate within the cocoons of what he calls the SuperZIPS, segregating Americans by intelligence to an unprecedented degree, and creating a self-reinforcing pattern in to those with much social capital, much more is given, while to those without, even what they have is taken away. Again, he’s drawing on other authors and other works — Bill Bishop in “The Big Sort,” Richard Florida (by implication) in his various paeans to the so-called “creative class” and the “creative cities” they call home. But Murray has been thinking and writing about these issues for a long time, and it shows. I’ve rarely read a better distillation of the case for meritocracy’s in-egalitarian, anti-communitarian, and even anti-democratic tendencies, and what the cultivation of a meritocratic elite can mean for the people left behind.

New York Times