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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 102 of Thomas Sowell’s 2009 book Intellectuals and Society:

The very concept of change used by the intelligentsia of the left – which is to say, most of the intelligentsia – is arbitrarily restrictive and tendentious.  It means in practice the particular kinds of changes, through the particular kinds of social mechanisms that they envision.  Other changes – no matter how large or how consequential for the lives of millions of people – tend to be ignored if they occur through other mechanisms and in ways not contemplated by the intelligentsia.  At the very least, such unprescribed developments outside the scope of the vision of the anointed are denied the honorific title of “change.”

The 1920s, for example, were a decade of huge changes for the people of the United States: the change from a predominantly rural to a predominantly urban society, the spread of electricity, automobiles, and radios to vastly more millions of Americans, the beginning of commercial air travel, the revolutionizing of retail selling with resulting lower prices by the rapid spread of chain stores.  Yet when intellectuals refer to eras of “change,” they almost never mention the 1920s – because these sweeping changes in the way millions of Americans lived their lives were not the particular kinds of changes envisioned by the intelligentsia, through the particular kinds of social mechanisms envisioned by the intelligentsia.  In the eyes of much of the intelligentsia, the 1920s (when that decade is thought of at all) are seen as a period of a stagnant status quo, presided over by conservative administrations opposed to “change.”