Cousins, and Their First World Problems

City of LondonThis is rather fascinating. It is a comparison of Charles Murray’s, an American Libertarian, book: Coming Apart, and the comparable effort of Rod Liddle, a British Laborite (and former Troskyite) and his book: Selfish, Whining Monkeys.

As you read through it, you will find that they find similar problems in our societies, which is reasonable, almost any honest person will but, the differences begin when they start trying to come up with answers. It nearly comes to the point that Reagan/Thatcher was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the worst thing since Henry the Eighth. I know my answer but, I suppose your mileage may vary.

Anyway enjoy, from David Conway:

Two years ago, Charles Murray published a book entitled Coming Apart about the main socioeconomic changes that have swept America over the last half century and the impact they have had on the happiness of its citizens. Not surprisingly, the major economic changes Murray identified were the vastly increased levels of personal affluence of Americans accompanied by exponentially increasing consumer choice.

He highlighted four major social changes:

• declining marriage and marital stability, especially among lower income whites;

• much greater female participation in the labor market accompanied by declining male participation in it particularly at the lower-paid end of the job market;

• growing disparities of income between a largely married middle class and the largely unmarried least well-off; and

• declining religiosity and religious observance, plus a concomitant decline in communal activity proportionate to the decline in religiosity (again, more prevalent among the lower income groups)

Murray argued these four social trends mattered profoundly because of a strong positive correlation among marriage, vocation (as reflected by industriousness), and religiosity, on the one hand, and happiness on the other, suggesting the former three factors strongly contributed to the latter. While a similar positive correlation obtains between affluence and happiness, longitudinal studies have shown it is not a particularly strong one above the level of abject poverty which practically all Americans now are.

The trends Murray identified, therefore, seem to reveal an America that is increasingly starting to come apart along the seams of class. A largely married and still (at least residually) religiously engaged middle class is drawing ever farther apart in affluence, lifestyle, and personal happiness from a largely unmarried and wholly religiously disengaged lower class, bereft of the consolations and social capital that family ties and religious engagement typically bring.

Rod Liddle is a highly prolific and widely read British journalist who has just published a similar study about the major socioeconomic changes in his country in the last half century and their impact on the happiness of Britons. In Selfish, Whining Monkeys he reaches conclusions that are strikingly similar to Murray’s.

Compare the following extracts from their respective books. Here is what Murray has to say about socioeconomic change in America this past half century:

One of the things that struck me forcibly is that neither of the authors would have any interest in going back. Here’s Murray:

[i]f a time machine could transport me back to 1960, I would have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. In many aspects of day-to-day life, America today is incomparably superior to the America of 1960… Go back to 1960? I wouldn’t dream of it.

And Riddle:

It would be easy to be nostalgic about my childhood… But when I look back… the primary emotion I feel… is one of immense guilt: that I do not do things as well as my parents… Again, this isn’t nostalgia… It is hard to argue against longer life expectancy, greater affluence, safer workplaces, the freedom to escape a hopeless marriage, the rights of women to be treated equally, and so on. But a certain moral code has been lost along the way, which has contributed lately to our country becoming close to bankrupt, a nation of broken families clamouring about their entitlements, siring ill-educated and undisciplined kids unfamiliar with the concept of right and wrong, where there is a diminishing sense of community and belonging.

You know, while I certainly understand what they are saying, and there are things I would miss immensely, like the instant (and free) communication with my British friends, and the likely case that I would never have met them, in many ways, that world (I grew up in the 60s) was a much better place, and I’m not so sure. In fact, I would be very drawn to going back to that world, and I suspect a lot of us would be.

Via Coming Apart in the UK | Online Library of Law & Liberty.

In any case, a fascinating study, that I recommend.

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23 Responses to Cousins, and Their First World Problems

  1. I of course as one born and raised in Dublin Ireland, in the 1950’s and early to mid 60’s, would take the 60’s again any day! But surely social and liberal ideas were well afoot back then, but generally the culture was still trying to figure-out modernity. And btw women still wore hats in them days! But the late 19th century Anglican leader: Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872), and the early 20th century Anglicans like Charles Gore, (1853-1932), and later William Temple (1881-1944), surely made their liberal in-roads for the British and Anglicanism!

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    • And yes, there are some things I like about Bishop Gore (and Anglo-Irish btw), but surely one from the Anglican High Church party, i.e. an Anglo-Catholic. Though he was affected by that great Anglican evangelical: Dr. B.F. Westcott (at Harrow, where Westcott was master) later Bishop of Durham. Thankfully some aspects of Anglican Evangelicalism still had a great effect on Gore, but it does appear that historical criticism got the best of him! And I have read my share of Gore for sure!

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      • NEO says:

        You know, in many ways I agree, and yet I’m not sure I would. With all its problems the times we have lived through have been just as challenging, but I’m not sure they have been any worse than what our parents went through.

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        • Oh, the moral and spiritual decline in both full modernity and now postmodernity, noting the great change in the sexual ethics, and now with the so-called Western rise of Islam, is, the worst I have seen in my life-time! And again, the moral and spiritual lesson for me in Gulf War 1, has but grown since then! Nothing but the so-called “Eschatological” can even begin to explain this! My thoughts at least!

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        • NEO says:

          I’m convinced that the rise of Islam is parallel to, and likely caused by, the decline of western morality. Our churches are no longer preaching it, and Islam is (in a warped version, granted). Young people want certainty, and a standard to live up to, even as we did, and we are not providing it.

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        • And btw, even the terrible Fight and War in Nam, which was of course against the Communists, did not change the West, as it has today in both the fulness of modernity and postmodernity! If we are not in the Last Day’s, then I have surely missed it spiritually and theologically! Of course the Last Days technically began even in Paul’s time, but after 2,000 years, the Church and especially Gentile Christianity are waning to say the least! See the Text’s in Daniel, 12: 1-4, etc.

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        • NEO says:

          No it didn’t but, the anti war ‘movement’ did. And what we are witnessing now is what happen when the ‘anti-man’ becomes the man.

          Last days? Perhaps, I’m agnostic on that, and will leave it to the Lord.

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        • Wow! How can a Christian be “agnostic” to the Word of God? St. Paul spoke of the Last Days more than 21st century people realize! But then living and teaching in Israel, and seeing the Holy Land (in the latter 90’s) was such a providence for me! Indeed I will never be the same since my experiences in the whole of the 90’s! Nothing quite like “life experience”! 🙂

          *Btw, ” ‘anti-man’ becomes the man”, is surely “eschatological, and antichrist”!

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        • NEO says:

          It would obviously be more accurate to say agnostic to the timing of the event, not the event itself. 🙂

          Obviously (and you know it, I was using the vernacular, 60’s terms there 😉

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        • Yes, the 60’s were loaded with the “eschatological”! And no one knows the exact time! But, we can surely be in the ball-game! Modern Israel will certainly be the key to the End-Times! (Zech. 14 / Rev. 1: 7)

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        • NEO says:

          No doubt about that, all we can do is to be prepared, all the time.

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        • I will again go on record and say that Mankind and Humanity will surely NOT survive the 21st century! And I base this upon both the Word of God and visible time of ‘the End’ experience itself! (Luke 21: 25-27 ; note too btw, Luke 18: 7-8)

          Liked by 1 person

        • And btw, both Luther and Calvin missed the Eschatological End, so if I do? What the hell! I am locked and loaded! 😉

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        • Figure of speech of course! 😉

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        • And btw, an old English Lit. teacher I had many years ago (a female too), told me never to be a slave to proper punctuation in writing, but like a poet to make my statements and words count! I never forgot that! And of course one’s writing does go to hell on the blogs! 😉

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        • NEO says:

          It surely does, or at least mine does 😉

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        • But oh those keepers of super punctuation on the blogs, but who are usually brain-dead spiritually and theologically… God deliver us! And btw, here we might have a Barth verses Brunner, or I should say Barth’s old friend and follower, Thurnseysen. Thurnseysen said Brunner had a “inferiority complex”, but I am not so sure myself? Thurseysen was always a follower of Barth! But Brunner was always the real ecumenical and universal Christian pastor & teacher, his many travels prove that, in both the USA and Japan!

          Liked by 2 people

        • 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Cousins, and Their First World Problems

  3. the unit says:

    My English teacher said to me when I asked if I can go to the bathroom said…I’m sure you can, but you may not. Period. That was that. 🙂

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    • NEO says:

      Indeed so. I’m quite sure you said, “Yes, Miss.” 🙂

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      • the unit says:

        Pee…er Pre Houston on hold, as well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          🙂

          Like

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