Thomas Sowell

What happened in Eastern Europe, including many tragedies that grew out of the polarization of groups in the region, has implications that reach far beyond Europe, and in fact reach all around the world, where similar events have produced similar polarizations and similar historic tragedies.

Today, in America, many denounce the black-white gap in economic and other achievements, which they attribute to the same kinds of causes as those to which the lags of Eastern Europeans have been attributed. Moreover, the persistence of these gaps, years after the civil rights laws were expected to close them, is regarded as something strange and even sinister.

Yet the economic disparities between Eastern Europeans and Western Europeans remains to this day greater than the economic disparities between blacks and whites in America -- and the gap in Europe has lasted for centuries.

Focusing attention and attacks on people who have greater wealth-generating capacity -- whether races, classes or whatever -- has had counterproductive consequences, including tragedies written in the blood of millions. Whole totalitarian governments have risen to dictatorial power on the wings of envy and resentment ideologies.

Intellectuals have all too often promoted these envy and resentment ideologies. There are both psychic and material rewards for the intelligentsia in doing so, even when the supposed beneficiaries of these ideologies end up worse off. When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.

Both politicians and intellectuals have made their choice.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate