I ran across the following quote today. I have not read the book quoted but am likely to, after seeing the other provocative quotes from it
[Protesting] is now almost entirely that negative phenomenon which characteristically occurs as a reaction to the alleged invasion of someone’s rights in the name of someone else’s utility.The self-assertive shrillness of protest arises because the facts of incommensurability ensure that protestors can never win an argument; the indignant self-righteousness of protest arises because the facts of incommensurability ensure equally that the protestors can never lose an argument either. Hence the utterance of protest is characteristically addressed to those who already share the protestors’ premises. The effects of incommensurability ensure that protestors rarely have anyone else to talk to but themselves. This is not to say that protest cannot be effective; it is to say that it cannot be rationally effective and that its dominant modes of expression give evidence of a certain perhaps unconscious awareness of this. Alisdair MacIntyre After Virtue,1981.As the rational argument cannot be either won or lost by either side (in these days, because of the incomensurability, the lack of common ground or common measure in 20th C assumptions, which he attributes to the influence of Nietzsche), there is no use for argument unless it can be weaponised. Those who would attempt to discover truth are not refuted, but merely ignored. I usually regard this as an evasion by those who wish only to argue a particular side, not engage in a discussion. Yet it may be, as Lewis predicted in The Abolition of Man and Macintyre claims (elsewhere, not in this quote) After Virtue, that they are not even capable of such a thing. The faculty may have atrophied. they may not even have been taught it at a critical time.
Those who think only in terms of Will to Power will assert that a particular source of information, such as an author, a newspaper, a group cannot be relied upon because they are hopelessly biased. They have a stake in the outcome and their pronouncements should be disregarded. When a rational opponent agrees in part, but points out that this applies equally to the other sources that the protestor is relying on and makes the counter assertion that some things can be known at least approximately, and a common ground should be sought, this is in practice ignored. Whether the concept is acknowledged in principle or draws only a blank stare is irrelevant. The rational point is disregarded - because who is in power is all that matters.
I have been very hard on liberals on this score for years. Not because they are incapable of reasoning - many are, and some better than I, but because they have tolerated this sort of nonsense as a practical matter regardless of what they are otherwise capable of. A frequent example that something reported on Fox News is dismissed because that source is biased. When I counter that the sources they rely on are equally biased and perhaps worse. The closest I get to a response is that sometimes the person will make a general comment that of course every source is biased and then proceeds as if the last thirty seconds of the conversation have not occurred. This is not merely with known fools or highly defensive people who fear they will be outgunned if they engage with me, but educated people who show ability to weigh pros and cons in other circumstances.
They do it because they can get away with it. They do not have to respond, because they can increasingly erase difficulties. Problems just go away. Like this one.
This is increasingly true of conservatives as well, including, now that I think of it, the similar question of news sources. If they were merely asking How are we to know anything - about Covid, or climate, or political accusations then they could be answered, as i have attempted four times in different places over the last two days. There are ways we can at least get rid of some claims, and we can identify various strengths or weaknesses of Tom's numbers, or Dick's or Harry's. But the followup responses have been very disappointing. they have amounted to "No, we can't really know anything because I am rejecting Tom and Dick. Therefore I will believe Harry." I heard many times since Trump started winning things in early 2016 that once "we" have power, we will be able to do the same thing. We won't have to listen. And many didn't, and now they still are not.
We might see through a glass darkly, but we can at least get a sense which direction the sun is.
MacIntyre again, same subject:
What this brings out is that modern politics cannot be a matter of genuine moral consensus. And it is not. Modern politics is civil war carried on by other means,
Update: JMSmith makes some excellent distinctions in the comments, which I would refer you to, including " It is charity that disappears when party gives way to faction, not reason."