Goodish Aff article

I say goodish because I am sure that some will claim many of its points “b the q”, but this article has a lot of points that could be useful aff vs the K at the TOC and next year, esp if you adopt the “jason peterson 2AC” approach.

Here

(hat tip- Brad Hall)

19 thoughts on “Goodish Aff article

  1. Thomas Hodgman

    I don't think that this is that good against K affs. Walt both admits the systemic/inevitable nature of global problems (which lends credence to the idea of trying to change how we approach them rather than solving one at a time) as well as admitting that our current political system is effectively useless and cannot accomplish anything without being changed in some way (which basically does the same).

    While I definitely would not call this an aff card, I think that it really is more in between than anything else.

  2. Scott Phillips

    Batterman,

    Your mom b's the Q.

    Hodgman,

    Aff vs the K, not vs a K aff. The article pretty unambigously says the world is getting better/problem solving works/we should focus on fixing problems.

    Whit,

    Get your shopping done.

  3. Kevin Hirn

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-8959">
    Thomas Hodgman :
    I don’t think that this is that good against K affs. Walt both admits the systemic/inevitable nature of global problems (which lends credence to the idea of trying to change how we approach them rather than solving one at a time) as well as admitting that our current political system is effectively useless and cannot accomplish anything without being changed in some way (which basically does the same).
    While I definitely would not call this an aff card, I think that it really is more in between than anything else.

    This is definitely not a good card to read against K affs, but it is a good defense against kritiks that do not use the state. It argues that political institutions need to stop being so bloated, corrupt, and unable to pass landmark pieces of legislation while international institutions need to stop being so useless in general. The plan represents a positive, productive use of that political institution. Far from the state being bad, the world has generally gotten better, and solving problems is not only possible but critical for global progress.

    Other than against arguments like Kappeler or Normativity which would use this as a reason fiat is bad ('you just pretend the political institution in question is okay when in reality it's fucked up and would never pass your plan, so maybe we should focus on reforming political institutions before we create the ideal policy gems that should pass in them'), I think this is a pretty good card.

  4. Thomas Hodgman

    I had this post completed and then it told me I didn't have my information entered even though I was logged in. I clicked back, and then my post was gone and I had gotten logged out. Dunno if this is happening to other people, but might be worth looking into.

    Yeah, I misread that.

    While I agree that he says the world GOT better, he seems to conclude that these gains cannot continue by tackling problems one-by-one, and thus changing how we approach politics is the internal link to effective problem solving (and ensuring that the world continues to get better):

    "The real challenge lies in the declining capacity of political institutions to combine knowledge and resources in a timely fashion, so that problems get addressed before they become too large. This problem exists at both the global and national level, and if I am right, it suggests that the achievements of the past fifty years may be difficult to duplicate.

    In the worst case, in fact, even major powers will gradually be overwhelmed by a rising tide of new challenges that they have become incapable of addressing quickly and/or adequately."

    And:

    "3. Raise the Salience of Institutional Reform. Fixing dysfunctional institutions isn't sexy; it is in fact the essence of wonkish drudgery. Most of us (myself included) prefer to focus on the issues themselves and offer various prescriptions, instead of thinking about how to design political institutions that can bring knowledge and resources together for the common good. Put simply, fixing institutions is boring. But I'm beginning to think that we neglect it at our peril, and it is intriguing to see that some academics are way ahead of me on this issue.

    In sum, unless we repair our domestic political orders and renovate the global political architecture, problems are going to pile up faster than we can fix them and the end result will not be pretty."

    This definitely does not support most k alternatives which is why I don't think it concludes neg, but it also seems to pretty strongly say that tackling one-shot impacts one by one will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of problems produced by our political systems. Seems like this would work really well as a defense of an impact like i-law or something else that reformed international institutions.

  5. Thomas Hodgman

    Agreed, but acting quickly in one instance doesn't remedy that as a condition of how politics functions in general.

  6. Kevin Hirn

    You're right when you say that this isn't unique offense the aff can access. Aff can't read this card and be like "this means we solve all global problems" (unless they do read i-law or anything else supporting international institutions or organizations, in which case this card is ridiculous).

    It has more utility than that though. It is offense against K alternatives that reject state action. It concludes that policies are good and we should try to make them (even if our current political system is fail), because they are comparatively better at solving problems than doing nothing. Empirics (i.e. things getting better now) prove. Plan is a good, expedient use of political institutions (which also answers serial policy failure or other generic state turns case K schtik).

  7. Bill Batterman

    I agree with Scott/Kevin: I think this is a pretty good aff card vs. a lot of critique alternatives (and especially some of the popular permutation responses that the negative likes to read like "including the state = coopted").

    Two other thoughts:

    1. This post is from Walt's blog on Foreign Policy—if you don't subscribe to its RSS feed, I definitely encourage you to add it to your reader. There are a few other bloggers on fp.com that are good, too; my favorite (moreso than Walt, even) is Daniel Drezner… I often find him witty/funny but there are good cards and links to cardable things, too. (http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/)

    2. This card reminds me of a card from George Monbiot that I haven't seen anyone read in a while that I think makes a similar argument quite well:

    George MONBIOT, best-selling author and columnist for the Guardian, 2008
    [“Identity Politics in Climate Change Hell,” Comment is Free, August 22nd, Available Online at http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/08/22/identi… Accessed 09-08-2008]

    Ewa’s second grave error is to imagine that society could be turned into a giant climate camp. Anarchism is a great means of organising a self-elected community of like-minded people. It is a disastrous means of organising a planet. Most anarchists envisage their system as the means by which the oppressed can free themselves from persecution. But if everyone is to be free from the coercive power of the state, this must apply to the oppressors as well as the oppressed. The richest and most powerful communities on earth – be they geographical communities or communities of interest – will be as unrestrained by external forces as the poorest and weakest. As a friend of mine put it, “when the anarchist utopia arrives, the first thing that will happen is that every Daily Mail reader in the country will pick up a gun and go and kill the nearest hippy.”

    This is why, though both sides furiously deny it, the outcome of both market fundamentalism and anarchism, if applied universally, is identical. The anarchists associate with the oppressed, the market fundamentalists with the oppressors. But by eliminating the state, both remove such restraints as prevent the strong from crushing the weak. Ours is not a choice between government and no government. It is a choice between government and the mafia.

  8. Thomas Hodgman

    This is probably my last post on this subject, I promised Peter I'd get back to work.

    Sorry Kevin, I missed your first post somehow.

    I agree with almost all of what you've said but still don't think it concludes the way you argue it does. I feel like the fact that he says "problem solving good" is causing everyone to automatically lump him into the category of "great (or goodish) answer to the k" when his actual advocacy is far more complex.

    The internal link claim he is making – that political institutions are failing now, and are key to effective problem solving – both non-uniques the affirmative on the impact level, and is susceptible to internal link turns by the negative.

    My argument is different from just "aff doesn't solve all global problems." I think it seriously hurts the aff's ability to have any impact uniqueness at all when he makes claims like "unless we repair our domestic political orders and renovate the global political architecture, problems are going to pile up faster than we can fix them and the end result will not be pretty."

    I agree with both of these statements by Kevin: "The plan represents a positive, productive use of that political institution" "solving problems is not only possible but critical for global progress."

    The problem with how you're applying these is that Walt is effectively arguing that problem solving will no longer be possible due to the sheer amount of problems facing continually weakening institutions. Whether or not the plan represents a positive use of that institution is irrelevant to the question of their overall strength and ability to prevent more and more problems.

    Again, he specifically says we should resist the temptation to deal with these questions in favor of larger ones regarding the character of our political institutions:

    "Most of us (myself included) prefer to focus on the issues themselves and offer various prescriptions, instead of thinking about how to design political institutions that can bring knowledge and resources together for the common good. Put simply, fixing institutions is boring. But I’m beginning to think that we neglect it at our peril"

    Kevin: "political institutions need to stop being so bloated, corrupt, and unable to pass landmark pieces of legislation while international institutions need to stop being so useless in general."

    Agreed, the plan does not change this. That's the problem when the alternative may have a chance of doing so. Passing a landmark piece of legislation (healthcare might serve as an example, if you could really call it landmark anymore), does not do anything for making politics work any better.

    Here's my overall assessment of the card. I'm interested to see what specific part of my interpretation people are disagreeing with (instead of just agreeing with the first paragraph below)

    It's a good aff answer to both "we should avoid the state" and "serial policy failure." It defends the affs ability to solve the impact in this specific instance. It is fantastic both against one-shot impacts and the k for affs dealing with structural change like i-law.

    It is bad for the aff in that there is no impact uniqueness to solving global problems absent a serious change in the structure of our political institutions. If the negative can make a good argument as to why they reform the face of U.S. or international politics more than the aff (rather than just "oh, we do nothing"), the affirmative is probably in trouble. Focusing on specific solutions to specific issues can be successful, but is insufficient to deal with the enormous tide of problems we face, and trades off with our focus on dealing with how we should institute those changes. Effective problem-solving in general will not be possible until the functioning of our political institutions changes.

    Clearly if the negative alternative doesn't do anything at all, then this is going to be more than sufficient to win that the aff's problem solving is an effective use of the state which can solve the problems isolated in the 1AC. But if the negative's alternative is that bad, the affirmative should probably be winning the debate anyway.

    However, if the negative can win that the alternative actually has a legitimate chance of changing how politics functions, then this card places the affirmative in a much more difficult position.

    Also, I like the Monibot card. Pretty true.

  9. Scott Phillips

    "However, if the negative can win that the alternative actually has a legitimate chance of changing how politics functions, then this card places the affirmative in a much more difficult position."

    Tom- You have come down with a clear case of "spin-itis", a condition characterized by K debaters who think they can spin any aff argument into a neg card. How on earth will the alternative engage politics more in a way that is competitive (bearing in mind the neg would have to win the alt causes FASTER politics -i.e. action action action)? Also, your conception of uniqueness is a bit abusrd. The fact that "problems" are coming because political structures are gridlocked is uniqueness FOR the aff that says we should do something immed. to solve X problem. The fact that more problems will pile up is not an argument at all because it is not linked to the plan- the plan does not cause problems piling up.

  10. Thomas Hodgman

    I'm keeping this quick for the aforementioned reasons

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-8977">
    Scott Phillips :
    Tom- You have come down with a clear case of “spin-itis”, a condition characterized by K debaters who think they can spin any aff argument into a neg card.

    I'm willing to admit I probably do this in general, because 90% of the time that I am engaging these arguments its from that viewpoint. However, when I read this article it was not with the intention of making it "go neg." This is what I concluded from simply reading it.

    However, I challenge anyone to point to a line in this article which makes the claim that a single-issue policy solution is *sufficient* to deal with the myriad of global problems which are arising, and *preferable* to an action which changes how politics functions as a whole for the better. That's all I'm saying here.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-8977">
    Scott Phillips :
    How on earth will the alternative engage politics more in a way that is competitive (bearing in mind the neg would have to win the alt causes FASTER politics -i.e. action action action)?

    Yes, most alternatives are stupid and probably would not much of anything at all. But that doesn't stop the negative from winning that alternatives actually do something in a sufficient amount of negative debates.

    Also, this does not refute the way I'm interpreting this card (that a successful systemic change would be preferable to solving one impact) – just the likelihood of the negative winning this claim. Again, I'm not saying that this is an obvious neg card. Just that it is risky in that the negative can use many parts of this argument to their advantage.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-8977">
    Scott Phillips :
    Also, your conception of uniqueness is a bit abusrd. The fact that “problems” are coming because political structures are gridlocked is uniqueness FOR the aff that says we should do something immed. to solve X problem. The fact that more problems will pile up is not an argument at all because it is not linked to the plan- the plan does not cause problems piling up.

    I don't see how this is uniqueness for the aff at all. I agree, this has nothing to do with what the plan causes. The argument that I'm making is that the terminal impact to whatever the aff solves is non-unique absent a structural change which can deal with all of the problems beyond the scope of the aff. As I've repeatedly quoted above, Walt specifically says that dealing with single issues IS NOT sufficient to solve this problem, because of how many more there are which won't be dealt with and which will cause extinction anyway.

    Here's an analogy for how I think about this:

    The aff is like a person in a room with 50 time bombs. Walt says that the affirmative's method of defusing these time-bombs is empirically effective and useful. However, the problem is that the affirmative does not have time to defuse all of the time bombs. After one is defused, the other 49 will blow up before anything else can be done.

    The terminal impact of the person in the room dying is non-unique – stopping 1 of 50 time bombs does not change anything. However, changing how one approaches the problem, and figuring out how to deal with all 50 time bombs (say, by leaving the room) would be significant.

    Maybe an even more accurate analogy would be that there is a group of 50 people in the room. They all can effectively defuse the time bombs, but can't figure out amongst themselves who is going to defuse which time bomb. The fact that one of the 50 people goes and defuses a time bomb does not change the fact that the other 49 will go off because noone else can come to an agreement. Figuring out how to get those 50 people to work together effectively would be sufficient, though.

  11. Scott Phillips

    TH,

    Walt is not saying " all problems are connected, failure to address them all means you can't address 1" which is the foundation of your post. No one here ever said "single issue solves all problems". The aff remedies a specific problem, which he clearly says is good. The only relevance of "other problems" is if there is some kind of trade off, which is not an argument advanced in the article. Ergo, anything the alt does that would fix the general problem (which again would be ridiculous since the problem is not acting fast enough) would not be competitive with the aff.

  12. Thomas Hodgman

    I'm not saying that there's a trade-off nor that Walt denies single-issue problems are solvable, I'm saying that the existence of other problems non-unique the terminal impact of extinction.

    Again, if the neg wins an alternative that can change how political institutions function, it can be probably be mutually exclusive with the aff or competitive in some other way. Not real world, fine, but it happens in debates all the time.

    And Walt's not saying that the problems are super fast and going to all happen tomorrow, just that they are happening faster than we can solve them with a one-by-one approach.

  13. Scott Phillips

    "I’m not saying that there’s a trade-off nor that Walt denies single-issue problems are solvable, I’m saying that the existence of other problems non-unique the terminal impact of extinction."

    This is silly and not an argument made in the article. May as well never eat/drink and just go stick my head in the oven cause global warming is happening.

    "Again, if the neg wins an alternative that can change how political institutions function, it can be probably be mutually exclusive with the aff or competitive in some other way. Not real world, fine, but it happens in debates all the time."

    Give an example of an alt that successfully changes institutions and is competitive? The way the neg wins sweeping alts are competitive is they DONT engage institutions.

    "And Walt’s not saying that the problems are super fast and going to all happen tomorrow, just that they are happening faster than we can solve them with a one-by-one approach."

    Again, NO. Not we can't solve them 1 by 1, institutions are gridlocked so we cant get the 1 by 1 solutions which DO WORK through. This is a fundamental misread you keep repeating.

  14. Thomas Hodgman

    This is my last post, for real.

    "This is silly and not an argument made in the article. May as well never eat/drink and just go stick my head in the oven cause global warming is happening."

    Yeah, he does make the argument. Not in debate jargon, of course, but its really the thesis of what he's saying:
    “In the worst case, in fact, even major powers will gradually be overwhelmed by a rising tide of new challenges that they have become incapable of addressing quickly and/or adequately.”
    "In sum, unless we repair our domestic political orders and renovate the global political architecture, problems are going to pile up faster than we can fix them and the end result will not be pretty."

    Again, this is not a reason to go stick your head in the oven. There's a way he suggests to deal with all of these problems: change how institutions function.

    "Give an example of an alt that successfully changes institutions and is competitive? The way the neg wins sweeping alts are competitive is they DONT engage institutions."

    One that comes to mind is referendums cp w/ a critical democracy net benefit. Granted, that's a CP, but its not like k authors completely avoid the possibility of transforming the state. Dictatorship of the proletariat?

    Cap and other Ks often make args that after a prior withdrawal the way institutions/people in general approach problems will change. Not a great arg, but it still gets made.

    Again, the viability of these alternatives doesn't refute my conclusion about what Walt is actually saying should be done. My purpose *isn't* to defend that any of these are good arguments, just that negatives often get away with them, and the ability to access things like changing how political institutions function.

    "Again, NO. Not we can’t solve them 1 by 1, institutions are gridlocked so we cant get the 1 by 1 solutions which DO WORK through. This is a fundamental misread you keep repeating."

    As I've already said, I agree that he says that one by one solutions work to fix that single problem. I have not at any point denied this fact. The problem is that doing one one-by-one solution doesn't change the fact that we need 49 others that won't happen because our political institutions suck right now. Doing a one-by-one solution doesn't change this. Making a structural change does.

    If the negative can't win they access a structural change, then the aff will win that their single solution is effective and outweighs. I never disagreed with that.

  15. CJ Clevenger

    TH,

    I think there might be two problems with your approach (not limited to you but also other debaters as well) in that you have created a "world that does not exist" inorder to win an argument. You claim that if the K changes how political intitutions work then it becomes a neg card. I am in agreement with you in that he says that we have to reform the institutions, but I disagree that this is not a powerful aff card. This is something that I think Affirmatives have been missing for year, and most debaters for that matter. The world of the K and policy are not seperate and distinct from one another, but rather quite intertwined. Take the following example:

    In this instance, the article indicates that quick decisive action like the plan, emperically is what is required of political institutions for them to deal with coming catastrophe. Step back from the specific action of the plan and look at it in broader terms. In this light the "K" endorsement of the plan is what this author endorses, quick decisive action on critical issues. The plan is an endorsement of fundamental change in how the system operates. Spun in this light (and I am sure that others could do a much better job) this evidence becomes damming to the negative, as if all of the negative alt cards are true, then why would the aff endoresement of reform of the system not have the ability to change the system any more than the negative rejection of the plan fundamentally change our m.s. or the system of cap?

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