An old friend of mine turned me onto the famous economist, Thomas Sowell, just a few years ago, and since then I’ve found his books to be pretty eye-opening.
After spending almost five years at a “prestigious” University, I was exposed to, usually, only left-wing ideologies which blame several forces like, capitalism, racism, sexism, bigotry, inequality, and systemic discrimination for the world’s problems.
Having been exposed to this kind of thinking for so long led me to believe that there are only these answers to those types of questions.
However, after I read Thomas Sowell, I discovered that history is far more complicated than I initially thought. There are a plethora of ideological differences between schools of thought and explanations for why things occur in society.
The underlying theme of the book is that peoples’ cultures play a much more significant role in their success in life rather than “systemic discrimination” or “privilege.”
The first fifty pages of the book surprised me. I always thought that African-American people (or POC’s) as liberals call them now, experienced destitute levels of poverty and crime in the urban ghetto’s because of things like “racism.”
If you read mainstream publications like The Guardian, CNN, or you watch Late Night talk shows, you probably think that slavery is the cause of black peoples’ trouble in the United States.
However, this idea, according to Thomas Sowell, is incorrect for many reasons. In the first part of the book, he talks about the history of the southern United States, and how Scottish immigrants immigrated to the South in the 1600’s I believe.
At this time in Scottish history, Scotland was continually fighting with the British, and their country was a lawless land where no strong government existed, and social rules were uninhibited. A less politically correct word would be “barbaric.”
Sowell says on the third page of his book that a lot of the white people who moved to the South came from the northern borderland regions of England which were at the time, a “no-mans land.”
He said the regions were “turbulent” and practically lawless, where no groups had established control of the nation. In other words, there was no order.
Scotland made enormous progress as a country in the 18th century. At one point in their history, they had no industry, famous inventors or intellectuals. However, after some time, they eventually became a powerhouse in the Industrial Revolution.
A professor by the name of Grady McWhiney said in his book, “Cracker Culture,” that had Scottish people moved from their home in the 19th century, the history of the Southern United States would be entirely different.
However, when people from the northern borderlands of England and Scotland moved to the United States, they brought a particular type of culture with them.
At this time in Scottish history, because there was no established control, people existed in “clans” where they regularly terrorized each other over whatever they saw fit.
Because 90% of African-Americans at the time lived in the Antebellum South and only around 20% of white people, American blacks adopted this “cracker culture” through osmosis. Now, there’s a small percentage of whites who still have this “redneck” culture.
In fact, a lot of the words in the African-American lexicon originate in the Northern Borderlands of England and Scotland during this time in history.
Some of these words and phrases include “I be,” “You be,” “She ain’t,” “Ax,” for ask, “acrost,” for across, “dis,” for “this,” and “dat,” for that, “y’awl,” for “you all,” and “yaller,” for yellow.
If you think about the way urban black people speak, specifically rappers, a lot of these words look familiar. Especially “dis” and “dat” as well as “ax.” That’s the weirdest one ever. When I first heard a black person say “ax” I was like, “wtf?”
I find it strange too how in Canada for example, black people who are far removed from the culture of the Antebellum south and “African-American” culture act like they’re from the United States.
We have black people here who talk like they’re from the Bronx, New York, or Atlanta, Georgia. It’s almost as if acting “ghetto” is a new style. Kids are always talking about how they’re from a particular neighborhood and like they’re so gangster or some shit.
For example, in Toronto, there are kids who talk about being from the “ghetto” and how “dangerous” it is when Toronto is ranked as the fourth safest city to live in the entire world.
White southerners in the past were characterized by the sociologist and Swedish economist, Gunnar Myrdal, as “employ(ing) many of the defense mechanisms characteristics of the negro.”
“They often carry a chip on the shoulder; they indulge in self-commiseration, they rather typically and in real negro fashion try to overcome a feeling of inferiority by exhibitionism, raucousness in dress, and exaggerated self-assertion.”
In Gunnar Myrdal’s book, he stated that white people mistreated black people after American Blacks moved up into the inner cities in the North but for reasons unrelated to their race.
Whites mistreated blacks (and other ethnic groups) due to their behavior which was almost identical to American Southerners who Northerner’s thought was out of control and practically uncivilized.
Before the Civil War, people from the North discriminated against White Southerners for their lack of industriousness, poor hygiene, and propensity to get into fights over nothing.
Thomas points to the fact that, despite the South having a ton of dairy cows, they only had around 10% of the cheese production. There were plenty of resources in the South to take advantage of, but southerners didn’t have the same industriousness of the Northerners.
Except for specific immigrant groups such as the Germans who took advantage of every material good available.
In Myrdal’s book, he states that, as a solution to the problem of white’s mistreating blacks, they either have to be taught to “not discriminate” or blacks have to improve their circumstances which would ultimately disprove white peoples’ preconceived notions.
In other words, rather than blaming “racism” and “discrimination,” Black people have to pull themselves out of the ghetto and learn to save money, avoid violence, and study hard in school.
Leftwing academics often hate these ideas and claim this is “blaming the victim” when, in reality, the problem is white people’s “racism” and the history of colonialism and imperialism.
However, the intriguing part of the racial question is why some black people in the United States do so well in comparison to blacks raised in the inner cities.
For example, Sowell writes that black people who come from conservative nations such as Caribbean countries do exceptionally well in American schools and Universities.
If the reason for black peoples’ failure to succeed in society is “racism,” then why don’t white people discriminate against the other black people who come from the Carribean and other Muslim countries?
If their failure were strictly due to their color, then white people would stop the other blacks from succeeding as well.
Slavery is another topic discussed in this book. Because of Sowell’s writing, I’ve become incredibly interested in the slave trade and will probably pick up a few good books on the history of slavery.
Sowell states that, for some reason, the amount of literature on slavery in the Antebellum South, as well as other Western nations far surpasses the history of slavery in the Ottoman Empire, even though Islamic civilization had more slavery than Westerners.
Furthermore, because the Ottoman Empire took so many slaves from Eastern Europe, typically coming from what is called Circassia – a region in the North Caucasus along the northeast shore of the Black Sea – the term “slave,” originates from the ethnic group, “Slavic.”
Additionally, the words for “slave” still refer to the Slavic ethnic group in Arabic.
From what I’ve gathered, one of the reoccurring themes in Sowell’s work is the idea of “self-congratulation as social-policy.” In other words, often times the point of liberal policies arent to improve the situations of any of the targeted groups, but rather to make themselves feel better, such as affirmative action in Universities.
If you find anything that I’ve written about interesting, I highly recommend checking out Sowell’s book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Race and Culture is also very good. The next book I read from will probably be Intellectuals and Society which is supposed to be his best work.