‘The world has never been a level playing field,’ quips economic historian David S Landes. ‘Heck, don’t we know that?’ chorus the Left. ‘That is why we are the demolition men and women of this world. Armed with dynamite, wrecking balls, bulldozers and earthmovers, our vision is to pulverise the evil of inequality and create a new world of homogeneous egalitarianism.’
The messianic illusion of progressivism is the counterfeit of Isaiah’s poetic vision in the opening aria of Handel’s Messiah: ‘Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.’
The fantasy of human beings creating a world order where outcomes would be equal led to the most colossal catastrophes of the 20th century. Nazism sought equality by ridding the world of its ‘inferior’ races, while Communism attempted to impose equality by ridding the world of ‘exploiters’ responsible for the poverty of the exploited, writes Thomas Sowell in a shattering critique of this virus of wishful thinking in his new book Discrimination and Disparities.
Sowell is one of America’s greatest economists. He is the author of more than forty books. Sowell does not wear his scholarship on his sleeve. He writes on economics in a manner that is not only accessible, but also relevant and even riveting. Most importantly, he tenaciously rejects ideological sloganeering and, using empirical testing to the point of obsession, points out that ‘the Emperor has no clothes’.
A good example of an exercise in hypothesis testing is Marx’s Capital, he notes in Discrimination and Disparities. ‘“Exploitation” was at no point in its 2,500 pages treated as a testable hypothesis, but was instead the foundation assumption on which an elaborate intellectual superstructure was built,’ he argues. ‘And that proved to be a foundation of sand.’