Quote of the Day: Thomas Sowell on Ending Slavery

 

“What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery. This idea might seem shocking, not because it does not fit the facts, but because it does not fit the prevailing vision of our time.”
― Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals

The Iron Law of “Quote of the Day” Posts: when in doubt, go with Sowell. A few months back I read his 2005 book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, and it was even more brilliant than the high level we’ve all come to expect. With seeming ease, Sowell dismantles the divisive racial narrative our media and political culture have peddled for decades. “Seeming ease,” because everything he writes is backed by years of research.

In 1833, the British Empire radically reconsidered the morality of slavery, an institution present throughout every previous era of human history. Once the Crown and Parliament deemed it an intolerable evil, they converted most of the world to their newly held view — often at the point of a bayonet. Only three decades later, the United States fully adopted this new morality, fighting its bloodiest war to remove slavery’s Southern holdouts.

According to modern anti-slavery group 50 for Freedom, there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history. Our elites seem disinterested in freeing those 40 million suffering souls but eager to condemn America for not getting rid of the “peculiar institution” sooner. Instead of focusing on 1619, they could do far more good by looking at 2022 and abolishing the scourge of slavery everywhere.


This post is part of the Quote of the Day group writing project at Ricochet. The QOTD Signup Sheet for June is here and has plenty of open dates for new contributors. Share a quote and your commentary, or simply invite a discussion. 

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Amen Jon.

    • #1
  2. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    It’s funny you bring up the British Empire and a quote that they decided slavery was a moral evil and denounced it. I have been recently reading about how many countries the Brits have pillaged throughout the world, taking their valuable resources and commodities and using the “labor” of the land – like Africa, Asia going back centuries – introducing and benefitting from the drug trade, minerals, etc. I used to think the Brits were part of the “western civilization” that we’ve thought so civil and “modern”.  I don’t think there’s a country or continent where they have not controlled or benefitted from.

    I feel like I’m part of a new “enlightenment” period in history. How was I kept in the dark about history for so long? So while  I wish the queen and the big 70th Jubilee best wishes, I don’t see things the same way and so I’m not enamored anymore.  Our Founders boarded ships and set out to a new world for a reason. The Constitution was a thorn in the side of Britain.  It’s the one document that sets us apart from any other country. 

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s funny you bring up the British Empire and a quote that they decided slavery was a moral evil and denounced it. I have been recently reading about how many countries the Brits have pillaged throughout the world, taking their valuable resources and commodities and using the “labor” of the land – like Africa, Asia going back centuries – introducing and benefitting from the drug trade, minerals, etc. I used to think the Brits were part of the “western civilization” that we’ve thought so civil and “modern”. I don’t think there’s a country or continent where they have not controlled or benefitted from.

    I feel like I’m part of a new “enlightenment” period in history. How was I kept in the dark about history for so long? So while I wish the queen and the big 70th Jubilee best wishes, I don’t see things the same way and so I’m not enamored anymore. Our Founders boarded ships and set out to a new world for a reason. The Constitution was a thorn in the side of Britain. It’s the one document that sets us apart from any other country.

    The British Empire was a product of its time. 

    Apart? Andrew Jackson mean anything to you?

    • #3
  4. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s funny you bring up the British Empire and a quote that they decided slavery was a moral evil and denounced it. I have been recently reading about how many countries the Brits have pillaged throughout the world, taking their valuable resources and commodities and using the “labor” of the land – like Africa, Asia going back centuries – introducing and benefitting from the drug trade, minerals, etc. I used to think the Brits were part of the “western civilization” that we’ve thought so civil and “modern”. I don’t think there’s a country or continent where they have not controlled or benefitted from.

    I feel like I’m part of a new “enlightenment” period in history. How was I kept in the dark about history for so long? So while I wish the queen and the big 70th Jubilee best wishes, I don’t see things the same way and so I’m not enamored anymore. Our Founders boarded ships and set out to a new world for a reason. The Constitution was a thorn in the side of Britain. It’s the one document that sets us apart from any other country.

    The British Empire was a product of its time.

    Apart? Andrew Jackson mean anything to you?

    It still is…….cough

    • #4
  5. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Reading Dr. Sowell years ago I remember Him telling a story when a student asked Him, “When did slavery end?”

    His reply [going by memory] was, “The question is not ‘When did slavery end?’ Slavery is the natural state of Man. The pertinent question is, ‘When did Freedom begin?’ And it began with the West and Its foundations.” 

    • #5
  6. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    The Iron Law of “Quote of the Day” Posts: when in doubt, go with Sowell.

    No truer words have been written on Ricochet, @Jon. 

    I read Black Rednecks and White Liberals years ago, along with many of his other great books, and had the opportunity to horrify a liberal relative by relating some of his assertions. She wasn’t really open to hearing a new perspective, but I’ve learned a lot from reading Sowell.

    Even here, it seems that statements about the good brought about by the British Empire must be countered by anything negative that also followed from its influence. Could it be that the eradication of slavery was intended, whereas the evils of the drug and mineral trades were not? 

    *******

    This post is part of the Quote of the Day group writing project at Ricochet. The QOTD Signup Sheet for June is here and has plenty of open dates for new contributors. Share a quote and your commentary, or simply invite a discussion. 

    • #6
  7. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    The Iron Law of “Quote of the Day” Posts: when in doubt, go with Sowell.

    No truer words have been written on Ricochet, @ Jon.

    I post a rotating series of Sowell quotations on my office door along with a photograph of him.

    Because my schedule permits it, I have been on a Thomas Sowell YouTube binge the last few weeks.  It’s my only antidote to the folly of Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg.

    • #7
  8. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    “According to modern anti-slavery group 50 for Freedom, there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history. Our elites seem disinterested in freeing those 40 million suffering souls but eager to condemn America for not getting rid of the “peculiar institution” sooner. Instead of focusing on 1619, they could do far more good by looking at 2022 and abolishing the scourge of slavery everywhere.”

    This is because Progressivism is not about freedom. It is about organizing society under a single control, supposedly for the benefit of all. Think feudal system married to “science”. A plantation that covers the world with slavery for all except a select few. 

    • #8
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s funny you bring up the British Empire and a quote that they decided slavery was a moral evil and denounced it. I have been recently reading about how many countries the Brits have pillaged throughout the world, taking their valuable resources and commodities and using the “labor” of the land – like Africa, Asia going back centuries – introducing and benefitting from the drug trade, minerals, etc. I used to think the Brits were part of the “western civilization” that we’ve thought so civil and “modern”. I don’t think there’s a country or continent where they have not controlled or benefitted from.

    I feel like I’m part of a new “enlightenment” period in history. How was I kept in the dark about history for so long? So while I wish the queen and the big 70th Jubilee best wishes, I don’t see things the same way and so I’m not enamored anymore. Our Founders boarded ships and set out to a new world for a reason. The Constitution was a thorn in the side of Britain. It’s the one document that sets us apart from any other country.

    Yes the Brits were among the first to acquire global power and those who exercised it were relatively organized shipping monopolists.  The place was different and more bottom up than any other place on earth because it was so hard to manage everything from the top, too many estuaries, rivers, etc. to exercise control like the French or Chinese could.  So it evolved faster. The more efficient top down places were cruel as well, but not as powerful.  Our founders discerned the reasons and put it in place on purpose and created the modern world.   It’s become fashionable to denounce the Brits and  I suppose that’s ok as we sugar coat it, but that complexity and our founders understanding of it created the modern world and the folks who want to destroy it are totally ignorant about what the results will be.

    • #9
  10. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s funny you bring up the British Empire and a quote that they decided slavery was a moral evil and denounced it. I have been recently reading about how many countries the Brits have pillaged throughout the world, taking their valuable resources and commodities and using the “labor” of the land – like Africa, Asia going back centuries – introducing and benefitting from the drug trade, minerals, etc. I used to think the Brits were part of the “western civilization” that we’ve thought so civil and “modern”. I don’t think there’s a country or continent where they have not controlled or benefitted from.

    I feel like I’m part of a new “enlightenment” period in history. How was I kept in the dark about history for so long? So while I wish the queen and the big 70th Jubilee best wishes, I don’t see things the same way and so I’m not enamored anymore. Our Founders boarded ships and set out to a new world for a reason. The Constitution was a thorn in the side of Britain. It’s the one document that sets us apart from any other country.

    Yes the Brits were among the first to acquire global power and those who exercised it were relatively organized shipping monopolists. The place was different and more bottom up than any other place on earth because it was so hard to manage everything from the top, too many estuaries, rivers, etc. to exercise control like the French or Chinese could. So it evolved faster. The more efficient top down places were cruel as well, but not as powerful. Our founders discerned the reasons and put it in place on purpose and created the modern world. It’s become fashionable to denounce the Brits and I suppose that’s ok as we sugar coat it, but that complexity and our founders understanding of it created the modern world and the folks who want to destroy it are totally ignorant about what the results will be.

    Indeed.  The Brits were the source of the legal ideals that led to our personal freedoms.  Pretty much everywhere else, rights are granted by government.  In the UK and its colonial children, rights are inborn, and powers are granted to government.

    • #10
  11. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Perhaps someone can point us to a scale of historical moral judgments that gives significant weight to the comparative beliefs and practices of societies and individuals at a given time.  The most important comparisons are not between us and some folks in the past, but between them and their contemporaries.  

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Andrew Jackson mean anything to you?

    Besides $20?

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Perhaps someone can point us to a scale of historical moral judgments that gives significant weight to the comparative beliefs and practices of societies and individuals at a given time. The most important comparisons are not between us and some folks in the past, but between them and their contemporaries.

     Nah people in the past were all evil not like us today who are just Paragon’s virtue and nobody in the future will ever look back on us and wonder why we could be such monsters.lol

    • #13
  14. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    “What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery. This idea might seem shocking, not because it does not fit the facts, but because it does not fit the prevailing vision of our time.”
    ― Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals

    The amazing Dr. Sowell. Just brilliant!

    • #14
  15. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Manny (View Comment):

    “What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery. This idea might seem shocking, not because it does not fit the facts, but because it does not fit the prevailing vision of our time.”
    ― Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals

     

    The amazing Dr. Sowell. Just brilliant!

    I heard that same passage in an audio book yesterday. Brilliant indeed. 

    • #15
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