Thomas Sowell Quotes #10

“History can be cruel to theories, as it has been cruel to peoples … But history is what happened, not what we wish had happened, or what a theory says should have happened. History cannot be prettified in the interests of promoting ‘acceptance’ or ‘mutual respect’ among peoples and cultures. There is much in the history of every people that does not deserve respect. Whether with individuals or with groups, respect is something earned, not a door prize handed out to all. It cannot be prescribed by third parties, for what is to be respected depends on each individual’s own values or the social values accepted by that individual–and ‘equal respect’ is an internally contradictory evasion. If everything is respected equally, then the term respect has lost its meaning.”

~from the Preface of Migrations and Cultures: A World View

Thomas Sowell Quotes #8

“[U]nder any movement or set of collective beliefs, a feeling of being on the side of angels can be a dangerous self-indulgence in a heedless willfulness that is sometimes called idealism. This kind of idealism can replace realities with preconceptions, and make the overriding goal the victory of some abstract vision, in defiance of reality or in disregard of the fate of fellow human beings. The symbols of the preconception can become goals in themselves.”

~from Wealth, Poverty and Politics, page 420

In a vision driven group, “buying into the vision” is seen as more virtuous than actually doing something useful. Even those in the group who aren’t doing anything, or who are doing things poorly, will be held in high regard if they “get a hold of” and celebrate the vision. Conversely, those who may be doing productive work which is good for others, but show little enthusiasm for the vision, will be seen as dangerously independent and not “team players.”

Further reading: Shop Class as Soulcraft (Brief Book Review)

Thomas Sowell Quotes #7

Moral condemnation is not causal explanation, despite how often the two have been combined in a politically attractive package. Despite the tendency of political, and especially ideological, explanations of economic disparities to combine moral and causal factors, the reason so many mountain peoples [for example] around the world have been poor has not been that others went up into those mountains and took away their wealth, but that the mountain peoples seldom produced much wealth in the first place…

“…it is staggering that some people imagine that they can take on the [large] task of righting the wrongs of the past, committed by people long dead, without igniting dangerous new hostilities among the living.”

~from Wealth, Poverty and Politics, page 271-272