Thomas Sowell

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."


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate