The Vision of the Anointed

Every now and then, I like to read something that gets my brain working (especially after I read a romance novel, which puts my brain to sleep). The main premise of Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed is that social policies are founded on the beliefs and ideologies of the chosen few (author calls them “the anointed”) rather than the masses (author calls them “the benighted”).

Some of my favorite quotes from the book were these:

  • “Despite Hamlet’s warning against self-flattery, the vision of the anointed is not simply a vision of the world and its functioning in a casual sense, but is also a vision of themselves and of their moral role in the world. It is a vision of differential rectitude. It is not a vision of the tragedy of the human condition: Problems exist because others are not as wise or as virtuous as the anointed.” (Italics in original.)
  • “In short, the test for whether a [government] program was good for the country as a whole was whether those who personally benefitted from it found it beneficial.”
  • “The era in which trends in crime, drunkenness, and other social degeneracy were turned around was of course the era of ‘Victorian morality,’ so much disdained by the anointed of later times.”
  • “Yet a common practice among the anointed is to declare themselves emphatically, piously, and defiantly in favor of ‘change.’ Thus, those who oppose their particular changes are depicted as being against change in general.”

There are many more, but the main gist of the book is that there are two visions: the “tragic” vision, which recognizes that human beings are innately flawed, and the “vision of the anointed,” which idealistically believes that the inherent human condition can be corrected by means of vast societal changes imposed by a few ideologues.

The only thing I do not like about the book is that the author offers no ways of or ideas about changing what he sees as the status quo. (And I would argue that, since this book was published in 1995, the “vision of the anointed” has become even more pervasive in society.)

But… if this “vision of the anointed” is so prevailing and if it will lead the United States down a road to negative change, then the big question is… how do we reverse it? What I want to read next is a book that offers some answers or methods of how to move along. That would make things a bit more satisfying.

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