Charles Murray and the manosphere

In his review of Coming Apart, Steve Sailer said: "In 2012, it looks like it’s Charles Murray’s world and we’re just living in it." If I could follow that up with one sentence, I’d add: "disagree with Murray at your peril."

Increasingly, the manosphere is lining up against Murray. For example, Heartiste believes that Murray is telling certain men to man up when Murray tells them to get a job. Is Murray’s criticism of these men really unfair? Let’s see.

I think Murray’s critics, like Heartiste, have the wrong picture of the sort of guy that Murray is criticizing. Murray starts with the bottom 21 percent of whites 30-49 by education and income. Of this group, Murray then focuses on the increasing number of men – around 10% of this subset – who don’t work at all and have no intention of working. So, within the broad group of white men aged 30-49, Murray is criticizing the bottom 2%, give or take. Your mental image of this sort of guy should be an obese high-school drop-out who collects disability checks between random acts of criminality (if Murray’s other stats are correct). He’s the bottom 2% of the prime-aged male population. Is this the sort of the guy that the manosphere wants to defend? Might there not be just the slightest little bit of room for this guy to improve himself? Moreover, there are many men with the same background who do work (or at least try to find work) – defending the former is an implicit slap to the face of the latter.

Heartiste then concludes that Murray, "apportion[s] most of the blame for the current state of affairs to men." Actually this is explicitly not where he apportions the blame in his book. To quote my own review of Murray’s book:

What Murray is really concerned about . . . is how children are raised. . . . "Nonmarital" births increased among the least educated women from under 10% in 1970 to over 60% today (comparable numbers for the best educated women are under 1% and under 5%, respectively).

Murray concludes this section (perhaps the most powerful in the book) with, "the divergence [with respect to the number of children living
with biological and married parents] is so large that it puts the women of Belmont and Fishtown into different family cultures. The absolute level in Fishtown is so low that it calls into question the viability of white working-class communities as a place for socializing the next generation."

Murray’s argument is, properly understood, the same argument that the manosphere makes (when it’s not too busy defending fraudulently-disabled borderline criminals). Namely, the problems of the lower classes may simply be the consequences of the destruction of the family and the rise of single motherhood.

To be blunt, the men produced by the lower class "family culture" have lots of problems and the problems may be largely the result of this family culture. The rise in the number of men who do nothing at all is a symptom of the problems that the manosphere wishes to address.


19 Responses to Charles Murray and the manosphere

  1. Red says:

    Maybe I haven’t been keeping up with the manophere lately, but who’s the fraudulently-disabled borderline criminals? Roissy?

  2. asdf says:


    Murray seems to be criticizing working class men who don’t get married, whether they work or not. Roissy is rationally pointing out that marrying is a bad move for lower class men. Once the need to pay for women and kids is removed a great deal of the incentive to strive is removed as well, so many are less serious about work (even if they have jobs).

    Lower class “family culture” is a product of female choice. If its dysfunctional its because of the females. Men just respond to incentives.

    • Foseti says:

      Murray specifically limits his criticism in the article to men who are not working. In the book it’s very clear who this group is – hence my more detailed info. Maybe it’s not as clear in the article, but he pretty clearly reserves his criticism for men who don’t work at all.

      • asdf says:

        That’s not consistent. If we are talking about the bottom single digit % of the population its not a cause for societal alarm. If we are talking about 50% of children being born to women under 30 being bastards it is cause of alarm. The dregs of society aren’t causing a 50% bastard rate.

      • Doug1 says:

        I haven’t read the book but have read many reviews of it.

        My impression is that though he may reserve his harshest criticism for men who aren’t working at all and don’t intend to try to find a job, he’s also criticizing men for not marrying the mothers of their children or seeking to be attractive enough for those mothers to want to marry them.

        I think Heartiste’s criticism of Murry’s leaving out criticizing these women who have out of wedlock kids in such high percentages in on point.

      • Foseti says:

        I certainly didn’t get a sense that Murray was criticizing men and not women in his book.

        Moreover and frankly, I don’t think either the men or the women of Murray’s lower class deserve defending.

        Finally, in the article, he criticizes men in the prime of their lives for not working and for having no desire at all to work. If it’s not fair to criticize men for this, it’s not fair to criticize women for anything.

  3. Steve Johnson says:

    Ok, congratulations to Murray on identifying a problem: lower class men don’t work far too often.

    Why does this problem exist?

    Is it because lower class men are too lazy and irresponsible and there isn’t enough social scorn heaped upon them for being lazy and irresponsible?


    Is it because lower class women don’t value industriousness and responsibility in men and in fact, place a negative value on those traits? Since material comfort isn’t improved by industriousness and responsibility and women actively scorn those traits men are making a rational calculation in maximizing laziness.

    If the first is true, then scorn away at lower class men.

    If the second is true, then scorning lower class men won’t solve the problem. Scorn them all you want and nothing will change.

    (wordpress gave me a strange error so please delete if this is a double post)

    • asdf says:

      What’s more, let’s run with Foseti’s theory:
      “Your mental image of this sort of guy should be an obese high-school drop-out who collects disability checks between random acts of criminality (if Murray’s other stats are correct). He’s the bottom 2% of the prime-aged male population.”

      Are these people capable of doing work in an automated economy? The cost fo supervising them probably exceeds to benefit of their labor. Much better to get a robotic arm or automated check out counter to do the work instead of them.

      • Foseti says:

        Perhaps, though many people in similar circumstances manage to lead non-worthless lives (a very low bar)

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re on welfare just the same, your checks are just much much bigger. You dig paperwork holes and fill them in.

    • Foseti says:

      For some subset of men, surely it’s both. And this particular subset is surely the leading candidate. I have no desire to defend all men regardless of their actions.

    • spandrell says:

      Of course it won’t solve the problem. Nobody wants to work if they can help it. The only real motivator is fear of starvation. We don’t have that.

      • asdf says:

        They are also motivated by the chance for sex and family. But women make those choices, and those choices increasingly don’t involve men.

      • Leonard says:

        Ditto asdf. The point is that there are many human drives that can be used to motivate work, and that our society has chosen to use none of them.

      • spandrell says:

        I think it’s easier to reinstate the fear of starvation than stopping female hypergamy.
        One is biology, the other just a problem of policy.

      • Asdf says:

        We live in a post scarcity economy. The underclasses biggest health problem is obesity. Starvation won’t be a problem whether we give them makeshift jobs or not.

  4. Mercer says:

    I have not read the book. I have read excerpts and have seen him talk about it on TV which is how most people will be exposed to his conclusions.

    He says to call some men bums in the article but does not suggest any insulting term for women who have a child out of wedlock and choose to raise their kids alone. He has said on TV that women tell him they don’t want to marry losers who can’t keep a job. From the tone of his voice it sounded to me like he agrees with the women.

    I did read Losing Ground years ago and remember him saying that illegitimate children raised without a father in the house was a leading indicator for describing the underclass. Has he changed his position?

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