What’s the Big Idea?

It seems to me that a person’s thinking and his interpretation of the world around him (universal pronoun throughout), to the extent that it is governed by ideas at all, is governed by a few big ones, two or three key insights.  My previous post (regarding the Academy Awards) was actually, both in parody and argument, an expression of one of mine.  Actually, it’s not fully mine.  I think I probably had  it in some inchoate form, but it wasn’t until I read Thomas Sowell that I fully comprehended what it was.  It’s definitely one of his big ideas.  So, it turns up a lot in his work, which is in large part either a support for or an elaboration of that idea.  Here’s one statement of it.

… what the prevailing vision of our time emphatically does offer is a special state of grace for those who believe in it.  Those who accept this vision are deemed to be not merely factually correct but morally on a higher plane. Put differently, those who disagree with the prevailing vision are seen as being not merely in error, but in sin. For those who have this vision of the world, the anointed and the benighted do not argue on the same moral plane or play by the same cold rules of logic and evidence. the benighted are to be made “aware,” to have their “consciousness raised,”and the wistful hope is held out that they will “grow.”

That’s from The Vision of the Anointed, and it describes a dynamic that I have seen so frequently played out in my own experience, for so long and in so many environments, that for me it has grown to almost axiomatic status.  It’s like a postulate on steroids.  I’m actually a little afraid of overusing it.

As I mentioned, it informs a large part of Sowell’s work, including his columns and articles.  For a recent sample of that, look here.  For a more extended argument of the point, read the already mentioned volume or A Conflict of Visions.  If you haven’t been exposed to any baseline conservative thought, these books might really rearrange your brain.  Did mine.


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