Thomas Sowell: Saved from Bondage in his 30’s-America’s Renaissance Man

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When Thomas Sowell was in his younger years, he was sold out to the ways and teachings of ‘Marxism.’ But after time and studying, he came to his senses and was set free from the ‘bondage of Marxism.’

“It’s not hard to contemplate why a black person born during the Great Depression in the Jim Crow South and then raised in urban ghettos might find the precepts of Marxism persuasive. The cruel capitalists, the greedy bourgeoisie, the oppressed masses, the coming revolution that will finally relieve the struggling proletariat from despair this outlook had a certain appeal to Sowell. “These ideas seemed to explain so muc,h and they explained it in a way to which my grim experience made me very receptive,” he later wrote.

Back then, young Tommy was eking out a living as a messenger for Western Union. “When I left home, I had not finished high school and had a number of these low-level jobs,” he said. “It was a trying time. I had always been in school and so on, and this was starting at the very bottom.”

His job was located in Lower Manhattan, and after work he usually took the subway back up to Harlem, where most of New York City’s black population lived. Occasionally, however, Sowell would ride home atop one of the city’s double-decker buses and marvel at the shifting urban landscape as he headed north. The bus traveled up 5th Avenue, past the upscale department stores that catered to the wealthy. At 57th Street it would turn left, pass by Carnegie Hall, snake around Columbus Circle, proceed up Broadway, and continue north on Riverside Drive through affluent residential neighborhoods. “And then somewhere around 120th Street, it would go across a viaduct and onto 135th Street, where you had the tenements,” he said. “And that’s where I got off. The contrast between that and what I’d been seeing most of the trip really baffled me. And Marx seemed to explain it.” In his 1985 book on Marxism, Sowell wrote that the philosopher “took the overwhelming complexity of the real world and made the parts fall into place, in a way that was intellectually exhilarating.”

Sowell would self-identify as a Marxist throughout his 20s. His senior thesis at Harvard was on Marxian economics, and his master’s thesis at Columbia was on Marxian business cycle theory. Even his first scholarly publication, in the March 1960 issue of American Economic Review, was on the writings of Karl Marx. But like many others who are attracted to Marxist philosophy in their youth, Sowell would abandon it as he became older and more experienced.”

Read the full story of Sowell’s conversion to freedom here.

Watch here and learn more of Sowell through this fascinating video.




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