[eDebate] Is it time to get away from Policy debate? (Even More Kuswa-Lacy Stuff)

JP Lacy lacyjp
Fri Apr 10 18:59:31 CDT 2009

STUFF That other people might be interested in:

I think these are Kevin's most important arguments:

1. Downsides to the USFG as an agent:
Primary distancing: the first step of requiring USFG action to be 
topical is a step eliminating the agency offered by the debaters themselves.
We encourage debaters to DE-VALUE what they are actually doing (at the 
actual time of the debate) in FAVOR of reifying federal government 
action--the scholarship-fetish DA.
We freeze our ability to plot out change in other contexts and we 
unnecessarily associate governing with macro-reform.

2. Upside to eliminating the USFG as an agent: 
We can potentially learn a ton of new important stuff if we abandon the USFG.

1. If there is such a huge difference between saying "The USFG should" and "We think the USFG should," why can't we just let debaters say that? Why do we need to alter our topic structure? I always thought the "We think..." was implied, but that is beside the point. Why make a radical change that few are comfortable with if debaters can already address the issue? 

Your arguments that "USFG should" topics deny debaters agency also seem to rule out other governmental agents, like Israel, Russia, The UN...Is that your intent?

If you are right that we should eliminate topics that read "X agent should..." what topics are left? The passive voice? "This house..."? "We assembled..."? To me, those topics are exactly the view from nowhere & everywhere that typifies the worst in American decision making.

2. The upside to a non-USFG agent: We can learn a ton of new stuff. Make the leap! (Refer to Kevin's list of potential educational benefits below.)

I don't like making bandwagon appeals at all, but I think its going to take more than this to persuade the community to change. In this particular context, the audience presumption seems to be against change. Maybe it shouldn't. 

I'm still not convinced that learning to argue "France should.." doesn't replicate Bush-style unilateralism by ignoring how the US could actually persuade France.

STUFF That only Kuswa & I probably care about:

Kuswa, Kevin wrote:
> 2. Americans should not distance themselves from the United States,
> because doing so disaggregates responsibility for US policy.
> YOU ARE STUCK ON THE DESCRIPTOR "AMERICAN."  This continual attempt to define the debate community as American is far more exceptionalist/imperial than debating about something other than the usfg every so often.  THE PRIMARY DISTANCING is not your concern, but it still happens befopre any of the disaggregation you fear on the macro-level.  What is this "primary distancing"?  It is the idea that the first step of requiring USFG action to be topical is a step eliminating the agency offered by the debaters themselves.  ALSO, your argument is more about civic positioning in the world than about debate topics.  Does this mean the negative is always anti-American?

Its the American attempt to shed nationality that bothers me. When 
confronted with the horrors that America has perpetuated, the response 
should not be to "don't define me as American." That doesn't help 
America avoid future blunders, nor does it recognize our particular 
place in history.

Obviously, this has little to do with debate topics, since this argument 
started when I said "We (The United States) are at war in Iraq." I can't 
tell my family members who were deployed there "I'm not the United 
States." That would not help them deal with the situation at all. I did 
play a role in the decision to go to war. I thought the war was based on 
a fabrication from the get go, but that really doesn't absolve me. I 
definitely could have said more and said it better.

We made a horrible decision. To me, it is far to easy to wash our hands, 
blame it all on Bush, and avoid further opinion making because it might 
be "Patriotic."

> 3. Some topics might lend themselves to a different agent, but how good
> are those topics compared to what we are doing now?
> HOW ARROGANT DO YOU HAVE TO BE to assume that YOU should know exactly what will happen before you can agree to try it.  There are other types of topics that are good, would be good, and could even be better than what we have now.  Also, you have not justified your approach year after year after year (only in a one-time duel).  Don't you trust the debaters to come up with interesting and compelling argumetns on both sides ven if the agent is not the USFG?
This is the primary barrier to change: People haven't been persuaded 
that a non-USFG agent would be better. They are worried it might be 
worse. Filling in some details can't hurt.

>         "JP's thought-process allowed the dropping of the bomb in August of 1945"
> YES, the thought-process of using a Hiroshima War Memorial as an analogy for US attempts to speak for other countries is dangerous.  There is NO LINK to topic writing in your argument, but there is a link to "recognizing complicity" as a means to appease individual guilt.  When you add up that guilt-sanitation, you make yourself and others more willing to accept the next Hiroshima (Iraq war #1 and the yellow-ribbon campaign...that's the example you will not touch anymore after you brought it up).  You also justify a race over the nation-state at the top--if we can just drop the bomb, we can be the state that tells other country's not to drop their bombs.  You preclude thinking about not dropping the bomb AND not invading a series of islands in the Pacific.
My analogy was a criticism of Americans who try to renounce their 
nationality. It is easy to think about Hiroshima and say "I didn't do 
that." The reality is that we live in a country that continues to 
benefit from the post-war order that dropping the bomb created. I don't 
understand how owning that reality is a means to sanitize guilt. I do 
understand how hiding your nationality does.

>         "YOUR adherence to the USFG is GENOCIDAL"
> YES, in the context of the Rwanda example that YOU brought up, you were assuming that a lack of USFG action (bystander mentality) was primarily responsible for the killings and genocidal action in the region.  This is not exactly the case--in fact it was the same sort of colonial control and imperial logic from Europe that created the divisions between the people in the first place and then instituted mechanisms for mass killing.  You do not know this history--you simply believe the narrative of US inaction being the cause because you have already been conditioned to think that the US always has the solution (probably because you have been in debate for so long).  What would you have the US do?  You phrase is "stop the killing."  Do you know how the US tried to "stop the killing" in Vietnam?  The military razed villages so there were no more people to kill.  In Rwanda, the nation-state borders and attempts to coerce the people into identifying with Rwanda over other ethnic attachments was one of the reasons the violence was so extreme.  Your blanket homogenizing of the people in the region into "Rwandans" and your colonial assumption that outside trooops are the best way to solve the problem are the two kinds of thinking that provoked the nightmare in the first place.
And your contention is that the US could have done nothing at all to 
stop the genocide? Spectating is a means of colonial control.

I don't know where I claimed that outside troops were the best solution. 
They may have been, but we didn't even consider other options besides 
"do nothing & hope someone else fixes it."

Nearly a million graves testify that the US could have done something 
better than it actually did.

> Your response to one of my most important questions was not helpful at all:
> Question: I've never quite understood how saying "The USFG should..." somehow declares that the speaker is pretending to be anything but themselves.
> Look, JP, whenever you say "X should" and X is something other than you, you are entering into a hypothetical.  It's not that hard to grasp.
Back to Cattle Annie's: Two hypothetical statements: "You should ride 
the mechanical bull." "If I were you, I would ride the bull."

Aside from the fact that riding a mechanical bull is a terrible idea, I 
don't see how the first statement places the speaker as "you." On the 
other hand, the second statement clearly does.

> Let me ask you a question as a follow-up.  Who are you addressing the statement, "The USFG should..." to?  What power does the audience you are addressing reasonably possess?
The same audience that any debate resolution addresses. Among their 
powers are to believe the statement, reject it, or reserve judgment.

> The most important question I asked was never answered at all:
> Question: What is the advantage to any of the effects of abandoning the USFG you've listed? You make this argument yearly, what exactly are the advantages? So far, you've read some links...
> THIS IS A PRETTY GOOD ANSWER, especially when combined with the switch-side argument allowing you to maintain usfg discussion on the negative.  I would also add that we freeze our ability to plot out change in other contexts and we unnecessarily associate governing with macro-reform.
> The biggest issue, though, is that year after year we encourage debaters to DE-VALUE what they are actually doing (at the actual time of the debate) in FAVOR of reifying federal government action--the scholarship-fetish DA.  The effect of this is to turn debate into a "training day" model that exclusively looks toward certain types of "model-subjectivities" as the universal aim of all debaters and all debate programs.  Some models work better for some programs--it is not a surprise to see the same bad arguments being made with increasing ferocity as the writing on the wall becomes more and more visible.  This is not much more difficult than the statism position, yet there are still questions about what agency does when it is folded into "the usfg should."
You are right, & I'll echo the argument Ross makes: We are all policy 
makers. We make important decisions. Debate is a way to make decisions.

We pick the USFG as an agent out of convenience: its relatively 
accessible, the amount of literature available in the US about Federal 
Policy is well developed, its easy to understand arguments about the 
USFG, the USFG makes important and controversial decisions.

None of which is to rule out non-USFG agents, just to say that it 
remains to be proven that they work as well.

Plus, I always thought Resolved meant about the same thing as "We 
Contend," or "We Believe."


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