The Vision Of The Anointed: Self-Congratulation As A Basis For Social Policy, by Thomas Sowell
This particular book is a devastating one because it reminds the reader, if any such reminder is necessary, of the dangers that happen when a powerful and corrupt cultural elite views those who disagree with them as not merely wrong but evil. To be sure, this particular cultural trend is not limited to either the right or the left–there are a great many people, myself included, who view the social views of the left as being great evil–but the author correctly notes that there is an asymmetry between the sort of respect and patience someone who is opposed to leftism has to have and that which leftist elites hold themselves too. The author, of course, is long experienced with being attacked for his political views and denied the sort of comfort of identity politics that leftist people of color tend to receive, and he writes with full awareness of the larger context of the culture about which he writes. Moreover, the author manages to contrast the leftist view of reality with a coherent tragic vision that well describes my own views of human existence and a great many of those who oppose leftist folly.
This book of more than 250 pages is divided into none chapters that deal with different examples of the way in which the self-congratulatory vision of the progressive elite conflicts with reality and leads to problematic results. After short preface the author begins with a discussion of the way that everyone is influenced but that some have managed to escape from the pull of progressive ideals (1). The author then discusses the pattern by which progressive failed solutions move along four stages from crisis, to mistaken solution to bad results to a misguided and defensive response in several areas, from sex education to the misguided war on poverty (2). After that comes a look at the proper use of statistics (3) and the way that to the leftist, evidence that solutions and approaches are misguided are viewed as irrelevant (4). The author discusses the contrast between those who view themselves as anointed and their opponents as benighted (5) as well as the various crusades of the anointed against various types of sin (6), even if those crusades are not in accordance with God’s laws and ways. The author discusses the biased vocabulary of the anointed (7) that serves as as form of doublespeak as well as the ways in which our court system has suffered disastrously from activist judges (8). Finally, the author discusses the poisonous belief of different truths that is held by leftists (9) before concluding with notes and an index.
Some of the aspects that this author criticize are, it must be admitted, not only true of the left but also of a partisan view of any kind that seeks to make reality conform to a particular ideology. The author, though, views himself (not without reason) as someone who is firmly bound to a realistic view of the world whose realism includes spiritual realities like the sins and follies that ensnare people and the personal choices that are made, if not always in ideal circumstances. The author’s nuanced and high-minded view of personal responsibility in the face of cultural influence and the weight of past experiences and history is one that is robust and fair-minded, although it is also one which is very different from the leftist view which he critiques so strenuously here. This is the sort of book that reveals to the reader the extent to which one considers facts or leftist ideology of greater importance, and whether one is to be a self-anointed figure or someone who is viewed by the left as benighted. Sometimes it’s better to be reviled by foolish men and honored by God.