One of the many contributions made by Professor James Q. Wilson (May 27, 1931 – March 2, 2012) to American society was "Broken Windows," the article he co-authored in The Atlantic Magazine in March,1982.
He was philosophically in tune with Theodore Dalrymple, the British medical doctor and writer who writes often on the topic of cultural decay. He did more than point it out, though, he wrote of how we could reverse it - if we wanted to.
Encomiums too numerous to list here have been written in the last twenty-four hours, but this one from Professor Daniel Drezner of Tufts University is particularly good, and links to several others.
Today's Wall Street Journal published several excerpts from op-eds written by Professor Wilson over the years in that publication; they're all terrific.
Updated 03/06/2012 with this Kay Hymowitz piece in City Journal: