"There always has to be a crisis -- some terrible reason why their superior wisdom and virtue must be imposed on the unthinking masses," says Thomas Sowell in a biographically-oriented interview of the pioneering black conservative thinker in The American Enterprise Institute:
It doesn't matter what the crisis is. A hundred years ago it was eugenics. At the time of the first Earth Day a generation ago, the big scare was global cooling, a big ice age. They go from one to the other. It meets their psychological needs and gives them a reason for exercising their power. Many intellectuals' preoccupation with the poor is very much the same thing . . . the poor are a lever to reach other, political, goals.
The very point we were making in our previous post re Bush bashers' use of disadvantaged Abu Ghraib torturess Lynndie English as a prop to further their anti-American agenda. Turning from the poverty industry to the War on Terror, Sowell notes
The tragedy is that the Left has never understood the importance of incentives in general or power in particular. That power is the only thing that deters power.
The only thing terrorists care about is their power. Depriving them of their power is the only way to change them. When they see the Taliban replaced in Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein ousted in Iraq, that's a strong message.
Asked to assess the impact of his writing, "so much of it against the dominant orthodoxies of our time," Sowell notes with pleasure that his friend Shelby Steele, returning recently from Poland, reported "At the university there, people were all asking, do I know you?" Sowell's Basic Economics has been translated into Polish. It's that New Europe thing again -- blogged here the other day re waiters in Warsaw wearing "W '04" buttons. Having lived under the boot of a collectivist micro-managed economy within living memory, Poles are presumably more receptive to Sowell's free-market ideas than left-leaning Old Europeans.
As we blogged here, before the internet and blogging, we never knew any conservative black voices other than Dr. Sowell, introduced to us years ago by Goomp, who named his black-with-white pussycat Tom in his honor. But times are changing, and for the better:
Someone recently asked me for a list of black conservative authors. Thirty years ago that would have been Walter Williams and me. Today there are more than I could possibly keep track of.
Thanks to Goomp for calling our attention to this interview.