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

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Sat Apr 11 10:16:37 CDT 2009

shoot, back on the bull....

Preface: Stuff You do Not Need to Worry About

-- whether debating each year with a usfg agent will help resolve genocide.

-- whether the latent patriotism of the debate community contributed to the first and second Iraq Wars.

-- whether the logic behind events that took place in Iraq, in Rwanda, in Hiroshima, or in Vietnam is a ringing endorsement of always debating about state solutions to problems.

-- whether diversity in education matters.

keep scrolling....

Phewww!    Now that we have bracketed those discussions, we are in the free and clear to pursue the real tofurkey.

From: JP Lacy [lacyjp at wfu.edu]
Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com

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.

HOLD ON HERE just for a sentence or two.  I like this post from JP overall and I aprpeciate the distillation of the issues.  On the other hand, sometimes highlighting gets downright abusive and this is one of those times.  There is a lot of context behind the little snippets that JP has put in orange highlighting here.  For example, if you look at the part of the conversation that is not re-pasted, you will notice a major flaw in JP's paraphrasing...he took out all the arguments about audience analysis.  It is not a fair paraphrase to say "we can learn....if we abandon the usfg."   "Abandon" is hardly accurate when we are talking about taking one resolution every 10 years and using a non-usfg agent.  The usfg will still be discussed and maybe that discussion will take on new depth through the process.  Finally, there are arguments such as "patriotism manipulation" and the turn to American Exceptionalism ((you constitute subjectivity that both infantalizes (fiat) and deifies (macro solvency) the US federal government to the detriment of other avenues for change)) that have been conveniently left out.

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?

THAT IMPLIED "preface" should be debated--there are some differences (maybe) between "We think," "We demand," "We stand," etc.  It also makes a big difference if that opening recognition or requirement is in the topic wording or simply something the debaters are adding.  I know you have probably voted on the extra-topicality component to those horribly generic framework blocks.  Also, take a look at Antonucci's post--these changes are not that radical.  In fact, your reactionary adherence to a fictional truth is far more radical in terms of the bizarre shackles it puts on education.

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?

NO, BUT THERE MAY be advantages in pursuing an incremental strategy.  People seem to be very comfortbale with the extrenalization of agency on the affirmative....maybe the first step to breaking that down is to externalize in an agent that is not the usfg.

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.

X AGENT SHOULD REMOVE THUMB FROM MOUTH SLASH ASS.  We are not alking about removing all topics that say "X Agent should."  This is more of your highlighting problem.  The idea was that if "X" is not you, then any statement about what X should do is operating under a hypothetical.  If X is not the same thing as the speaker advocating that "X should," then there is a sense of the "as-if."   This does not mean "X" has to be some agent other than the debaters.  "X" could also be a close representation (proximity) of the debaters--another option that the thumb is blocking....something like, "This community should," "The University should," "Debate programs should," "Students should," etc.

THE PLEA AND THE CALL are for diversity.  We should try all of the options you mention above--we could even make sure the majority of topics still have your beloved usfg blankeee.   Also, this is a good place to deploy jackie's uniqueness argument:  we have a view from everywhere and nowhere now.  That view has failed and continues to fail.  The passive voice and the incarnations of "these debaters" or "we assembled" would be excellent starting points, but I am definitely not on a narrow cruscade for the ability to pick your own agent on the affirmative.  Instead, I am simply wondering about some options, even a turn back to many of the topic constructions we tried successfully in the past.  Pedagogical diversity matters.  If we cannot encourage creative thinking in debate, where can we?  We are NOT TALKING ABOUT BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE unless you think a little innovation and a little affirmative flexibility will destroy argumentation and research all together.  Sometimes I actually worry that you do have such a weak and anxiety-ridden view of college debate that the slightest attempt to update, breath, or otherwise open the shutters on our practices sends you straight to the toilet.

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.

SENTIMENT HAS ALREADY CHANGED.  It is just a matter of finding ways to put viable diverse topic wordings on the slate of choices that are both in tandem with the topic itself and the concerns of the topic committe.  The France problem you mention is still a big one, but my incremental argument above explains why that may need to be an option.  In both cases (USFG v. France) the exceptionalism is magified and multipled by the externalization of agency.  The other thing to remember--it would not be talking about how the US should persuade France, but how debaters think that the US should persuade France (or both).

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.

OK, YOUR POSITION is tarting to clarify/calcify here.  No one is saying you are or are not American based on the topic wordings you help coach and research.  The response to the horrors of imperialism should not be to pretend that you can make changes in those institutions and then feel better about it.  besides, you aren't even deabting, so you have a double-double distancing.  The pincers of JP's lobster are both phantasmic!   Instead, new explorations about our own agency should think about how these changes can progress from our standpoint and beyond.  It's the link between "pretending to enact macro-change" and "owning up to one's American-ness" that is TOTALLY SCREWED UP.  This is perhaps my biggest objetion to all the points you are making.  Can't you see that the debate process (or the affiramtive's agent of action) is not directly attached to the willingness of a given person to take responsibility for past injustices?

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.

Would it help your family members for you to say you are the USFG?  This is a tough area for me because I think those choices are separate and not commensurable with the other discussion we are having.  We all could have been more vocal on our positions in the past--our positions related to government action, but also our positions relative to the actions of our schools, churches, families, selves, friends, etc.

In fact, from here I feel pretty silly moving through the rest of the theory and literature stuff down below.  I think we both agree on the general need to confront our nationalities and our responsibilities--to not walk away or wash our hands etc.  More on this eventually.  I've been a little quick to draw on the ad homs thus far, but you know there is nothing but respect for your engagement and conversation.



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