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Dr. Doom

Death of Debate in post-fiat world is a big impact?

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Are there good analytic or literature based arguments claiming that preservation of the debate community is a huge deal and outweighs other impacts that don't affect the community?

 

I'm not really sure how you would justify the activity being critical to democracy or preservation of freedoms (other forums for discourse always exist.)

 

Has anyone gone for this in a round? If so, how did you justify it?

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If you're seriously saying the death of debate is a post-fiat impact, you're going to get killed on magnitude. That's retarded.

 

It's a decent pre-fiat argument, that can be used as a terminal impact on procedurals (in her 2AR, a girl this weekend said that if the judge voted on our e-spec argument, debate would die because no one would want to come and vote on silly procedurals).

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This was part of topicality overview I read on an aff that kritiked debate, its wording doesn't match your question exactly, but it gives you the basic argument.

 

"The only fair form of debate is plan yes or no. They would have us reject the wording of the resolution because they lead to coffee shop intellectualism. While this may be true, the benefits to the competitive game of debate far outweigh any stifling of true activism that may occur. Without the competitive driving force of debate (and fairness is a prerequisite for a successful competitive activity) high schoolers would never have researched the environment, international law, or health care in the first place. Never causing any change. The very fact that resolutional debate causes education about the topic leads to activism in a very real sense. The argument that our fake debates about government action that never happens make us less activist is empirically denied. It is sometimes hard to notice the side effects of debate, because it isn't the round itself that determines our activism. It is switch side debating, research, and talking fast that make us good activists. If we decide to rip down the very foundation of debate (the resolution), we would probably be causing even more apathy and crushing a vital breeding ground of youth activism. We cannot lose focus of the broader picture of debate. The debate round is not the activism (and shouldn't be), but the whole of debate creates intelligent activists. "

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You don't have to claim it post-fiat. After all, the very idea of the kritik is based on post-modernism. What could be more post-modern than kritiking the whole framework of kritiks?

 

You can even use their kritik against them. Your opposition has read a K, but before they could do that their school needed a team and policy debate needed to exist. If you can demonstrate that the whole kritikal framework is endangering debate, then you can use the implication that intelligent people (like your opponents) might not be exposed to the forms of critical reasoning they are in competitive debate. Then, if their implications are true, and we must reject bio-politics or whatever, it is a pre-requisite we know what bio-politics are...and whatever K they are running, the philosophy is certainly obscure enough that it takes a critical mind to look it up.

 

Hence, the discourse of kritik endangers the activity, and the activity is necessary for the level of critical thinking to engage the kritik's philosophy. By engaging in the kritik, the opposition is decreasing the number of people who will go on to understand the kritik's philosophy, destroying the wonderful world they promise us.

 

Just a thought.

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You don't have to claim it post-fiat. After all, the very idea of the kritik is based on post-modernism. What could be more post-modern than kritiking the whole framework of kritiks?

 

You can even use their kritik against them. Your opposition has read a K, but before they could do that their school needed a team and policy debate needed to exist. If you can demonstrate that the whole kritikal framework is endangering debate, then you can use the implication that intelligent people (like your opponents) might not be exposed to the forms of critical reasoning they are in competitive debate. Then, if their implications are true, and we must reject bio-politics or whatever, it is a pre-requisite we know what bio-politics are...and whatever K they are running, the philosophy is certainly obscure enough that it takes a critical mind to look it up.

 

Hence, the discourse of kritik endangers the activity, and the activity is necessary for the level of critical thinking to engage the kritik's philosophy. By engaging in the kritik, the opposition is decreasing the number of people who will go on to understand the kritik's philosophy, destroying the wonderful world they promise us.

 

Just a thought.

 

well, either way u wont learn shit then i guess, because then they will just not run the K because its unfair blah blah. Seems like theres only a risk that debate wont collapse, and that infact, your assumptions are bad.

 

Just a thought.

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Who suggested the K was unfair?

 

And what "assumptions" are bad? Perhaps kritikal debate isn't endangering the activity, but the premise of the thread was to examine the opposite. I honestly don't think K debate is a danger to the activity. I was just offering help to a line of reasoning already being pursued.

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I had a DA internal saying that debate will die as a result of plan passage, and it's the only impact I had found after searching for a while. I figured that, if I could impact the debate community, it would make for a fun DA for those times when you've got 45 seconds left and not much to say.

 

But I found a better impact scenario unrelated to debate.

 

Still, I think it's a pertinent question regardless: how important is the collegiate debate community to American pedagogy and thought? And, as debaters, how high a priority should the preservation of this community be for us?

 

And the kritik isn't killing debate.

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And the kritik isn't killing debate.

 

True, but it is part of an institutional arrangement which makes the activity appear hostile to newcomers. While the K alone isn't responsible, the default acceptance of its viability makes it difficult for a new school to develop a program that can compete in the larger community. I am not in any way in favor of doing away with the K, but I think questioning the assumption that the K is great is important. I would certainly listen to an argument towards those ends, and any judge who wouldn't (but would listen to another K) is a dirty, low-down interventionist.

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The issue isn't what kind of argument a kritik is. It is how many of them there are. What is daunting for new debaters/coaches is the sheer quantity. You could spend your whole first year in the activity doing nothing but trying to get a handle on the "standard" kritiks out there, and still have work left to do. And, of course, new books get published all the time (or k hacks discover new ideas in old books), etc. The point is, to the extent that the kritik is legitimized as an argument form, it exponentially increases the workload for folks just starting out (and I include a lot of 2nd-year debaters in this group). I have no problem if the final round of open policy at a TOC-bid tournament turns on a kritik. I have a *big* problem telling folks trying to get a program off the ground that they (and their students) need to learn about such things or give up the event and switch to PF...

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Excellent point, Terrance. Working with a developing program over the past few years is really proving this true. Kritiks are a big part of the local circuit here, and only the fact that 9/10 of the people running them have no clue how to do it properly is keeping it from being a major problem. Even so, the barrier exists for any team starting from scratch who doesn't have a coach who can teach the theory. And believe it or not, there aren't thousands of former debaters who can teach these things lining up to give away all their weekends and take the time to tutor the next generation.

 

The essential problem is one of judging - I am almost in favor of giving up my non-interventionist beliefs and dropping every team who calls their generic DA a K.

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the only reason small college programs manage to compete with teams like northwestern, with their hoardes of researchers and coaches and money, is through positions like the kritik. the literature doesn't change much from one year to the next. you guys have it backwards - the heavy research burden that prevents new schools from competing in debate isn't because of kritik debate - this is accepted knowledge on the college circuit. if any *argument* prevents small schools and new programs for competing it's things like disads (hegemony, nanotechnology, space, eugenics, economy, environment, the middle east, indo-china, japan-china et cetera debates - the list goes on forever with varying link scenarios and infinite amounts of depth) and counterplans. however, what really prevents small schools and new programs from competing is the various nuances of debates - the theory and the practice (speaking at 400 wpm, having four tubs of evidence...).

 

edit: also to reply to guy most college debaters become lawyers and philosophers. surprise?

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the only reason small college programs manage to compete with teams like northwestern, with their hoardes of researchers and coaches and money, is through positions like the kritik.
Well, that's just wrong on its face, isn't it? So far as I can tell, acceptance of the k has simply created a second, different set of hegemons for the little guys to get clobbered by week in and week out. Why do you think MPJ has become a quasi-religion?
you guys have it backwards - the heavy research burden that prevents new schools from competing in debate isn't because of kritik debate
I don't recall mentioning "research burden." I have gigabytes worth of kritik files I've downloaded just in the past few years. The problem is that there are so MANY kritiks a debater must become conversant with (you could easily go Aff 30-40 times in a season and not hit all the Big Brand Name ones) that there simply isn't time to familiarize oneself with even SOME of them, plus learn anything useful about the topic itself. I don't think we have it backwards at all. Kritiks represent a kind of super-topic that is layered on top of whatever the policy topic is for a given season, and (correct me if I'm wrong, k fans) it is essentially boundless. That kind of limitless scope is anathema to beginning debaters and coaches alike...
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Well, that's just wrong on its face, isn't it? So far as I can tell, acceptance of the k has simply created a second, different set of hegemons for the little guys to get clobbered by week in and week out. Why do you think MPJ has become a quasi-religion?I don't recall mentioning "research burden." I have gigabytes worth of kritik files I've downloaded just in the past few years. The problem is that there are so MANY kritiks a debater must become conversant with (you could easily go Aff 30-40 times in a season and not hit all the Big Brand Name ones) that there simply isn't time to familiarize oneself with even SOME of them, plus learn anything useful about the topic itself. I don't think we have it backwards at all. Kritiks represent a kind of super-topic that is layered on top of whatever the policy topic is for a given season, and (correct me if I'm wrong, k fans) it is essentially boundless. That kind of limitless scope is anathema to beginning debaters and coaches alike...

 

Kritiks make you learn too much! Outrageous!

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Kritiks make you learn too much! Outrageous!
Cute, but you can do better (I would hope)...

 

Look at it this way: If you tell a beginning debater "Look, all you have to do is learn everything in here and you'll know everything you need to know to avoid getting clobbered every tournament every weekend..." you'll see that I speak sooth.

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Well, that's just wrong on its face, isn't it? So far as I can tell, acceptance of the k has simply created a second, different set of hegemons for the little guys to get clobbered by week in and week out. Why do you think MPJ has become a quasi-religion?I don't recall mentioning "research burden." I have gigabytes worth of kritik files I've downloaded just in the past few years. The problem is that there are so MANY kritiks a debater must become conversant with (you could easily go Aff 30-40 times in a season and not hit all the Big Brand Name ones) that there simply isn't time to familiarize oneself with even SOME of them, plus learn anything useful about the topic itself. I don't think we have it backwards at all. Kritiks represent a kind of super-topic that is layered on top of whatever the policy topic is for a given season, and (correct me if I'm wrong, k fans) it is essentially boundless. That kind of limitless scope is anathema to beginning debaters and coaches alike...

 

I actually agree here- as a second year debater of program that has never been highly successful I find most of my aff losses are to K's.

 

I am not a terrible debater- I have broken at bid tournaments, I just find Kritiks to be hard to beat versus the best K teams out there- even my specific 12 point front line is so blocked out and they have so much practice that I just can't get experience and depth when debating them. And when I do hit them, it goes from a debate about helping Africa, to a debate about Lacan's theories.

 

Now I do like specific K's- colonialism, afrocentrism and k's like that I think are awesome and specific on this topic- but if the K can be run every year I think it becomes a Consult NATO type of argument- big teams can run it every year and prep it out like crazy and little teams just get rolled over.

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For these reasons, theory objections to kritiks, including those critical of the very form should be taken seriously by judges. I get the feeling sometimes that judges vote for K's because they are the "coolest" position in the round more than any kind of direct application to their opponent. "Colonialism applies because you give aid" blah blah blah. That's just horseshit, and more teams need to call K debaters on it - and more judges need to take it seriously. The person performing the kritik must demonstrate that the opposition is specifically guilty. Giving condoms to a culture where contraception is taboo might apply, but going there and killing the mosquitoes is not colonialism unless the aff has the military hunting them from fixed bases.

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going there and killing the mosquitoes is not colonialism unless the aff has the military hunting them from fixed bases.
Actually, it would be colonialism if our settlers killed the mosquitoes for the purpose of economic exploitation of the Africans who then did not die from malaria. The settlers need not be military personnel...

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Well, that's just wrong on its face, isn't it? So far as I can tell, acceptance of the k has simply created a second, different set of hegemons for the little guys to get clobbered by week in and week out.

the fact that they compete was my point - small teams manage to compete with huge teams because of the kritik. how successful they are is really besides the point or, at best, legitimizes kritiks as a tool for policy analysis - my questioning is whether or not small/new teams debating politics scenarios and disads and counterplans would have the ability to compete against teams like northwestern/harvard/michigan. i don't know how anyone could argue they can. have you seen northwestern talk about nanotechnology? this is not to say that they shouldn't, but if they can research molecular biology why not let them research foucault?

I don't recall mentioning "research burden." I have gigabytes worth of kritik files I've downloaded just in the past few years. The problem is that there are so MANY kritiks a debater must become conversant with (you could easily go Aff 30-40 times in a season and not hit all the Big Brand Name ones) that there simply isn't time to familiarize oneself with even SOME of them, plus learn anything useful about the topic itself. I don't think we have it backwards at all. Kritiks represent a kind of super-topic that is layered on top of whatever the policy topic is for a given season, and (correct me if I'm wrong, k fans) it is essentially boundless. That kind of limitless scope is anathema to beginning debaters and coaches alike...
unlike the thousands of impact scenarios used by "policy" debaters? where's your uniqueness here?

 

more, most kritiks used in debate could be researched back to a small handful of authors who are pretty popular in the academy these days (a friend of mine read essays from foucault and baudrillard in his english 101 class, from the text book). again, i don't see how this is any different from the debater who is debating molecular biology or differential physics or middle east history.

 

granted, this is probably different on the high school circuit given that the depth isn't near as... deep, but i still fail to see how you respond to my argument (it's not the arguments that prevent schools from competing it's the theory and practice and money) or how this is unique to the kritik. maybe rather than reading pandering from neoconservatives to beat kritiks you should pick up a "x in 90 minutes" book or buff up on your defense of realism or pragmatism or research some specific link turns for your case (because they exist).

 

edit: to reply to some of above - you really can't blame kritiks for people being stupid. if one team is debating politics and the other is debating lacan and the rebuttals are about lacan's theories there probably isn't a link scenario. i think we can agree here.

 

edit two: regarding new hegemons - doesn't a handful of small schools suddenly becoming competitive through the kritik further my argument? or, ut austin has been debating kritiks forever but i wouldn't call them a hegemon...

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unlike the thousands of impact scenarios used by "policy" debaters? where's your uniqueness here?
"Thousands of impact scenarios"??? Where??? Nowadays, its either nuclear war or extinction (or sometimes nuclear war with an extinction chaser). And, since these "scenarios" invariably begin with an asserted link, that's a whole different story when teaching novices than trying to get them up to speed on kritiks...

 

Furthermore, your point (even if it were valid) is non-responsive. It isn't as if teams can simply chose to specialize in a few kritiks and survive. They have to debate Aff half their rounds, and on kritik-friendly circuits they will lose the vast majority of those rounds, if not all of them. They'll probably also lose as Neg against kritikal Affs, which means the kritikal turn in debate pretty much guarantees the noobs that they're just going to have to get used to losing almost all their rounds until they can afford to go to camp. That's Game Over for recruitment, sir...

 

Finally, your charming notion that beginners can simply pick a manageable number of kritiks to learn and rely on those is belied by reality. That ain't how it works, especially for beginners, and it never will be...

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"Thousands of impact scenarios"??? Where??? Nowadays, its either nuclear war or extinction (or sometimes nuclear war with an extinction chaser).
maybe in your region?

don't these scenarios have internal links? are you telling me you teach your kids to turn nuclear war and extinction impacts? if there are no internal links then how is this argument unique to kritiks - if all they're doing is turning nuclear war (?!) then why don't they just turn bare life or biopower or "lack?"

And, since these "scenarios" invariably begin with an asserted link, that's a whole different story when teaching novices than trying to get them up to speed on kritiks...

because kritiks don't have links? again, maybe in your region? i really don't know what kind of debate you're talking about - even when i was one of three maybe four teams debating kritiks in idaho (where we have a debate code and are only allowed to debate so many tournaments a year and often run into teams that define every term of the resolution and offer fifteen plan planks in their one ac et cetera) the depth was greater than this. i don't know how anyone could win a kritik without offering specific links elaborated from evidence provided by the affirmative without a judge buying that the kritik is non-unique. i know my favorite (and extremely successful) response to off-case was "no specific link" followed by six "no internal link" arguments. judges love that shit. why? because it's right.

aside, if you're speaking about these new programs going to national circuit tournaments and then losing to kritiks you have a point - but then my argument about a lack of funds and assistant coaching and the general exclusivity of the activity only has more creed, nevermind that most of the most successful teams aren't debating kritiks.

 

Furthermore, your point (even if it were valid) is non-responsive. It isn't as if teams can simply chose to specialize in a few kritiks and survive.
it seems you're talking about the negative here - i'm not arguing that everyone should run kritiks or that new/small programs should focus on them, just that they're not all that different from a disadvantage. but, yeah - as i mentioned those 90 minute books you probably only need to read four to get through debate. sure, there are kritiks about capitalization and numbering arguments and junk but, as i said earlier, most of these arguments can be understood through a small handful of authors. besides, "hegemony" is a great metaphor most kritiks.
They have to debate Aff half their rounds, and on kritik-friendly circuits they will lose the vast majority of those rounds, if not all of them. They'll probably also lose as Neg against kritikal Affs, which means the kritikal turn in debate pretty much guarantees the noobs that they're just going to have to get used to losing almost all their rounds until they can afford to go to camp. That's Game Over for recruitment, sir...
again, this is non-unique to kritiks. teams lose to powerhouse teams running straight-up policy arguments all of the time, even on the kritik friendly national circuit.

like i said, buff up on realism and pragmatism if you're too lazy to learn philosophy (does this even make sense in a game where theory arguments take precedence over all others?). kritiks are not unbeatable they just take work (much like winning heg bad or space bad or nanotech bad et cetera isn't easy). if the other team debates better than you do they won because they debated better, not because of the position they chose.

Finally, your charming notion that beginners can simply pick a manageable number of kritiks to learn and rely on those is belied by reality. That ain't how it works, especially for beginners, and it never will be...
again i'm not arguing that everyone should debate kritiks, simply that the research burden is easier than winning a politics debate with northwestern in response to your hilariously erroneous argument that little teams can't compete with "big k schools" that i'm not even sure exist (isu? louisville? kcc? msu? west georgia? redlands? wyoming? who?).

are you telling me your novices come out of their first year fluent in the differences between soft and hard power and varying economic theories as to whether or not recessions are good and varying understandings of tactical nuclear scenarios (as opposed to nuclear war)? no offense to you as a coach, but are you sure they aren't just throwing words around or straight turning arguments? novices are bad at debate. as has been said on this site before it takes most people two years to even understand how to debate and be comfortable with the theory behind it.

in any case, if i can figure out how to debate and beat kritiks (and i was a terrible, terrible, terrible novice) with a coach who said "i don't know figure it out yourself" when i asked him about them i imagine anyone can.

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For these reasons, theory objections to kritiks, including those critical of the very form should be taken seriously by judges. I get the feeling sometimes that judges vote for K's because they are the "coolest" position in the round more than any kind of direct application to their opponent. "Colonialism applies because you give aid" blah blah blah. That's just horseshit, and more teams need to call K debaters on it - and more judges need to take it seriously. The person performing the kritik must demonstrate that the opposition is specifically guilty. Giving condoms to a culture where contraception is taboo might apply, but going there and killing the mosquitoes is not colonialism unless the aff has the military hunting them from fixed bases.

 

Yea, and the whole politics argument that overturning GGR will cause a deterioration in French US relations causing global nuclear holocaust is totally true. Debate is horseshit most of the time, if they fuck up on the flow/mishandle the links/don't handle the impacts correctly then they are gonna be punished just like any other team on a tix or solvency flow.

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maybe in your region?
"My region" at the moment is Iowa, which consists of a handful of national-circuit programs and no other policy squads (unless you count us). I keep hearing rumors (and even plans) about a coming renaissance of more traditional debating in Iowa, but if the proof is in the pudding, well...
don't these scenarios have internal links?
That would depend on what you mean by "internal links." If by that you mean "scenario in which the asserted link could conceivably add an infinistesimally small amount of probability to an already highly unlikely outcome," then yeah, you hear a few teams try that approach...
are you telling me you teach your kids to turn nuclear war and extinction impacts?
No, I teach them to "no link" the hell out of 'em, and to mock the opponent as vigorously as they think they can get away with... ;)
because kritiks don't have links? again, maybe in your region?
That aren't asserted? I would be really, really interested to hear such a beast. I never have...
i don't know how anyone could win a kritik without offering specific links elaborated from evidence provided by the affirmative
Give me an example of what you would consider a "specific" link to a kritik. I have a feeling your definitional standards are a little looser than mine, but I'll keep my powder dry until I see a card... ;)
nevermind that most of the most successful teams aren't debating kritiks.
We aren't talking about heading up to the "national circuit" tournaments right out of the box, if ever. That isn't the problem. The problem is that what DOES go on there tends to filter down to regional and even local circuits. It doesn't take very many college debaters judging, or very many local kids hitting a summer institute, before the issue comes into play. The topics themselves are TREMENDOUSLY complex these days. Throw the super-topic were call the kritikal stance into the equation, and you've got an extremely daunting activity to newcomers...

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Debate is horseshit most of the time
I think what people like Brett and I (and others around these parts) are trying to say is that it didn't always used to be so, and that if most debate arguments nowadays ARE horseshit, that isn't a reason to countenance MORE such arguments, nor is it a reason to resist reforms that might restore some semblance of rationality to our discourse...

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Here a thought experiment I'll just throw out there: What arguments (and how many) would you run in a debate on the Negative side if you knew you wouldn't be permitted to "kick out" of any of them in rebuttals? ;)

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