As of: April 10, 2022
Anything by Thomas Sowell is excellent, but this book in particular seems to drive the heart of what motivates the Left-Progressives. Although originally published in 1999, it is as trenchant and relative as though it was written yesterday. If you read only one political book this year, let this be the one.
(from the cover) "This is not a comforting book - it is a book about disturbing issues that are urgently important today and enduringly critical for the future. It rejects both "merit" and historical redress as principles for guiding public policy. It shows the "peace" movements have led to war and to needless casualties in those wars. It argues that "equality" is neither right or wrong, but meaningless.
The Quest For Cosmic Justice shows how confused conceptions of justice end up promoting injustice, how confused conceptions of equality end up promoting inequality, and how the tyranny of social visions prevents many people from confronting the actual consequences of their own beliefs and policies. Those consequences include the steady and dangerous erosion of the fundamental principles of freedom - and the quiet repeal of the American revolution.
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is an early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841. He covers a variety of topics, including three economic bubbles: The Mississippi Bubble (France), the South-Seas Bubble (England) and Tulipmania (Holland). One enduring theme is the willingness of people at all economic and social levels to ignore factual information and act on the basis of emotions and greed. This same theme is a major characteristic of the Left-Progressive faction, as documented so eloquently by Thomas Sowell in The Vision Of The Anointed and others of his books.
"A superb book. The Friedmans eloquently diagnose the problems facing America and make imaginative proposals for change. It is 'must reading' for everyone - from the President to the private citizen - who is concerned with the future of America." --- Ronald Reagan
"In this powerful and persuasive book two distinguished economists, Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, unravel the mysteries of economics for the man or woman in the street (Main Street or Wall Street). They show us how our freedom has been eroded and our prosperity undermined through the explosion of laws, regulations, agencies, and spending in Washington, how good intentions often produce deplorable results when government is the middleman." (from the publisher).
The influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in
previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by
those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted to directly influence
rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions
of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the
course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the
actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those
power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored
by intellectuals. Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for
intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those
Intellectuals and Society not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. One of the most surprising aspects of this study is how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society — and how little their views have changed in response to empirical evidence of the disasters entailed by those views.
Sub-titled "Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy", this book is a devastating critique of the mind-set behind the failed social policies of the last 50 years. Thomas Sowell sees what has happened not as a series of isolated mistakes but as a logical consequences of a vision whose defects have led to disasters in education, crime, family disintegration, and other social pathology.
In this book, "politically correct" theory is repeatedly confronted with facts - and sharp contradictions between the two are explained in terms of a whole set of self-congratulatory assumptions held by political and intellectual elites. These elites - the anointed - often consider themselves "thinking people", but much of what the call thinking turns out, on examination, to be rhetorical assertion, followed by evasions of mounting evidence against these assertions.