Who Made You King?

From page 291 of Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society (emphasis added):

…the intellectuals’ vision of the world — as it is and as it should be — remains the dominant vision.  Not since the days of the divine rights of kings has there been such a presumption of a right to direct others and constrain their decisions, largely through expanded powers of government.

Everything from economic central planning to environmentalism epitomizes the belief that third parties know best and should be empowered to override the decisions of others.  This includes preventing children from growing up with the values taught them by their parents if more “advanced” values are preferred by those who teach in the schools and colleges.

An effective technique is to call someone out on such presumptuousness.  Often times, they are blind to the fact that their desired solutions assume a presumption of a right to have a say in what’s best for others and exposing it makes them think about it.

They instinctively hide those presumptions in lingo like, “I’m not going to just sit around and let [whatever group of people] suffer through no fault of their own because [such and such] happened. ”

A good response might be something like:  “You don’t have to sit around.  You are free to use the resources at your disposal to help [whatever group of people].  Nobody is stopping you.  I might even help you.  But, what I think you are really saying is that you would like to force everyone through government to do what you want them to do, to support a cause you happen to think is worthy.  What gives you the right to impose your desires on others?  What happens when someone else wants to force you to do something they think is worthy, but you might not?”

5 thoughts on “Who Made You King?

  1. You can call them out on it, but that won’t change their mind. All that will happen is that they will now go after you using ad hominem. I know first had, lol.

    • I’ve had the same experience.

      I respond that the accusation doesn’t invalidate the point and I steer back to the point by asking whether they have any evidence that invalidates it or not. If they can’t think of anything at the moment, I encourage them to think about and let me know if they do come up with something.

      I might be a jerk who thinks 1+2=3, but me being a jerk doesn’t make 1+2=3 untrue.

  2. Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell exposes a clear fact: the anointed/intelligentsia base arguments on notions, notions of which find their root in “the way things ought to be” and are clearly not empirical arguments. That the “way things ought to be” is basically painting the world in one’s own self image.

    Sowell also points out the features of the anointed/intelligentsia arguments, some of which are, arguments with no arguments and painting the argument with verbal virtuosity.

    • “arguments with no arguments”

      That’s exactly right. Reading Sowell has helped me lift the veil on the verbal virtuosity and the arguments that are not arguments (usually fallacies) I even see it with those I agree with.

      It’s easy to be taken off track with the verbal virtuosity, so that the original points or conclusions are never actually addressed.

      I’m finding that identifying fallacies, or the arguments meant to take us off track without addressing the key points, and then steering the discussion back to key point is effective and frustrating for the other parties that are use to tossing a barrage of irrelevant countermeasures.

  3. Seth:


    Sowell does a nice job of showing how the notional non-empirical ideas of the anointed/intelligentsia follow an argument pattern that creates false choices and/or frames the verbal virtuosity argument in such a way that those with counter arguments are portrayed as demonizing detractors. For example, “deniers” as in the climate debate. That the anointed/intelligence never answer the counter argument they merely demonize the detractor.


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