Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blake Johnson asks: Why Are You Losing to Framework?

Why Are You Losing to Framework?

The thing about being a K debater (especially in high school) is that 90% of the arguments your opponents make will be the same from one round to the next. The other thing about being a K debater is that you’re probably lazy. Only the latter can be blamed for you losing to teams with generic K frontlines who put no real thought into the particular argument that you’re making in executing their readymade strategy against it.

Read all of that again and ask yourself this question: “why am I losing to framework?!”

The Big Picture: Two Notes

1. Basically all framework arguments reduce to one of two: fairness or education. I’m pretty sure I’ve not heard a “standard” or “reason to prefer” that isn’t ultimately an internal link to one of those two impacts.

1a.) The thing to remember about fairness is that there are no rules to debate – hence no objective expectations of how a debate round should go down. To appeal to certain routines as neutral is to ignore the history of how they became routinized. This is especially true in debate, where the question of what is fair has never been settled, but has always been an evolving question, the source of conflict. This history is important – just as conservatives claim your K moots the 1ac, they once cried that the PIC was topical, that the counterplan stole the aff, even that the disad wasn’t intrinsic to the plan.

1b.) The thing to remember about education is that you can call anything that. It is almost never a question of simply whether you can learn anything at all, but rather what you learn about.

2. Some K debaters realize number 1 and handle it by arguing in favor of prioritizing one impact (typically education) over the other (typically fairness). That’s not bad, but not great either. Any GOOD K debater will write the K so as to include a component that challenges the traditional understanding of what fairness and education are, so as to upset the terminal impact calculus of the opponent.

An example or two:

If I were writing a cap K, it would certainly include a component that said that traditional debates about the topic area took for granted and/or reinforced the ideology of global capitalism. This would allow me to say that their arguments about fairness were just appeals to the traditional ways of solving problems which all amount to stabilizing capitalism. I could also say that their education is bad education, which trains us to be passive technocrats in a genocidal global economy. I would say that the alternative is a way to invent new ways of doing things, routinize new methods, make new things seem normal (fair), and produce new kinds of education.

If I were writing a fem K I would include a similar component that allowed me to say that their ideas about fairness only make sense if you assume the neutrality of an overtly masculinized way of looking at politics. Their model of education doesn’t teach us how to solve problems, it teaches us how to treat them within the same epistemological frame that gave rise to them in the first place.

All the Small Things…

The way that you handle specific FW args should depend on the particular K you’re deploying. That said, here’s a little bit of general thinking on their silliness to jog your mindball…

Predictability. This is the best example of the fair = routine argument I explained above. What is predictable in debate is only what we’ve done so many times as to expect its repetition. There is no value in doing something over and over again if it doesn’t produce good results. The point of the K is that we should routinize new approaches rather than repeating disastrous ones.
I also don’t really think that this is that huge of an internal link to fairness. “We don’t have a file on it” doesn’t mean “we can’t debate it.” You wouldn’t make the same argument against a politics scenario you haven’t researched. Think! Be smart! Debate!

Competitive Equity. This is a joke. Look at the state of debate. Their model of competition doesn’t produce an equal playing field! It results in the same handful of teams winning the TOC year in and out. Theirs is the neoliberal model of equality – if everyone competes on this artificially designed but unregulated playing field, benefits will be distributed justly. Works out in debate just like in the real world – those with the most resources dominate those with fewer. Ask any successful small college program from the last 10 years – most win with the K.

Limits. They sound like just what they are – constraints on political imagination. The point of the K is always that X limits politics to itself – the alt is about redrawing the lines.

Roleplaying. Surely there is a question about what roles we should play, right? All of our link arguments prove that we come out of the other end of your particular experiment worse off.

Aff Choice. This one is so stupid that I almost didn’t include it. It’s not shotgun! You can’t just “call it!”

Jurisdiction. Again, the point of the K is to call into question where “jurisdiction” lies.

Moots the 1ac. No it doesn’t! It directly challenges the 1AC! You wrote the damn thing and did so taking for granted that (American exceptionalism, neoliberalism, environmental control, etc) was good. Without that presumption, no part of the 1ac makes sense. Now defend that presumption!

Debate Will Die. Don’t be so arrogant. We’re not that special. Debate has survived tons of innovation. Your argument is empirically stupid.