Here, in a Cato podcast featuring Charles Murray,we are presented with a troubling—and, I think, accurate diagnosis of a growing problem within American society. Murray worries that because of increasing social isolation and a removal from actual rather than remote and virtual life experiences, the American public is losing touch with core values essential to what makes this culture unique and productive.
The interview is 15 minutes, and raises two issues. The first is what Murray is directly discussing. The second is whether someone like Murray raising them can have any positive impact at all. Charles Murray is a bête noire. of the Left. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him a white nationalist. Many liberals regard him as a racist. I have read many of his works: I would call him someone who makes a good living pointing out unpleasant theories that wouldn’t help us solve society’s problems even if we could prove they are true.
Essentially, Murray’s most controversial work posits that successful people are, as a group, smarter than unsuccessful people. I think this is intrinsically obvious, but there are many ways this offends progressive cant, which holds that the poor are only poor because they have been disadvantaged by an oppressive power structure, and that, given the same “privileges” as more successful Americans, they would be just as successful. The problem with Murray’s various theses is that they can be employed to support racism, and appear to justify prejudice. Murray says in his books and essays repeatedly that the fact that a given group may have certain genetic advantages over another means nothing regarding any individual within those groups. Agreed: so why, in this country, with its values and dedication to individual rights, should anyone care about, study or discuss “group differences”?
Even without this baggage, which Murray has worked hard for and wears like a badge of honor, he would still be a public intellectual. For the most part, the only people who listen to public intellectuals are other intellectuals, public or otherwise,or non-intellectuals who uncritically accept what public intellectuals say when their positions seem consistent with what the non-intellectuals already believe. In the podcast, Murray calls for the societal elites to lead a new awakening of mindfulness and a values-centered existence. Easy-Peezy!
How? What? Who? When?
Who from the other side of the ideological spectrum will heed a call from Charles Murray? What good does a podcast like this do? Isn’t it just high-level virtue-signalling and preaching to the choir?
Let me know what you think.