James Poulous is worried about the flattening of rhetorical judgment in America. I for one eagerly anticipate the flattening of rhetorical judgment so long as it will rule out someone describing his
“horror at seeing the Atlantic attempt to apply a term [voices] to their professional political dialogue partners [bloggers] which half-consciously reflects the widespread cultural desire to destroy the standards of judgment that characterize a political society…” (my emphasis)
It’s a fun game to find the decline of the west exhibited in isolated incidents, according to the arbitrary taste of the speaker, and if you emote hard enough, the pre-mixed peanut butter and grape jelly in the grocery store does appear to be an abomination. It’s also central to an old model of the intellectual that he be able to issue gnomic declarations about these symptoms. This reduces the intellectual to a mere voice, but one distinguished by the creativity and audacity with which it makes these proclamations. The alternative to this approach is to not worry about the Atlantic’s terminological decisions and to ground social and political criticism in something more substantive than horrified reactions.