VICTIMS, VILLAINS, and RESCUERS - Guest Post - Reg Varney

Dear Reg,

Please get in touch. I don't know how to ask your permission for this, but your Speccie post is more than worthy of being re-printed here, since it adds significantly to the debate re:


Mr Weasel - You won't know me under my present moniker but we once exchanged some vaguely salacious banter about Hazel Blears cooling off in the Trevi Fountain and it is always a pleasure to read your posts.

I rather like the characterisation made by Thomas Sowell ("The Vision of the Anointed: Self Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy" (1995)). He draws the basic distinction between the tragic vision (directly related to the Biblical fall) and the vision of the anointed (as held by the sort of people you are talking about). I quote from an online review.

"Without a sense of the tragedy of the human condition, and of the painful tradeoffs implied by inherent constraints," Sowell argues, "the anointed are free to believe that the unhappiness they observe and the anomalies they encounter are due to the public's not being as wise or virtuous as themselves. . . . It is a world of victims, villains, and rescuers, with the anointed cast in the last and most heroic of these roles." This is why political correctness in politics, education, culture, history, and literature is so important to these anointed social engineers. Through this means, they hope, the human mind can be wiped clean and filled with the preconceived ideas and myths that will enable them to control those whom they desire to have mastery over. [End of quote]

While I agree with the thrust of this, I think the analysis is incomplete. The jack-in-office class consists not wholly, probably not even mainly, of starry-eyed zealots and social engineers. Its typical member is more likely to be heedless of the effects of official policy, so long as their implementation of it serves some fashionable abstract value such as inclusivity or "the environment" (biofuels might be one example). To quote from A N Wilson's rather enjoyable biography of Tolstoy, "He [LT] put the sanctity of his own conscience above the public good."

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