There has been a lot of talk lately about the United States abandoning some of its native predispositions in order to follow a more European path. What people usually have in mind when they speak about this are higher taxes and a bigger role for the state in everyday life. People applaud or deplore this prospect in accordance with their moral assessment of higher taxes and big government. “Europe” means much more than that, however. “Europe” is as much a state of mind, a philosophy of life, as it is a collection of social policies. What is the European philosophy of life? The social commentator Charles Murray has some thoughtful things to say about that question in “The Happiness of the People,” the Irving Kristol Lecture, which he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute last month.

Mr. Murray takes his title from The Federalist Papers. “A good government,” Madison wrote in...

 
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