The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy

The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. This 1996 book by Thomas Sowell has a stellar reputation across the policy spectrum for its insights into the modern elite and political correctness. A classic. Highly recommended if you want a serious read.

Sowell presents a devastating critique of the mind-set behind the failed social policies of the past thirty years. Sowell sees what has happened during that time not as a series of isolated mistakes but as a logical consequence of a tainted vision whose defects have led to crises in education, crime, and family dynamics, and to other social pathologies. In this book, he describes how elites—the anointed—have replaced facts and rational thinking with rhetorical assertions, thereby altering the course of our social policy.

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.

Some quotes:

One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.

To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by “society.”

…the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?

Among the many other questions raised by the nebulous concept of “greed” is why it is a term applied almost exclusively to those who want to earn more money or to keep what they have already earned—never to those wanting to take other people’s money in taxes or to those wishing to live on the largesse dispensed from such taxation. No amount of taxation is ever described as “greed” on the part of government or the clientele of government.

One of the first things taught in introductory statistics textbooks is that correlation is not causation. It is also one of the first things forgotten.

. . ideology. . . is an instrument of power; a defense mechanism against information; a pretext for eluding moral constraints in doing or approving evil with a clean conscience; and finally, a way of banning the criterion of experience, that is, of completely eliminating or indefinitely postponing the pragmatic criteria of success and failure. —Jean-François Revel

Only in the light of this agenda does it make sense that so-called “sex education” should be advocated to take place throughout the school years—from kindergarten to college—when it could not possibly take that much time to teach basic biological or medical information about sex. What takes that long is a constant indoctrination in new attitudes.

Systemic processes tend to reward people for making decisions that turn out to be right—creating great resentment among the anointed, who feel themselves entitled to rewards for being articulate, politically active, and morally fervent.

There cannot be a law-abiding society if no one knows in advance what law they are to abide by, but must wait for judges to create ex post facto legal rulings based on “evolving standards” rather than known rules.

The staunchest conservatives advocate a range of changes which differ in specifics, rather than in number or magnitude, from the changes advocated by those considered liberal…change, as such, is simply not a controversial issue. 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. It is as if opponents of the equation 2+2=7 were depicted as being against mathematics. Such a tactic might, however, be more politically effective than trying to defend the equation on its own merits.

hat-tip Chris

Spoiled College Grad Demands New Dress Code at Job, Gets the Boot

Spoiled College Grad Demands New Dress Code at Job, Gets the Boot, by Tom Knighton.

Junior was at his internship, and he wanted the company to have a more lax dress code. Plus, they noticed one of the regular staff wearing shoes that weren’t in line with the standard dress code, and that just wasn’t right. So, this individual got together with his fellow interns and wrote up a proposal for an alternate dress code (hmm … ) accompanied with a petition (whoops!) and sent it on.

Hilarity ensued: “The next day, all of us who signed the petition were called into a meeting where we thought our proposal would be discussed. Instead, we were informed that due to our “unprofessional” behavior, we were being let go from our internships. We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP.

We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned. We weren’t even given a chance to discuss it. The worst part is that just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.”

The reality is that colleges — the educational institutions that are theoretically supposed to prepare these kids for the real world — did these students a disservice by treating every petition or pet cause as valid, allowing the inmates to run the asylum. When the students hit the real world, WHAM!

I was fired from my internship for writing a proposal for a more flexible dress code, by Alison Green.

Firing the whole group of you was a pretty extreme reaction, but I can understand why they were highly annoyed.

Y’all were pretty out of line. You were interns there — basically guests for the summer. Their rules are their rules. This is like being a houseguest and presenting your host with a signed petition (!) to change their rules about cleaning up after yourself. You just don’t have the standing to do that.

The bullying tactics worked so well at university — why not in the corporate world? PC meets reality.

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”: Reflections of an English Brexpat

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”: Reflections of an English Brexpat, by Carl Trueman.

Europe has been the central question of English politics for most of my nearly five decades of life. Throughout that time, it has consistently cut across conventional Left-Right lines, as it did in the vote last week. From our earliest involvement in Europe, figures such as Enoch Powell and then Roger Scruton made arguments against the E.U. based on notions of national sovereignty, history, and culture. On the Left, those like the late Tony Benn, doyen of unreconstructed socialists, pointed continually to the lack of democratic accountability of E.U. institutions. Both Left and Right Eurosceptics also raised repeated questions about administrative waste and corruption.

And behind it all was the obvious fact that the British had never voted for the Europe we now have. We had voted for little more than a free-trade zone. What we have is a legislative and administrative behemoth that aspires to be a transnational state. This Europe has never had a popular mandate—a point that has reinforced feelings of resentment and impotence as it has advanced across people’s lives like some giant, bureaucratic glacier.

The political part of the EU is illegitimate. The governed never consented. As for impregnating the EU lands with Muslims … that’s rape, isn’t it?

The demographics of the English part of the referendum were predictable. Those who have done well out of Europe—mainly the London metro-elite—tended to vote Remain. …such people benefit from globalization: For example, it gives them access to cheap and readily available foreign labor, to fancy designer goods, and to the professional freedom that comes from open markets and open borders.

Those who find the effects of globalization intimidating, who feel that their jobs and wages are threatened by free movement of labor and capital, and whose local ways of life are eroded by mass immigration, tended to vote Leave.

That makes sense. People usually vote their economic self interest.

hat-tip Stephen Neil