Literate people obviously have many advantages over people who are illiterate. Even after Eastern European languages became literate, it was a long time before they had such accumulations of valuable written knowledge as Western European languages had, due to Western European languages’ centuries earlier head start.
Even the educated elites of Eastern Europe were often educated in Western European languages. None of this was due to the faults of one or the merits of the other. It is just the way that history went down.
But such mundane explanations of gross disparities are seldom emotionally satisfying — least of all to those on the short end of these disparities. With the rise over time of an indigenous intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of mass politics, more emotionally satisfying explanations emerged, such as oppression, exploitation, and the like.
He goes on to draw a parallel between the economic disparities between Eastern and Western Europe and the situation in America today:
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 remain 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.
I have quoted extensively from Sowell's argument because it is a very crucial point he is making.
One of the "Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism" is ENVY; and one of the key points about envy is that it is never directed at that which is bad; rather, it is a hateful attack on that which is good.
People who specialize in ENVY don't really want the good things the other person has; they want to insure that the other person doesn't have them or get to keep them.
Or, if they do want those things, it is a desire that comes in a distant second to their desire to destroy the good that others
ENVY is, without doubt, the underlying emotion behind the Marxist trope, "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". The "enlightened" and morally bankrupt left has always believed that economic self-interest means simply voting yourself a share of the money earned by others. They wouldn't know how to create wealth if their lives depended on it; that's why they seek power over others--they see it as the only way they can survive in the real world; but since they cannot admit that to themselves, they will seize other people's wealth with one hand, while signing the political bills that make it impossible to create the wealth on which they themselves depend.
The truth is that they deeply hate those who create the wealth they want to steal, and seek to destroy them--even though at some level, they understand they cannot survive without them.
They count on the fact that this reality never spoken of in polite society.
The envy of the postmodern progressive left is palpable. It is malignant and it consumes them. But they don't care. They have convinced themselves that they stand for things like "peace" and "freedom" and "truth"--but they have really chosen to ally themselves to the side of darkness and despair, slavery and oppression, lies and distortions; and they can no longer even appreciate when a truly magnificent achievement takes place before their very eyes unless they can claim credit for it.
RESENTMENT is closely allied with ENVY. Professor Sowell has written about the politics of resentment, too, and the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling:
Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” — a war that we have lost, by the way — bankrolled all kinds of local “leaders” and organizations with the taxpayers’ money, in the name of community “participation” in shaping the policies of government.
These “leaders” and community activists have had every reason to hype racial resentments and to make issues “us” against “them.”
One of the largely untold stories of our time has been the story of how ACORN, Jesse Jackson, and other community activists have been able to transfer billions of dollars from banks to their own organizations’ causes, with the aid of the federal government, exemplified by the Community Reinvestment Act and its sequels.
Racial anger and racial resentments are the fuel that keeps this lucrative racket going.
The modern Democratic party is almost entirely based on hyping both envy and resentment, and appealing to the worse of human nature. By doing so, they have created destructive and wealth-destroying armys of entitlement whose goal, whether they admit it or not, is to destroy wealth and the source of wealth.
Without envy, there would be no Democratic Party today.
And when Sowell says that, "Whole totalitarian governments have risen to dictatorial power on the wings of envy and resentment ideologies", it is clear to even the least observant that this is the destructive path which is being foisted on this country by the mostly clueless minions of the political left.
I have to ask again with some exasperation, why aren't Republicans making a case for the essential morality of capitalism? An entire cultural war is being fought against capitalism, and instead of making the case for why economic freedom and the free market is the best possible means to economic betterment for ALL PEOPLE, regardless of whether they are rich or poor; black or white; gay or straight; male or female or along any other divide the progressives can think of.
Instead, Republicans are busy legitimizing the narrative of the Democrats and their progressive left leaders. This is sheer stupidity and represents (sadly) how ubiquitous such narratives (such as "the 1% vs the 99%") have become.
Only in a free economic system within a free political system is it even possible to be moral, since benevolence toward others, compassion, charity, and generosity cannot exist without freedom. Benevolence, generosity, charity, and compassion that are mandated by the state, or by a religion (on pain of death or other consequence); or by any regulations on behavior; or by force--are meaningless insofar as individual morality is concerned.
So yes, we must make the moral case for capitalism. We must continually put forth these ideas in debate and argument because they are good ideas and shining through them is the essential morality of America and Americans.
ENVY and RESENTMENT are the bane (or should I say "Bain"?) of civilized society. In fact, these negative human emotions are essentially de-civilizing for those individuals who freociously cling to them and to their own sense of entitled victimhood.
Societies that are based on the emotions of envy and resentment are doomed to descend into "tragedies written in the blood of millions", as each individual and special interest group fights all the others for their "share" of an ever shrinking amount of wealth. Eventually, they run out of other people's wealth to steal .
For proof of this, all you have to do is look at human history.