Debating the Clash of Civilizations

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Given the trend of running critiques in debates, I'm sure most people have debated framework arguments at some point in their careers. After judging many of these debates, I've noticed they too often collapse into realism good/bad, and vague claims of education, 2ac offense, etc. A lot of times even when the aff wins a framework debate, their interpretation just gets them back to ground zero, the ability to weight their advantage impacts against the critique.

Negative teams devote half the 1nr, maybe the whole 5 minutes, to reading cards and "overwhelming" the 1ar. And even the neg is guilty of making their framework just the ability to have an alternative or weight you impacts against the aff.

Both sides should make their frameworks more offensive and exclusive. I don't know if people feel bad about saying say you shouldn't get an alternative or the only thing that the judge should evaluate is ontology- maybe they legitimately believe the aff should get to weight their impact and the neg should get their alt too, but it doesn't make it any more strategic.

During the 2008 Mean Green Workshop our kritik lab had a great discussion and series of presentations on articles about debate that are relevant to framework. I think these articles could be helpful to many.

We started with Roger Solt's "Debate's culture of narcissism" (Contemporary Argumentation and Debate; Sept 2004; Vol. 25). This is the most extensive critique of critiques in debate that I've read. He goes through all of the traditional debate theory arguments related to critiques and answers a lot of specific critique alternatives used in debate. I rarely see this article used in debate- maybe because he doesn't write impact cards that end in war, but his narcissism argument is on point. Solt compares critiques in debate to the withdrawal from politics and focus on the self. This is very similar to Rorty's ceding the political argument. People get too concerned with yoga and their diet (these are literally examples from Christopher Lasch's book The Culture of Narcissism that Solt references: "Reflecting back on the 'me decade' of the 1970s, Lasch saw narcissistic self-absorption as the hallmark of our time." P. 53) and stop engaging "vigorous public debate."

As an answer to Solt, we discussed william shanahan's article "Twilight of the topic idols: Kritik-ing in the age of imperialism" (Contemporary Argumentation and Debate; Sept 2004; Vol. 25). This article does a great job of tracing the history of critique in debate and really offers a counter to Solt's argument that critiques will divide and collapse the house of debate. He points to the evolution of "first generation" to "second generation" as proof of the "revolutionary transformation" taking place in debate. "The second generation of kritiks and kritik-ing radically reconfigured debate practice and prepared the way for a plethora of alternative approaches to the topic, theory, technique, and especially to the role of judges and their decision-making." (P. 70) Referencing the "demigod" of debate, Slavoj Zizek, shanahan says the debate revolution must "strike twice," not just at the content of debate, but also its form.

In my next few blogs, I'll be going through the rest of the articles and discussing their competing claims.

Activism in debate- Alan Coverstone's "An inward glance: A response to Mitchell's outward activist turn" versus Gordon Mitchel's "Pedagogical possibilities for argumentative agency in debate".

"Project" debates- Joseph Zompetti's "Personalizing debate" versus Ede Warner and John Brusche's "'Gone on debating': competitive academic debate as a tool of empowerment".

Switch side debate- The Pitt Debate Authors Writing Group's "Debate as a weapon of mass destruction" versus Ronald Greene and Darren Hicks "Lost convictions: Debating both sides and the ethical self fashioning of liberal citizens".

Role playing- Christopher Joyner's "Teaching international law: views from an international relations political scientist" versus William Spanos' "Debate Erases Imbalances of Power, Which Creates "Disinterested" Scholarship in Debaters".

And finally, realism good bad.

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