Although we’ve already mentioned this above, it warrants mention again. Bertrand de Jouvenel said that, instead of rational discourse, modern audiences were best reached through,
“Stupid slogans, which come trippingly to the tongue and are a pleasure to repeat, songs which exalt the ‘comrades’ and ridicule the ‘enemy,’ these are the stuff of politics. Mix with it a little doctrine, but only a very little, and reduce it to the simplest propositions.”
The reason people might lean this way is not hard to discern. In a democracy everyone cares about politics, and everyone wants to engage in intelligent political discourse. Yet not everyone can understand and absorb the many complex arguments necessary to refute the hypotheses of their opponents. After all, most of us can barely defend our own opinions.
The answer to this problem occurs almost naturally through a process of reduction: philosophies become “programs,” programs become platforms, platforms become slogans, slogans become catchphrases, and catchphrases become clichés. The story ends with an environment where men talk at one another without speaking and hear without listening. And both participants get to walk away under the impression that they engaged in meaningful conversion.