Jan 31, 2010
Show 507.5 Thomas Sowell’s book Intellectuals and Society. Hoover Institute interviews author.
Thomas Sowell unmasks the intellectuals who exalt themselves by denigrating our society -- and are working to destroy it
Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell
These intellectuals, Sowell says, are surrounded by a huge array of people and groups who disseminate their ideas: journalists, teachers, staffers to legislators, law clerks, and other members of the intelligentsia. Thus their influence on the course of society can be considerable, or even crucial. He shows how intellectuals have -- on issues ranging across the spectrum from housing policies to laws governing organ transplants -- sought to have decision- making discretion taken from those directly involved, who have personal knowledge and a personal stake, and transferred to third parties who have neither, and who pay no price for being wrong.
Sowell shows how intellectuals have filtered information in the media, in the schools, and in academia, to leave out things that threaten their vision of the world. Intellectuals' downplaying of objective reality and objective criteria, says Sowell, extends beyond social, scientific, or economic phenomena into art, music, and philosophy. Above all, he reveals how intellectuals exalt themselves by running America down and turning Americans against each other. Whether the subject is crime, economics, or other matters, intellectuals hold positions that are conspicuously different from those held by society -- while presenting themselves as intellectually and morally superior to ordinary folk.
Their vision of the world, Sowell explains, includes a role for themselves as a self-anointed vanguard, leading the ignorant masses toward a better world. They treat those whose ideas or vision are different as unworthy obstacles to progress, nuisances to be disregarded, circumvented, or discredited, rather than as people on the same moral and intellectual plane, whose arguments are to be engaged factually and logically. Sowell points out how college speech codes with subjective criteria and "re-education" provisions for those expressing "benighted" opinions emphasize how intellectuals demonize and marginalize their opponents.
Sowell shows how this vision that intellectuals have of themselves as the anointed is a major obstacle preventing examining their opinions in light of evidence and experience. He tears the cover off the ruthlessness with which the anointed assail their conservative opponents, in defiance of ever mounting evidence against their pet theories -- like the "root causes" of crime.
The wisdom and insight of Thomas Sowell:
How intellect is not wisdom, and what the difference is
One of the surprising privileges of intellectuals: the free granted to them to be scandalously asinine without harming their reputation
"Public intellectuals" like Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky who dabble -- often with disastrous results -- in fields other than the ones in which they made their name and reputation
Top-ranked intellectuals who have made utterly irresponsible statements and advocated hopelessly unrealistic and recklessly dangerous things
How many intellectuals and their followers are far more impressed than they should be by the fact that highly educated elites like themselves have far more knowledge than does the population at large
Central planning: just one of many ideas popular among intellectuals that depends on the underlying assumption that people with more knowledge should be guiding society
Why free markets, judicial restraint, and reliance on decisions and traditions growing out of the experiences of the many -- rather than the presumptions of an elite few -- are so important to those who do not share the social vision prevalent among intellectual elites
How the association of intellectuals with violence occurs too often to be dismissed as an aberration
How, on so many issues, intellectuals have tended to dismiss, rather than answer, the objections of those with opposing views
How saying that it is hard or impossible to discern what was meant by a law has often been a prelude to making decisions that ignore even the plainest meanings of laws in order to impose notions currently in vogue in elite circles as the law of the land
Bureaucracies: how they're often able to turn the visions of the intelligentsia into the law of the land, subject to little correction from those who know better or who suffer the consequences
Why teachers are universally held unaccountable for the consequences -- either to their students or to society in general -- of their disastrous educational theories
How the societal elites propped up by the intellectuals imposes few constraints on those intellectuals -- so long as they are propounding the prevailing vision of the anointed
Among Americans today, Sowell concludes, the steady encroachment of policies, practices, and laws based on ideas forced upon us by the intelligentsia has steadily narrowed the scope of the freedoms ordinary Americans have always had -- freedom to run their own lives, as well as to shape government policy. Intellectuals and Society unravels in clear, non-intellectual terms some of the puzzling phenomena in the world of the intellectuals -- analyzing the nature and role of intellectuals in society and exploring the ominous implications of that role for the direction in which the Leftist intelligentsia are taking our society and Western civilization in general.
There has probably never been an era in history when intellectuals have played a larger role in society – and yet few Americans know these immensely influential people who are doing so much to steer our nation off course. But now, the latest thought-provoking book from the renowned conservative thinker Thomas Sowell, offers you a unique introduction to the world of intellectuals. Intellectuals and Society introduces you to the thinkers of our society, many of them unknown to the general public, who mold our society and make an impact on people in every walk of life, both for the better and for the worse -- but usually for the worse. Sowell's vision, as expansive as ever, ranges over economics, politics, the media, academia, the law, and even war as he shows the momentous ways in which this small group of people wields a baneful influence upon our nation and Western civilization as a whole.