[eDebate] grain of solt

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Fri Aug 10 06:44:45 CDT 2007


Roger Solt, Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Kentucky. 
1996. (Anti-Kritik Handbook. p.xxx.)

A second danger is alienation. Not all alienation is necessarily bad; there 
are values as well as costs in attaining some degree of detachment from 
one's society. But carried too far, doubt can become debilitating. 
Proponents of the kritik make the valid point that our language and our 
discourse, our ideas and our arguments have consequences. But given this, it 
seems likely that too much kritik, too much skepticism, too much doubt too 
long sustained can also have consequences of a less than savory sort. At the 
risk of overusing an example, it still seems clear to me that it was in part 
the sustained critique of modernity current in Germany in the 1920s which 
paved the way for Hitler. Of course, World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, 
and the Great Depression were critical factors as well. But it seems 
unlikely that Germany would have taken the virulently racist direction it 
did if the basic framework of Western values had not been cast so severely 
in doubt. Closer to home, it does not seem unreasonable to suspect that the 
bombers of the Oklahoma City Federal Building may have taken the kritik of 
statism a bit too seriously. Is the kritik intended to turn debaters into 
domestic terrorists? Obviously not. Could it have that effect? Well, 
hopefully not. But if we take seriously the claim of the kritik's supporters 
that the actual effects of the words and ideas on those in the round are 
what matters most, then this does not seem to be a possibility to dismiss 
out of hand. Debaters typically develop a certain callousing in terms of the 
arguments they make. Debate is seen fundamentally as a game, so they tend to 
think that they can make some fairly horrific arguments without their own 
belief systems being strongly implicated. This is a tendency we sometimes 
criticized, and perhaps it is an unfortunate one, but if we tear down the 
screens between our arguments and "the real world," then it is also 
necessary to consider the real world implications of trying to persaude a 
judge (and indirectly, yourself and the rounds' other participants) of 
propositions like "the state should be abolished," "humanism should be 
rejected," "human welfare is irrelevant in light of the overwhelming 
importance of the ecosystem," or "human life has no value." Probably each of 
these positions is defensible, but I highly question the desirability of 
defending them.

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