I’m generally a David Brooks fan. I appreciate the perspective he brings, not only to the New York Times, but to my point of view as well. In his recent piece “The Great Divorce”, which I imagine is an intentional reference to CS Lewis, Brooks highlights a book which he praises for doing the leg work first and then telling the story about class divisions in America.
Here’s a short synopsis (though of course you should read the whole thing): According to Murray and Brooks:
- The problem: The US is splitting faster and further into a “two-caste society” in which the lower caste lives isolated lives that encourage self and socially-detrimental behavior.
- Why the divide (in economy, education, opportunity, and worst of all, according to Brooks, behaviorally) is growing so sharply and rapidly: Isolation:
In 1963, rich people who lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan lived close to members of the middle class. Most adult Manhattanites who lived south of 96th Street back then hadn’t even completed high school. Today, almost all of Manhattan south of 96th Street is an upper-tribe enclave.
Today, Murray demonstrates, there is an archipelago of affluent enclaves clustered around the coastal cities, Chicago, Dallas and so on. If you’re born into one of them, you will probably go to college with people from one of the enclaves; you’ll marry someone from one of the enclaves; you’ll go off and live in one of the enclaves.
- The solution: according to Brooks, a National Service Program that encourages, Brooks even uses the word, forces, both castes to live together, or at least closer together, in some capacity.
Does Murray’s assessment of the issue seem accurate? Is it a helpful “middle way” narrative between Republican-Democratic party extremes?
Would Brook’s proposed solution be helpful/be a good solution? Is it a possible/plausible solution?
I’m hoping the conversation here will help me think through these questions myself. Okay, ready? Go.