Skip to comments.An Investment in Failure (Thomas Sowell)
Posted on 08/20/2007 9:36:18 PM PDT by jazusamo
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
It is not just in Iraq that the political left has an investment in failure. Domestically as well as internationally, the left has long had a vested interest in poverty and social malaise.
The old advertising slogan, "Progress is our most important product," has never applied to the left. Whether it is successful black schools in the United States or Third World countries where millions of people have been rising out of poverty in recent years, the left has shown little interest.
Progress in general seems to hold little interest for people who call themselves "progressives." What arouses them are denunciations of social failures and accusations of wrong-doing.
One wonders what they would do in heaven.
We are in no danger of producing heaven on earth but there have been some remarkable developments in some Third World countries within the past generation that have allowed many very poor people to rise to a standard of living that was never within their reach before.
The August 18th issue of the distinguished British magazine "The Economist" reveals the economic progress in Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American nations that has given a better life to millions of their poorest citizens.
Some of the economic policies that have led to these results are discussed in "The Economist" but it is doubtful that members of the political left will stampede there to find out what those policies were.
They have shown no such interest in how tens of millions of people in China and tens of millions of people in India have risen out of poverty within the past generation.
Despite whatever the left may say, or even believe, about their concern for the poor, their actual behavior shows their interest in the poor to be greatest when the poor can be used as a focus of the left's denunciations of society.
When the poor stop being poor, they lose the attention of the left. What actions on the part of the poor, or what changes in the economy, have led to drastic reductions in poverty seldom arouse much curiosity, much less celebration.
This is not a new development in our times. Back in the 19th century, when Karl Marx presented his vision of the impoverished working class rising to attack and destroy capitalism, he was disappointed when the workers grew less revolutionary over time, as their standards of living improved.
At one point, Marx wrote to his disciples: "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing."
Think about that. Millions of human beings mattered to him only in so far as they could serve as cannon fodder in his jihad against the existing society.
If they refused to be pawns in his ideological game, then they were "nothing."
No one on the left would say such things so plainly today, even to themselves. But their actions speak louder than words.
Blacks are to the left today what the working class were to Marx in the 19th century -- pawns in an ideological game.
Blacks who rise out of poverty are of no great interest to the left, unless the way they do so is by attacking society.
The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994 but the left has shown no more interest in why that is so than they have shown in why many millions of people have risen out of poverty in Latin America or in China and India.
Where progress can be plausibly claimed to be a result of policies favored by the left, then such claims are made.
A whole mythology has grown up that the advancement of minorities and women in America is a result of policies promoted by the left in the 1960s. Such claims are often based on nothing more substantial than ignoring the history of the progress made prior to 1960.
Retrogressions in the wake of the policies of the 1960s are studiously ignored -- the runaway crime rates, the disintegration of black families, and the ghetto riots of the 1960s that have left many black communities still barren more than 40 years later.
Whatever does not advance the left agenda is "nothing."
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.
Democrat wish list:
Defeat in Iraq.
Stock market crash.
Massive hurricane somewhere.
(really, they want that)
The Left is invested in failure because keeping people feeling upset and unfulfilled is the only way they can attract followers.
Good Sowell, as usual. Many thanks for the post.
You’re correct and it’s my pleasure.
Add to your list another terrorist attack in the U.S., so they can blame Bush.
Hiya, Smooth. I’d like to be there when you do and I’ll buy the second round. Dr. Sowell never misses!
Once again, Mr. Sowell's wisdom puts him in a league of his own. Remember these words. They explain so much.
their interest in the poor [is] greatest when the poor can be used as a focus of the left's denunciations of society.Once again, Mr. Sowell's wisdom puts him in a league of his own. Remember these words. They explain so much.
I pulled that quote too, but I think the phrase, "the left's denunciations of society," deserves discussion. IMHO the left is defined by Theodore Roosevelt in his famous dictum,"It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arenaThe left promotes itself by criticizing anyone who opens himself up to second guessing by taking responsibility and working to a bottom line. That includes not only businessmen but police and the military.
But notice who it does not include. First and foremost, it does not include journalists. No, journalists are "objective." And it does not include unionists, plaintiff lawyers, nor teachers/professors (other than the rare conservative, of course). IMHO journalists are the linchpin of leftism, because it is they who apply positive labels to themselves and to those who agree with their attitude toward actually getting in the arena.
The fact that leftists second guess others unmercifully but demand that they themselves be judged not by the results of their concrete actions but by their putative "good intentions" is obviously possible only because they are on the side of "objective" journalism. Note that I did not assert that journalism is in "liberal" politician's pocket - it is the other way around. "Liberal" politicians operate on the premise that getting good PR from journalism is the only thing that matters; they have no other principle worthy of the name.
Hence my tagline:The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.
Because in the end, it is not about the poor, it is not about the blacks or minorities, it is only and always about the ability of liberals to gain personal, selfish power to control the lives of others.
Thanks for the ping.
Whatever does not advance the left agenda is “nothing.”
I work in IT at a newspaper. It has been noted on numerous occasions that the reporters have the biggest heads in the building. Many of them really believe that their work is crucial to society (whether they are any good at it or not, apparently).
Once, I expedited setting up an email address (a simple enough thing, but their paperwork was late) and was congratulated for "striking a blow for the first amendment." Seriously.
Once, I expedited setting up an email address and was congratulated for "striking a blow for the first amendment." Seriously.
The First Amendment says nothing about journalism, it speaks of "the press." The difference?
- "The press" includes book and magazine printing as well as newspapers. And,
- the First Amendment doesn't apply to broadcast journalism - if it does, that would be news to everyone who has been arrested for broadcasting without a license.
The reality is that journalists (and fellow travelers whom journalists label "liberals" or "progressives") systematically promote the idea that journalism is identical with the public interest. The rules of journalism - "If it bleeds, it leads," "'Man Bites Dog,' not 'Dog Bites Man,'" and "Always make your deadline," have nothing to do with what is or is not "the public interest," and everything to do with interesting the public, which is a different (and frequently contradictory) matter entirely.
Journalism interesting the public is in the business interest of journalism, so equating "interesting the public" with "the public interest" amounts to identifying the public interest with the business interest of journalism. And that is pretty much the sum of the historical reason for the Spanish American War - to say nothing of sundry other aspects of American history.
Well, I said it much better then.
Thanks for the ping/post.
Outstanding article by Thomas Sowell! One of his best. Thank you Thomas Sowell! Thanks for posting.
I assume this is purely a rhetorical question.