Charles Murray: How Today’s Elites are a Failed Product of the 60s Counterculture

tldw: elites live in a bubble

I disagree with Dr. Murray’s negative assessment of the future of America. In spite of the delamination–culturally and economically–of the elites from everyone else, and increased moral decay, in terms of strong stock market performance, strong dollar, low Treasury bond yields, strong GDP growth, strengthening US-foreign and economic dominance under Trump, and other factors, I don’t see any evidence of collapse or reasons for pessimism. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future, but America has proven to be very resilient, especially relative to other countries, and many people underestimate this. Part of the reason for this resilience, imho, has to do with how the elites in government don’t have too much power over the much smarter and more competent private sector, which runs parallel to the public one. This this means dysfunction in the public sector does not easily spill over to the private one, which is how it’s possible to have such a strong bull market in stocks even when it feels like Washington is in disarray. I think some of his stuff on morals and ethics possibly contradicts his biologically-deterministic views on IQ, because the belief that schools and society can install morality sorta implies a blank slate.

Although the entertainment industry often is blamed for such decay, it’s a small part of the overall economy, which is becoming increasingly dominated by social networking, internet advertising, healthcare, legal & consulting, defense, and information technology. Look at the history of the world wide web: in the 90’s up until around early 2000’s, porn ruled, but now the adult entertainment industry is losing tons of money and has been superseded by social media and social journalism (such as sites like Medium). Sometimes the free market will solve the ‘social decay’ problem on its own.

Dr. Murray says that the elite “don’t set an example” and that society is beset by a sort of moral relativism. However, as I discuss earlier, many on the ‘right’ and the IDW, who are big fans of Jordan Peterson and Charles Murray, don’t want to be seen as overbearing and preachy and tend to subscribe to non-aggression, pacifist version of morality. They know, rightfully, that some values (such as ‘western civilization values’ ) are superior to others, but don’t seek to impose them. No one wants to be seen as that cantankerous old guy yelling at the clouds, even if the old guy may be right. We all want to be like right-wing versions of John McWhorter, taking shots at both sides from a safe distance, yet also ingratiated by the intellectual gatekeepers of both sides. Elites, and high-IQ people in general, want to be seen by their smart peers as open minded, erudite, and worldly, not pushy, reductionist, and narrow-minded, which are low-status traits.

Dr. Murray raises a good point that although the global elite are civilized and have well-functioning families, they have no sense of noblesse oblige to their ‘leasers’. When elites try to impose an agenda, it is almost always a left-wing or a globalist/cosmopolitan one, and although right-wing elites such as Greg Mankiw and Paul Wolfowitz held a lot clout during Bush’s tenure, regardless of which side they are on, there’S a sort of contempt for the hoi polloi.

Dr. Murray is possibly wrong when he says that the elites of yesteryear were modest and didn’t showoff their wealth; he’s forgetting about the the ‘gilded age’ in which tycoons Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie built palatial mansions, and the wealthy were easily identifiable by their monocles and top hats (much like the Monopoly Man character). I think it’s the opposite nowadays. Most elites try to pass for average, every-day folk, such as by wearing plain clothes that does not convey any outward appearance of wealth and shunning conspicuous consumption (such as Mark Zuckerberg and his famous hoodie, or Tim Cook and his casual button-down dress shirts).

But the interesting thing is, in breaking from this trend, Trump flaunts his wealth, but that did not stop him from achieving possibly the great upset in U.S. political history. That goes against Murray’s thesis that Americans resent ostentatious displays of wealth. They chose Trump, not because of his welath, but because of the connection he was able to form with voters (during the primaries especially, which was possibly even a bigger upset than the general election itself). Trump’s success could serve as a lesson for other elites.