Thomas Sowell: ‘Forward’ to the Past? In its Search for Economic Equality, the Left Ignores History





Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The political slogan "Forward" served Barack Obama well during this year’s election campaign. It said that he was for going forward, while Republicans were for "going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place."

It was great political rhetoric and great political theater. Moreover, the Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge its shaky assumptions, though a few hard facts could have made those assumptions collapse like a house of cards.

More is involved than this year’s political battles. The word "forward" has been a political battle cry on the left for more than a century. It has been almost as widely used as the Left’s other favorite word, "equality," which goes back more than two centuries.

The seductive notion of economic equality has appealed to many people. The pilgrims started out with the idea of equal sharing. The colony of Georgia began with very similar ideas. In the Midwest, Britain’s Robert Owen — who coined the term "socialism" — set up colonies based on communal living and economic equality.

What these idealistic experiments all had in common was that they failed...



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