It seems no matter what kritik is run in this day and age, the affirmative responds with some kind of gripe about “inevitability”. Realism inevitable is probably the most well known, but it has recently been joined by capitalism, calculation, patriarchy and many other children in the “it’s inevitable” family. And for good reason- the inevitability question is often not responded to well by the negative, and provides the affirmative with both a strong uniqueness claim and an indict of the alternative.
Claims of inevitability, however, are not as powerful as they appear. In fact they are often the strongest/easiest to articulate link to whatever K you may be reading.
The entire point of critical theory, and hence the kritik, is to examine assumptions that are otherwise taken for granted. A key part of this can be understood as realizing that what we often think of as descriptive, is in fact actually normative. A descriptive statement is one that, allegedly, reveals the world as it is. A normative statement is about how the world should be. If we take race relations as an example, prior to the civil war you could talk about slavery using either a normative or descriptive language.
Descriptive- Black people are slaves
Normative- Black people should be slaves
There is obviously a clear moral difference between these statements, in that the latter endorses slavery as a concept. This is a rather clumsy example, but it demonstrates clearly that if you have a normative belief, and couch it in descriptive language, you can hide what is really going on. Many racists have used this trick for some time in arguing that the “inferiority” of different races justified giving them less rights/privileges. Inferiority- like lower intelligence- is a descriptive claim, “x is not as smart as Y”. This is nothing more then verbal sleight of hand, the idea is to justify a normative conclusion through use of descriptive statements, instead of just making the normative statement outright.
Advertising uses this technique frequently. They don’t say “if you are cool and rich you should buy X”, instead that show you a series of descriptive statements that cool and rich people do buy X, and then you make the normative conclusion yourself.
The debate arguments around “inevitability” use this same technique. A common argument I have heard goes something like this:
“Realism is inevitable, it’s like gravity. Ignoring it only causes us to make bad decisions, like ignoring gravity and jumping off a building.”
When the negative responds “but realism is bad!”, the aff will say ” we don’t defend realism, but we must acknowledge that it is inevitable”. They use the language of inevitability to avoid taking any responsibility for the defense of realism while at the same time garnering the benefits of using realism as a system. Even the best negative’s that I have seen do a poor job of responding to this kind of trick. They will at best say “realism is a self-fullfilling prophecy, its only inevitable because you believe it is”, which is not a bad argument. Cards like this
Samuel S Kim, Dept of Poli Sci Monmouth College, Global Violence and a Just World Order, Journal of Peace Research, no 2, 1984 p. 187
This pacified and disarmed consciousness or alienation in Marxian terms – has allowed the managers of the national security superstate to shift both their military doctrine and hardware toward making nuclear war more thinkable, more fightable, and more ‘winnable’. The resultant expectations of nuclear war do not augur well, for, as social psychologist Gordon Allport put it: ‘The greatest menace to the world today are leaders in office who regard war as inevitable and thus prepare their people for armed conflict. For by regarding war as inevitable, it becomes inevitable. Expectations determine behavior’ (Allport 1968, p. 11).
do have strategic use.
As an argument, however, it fails to grapple with the critical rhetorical ploy of the affirmative- the sleight of hand of inevitability. This is a mistake(IMO) that is often made by many critical scholars as well. In Global Gender Issues, Peterson and Runyan write-
The assumption that violence is largely the result of anarchic international relations–in contrast to supposedly “peaceful” domestic communities–obscures the question of the amount of and the way in which violence is deployed from the local to the global level. For example, domestic violence–the euphemism for the wide range of physical and emotional abuse suffered mostly by wives and children in families–is widespread throughout the world.13 Hence, it makes little sense to argue that the level and frequency of violent conflict is what separates international relations from domestic relations. It makes more sense to see domestic and international violence as intimately connected (see Figure 6.2) Through this lens, international violence is revealed more as an extension of domestic masculinist socialization designed to produce aggressive “men” (including some females). In addition, military security policies and practices can be seen, in part, as the pursuit of masculinist reactive autonomy that can tolerate no interdependent relations. Similarly, the definition of peace simply as the absence of the direct violence of war obscures the deep, structural inequalities that both give rise to and are the result of violence. Sustaining sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, and gendered nationalism has heretofore been vital to sustaining militarism and the “us” and “them” mentality that goes along with it. Thus, any serious attempt to end war must involve significant alterations in local, national, and global hierarchies.
Here they have persuasively argued that the claim that the international arena makes violence inevitable obscures the linkages between domestic and international violence. But they have glossed over the way that the language of inevitability is used to eliminate responsibility. Their critique is focused solely on causality, and not responsibility. This is a crucial difference, because this piece of evidence/this argument could just as easily reinforce realist beliefs as critique them. For example, take the realist claim that human nature is evolutionarily wicked. This claim could acknowledge that international violence IS connected to domestic or interpersonal violence, and use that connection as a legitimating factor in its explanation of the world.
Realists often base their pessimistic view of interstate relations on a similarly pessimistic view of human nature. The egoism of states is merely a reflection of the egoism of individuals, for whom self-interest is the overriding passion. The corruption and “wickedness” of human nature make conflict and insecurity inevitable features of human existence. Here Hobbes’ conception of the state of nature as a “war of all against all” finds its expression in the supposedly anarchic structure of international relations. While the anarchy of the state of nature can be restrained by establishment of the sovereign state, the relations between states still occur in an “anarchical society” due to the absence of an international hierarchical political authority.3 The international order, it is thought by realists, necessarily consists of a system of independent, self-interested states, each assuming the worst about the others and seeking to ensure its survival in a dangerous, “self-help” world. Realists reject the possibility of any positive conception of long-lasting peace in the circumstances of international relations conceived as anarchic. The best that can be hoped for is a tenuous balance of power, the maintenance of an ordered society of states brought about through the incessant contestation of opposing forces in world politics. In this system sovereign states continually find themselves in a perpetual “security dilemma.” In the search for protection from other states’ potential aggression, each state seeks to enhance its power, i.e., its military capabilities, either through its own means or with the limited assistance of allies and coalitions.
In this way, however, violence is structured into the very functioning of the international system. Given the realist paradigm of international politics as a struggle for power, it can be argued that the traditional national security paradigm is inherently deficient as a means to actually obtain the desired end of security. In a world structured around the dictates of political realism, an international sys tern based on the relative distribution of military and economic strength is better characterized not in terms of security, but in terms of global insecurity. The world of the realists’ making is marked by the instability of power struggles, the casual resort to military force, the pursuit of narrow self-interests, the hyperproduction of weaponry, and callous indifference towards the interests of persons beyond (and perhaps even within) the borders of each state. The limitations of the traditional view of security have become a central concern since the end of the cold war.
A better argument would acknowledge the rhetorical sleight of hand of inevitability claims. While the affirmative may be right that their 1AC didn’t make exclusively realist arguments, or that the plan may have non realist advantages, engaging in the rhetoric of inevitability is in and of itself a hidden justification for the system of realism. It is not a “passive” link- like “ooops, our econ advantage was realist, LOL our bad vote on the food add on”. It is an active instance where they participated in hiding the ideological and political processes at play/responsible for the global violence of realism, and as the negative you should take advantage of that.
Avowedly modernist in orientation, realism claims to be rooted not in a theory of how international relations ought to work, but in a privileged reading of a necessary and predetermined foreign policy environment. 28 In its orthodox form political realism assumes that international politics are and must be dominated by the will to power. Moral aspirations in the international arena are merely protective coloration and propaganda or the illusions that move hopeless idealists. What is most revealing about this assessment of human nature is not its negativity but its fatalism. There is little if any place for human moral evolution or perfectibility. Like environmental determinism—most notably the social darwinism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—political realism presumes that human social nature, even if ethically deplorable, cannot be significantly improved upon. From the stationary perspective of social scientific realism in its pure form, the fatal environment of human social interaction can be navigated but not conquered. Description, in other words, is fate. All who dare to challenge the order—Carter’s transgression—will do much more damage than good. The idealist makes a bad situation much worse by imagining a better world in the face of immutable realities. As one popular saying among foreign policy practitioners goes: “Without vision, men die. With it, more men die.” 70 (continued) The implications of this social philosophy are stark. Tremendous human suffering can be rationalized away as the inevitable product of the impersonal international system of power relations. World leaders are actively encouraged by the realists to put aside moral pangs of doubt and play the game of international politics according to the established rules of political engagement. This deliberate limitation of interest excuses leaders from making hard moral choices. While a moralist Protestant like Jimmy Carter sees history as a progressive moral struggle to realize abstract ideals in the world, the realist believes that it is dangerous to struggle against the inexorable. The moral ambiguities of political and social ethics that have dogged philosophy and statesmanship time out of mind are simply written out of the equation. Since ideals cannot be valid in a social scientific sense, they cannot be objectively true. The greatest barrier to engaging the realists in serious dialogue about their premises is that they deny that these questions can be seriously debated. First, realists teach a moral philosophy that denies itself. There is exceedingly narrow ground, particularly in the technical vocabulary of the social sciences, for discussing the moral potential of humanity or the limitations of human action. Yet, as we have seen in the tragedy of Jimmy Carter, a philosophical perspective on these very questions is imparted through the back door. It is very hard to argue with prescription under the guise of description. The purveyors of this philosophical outlook will not admit this to themselves, let alone to potential interlocutors. [End Page 21] Second, and most importantly, alternative perspectives are not admitted as possibilities—realism is a perspective that as a matter of first principles denies all others. There is, as we have seen in the Carter narrative, alleged to be an immutable reality that we must accept to avoid disastrous consequences. Those who do not see this underlying order of things are idealists or amateurs. Such people have no standing in debate because they do not see the intractable scene that dominates human action. Dialogue is permissible within the parameters of the presumed order, but those who question the existence or universality of this controlling scene are beyond debate.