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The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy Paperback – Bargain Price, June 28, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
In this broadside against the received wisdom of America's elite liberal intelligentsia, noted conservative Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, offers some strenuous arguments as well as fuzzy generalizations. Thus, his attacks on the war on poverty, sex education and criminal justice policies forged in the 1960s counter some slippery rhetoric by their defenders, yet his suggestion that these policies exacerbated things is questionable. Sowell deconstructs how statistics can be distorted to prove assumptions (that lack of prenatal care is the cause of black infant mortality) and gleefully skewers "Teflon prophets" such as John Kenneth Galbraith (who said that big companies are immune from the market) and Paul Ehrlich (who said starvation loomed). While "the anointed" favor explanations that exempt individuals from personal responsibility and seek painless solutions, those with the "tragic vision" see policies as trade-offs. Sowell scores his targets for disdaining their opponents, but this book also invokes caricature-these days, many of "the anointed" are less unreconstructed than he assumes. Conservative Book Club and Laissez-Faire Book Club selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
Ever the contrarian, this time Sowell targets the rhetorical methods liberals use to support their views of social issues. Usually, they frame a crisis to which the well-educated, articulate liberal, ruthlessly disparaged by Sowell as the "anointed," offers a categorical solution. To reach the solution, the liberal resorts to argumentative means that Sowell regards as fallacious. Examples he cites are the "Aha!" statistic in which condition A (say, infant mortality) is claimed to have cause B (inadequate budgets for prenatal care); or the assertion of a policy preference as a right, which is how a federal judge ordered a public library to allow an odoriferous, boisterous vagrant to roam the stacks--so that he could exercise his "right to receive ideas." These means defend a worldview of perfectible man that Sowell contrasts with the "tragic" view, stemming from human fallibility. Sowell's targets will find his criticisms irksome, if even worthy of their notice, but avid conservatives, for whom Sowell is a true-blue intellectual force, will certainly seize upon his analysis for succor. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Sowell contrasts the vision of the anointed, which always searches for sweeping solutions, with the tragic vision espoused by conservatives today, which realizes that there are always trade-offs in the real world. Liberals seek to build utopias, but conservatives realize that implementing one policy can have serious side effects elsewhere in society and that wisdom involves knowing that a catch-all solution is not available for virtually any serious social problem. The author describes typical scenarios that ensue when the vision of the anointed is implemented and the real world responds by not cooperating.
Liberals, though, almost never admit their failures, and Sowell details how the Left misuses statistics to invite false inferences as to the results of liberal programs. The author dissects fallacies the anointed use to dismiss evidence of the failure of their vision, and notes that the Left commonly substitutes ridicule and attacks on motives instead of real, logical arguments.
Sowell also describes some of what he calls the "crusades" of the anointed and the effect that the vision of the anointed on the American judicial system and the all-important rule of law, as well as offering his opinion as to why the anointed are so invested in their vision. Even though "The Vision of the Anointed" was written two decades ago, it is even more timely today than it was in the mid-Nineties and is an indispensable book for conservatives, especially young conservatives.
"The vision prevailing among the intellectual and political elite of our time." "It is a prevailing vision...[offering] a special state of grace for those who believe in it." "...those who disagree are seen as being not only in error, but in sin." "People are never more sincere than when they assume their own moral superiority."
"Crusading movements among the intelligentsia usually include: (paraphrased)
"*Assertions of great danger to the whole society...to which the masses of people are oblivious;
"*An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe;
"*A need for government to curtail the behavior of the masses in order to assert the ideas of those prescient few;
"*A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary."
Vision, anointed, grace, and sin all are biblical and theological buzzwords.
Therefore, the "anointing" of those on the liberal [in the current popular sense of "liberal"] left to whom Dr. Sowell refers are anointed into social, cultural, political, educational... legitimacy. In the Christian tradition we use olive oil, from the olive tree - which arguably is the "Tree of Life" - as the anointing oil in our liturgies. So these anointed in Sowell's book can be imaged as anointed into fullness of life? Bizarre argument maybe, but it feels like a live possibility!
"Thinking People" vs. "Articulate People!" is an intriguing distinction; it seems as if the more articulate folks are the ones who get believed and get their articulations acted upon.
Dr. Sowell seems compelled to swim against the prevailing academic stream of thought, because so-called liberal thought indeed does prevail in academic and intellectual groups and troops and is relatively rare outside of the educational and cultural whatever-you-want-to-call-it-complex.
This book is a must-read and a must-reread; please consider trying this book and its arguments on for size!
What has become clear since the publication of this book is that the deceptions are worldwide. Governments everywhare are promoting the same self-serving untruths, and it is coming apart everywhere. These will be interesting times.