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

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,145 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
The nationally bestselling author of Race and Culture and Inside America presents a devastating examination of the mindset behind the failed social policies of the past thirty years, whose defects have led to crises on education, crime, and family dynamics.
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1995)
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Cassandra Kay Silva
Feb 15, 2012 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Ok I admit it I am a liberal and I read one of Sowells books, so sue me. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and to be honest I was fairly pleasantly surprised. I am generally one of these that believes in the "root cause" of social problems as he puts it, perhaps I even have some of this anointed mindset "gasp". I like to think we can change people by changing behavior and circumstances, but I think he made a good number of points about when we should say enough is enough, does tha ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read. As apropos for today as when it was written in the 90's. If you tire of the lightweight stuff from the talking heads like a Hannity, a Rush, or an O'Reilly, then read Sowell's Vision of the Anointed. Watch Sowell fillet mostly leftist-type thought chapter after chapter, page after page, even paragraph after paragraph. Sowell brings to bear so many of his skills as a sociologist and economist that the reader cannot possibly master all of Sowell's arguments after just one read. So, no ...more
David Robins
Apr 21, 2010 David Robins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So very true; enumerates so many of the distractions I have run up against talking with liberals. They close their eyes to reality and logic and argue with blind emotion, trying to frame rational people as unfeeling even as they rob them to fund their wasteful and destructive programs.

"The perennial desire to make particular things 'affordable' through public policy or to have government provide an ever-expanding list of 'basic needs' suggests that the economic realities conveyed by prices are s
Jul 14, 2011 E.W. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There is much that one could like here. The basic framework that Sowell lays down about the way many policies are drafted is clear and accurate. The problem, however, is that he seems to believe that only "The Anointed" (i.e. liberals) use this method to create policy. As I was listening, I kept thinking, "Wow, this seems like a playbook for George W. Bush's administration," but Sowell repeatedly lionizes Reagan and believes that the "Benighted" (i.e. conservatives) can do no wrong.

This might h
Skylar Burris
This is a superb book if you want to know precisely how statistics are manipulated, ignored, or misinterpreted in order to support social/political visions that are impervious to empirical evidence. It's wonderful for debunking a plethora of doomsday economic and social myths, and it provides a thorough outline of the type of specious arguments used to avoid addressing specific objections to specific policies and programs. Any student of economics, politics, or sociology should read this book an ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jan 12, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture-studies
I love people who think in straight lines.
Adam Graham
Jun 04, 2014 Adam Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In his book Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell offers key insights into how and why the American left has run wild in it’s attempts to change America.

As the subtitle suggests, “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy,” Sowell posits that the American left’s policies are egocentric exercises meant to establish themselves as saviors and their opponents as villains. Sowell shows that historically the left has been far more willing to condemn their opponents as evil even though the peopl
Dec 13, 2010 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly devastating critique of the liberal mindset.


In reality, the entire population of the world today could be housed in the state of Texas, in single-story, single-family houses - four people to a house - and with a typical yard around each home.

Everyone is a “progressive” by his own lights. That the anointed believe that this label differentiates themselves from other people is one of a number of symptoms of their naive narcissism.

Rights from government interference - “Congress shall
Jarrod Jenkins
A typical liberal flaw is explored here. Social policy must be based on actual results instead of merely good intentions. Soaring rhetoric without substance backing it often does more harm than good. The main reason, Sowell argues, that Liberals get away with their bad ideas is because the people who impose those ideas rarely pay for the costs associated with their failures. If a fashionable Liberal idea such as sex education or bilingual education programs creates more pregnant children or more ...more
Aug 24, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Self-Appointed "Wise-Owls" on the Left. And all others too.
I am really not sure what else Thomas Sowell has written. I know he has other books, but after reading this one almost 11 years ago I don't feel I need to read any others. Not that I don't think they will be any good. It's mostly because this one is so damn good that I don't think he can top it.

Even 11 years later I still remember much. He touches on the very essence of why liberalism and Liberals are so dangerous. The very title insinuates it: "The Annointed."

There is an "annointed" class and
Apr 05, 2009 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For some of the Libertarian opinions I have come to hold, I have been called “at least partially evil” on one occasion and told to “have a heart” on too many occasions to count – and both of these comments from some of the people who know me best. And that is to say nothing of the times my arguments have been called "simplistic" and yet no reason is ever given for why they are actually wrong. This form of attack is one which Sowell writes about to some length and in that, and numerous other resp ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, but needed more detail

Thomas Sowell, a noted conservative thinker and a genuinely interesting person (I've heard him as a guest on a local radio station several times) writes an effective book against the actions of those whom he calls 'The Annointed.' The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy is effective, but not a great work.

Who are The Annointed?

He uses the term in a sarcastic way here to illuminate those 'Teflon prophets' (he uses that term because s
Nov 08, 2012 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read Sowell before- his book Race and Culture and some of his editorials. If the book hadn't been copyrighted in 1995, I would have thought he was targeting the 2012 liberals. But I read this leading up to the election, so that might explain a lot of my response to the book. I want to believe we can correct our flaws in society and help our fellow man by pulling together, especially in the United States where we have solved so many problems of mankind. But his explanation of trade offs an ...more
Nov 14, 2012 Frederick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the clearest, sanest expression of liberal political thought you will ever read. If you are a Beckbot, a Rush clone, a Hanniday zombie it will be too deep and clear to impress you, though, as there isn't any lying, ranting, or flag waving. Sowell is extremely understandable and deep on the subject. I've read this book and re-read it over the months, checked out sources, and tried to think through his arguments. This is essential if you want to understand today's politics and how Democrat ...more
Joseph Gulesserian
The book dissects the programs of liberal thinking and shows how they move from one failed program based on emotionally charged collective crusades to another, without even measuring if the last one was empirically valid. Case in point is the failure of the public school education system in the United states, (Canada is not far behind) the failure of affirmative action that has delegitimized valid accomplishment, the increase in crime in the black community after President Johnson's great societ ...more
David Greenberg
Jan 05, 2015 David Greenberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political-theory
Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed is an excellent 1990s scholarship. Sowell explains a dichotomy of politics beyond Left and Right, Conservative and Liberal, and Democratic and Republican. In doing so, he explains the world dependent of the Socrates answer to the Delphic question, do we know ourselves? The anointed, like the Sophists of Greece in Socrates time, declare themselves wise. The issue is they are not wise, and they are too boastful to admit their collective error. Sowell glor ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Art rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who are the anointed? Sowell describes them as liberal elites who dominate leftist think tanks, academia, media, and the political realm. Ever believing themselves capable of solving society's ills, both real and imagined, they often advocate political policies and programs that have unintended, disastrous consequences. Case in point: In the 1960s, the anointed expressed concern over the illegitimacy rate in America. They decided to advocate for federal funding of Planned Parenthood and various ...more
Mark Geise
Feb 13, 2016 Mark Geise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy" is one of the most important political books of the 20th century. Sowell sums up the interventionist leftist philosophy perfectly in opposition to what he calls the tragic vision, a vision of the world in which all human beings are deeply flawed and respond to incentives. The vision of the anointed consists of elitists who believe that they are more enlightened than the masses and know what is good for them. They do n ...more
Bob Matter
Apr 11, 2011 Bob Matter is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a thrift store the other day on the reputation of the author's name. As I often do, I thought I would read just a few pages at the beginning, put it on my TBR shelf, and come back to it later. But alas, it is so engaging I am compelled to continue reading it.
Dec 16, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Thomas Sowell is quickly becoming my conservative intellectual father-figure. In this outstanding book, he exposes liberals for what they believe themselves to be - "the annointed". A very intellectual book - not casual reading, but worth the time to read carefully.
Oct 19, 2014 A B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good but repetitive read. Sowell is one of the best at articulating right-wing political ideals in a common sense way. But the whole book is essentially a couple hundred pages of Sowell finding new ways to say 'the anointed think they know better but they actually don't', with some examples thrown in.

His lambasting of leftists' tactics is spot-on - but I found his use of statistics to be a bit misleading. He rightly slams 'the other side' for their dodgy use of figures, and the way they often
I almost regret reading The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell. Or rather, and more truthfully, I regret reading Intellectuals and Society before reading The Vision of the Anointed - the latter seems to be a precursor of the former.

In any case both books are similar in subject if not in scope. Some themes are repeated, and I was a bit frustrated about rereading the same cases and the same conclusions. Yet, Intellectuals and Society is not an expansion of The Vision of the Anointed and The V
Mary Lou
Full disclosure -- I didn't read this book in its entirety. I read the first several chapters, felt that I'd grasped the argument Sowell was making, agreed with it, and didn't feel the need to continue reading additional examples. Then I jumped to the last chapter to see how Sowell proposes we solve the problem. I was disappointed to realize that, while he did an excellent job laying out his position and bolstering it with facts, Sowell didn't offer any solutions. Perhaps I missed some action pl ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Noneareleft rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest and accurate.

Having read or listened to a number of Sowell's books now I feel that I turn to him not because I believe in what he says, but that I feel he is articulating so well those thoughts and feelings that I've had but never voiced. Introspection is hard enough, one might be able to reason why one thinks or feels the way they do, but to look on another and try and reason why they think and feel the way they do is just as difficult, if not more difficult.

There are those that look out
Jan 17, 2015 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed is Sowell’s attempt to explain what, to rational outside observers, appears to be the irrational behavior of politicians and social leaders. They implement programs to fix problems, the problems grow worse under the solutions even in defiance of predictions of doing nothing—and they expand the programs. As if they believe doing the same thing harder won’t have the effect of even further exacerbating the problem.

Sowell’s thesis is that this is just what they
Wesley Fox
Aug 06, 2014 Wesley Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
The Vision of the Anointed is a classic social commentary from 1995 by economist Thomas Sowell. He presents a long list of social policies adopted in the 60s and 70s that were based on false premises or outright lies. Supported with data and the benefit of hindsight, Sowell dismantles the arguments made in support of these policies. Not only that, he argues that they weren't isolated mistakes but part of a flawed worldview of a self-appointed intellectual elite who believes that their superior i ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sowell's complex writing style in Vision required that I take significant time and thought in reading it, but it was well worth the time and effort. I would advise anyone planning to read this book to be ready to think while you read (novel idea, these days.) Sowell presents logically his case for both the history and status of the "anointed" and "benighted" in America (or in any western civilization, I'd argue.)

This book may change your way of thinking. It will certainly make you think, and co
Jim Gallen
Dec 23, 2012 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 solu ...more
I have always wondered why so many social policies, all of which seem like good and even noble ideas at the time, turn out so badly. Sowell presents one view and a caustic one it is. Essentially, his thesis is that policy makers have far too often replaced rational analysis of outcomes with wishful and willful assertions that run counter to the facts of the case. The anointed live in a rarefied world in which reality plays little role and the opinions of the non-anointed even less:

"The presumed
May 18, 2013 JP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are we completely unaware of the initiative a select few have claimed to push policies based not on logic or evidence, but their own assumptions and desires for what is best for others? Sowell tackles this question, showing how elitists have overrun individual decision making and trampled basic rights. Once a stance is successfully positioned as the moral high ground, it becomes accepted such that even "thinking people" take the underlying assumptions as a given, without testing validity, even i ...more
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Hoyt's Huns: February 2015 -- The Vision of the Anointed 3 14 Feb 08, 2015 10:35AM  
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars ...more
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“What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month, and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are generally given 'class' labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing 'class' makes class itself a nebulous concept. Yet the intelligentsia are habituated, if not addicted, to seeing the world in class terms.” 35 likes
“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. ” 16 likes
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