The divided state of America
Arvamus 27 Apr 2012  EWR
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Charles Murray’s new book is a valiant effort to explain why America's upper classes are now so hollow and defensive, and incapable of marshalling the moral resources to lead society.

Frank Furedi, spiked
The nineteenth-century British politician Benjamin Disraeli once characterised ‘the rich and the poor’ as ‘two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets’. It is a description that applies uncannily to contemporary American society.

I recall the first time I travelled to America – back in 1967 – having a discussion with my then girlfriend about how difficult it was to distinguish between the well-off and the not so well-off people on the streets of the places we visited. That was then. When I visit these days, I am struck by the contrast in appearance between rich and poor white citizens. They now look so different. They eat different food; they pursue different cultural interests; they speak differently; and, most important of all, they communicate values and attitudes that are often strikingly at odds with one another. It is all very redolent of the kind of social and cultural polarisation so prevalent during the nineteenth century.

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