Rhetoric used to be an integral part of a liberal education in the classical world

And Rhetoric retained its charm right up to the 19th cen as.a distinct discipline at least in the West

Today the word Rhetoric is hardly used. Instead people prefer the much milder word - "Public speaking"

And even Public speaking is hardly viewed as something essential to being well educated
In fact we live in an age when even many public figures including high pofile politicians are poor speakers

What caused this change? Why is Rhetoric so much less valued today than it was in the classical world of Cicero and Demosthenes, or even some 100 years ago?
Even in the late 19th / early 20th century, Rhetoric was still valued, though it was on the decline

Churchill may be regarded as the last of the great Rhetoricians
In India someone like VS Srinivasa Shastri, the great Moderate leader in the Congress, made his reputation by engaging in Rhetoric!

A son of a priest, and a school teacher by profession, Shastri's main claim to fame was his command on the English language
Despite his modest education and social standing he went on to become a very tall Congress leader - someone high profile enough to represent India in the Round table conferences of the 1930s
And it looks like his "Rhetoric" was key to his success. Lord Balfour regarded Shastri as one of the five greatest orators in the English language in the whole wide world
A point to note is that Rhetoric did not merely mean public speaking either in the classical world, or even as late as early 20th century
Rhetoric implied a command of literary canons, a sound classical education, and an ability to invoke appropriate analogies from the classics to construct arguments and persuade intelligent people
Since mid-20th century, the word Rhetoric itself has gone out of fashion

In its stead we now have "public speaking" which merely implies a felicity of speech in public, "glibness" so to speak

It has none of the demands on one's intellect that Rhetoric demanded
A classical education today is no longer a pre-requisite to be a successful politician

Sure, the odd politician still makes apposite classical allusions. E.g Modi's reference to "Shalya Vritti" to mock his critics

But those are few and far in between
What caused this precipitous drop in Rhetoric? Many reasons -

1. The rise of Science and Scientism has meant that arguments today are largely around "Facts" - manufactured or otherwise
The fact-value distinction has meant that people are loath to defend their "value judgments" using classical and literary allusions. But instead resort to "facts" to make their point. However superficial these "facts" might be
2. The rise of democracy has meant that working politicians and policy makers now address a much broader audience than they did in the 19th cen

The objective now is not to persuade fellow learned men, but to appeal to the largest demographic. To influence the lowest denominator
So in this new normal, classical education is useless, as nobody will even understand those allusions even if you use them

Arguments tend to be around "social science" facts. Survey results, superficial regression models among other things
A deeper defense of one's values is rare. And even if there is such a defense it is constructed around utilitarian arguments, and not using the wisdom of the classics
3. A third reason for the decline of "Rhetoric" is the democratization of public discourse and the loss of credentialism

Anybody can have his place in the sun, in this world of instant journalism and now social media
In the old days, you had to establish yourself as a voice worthy enough to be heard

And this credential was in part established by one's knowledge of literature, classics and by alluding to them skillfully, one signaled one's erudition
So the use of classical allusions was to tell people - Hey,..I am not just talking through by hat. I have a good enough education to base my arguments in classical precedents
Today, the need for credentialism is not felt. People take a guy on twitter as seriously as a philosopher from Harvard

For better or worse
All of these factors, amplified over the past 70 or so years, have caused a decline in Rhetoric. And a reduced need for it

Even its much poorer cousin "public speaking" is hardly deemed as important anymore
Postscript : One of the other factors that has caused the decline in Rhetoric in modern times is the growing unfashionability of induction, and the increasing reliance on axiomatic arguments
E.g. When someone makes a case "for" or "against" abortion, the arguments are usually made in axiomatic terms with an assumption that one's own stance is moral

The arguments are not based on history anymore

This has led to a reduced need for a grounding in history and classics
E.g. You don't see an anti-abortion activist use the analogy of Kunti and Karna to show how an "unwanted" kid could create or change the course of history

That would be "rhetorical"

The arguments are usually axiomatic and seldom invoke historical or literary analogies
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