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Wisdom of Crowds

Oct 14, 2022

American men are struggling across the board. Falling behind in school, rapidly shrinking as a share of students in higher education, overwhelmingly the victims of violent crime, males in the United States are increasingly alienated and disconnected from our economy and society. That's the argument of Richard Reeves, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and author of the acclaimed new book, Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why it Matters, and What to do About It.

The book is making waves across liberal and conservative media, and we were thrilled to have Richard on to discuss it with the Crowd. He has sharp criticisms for both sides of the culture war: the right weaponizes men's struggles without providing realistic solutions, and the left simply refuses to admit there is a problem at all. We pushed Richard on his proposed solutions of technocratic reforms in areas like education and family law: should we seek to restore social norms around marriage instead of consigning the institution to the past? How do we provide useful social scripts for young men to follow, in a society weighted towards brain and against brawn?

In Part 2 (available here for subscribers) we talk about the deep differences in social development between boys and girls. For example, Richard's childhood in England included playing chicken with passing trucks, while schoolyard rock fights were a daily occurrence during Damir's time in Croatia (hailing from the gentler culture of the Philadelphia Main Line, Shadi is shocked).

More seriously, we also discussed the way that the right has monopolized thinking about the effects of cultural and societal norms: how do liberals relearn discussing the importance of culture? Can a broken dating market be fixed? What does it mean if alienated men increasingly turn to illiberal movements and cultural figures like Jordan Peterson? And finally, why is Richard cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects for men?

Required Reading:

  • Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why it Matters, and What to Do about It, by Richard Reeves (Amazon).
  • Rethinking Sex: A Provocation, by Christine Emba (Amazon).
  • Our podcast with Christine Emba.
  • The Center for Arabic Studies Abroad.