THE VISION OF THE ANOINTED by Thomas Sowell

THE VISION OF THE ANOINTED

Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Conservative gadfly Sowell doesn't like the vision thing--at least, not as long as the vision is that of his political opponents on the left. Sowell (Race and Culture, 1994, etc.) sardonically refers to his targets here as the "anointed"--a kind of authoritarian liberal cabal whose view predominates in today's world (despite 12 years of Reagan/Bush, despite a Republican-controlled Congress). Exemplars of this mindset, according to Sowell, are David I. Bazelon, chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the 1960s, who argued for rehabilitation of criminals rather than punishment, and New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, who wrote of a "right to income." How do these do-gooders maintain their predominance? With a rhetorical repertoire that includes, for instance, what the author calls "aha!" statistics, numbers that purport to show cause and effect (e.g., low rates of prenatal care among black women and high black infant mortality rates), pointing to neglect by society of various "mascot groups" (blacks, gays, women, etc.). The anointed ignore all evidence that their theories and policies have failed: Since the war on poverty was started, Sowell claims, dependence on government largesse has increased. Similarly, despite the institution of sex education, teenage pregnancy rates have skyrocketed (the quantity and quality of these programs, let alone other factors, don't figure into this discussion). Sowell himself espouses a different vision, one that assumes the tragedy of the human condition. It's a vision of limited possibilities for social change, with no solutions, only trade-offs; no have-nots, only do-nots who deserve no compassion. The anointed are not well-meaning but rather infatuated with their own virtue; not misguided, but a threat to "the social cohesion that makes civilized life possible." Sowell's venomous tone dominates his own, sometimes thin evidence, making this a polarizing screed rather than a rational argument.
Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 1995
ISBN: 0-465-08994-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1995




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