â€œBe like the fire, and wish for the wind.â€- Nicholas Nassem Taleb
Greetings, from the MILITANT wing of LNU
Before anyone asks, LNU is two consonants and a vowel, arranged in alphabetical order. The militant wing includes only those students who are attending the National Junior Forensics League tournament- There are seven debaters, and one coach. The other debaters of LNU (there is only one coach)* are not responsible for and should not be held accountable for the actions of the militant wing. The argument and choice of action are theirs.
The militant wing formed for the same reason that all militant arms of political, economic or social advocacy groups form; an attack, in this case, on the ceilinglessness (should be a word) and intellectual flexibility as well as inherent unpredictability that characterizes and vitalizes policy debate, or at least the platonic ideal (In practice, we think that the format at all levels can benefit from the experience of dealing with black swans, and the practice of anti-fragile thinking).
What is unique about the attack on the now-militant wing of is that is has no precedent in surviving or viable formats of policy debate. This attack is the vague and selectively enforceable â€œruleâ€ that a teams plan text be posted in advance, so that middle school debaters are not forced to think innovatively, deal with unpredicted scenarios, or, god forbid, go off of their carefully prepared scripts. We are sure others are in solidarity with us, and now is the time to put your â€œskin in the gameâ€.
We are unapologetic for the aesthetic of our tone, but will strive to be concise with our manifesto.
Firstly, there are a few obvious issues demonstrated by very clever geese already; what if we post a blizzard of plans? What if we go further, and spend 6 hours thinking up every possible permutation of a future plan, prognosticating all potential scenarios that might require different agents, conditions, funding, and grammar? If necessary, the militant wing will drown all of you in a torrential electronic downpour- please donâ€™t print it out, (spike a tree in penance if you even thought about it).
Second, those who support this are playing the game with no skin in; (by all means, would the teams demanding this rule be enforced and planning to push the executive committee to create some penalty on the 31stPLEASE STAND UP??)
If you donâ€™t, we say it is the same thing as investment bankers gambling with other peoples money, falling from impossible heights, and gently floating down on their golden parachutes. You should own your attempts to limit the scope of debate, but you probably fear that as well. If enough people agree with you, then we will be martyrs instead of heros, but as taleb points out, we need both, and both are disappearing since anti-fragility means people are able to gain with no skin in the game.
Third, donâ€™t insult us or coddle us with â€œkid glovesâ€- we would rather have honest input than milk and honey. Anyone who wants to say that middle school kids are not capable of competing with the same expectation as the rest of the NFL should look at elementary kids who place in high school congress, pofo, and even policy debate. They are there, and trying to be one of those kids is why we debate.
Fourth, doesnâ€™t the mandate indicate a lack of understanding by the coaches demanding said mandate what impact primacy is? What if we read our plan text and then run poetry? Or heterophenomenology? And then we kick the plan text? Do we not win because that is a de-facto abandonment of the plan text? If you didnâ€™t think about that, you donâ€™t have the right to tell us how to think.
Fifth, what if a negative black swan event makes plan implementation impossible or irrelevant before the showdown in Alabamba? â€œAhhh crap, we were going to implement through the dept of transportation, but they died screaming in the heart of a mega-caldera creates by a super-plume Volcano- WE LOOOOOSEâ€
Of course, humor aside, talebs point is that we need to stop trying to predict, and start preparing to react- a positive black swan could lift the species past the need for a plan; the wings of a negative black swan could blot out the sun.
Finally, though less aesthetically driven, below is a summary of one of our positions (though its more of a position in which many positions fit, and labeling it as a kritik, advantage, theory argument or advocacy is difficult, to say nothing of calling it a plan text. This was our original reply to the messenger of ill tidings (who is thoughtful, appreciated, and by no means the originator of the attack on the militant wing (and all other free thinkers) despite attempts to hide behind him and an indistinct committee.
The gist basically is that fragile things break when shook, robust things dont, and anti -fragile things get stronger- they gain from unpredictability and chaos.
We plan on sometimes running plans, but sometimes we will run a kritik based on their request foe predictability.
Relying on predictability is doomed to fail given the nature of black swan events- like the internet (first arpa-net) or the black death (a bad black swan, birdflu pandemic or asteroid strike/ gamma ray burst).
Robust systems are in fact more vulnerable to black swans- the banking system is too robust entrenched and static to respond to causes of financial crisis, hence americas slide into economic irrelevance.
We must learn to exploit anti fragility, behaving quickly, innovatively, becoming stronger through disorder. Like hormesis, anti bacterial resistance, diffuse diffuse, independant asymetrical terrorist cells, etc.
Thats not enough- we have lost the hero and the martyr- because those who profit from antifragility are most often those with no skin in the game search is investment bankers who used other people's money and lost it in the financial crisis and then were given golden parachutes
We will martyr ourselves if necessary because we only become stronger through disorder chaos and damage
So basically I want to be able to let my kids debate, if the other team wants to say why they get to structurally limit our game, let them try to win a theory or k debate on it- inclusion through deliberate intellectual limitation never works (thats why NEDA died)
The real reason coaches are griping, im secret through back channels, is because they are planning on scripting their kids to a t- we dont think thats debate, but if theu want to argue "not fair", by all means let them, we will not give them milk and honey, just like the world.
So, plan was to post a manifesto, just wanted to let other teams react in a fragile/robust way to our advocacy, now that they have I can post
We are by no means the first anti fragile thinkers, and our thoughts are still embryonic- DP and Niz, well qualified to represent the LBC were before us, as well as Al-Sheikh and Mollison from LMU. We feel as though Taleb has encapsulated and expanded the things that makes those performances worth recalling.
Thank you, those of you who made it to the end- hopefully this isnâ€™t the end- this isnâ€™t only our argument, other people are welcome to engage or sympathize; in fact, we have heard that silence is consent.
Education is not a Zero-Sum Game
Fail Fast and Often
Be Faceless (but stand in the open)
The Militant Wing of LNU (now taking all comers on all message boards, if you donâ€™t get a reply, it means weâ€™re sleeping, not dead).
*(For exactly the same reason as in the highlander series of yore, â€œTHERE CAN BE ONLY ONEâ€ coach, but megalomania and paranoia are not that bad when you get used to it, I just wish it wasnâ€™t so damned contagious).