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If this piece by Charles Murray isn’t a natural Ricochet conversation-starter, nothing is.
Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions.
To illustrate just how wide the gap has grown between the new upper class and the new lower class, let me start with the broader upper-middle and working classes from which they are drawn, using two fictional neighborhoods that I hereby label Belmont (after an archetypal upper-middle-class suburb near Boston) and Fishtown (after a neighborhood in Philadelphia that has been home to the white working class since the Revolution).
If you’re in America, do you live in Belmont or Fishtown?
What’s odd to me is realizing that I grew up in neither and have never lived in either. And some of his observations make a kind of dismaying sense of the feeling I have, when I go back to the US, that there’s no place I’d fit in. When I ask myself, “Where would I live if I moved back to America?” I always have this uneasy thought–thus far unarticulated–that I couldn’t bear the complete unreality of Belmost, but what on earth would I do in Fishtown?