Where Have all the Liberals Gone?: Race, Class, and Ideals in America

James R. Flynn, Author . Cambridge Univ. $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-521-49431-1

In this timely critique drenched in classical philosophy, Flynn, renowned intelligence researcher and discoverer of the “Flynn Effect” (which shows that IQ scores rise over generations), inveighs against racial inequality, working-class marginalization and a growing propensity for militarism as symptoms that America has gone astray—in discourse and praxis—from its Jeffersonian, egalitarian roots. The author examines the long lineage of American idealism, delivering enlightening analysis of Plato and Aristotle’s social philosophies. Invoking Eugene Debs and sociologist William Graham Sumner, Flynn launches a respectful rebuttal of Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve , providing a wealth of statistics suggesting that environmental factors (the “imminent after school experience” of incarceration as opposed to higher education)—not genetic differences—account for the IQ gap between blacks and whites; one fascinating study reveals that the gap disappeared in Germany, suggesting a set of particularly pernicious challenges facing blacks in America. While Flynn’s number-based approach can be dense, his contention that blacks are disadvantaged in American society strictly due to group membership is convincing, and his argument for a meritocracy with “humane-egalitarian” principles and a foreign policy directed primarily toward securing peace in the world is surprisingly pragmatic. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/07/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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