15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2008
This is an outstanding book. It provides an explanation for a great many anomalies that have puzzled or frustrated me over the years. The world is changing fast an unless we can improve on our current lamentable economic and sociological performance the future looks grim. Sowell does not provide a blueprints for how this might be done but he does have some powerful insights that should help to guide the way.
If you have studied systems - engineering, ecological, social and to some extent economic - as I have, you will understand why some actions that appear to be obviously correct have a much reduced or opposite effect to that intended. A brilliant, readable account of one case is given in `Risk' by John Adams. He describes, amongst many other things, why seat belts do not save lives or reduce accidents. (Read it - the argument is compelling.) Social and economic systems are much more complicated than seat belts and understanding them is much more difficult. (Hayek, in `The Fatal Conceit' takes the view that many are effectively beyond understanding.) The result is that governments intervene, guided by a dogma that is regarded as self-evidently correct and is rarely questioned. This is what Sowell calls the `Vision'. Because the vision is so deeply ingrained, the anointed find excuses for each failure and repeat the process. They learn nothing from history.
The writing style is serious of course, but the book is very readable and includes many interesting cases. These examples are American but most people will identify many similar cases in the UK. The vision, and problems it causes, are international.
This is a political message of course; and the response of many people will simply be to turn off. A little silent abuse will be, for many, enough to dismiss the unpleasant thought that they may be wrong. However, for anyone interested in our political systems, who is objective enough to consider the whole spectrum of views, this book is a must.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2001
I have read three of Sowells books, The Vision of the Anointed, A Conflict of Visions and The quest for cosmic justice. This is the best of the three. His themes in many of these books is that the liberal elite, anointed, call them what you will has successfully advanced its agenda for many years.
This is hardly news in itself, but what Sowell does to great effect is explain what the underlying cause of their beliefs is, ie that mankind can be perfected at no cost if we were to just give the right people power over us. He highlights the media and its complicitness in not examining the facts that the anointed put forwards, even when a fairly simple look at the figures would reveal the truth to be the exact opposite.
His chapter on judicial activism, the use of courts to create legislation in direct contravention of the written law of the land, is illuminating. Often Judges clearly overstep the limits of their power and invent completely new laws. Despite the fact that most of the examples are American one does not have to look too far to see parallels in Britain, (ie. the Bulger case and the European courts pro IRA verdicts)
Paul Johnson the Historian who writes for the Daily Mail and Spectator in the U.K. has said he considers Thomas Sowell to be the greatest living Philosopher/Commentator in America and the rest of the world yet aside from that his work gets very little exposure in this country.
Sowells biggest strength is observing the common patterns of deception that the left uses time and time again without being picked up on it. His book conveys often conveys complex information yet never alienates itself from a lay reader. A Superb book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2010
Empirical evidence suggests that despite many good intentions Socialism fails. When crime, welfare dependency, family break up, rates of teenage pregnancy, unemployment and income inequality increase rapidly under a Socialist Government, despite massive improvements in technology and wealth, many people wonder why. Professor Thomas Sowell examines and exposes the deceptions of Socialists and explains why state intervention usually makes the situation worse.
Everybody with a social conscience should read and understand the message in this book. Literacy and numeracy aren't enough, you must understand how Political systems work too. Sowell provides answers that educated people should know, understand and act upon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2009
Sowell does a wonderful job of describing how and why the libertarian minority of the population have set the social policy agenda in the developed world, with such disastrous results. Most interesting of all is the description of the tactics employed to discredit opponents, message statistics and flatly ignore evidence that has become standard operating procedure for this phenomenally intolerant group of people the author labels 'the anointed'.
The book is very well written, crisp and coherent without itself becoming dogmatic - this is no rant from the Daily Mail. On my shelf next to `The March of Unreason' and `Life at the Bottom' which are also excellent.
Buy, read and share with others.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 1999
I had long been a fan of economist and columnist Thomas Sowell when I bought this book. I greatly appreciate, especially coming from a black man, his precise analysis of why liberal politics and practices have been an utter failure in the area of liberating minorities from, what is portrayed by popular thought, the evils of capitalism. The very ones who have profited most from capitalist economics denounce it as the best means for minorities to rise from depression because they have "annointed" themselves as the intellectual and morally superior ones from whom all proper goverenment should flow. That's because you, who only care about your own survival, can't be relied upon to make the correct political decisions for everyone else. Only they have the "vision" to do so.
When considering public policy issues, we often think only of the elements of that specific problem. In "the Vision of the Anointed" economist Thomas Sowell guides us to look at the visions behind the specific solutions advanced. Sowell examines the difference between the vision of the anointed, those who feel that they know better than others and must provide solutions to save the common people from themselves, and the tragic vision of the benighted public that recognizes that there are no solutions, only trade-offs.
Sowell raises many points about a vision which ignores all facts not supportive of the vision and the results that could not have proceeded from the actions of the anointed. He discusses arguments that fail because of their own premises, such as the conclusion, after the temperature has risen 10 degrees since sunrise that, if present trends continue, we will all burn to a crisp by the end of the month. He provides examples of "crises" that exist only to beg for the solutions of the anointed, statistics that do not support the points for which they are advanced, the crusades that admit of no analysis of trade-offs, the mascots of the anointed who must always be supported regardless of their merits and the tactic employed by the anointed to denigrate the intelligence and motives of any who dare oppose them.
Although this book is now over 15 years old, its points are timeless. We are still confronted with the vision of the anointed and are living with the policies it has imposed on society. The writing is clever, entertaining and persuasive. It is a book that should be read and periodically re-read to aid us in keeping our minds focused on the principles that really matter.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2006
I thought this was a terrific analysis of the culture of political debate today. Of course not every example should be taken as read, Sowell explicitly encourages us to go and research the facts for ourselves, but with an open mind. A negative review here compares his work with Mein Kampf and Das Kapital - which is exactly Sowell's point!!!
Main strategies of 'the Anointed' are to ridicule by gross comparison, or to take their position as the obvious 'enlightened' norm, rather than analyse closely or listen to ordinary citizens' views. Their main buzz is self-congratulation and revolutionary righteousness, not the slow, evolutionary process of improving people's lives and prosperity.
Sowell is by no means a right-wing reactionary, but sadly he will be dismissed as such because he asks questions the Left in particular find uncomfortable.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 1998
One of Sowell's very best. Well-documented, it shows how liberals twist words and logic to justify themselves and their selfish policies. Yes, selfish, because they want a monopoly on all moral righteousness and claims to compassion. If you disagree with thier policies, then you must be uncompassionate. As Sowell says, don't worry about whether the policies actually WORK or not, whether they are in keeping with human nature as it really is, or not; simply worry about whether or not the policies SOUND GOOD. Don't question my policies, because if you do, you're fighting against my GOOD INTENTIONS, and intentions, not actual results, are all that matters. Sowell's analysis of liberals and their ultimately harmful do-goodism is incisive and insightful. A STELLAR book!!!! PS, and he's black, too... Next time you question the nanny State and are called racist for doing so, cite Thomas Sowell!!!!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 1999
What an incredible book! I have always leaned towards a more conservative ideology but never unnderstood why. It is only now that I have read this book that I understand with high fidelity the liberal mindset. There are occasional flaws in the book; for example, I really think most lawyers, rather than being leftists, are just greedy. Evolving judicial standards is a problem, but I'm not convinced it's because of "the Anointed", I think we could also attribute it to simple greed and amorality. But besides that, Thomas Sowell is very good at putting all this together into a cohesive package about the mindset of "the Anointed". And, though the references to "the Anointed" got old, I think I understand why he didn't just *call* them liberals. It is because he is more concerned with weaving together a mindset than exploring a label with modestly ambiguous meanings. For example, I consider myself "liberal" on certain issues. When I was young, in fact, I even considered myself a liberal. But then, I grew up. I think liberals especially need to read this to understand how conservatives think! Great book. Buy a copy for a friend!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 1999
Right on! The only person who could disagree with this book is one of the "anointed".