Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Language of the Anointed

Another excerpt from The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell. I cannot reccomend this book enough to my conservative friends who want to understand why the argument is going the way it has been going, and why we've been losing it. And understanding your opponent is the key to cutting off his tactics and mindset.

For reference:

"Vision of the Anointed" = Progressive View
"Tragic Vision" = Conservative view

Stated baldly in terms of process characteristics -- collectivized decisions made by third parties -- these schemes [of the Annointed] have little appeal. But they are almost invariably stated instead in terms of the goals they propose to achieve -- for example, rational "planning" to avoid "chaos", racial "integration", or more sweeping goals such as "social justice" today, or "liberty, equality, fraternity" in an earlier era. One of the verbal contrasts between the tragic vision and the vision of the anointed is that the former tends to describe its goals in terms of the processes involved -- "free markets", "judicial restraint", or "traditional values", for example -- which seldome have the emotional impact of statements about ideals and goals.

There is nothing obviously or intrinsically desirable about most of the things espoused with the tragic vision. It is only after understanding the reasoning which causes those particulare processes to be favored over others that the merits and the detriments of these systemic processes can be meaningfully discussed. But anyone can be in favor of "social justice" without further ado. In short, the ideas of so-called "thinking people" often require much less thinking. Indeed, the less thinking there is about definitions, means, and consequences, the more attractive "social justice" seems.

Advocacy in terms of goals rather than processes is only one of the verbal advantages of those with the vision of the anointed. Another is adoption of a cosmic viewpoint from which to discuss moral issues -- a viewpoint which spawns a whole galaxy of buzzwords. Finally, there is simple verbal inflation, as useful as monetary inflation for defrauding people without their being fully aware of what is going on.
Sowell provides numerous historical examples along with 33 pages of references. He wasn't fooling around writing this book. If you have to argue with the anointed, or like to argue with the anointed. Get this book. And read it.

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