David Brooks goes for the Gross Generalization Cup, using Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart as his guide:
The upper tribe is now segregated from the lower tribe. 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.
He’s describing the WASP’s, regardless of the fact that in the last fifty years, there are a lot more non-white, non-Anglo, non-Protestants in those enclaves. But why let that ruin the Cultural Stereotypes Festival?
Mr. Brooks has a suggestion:
…we need a National Service Program. We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement.
If we could jam the tribes together, we’d have a better elite and a better mass.
Guess what; we had that once. It was called the draft. It brought together the “tribes,” and it seemed to work pretty well. (The only downside was that if that if there was a war, some of them ended up dead.)
If President Obama tried to bring back the draft, the conservatives would go nuts: Slavery! Indoctrination! Social engineering! Guys showering with other guys! Oh, the horror!
For that reason alone, and despite my history as a conscientious objector, I’m all in favor of it.