Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:
Is there any way to intervene usefully or meaningfully in public debate, in what the extremely online Twitter users are with gleeful irony calling the ‘discourse’ of the present moment?
It has come to seem to me recently that this present moment must be to language something like what the industrial revolution was to textiles. A writer who works on the old system of production can spend days crafting a sentence, putting what feels like a worthy idea into language, only to find, once finished, that the internet has already produced countless sentences that are more or less just like it, even if these lack the same artisanal origin story that we imagine gives writing its soul. There is, it seems to me, no more place for writers and thinkers in our future than, since the 19th century, there has been for weavers.
This predicament is not confined to politics, and in fact engulfs all domains of human social existence. But it perhaps crystallises most refractively in the case of politics, so we may as well start there.
There are memes circulating that are known as ‘bingo cards’, in which each square is filled with a typical statement or trait of a person who belongs to a given constituency, a mouth-breathing mom’s-basement-dwelling Reddit-using Mens’s Rights Activist, for example, or, say, an unctuous white male ally of POC feminism. The idea is that within this grid there is an exhaustive and as it were a priori tabulation, deduced like Kant’s categories of the understanding, of all the possible moves a member of one of these groups might make, and whenever the poor sap tries to state his considered view, his opponent need only pull out the table and point to the corresponding box, thus revealing to him that it is not actually a considered view at all, but only an algorithmically predictable bit of output from the particular program he is running. The sap is sapped of his subjectivity, of his belief that he, properly speaking, has views at all.