[eDebate] Agents/States/False Dichotomy - "K" and "policy"

Dylan Keenan dylan.keenan
Sat Apr 11 12:06:58 CDT 2009

This made me kind of grumpy. I?m sure I?ll catch some flak for this but I
did learn a lot about debate decorum from Josh Hoe, so here goes.

Jackie says ?The ?realism bad? side controls uniqueness, all those things
you say are good about ?realism? have proven to fail us in all areas.
economy, poverty, war?. Find one.?

Actually all of them are getting better (see cards at the bottom),
especially if one takes a historical perspective. What troubles me is that
people can look at individual problems and generalize without rigor or data.
The problem is that for the K folk who have no interest in quantitative
analysis the Iraq war can become evidence of global violence, the financial
crisis reveals the structural flaws in capitalism and climate change is
evidence of the unsustainable character of consumer culture.

I?m especially disturbed because these flawed forms of analysis are
justified by self-serving and non-falsifiable methods. So Zizek thinks he
can deduce the nature of material reality from a (false) theory of the mind.
Whatever comes into conflict with that theory is actually a distorted
picture of reality that?s created by our secret desire to cause suffering.
McWhorter thinks that our desire to manage the environment is the root of

And it is here that Ermo?s point about trivial distinctions is most true.
Zizek and McWhorter should have to answer to the mountains of carefully
collected and analyzed objective data about the world. They should have
explain how funny allegories for the human condition are statistically
significant and why we should accept a theory of the mind which cannot be
disproved as the basis of politics. They have to refute the actually that
mean and median wealth are increasing and that air pollution, water
pollution and deforestation have all declined in the US.

These arguments challenge convention, but they do so in a dangerous and
counterproductive fashion. A cursory look at human history shows that it has
been a story of poverty, misery and suffering. The wealthiest person 200
years ago didn?t have access to anything like modern medicine and could only
communicate over long distances in the time of weeks or months. Even the
poorest person on the planet today can expect to live at least as long as
the richest did through most of human history.

So I?ll finish by saying I do agree with Jackie on this, ?This discussion is
not irrelevant to current real world situations?. Criticism of capitalism,
realism and technology is relevant and in a terrifying way. Just a few days
ago we say groups of protestors at the G20 summit commit to tearing down
capitalism. They supposedly represent the voice of the people. If so then
they are truly the people who are committed to collective suicide.
Capitalism and positivism have brought the automobile, antibiotics,
vaccines, modern surgery, the computer, the telephone, air conditioning,
compact disks, cheap clothing and a food system where we have to worry about
getting fat rather than starving. The system is working unbelievably well if
one just gets a little perspective and a little bit of data.

War is decreasing

Marshall and Cole ?8

(Monty, Research Prof. Public Policy and Dir. Research Center for Global
Policy @ George Mason U., and Benjamin, GMU, Foreign Policy Bulletin: The
Documentary Record of United States Foreign Policy, ?Global Report on
Conflict, Governance and State Fragility 2008?,

The global trend in major armed conflict has continued its dramatic decline
in the globalization era both in numbers of states affected by major armed
conflicts and in general magnitude (Figure 3). According to our
calculations, the general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over
sixty percent since peaking in the mid-1980s, falling by the end of 2007 to
its lowest level since 1960.

So are battle deaths

Russett et al ? 6

(Bruce, (Dean Acheson Prof. IR @ Yale U., Editor of Journal of Conflict
Resolution and Past President of the International Studies Association),
Bethany Lacina, (PhD Student in Political Institutions and Comparative
Politics @ Stanford U.), and Nils Petter Gleditsch, (Adjunct Prof. Pol. Sci.
@ Norwegian U. Science and Technology Center for Study of Civil War and
International Peace Research Institute), International Studies Quarterly,
?The Declining Risk of Death in Battle?, 50:3, Wiley Interscience)

Adjusting the model to allow for a nonlinear temporal trend reveals this
downward tendency even more clearly; the estimated coefficients on a term
for time and its square imply that the trend in battle deaths over time has
been an upside down parabola with an apex in the early 1940s. There are also
negative linear trends in battle deaths in the post-World War period and
after the Cold War.7  We have sounded a note of some optimism about the
international system. The post-World War II international system witnessed a
remarkable decline in the numbers of combat deaths worldwide. This is in
large part due to the decreasing incidence of interstate and Great-Power
wars, the most deadly type of conflict humans have ever faced, and to
decreased casualty levels in civil wars due to less frequent intervention by
major powers. Thus, the success of the post-World War II period has been in
building a historically unprecedented network of peaceful ties among the
most powerful states in the international system.8 The challenge going into
the twenty-first century is to expand these gains into areas still torn by
domestic conflict, terrorism, and interstate feuds.

Poverty is decreasing

Chen and Ravillion ?7

(Shaohua, Senior Statistician in Development Econ. Research Group @ World
Bank, and Martin, Dir. World Bank?s Development Research Group, 2020 FOCUS
BRIEF on the World?s Poor and Hungry People, ?THE CHANGING PROFILE OF

In absolute terms, the number of people in the developing world living on
less than US$1 a day fell from slightly less than 1.5 billion in 1981 to 970
million in 2004, which marks the first time the poverty count has gone below
1 billion (Figure 1a). The choice of poverty line, however, matters. The
number living on less than US$2 a day actually rose by about 100 million
over this period, to 2.5 billion in 2004. As a share of the population,
global US$1-a-day poverty fell from 40 percent in 1981 to 18 percent in
2004, and US$2-a-day poverty fell from 67 percent in 1981 to 48 percent in
2004 (Figure 1b). For both poverty lines, the trend of poverty reduction is
about 0.8 percentage points per year over 1981?2004. This rate exceeds the
rate of poverty reduction of 0.6 percentage points per year that would be
required to halve the 1990 US$1-a-day poverty rate by 2015? the first of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDG1). So, in the aggregate, the world is on
track to achieve MDG1.

So is inequality

Goesling and Baker ?8

(Brian, Mathematica Policy Research Inc. and David, Prof. Ed. And Soc. @
Penn. State U., Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, ?Three faces
of international inequality?, June, 26:183-198, Science Direct)

The left-hand columns of Table 1 show the trend in international income
inequality as measured by the mean logarithmic deviation (MLD). One column
reports estimates with countries weighted by population size, the other with
countries weighted as equal units. The population-weighted estimates show a
sharp decline in the extent of income inequality between countries from 1980
to 2003. Population-weighted inequality declined by more than 16 percent in
the 1980s and by more than 14 percent from 1990 to 2003. These findings are
very similar to those reported in previous studies of inequality trends in
the 1980s and 1990 (Firebaugh, 2003; Sala -i-Martin, 2006). Moreover, our
findings add to previous research by showing that the trend of declining
inequality persisted through the turn of the century. For populationweighted
inequality, the MLD index dropped from .552 in 2000 to .490 in 2003, a
decline of more than 10 percent.


On Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 9:58 AM, Massey, Jackie B. <debate at ou.edu> wrote:

> The building blocks of ?anti-K? propaganda?.
> Here is Ermo on what he calls the ?K?
> 7. I agree with Ricky that many debaters privilege certain types of
> impacts, but I disagree that the K is an effective solution to these
> problems. Although I think a lot of the K literature is very interesting
> and
> important, in actual K debates judges often encourage clash avoidance (side
> stepping through minimal distinctions), let people wiggle out of impact
> turns, encourage new and hidden alternatives, allow implicit framework
> arguments (like ?rep?s first?) to dramatically refocus the rounds, etc. The
> generalized ambiguity about how K rounds are to be resolved leads to
> considerable inconsistency from round to round. That inconsistency appears
> to favor certain teams over others (which ones? It depends on the point of
> view of the observer), and makes hyper specific strategies against
> particular K?s ineffective, while they should be extremely effective. A
> more
> positive spin on the same phenomenon would be ?when there are no rules, the
> better debater always wins.? (which sounds fine, but it?s nice when the
> weaker debater can sometimes win through hard work and preparation). In
> this
> way, the post structural orientation of some K?s and many K friendly
> critics
> tends to disincentivize K debating. (I would be happy to brainstorm
> friendly
> solutions to this problem with anyone who shares my assessment in broad
> terms).
> I think this where people begin their misunderstanding of debate arguments
> that do not focus on passing a specific policy proposal from a traditional
> view of ?is the plan a good or bad idea??
> This is where young debaters get pointed in the wrong direction in
> understanding the notion of debate ?arguments?.  They are all arguments.
>  This ?clash avoidance through minimal? distinction seems pretty popular on
> the ?states counter-plan? or most any other counter-plan strategy.   These
> things that you refer to as ?refocusing rounds? are justified through good
> evidence and historical examples.  What I am saying is these are arguments
> on why you don?t just look at ?does plan solve? to determine if the policy
> is good or bad.  Its really just all impact debate, and then getting a head
> start on why the decision calculus is/has/was failing.  Look where our world
> is at today. This idea of having tunnel vision and assuming that a limited
> decision calculus about ?is the policy a good or bad idea? has failed us.
>  Debate is reflexive of the real world.  Realism used to flourish in debate
> until so many became aware of its failure in IR leading to never ending
> wars, an economy that was so fat on invisible dollars that the air was going
> to bleed out at sometime, and we are lucky it has not popped completely.
>  This discussion is not irrelevant to current real world situations, but
> rather so relevant in how we need a new framework/lens/ideology/ whatever
> you want to call it, for looking at our policy decisions.  The narrow view
> of ?is the plan a good or bad idea? can only be a focus if you can justify
> why other thing should not be considered.  For many years ethics, values
> etc. were considered to not be important in policy making,  not just in
> debate but in the places where decisions are made for a statists response.
> Its kinda like this, the other things  besides those things that  want to
> determine ?is the plan a good or bad idea?, control uniqueness.  The old
> methods have failed us.  We must not re-arm ourselves in debate or in the
> oval office with those failing ideologies.  Your files have to change.  No
> more reading ?realism good? on a framework debate.  You have lost uniqueness
> on this debate.  The ?realism bad? side controls uniqueness, all those
> things you say are good about ?realism? have proven to fail us in all areas.
>  Environment, economy, poverty, war?. Find one.
> This is debate also.  You cannot continue to at face dismiss arguments that
> say our ?plan focus? is too narrow.  That is what all of these implicit
> framework arguments are, reasons why the traditional narrow framework has
> failed us.
> A>      There is no divide, just arguments.
> B>      The ?K? debaters control uniqueness on solvency and impacts, only a
> risk it can get better, the non-?K? framework has proven to fail us and did
> not cause the good things to occur their evidence wishes for.
> If you made it another type of debate, then there would be a problem of not
> including "policy and government action for change".
> Your right Swampy, debate is not like it used to be.  We have to evolve,
> otherwise we are defending failing ideologies an philosophies.  WAR WAR WAR
> ? that?s our world right now, and that is a result of the many dominant
> debate ideologies that people think we need to strap ourselves down to in
> debate.  Let them disappear with the Core Motive Inherency and Minor
> Repairs.
> So I might agree that the resolution might be a problem, but it is doing
> really well as a stand in statue for the ideologies and values behind
> real-politik that is no longer credible or believable.
> Peace
> Massey
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Dylan Keenan
Debate Coach
Barkley Forum
Emory University
dylan.keenan at gmail.com
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