Asking better cx questions vs a K

Many people follow a script when debating any kind of K and ask the same cross x questions regardless of what the neg’s argument is. These questions often follow a general trend started at a camp or by a dominant team, and like fashion trends they can’t all be fleece vests- some are going to suck. So in an attempt to improve the quality of your cx’s I am going to go through some current popular lines of questioning criticizing them and then offer some alternatives (omg its just like a k inside of this post about k’s… braaaaaaaaaaaaaahm)

The new hotness on the K cx front seems to be “wait, you read a disad and a reps K- that is wack”. While the argument that the neg shouldn’t get to do that is decent, what is this line of questioning hoping for? What is the best case realistic response from the neg going to be? They are always going to give some line about negation theory, or bs about why they don’t link. You know it, I know it, the judge knows it. Move on.

Next- “can our plan happen in a world of your alternative”. I don’t know when the alternative got a world, it must have been after the ask your questions in the most pretentious form possible act passed. Just say “are you reading a floating pic”. The more direct your question is the harder it is to give a BS answer.

“can you name a single war caused by x”. This question has its heart in the right place, but sets the bar so absurdly low its ridiculous. One of 2 things is going to happen- they will be able to name 1 conflict and assert X was the cause, or they won’t be able to and odds are you should wave cx and get to lunch earlier. Even if they don’t know a conflict, how hard is it to say “ummmm, the Franco-Prussian war”- what are you going to do at that point? Spend the rest of the cx explaining how after the Napoleonic wars the balance of power in Europe was inherently unstable regardless of x? Sidebar- if you run a K you may want to google “obscure wars” and laundry list some examples.

Lastly – “who decides if there is value to life?” Answer- I do, and during this debate, there is none. Everyone knows value to life is a silly argument, poking it in the CX is like picking on the runt of the liter. And who decides fundamentally misses the point- what answer would be satisfactory/unsatisfactory? The questions you ask should set up arguments, not make arguments.

Aff: Who decides if yes v2l

Neg: bob

Aff: …. no further questions

So what are some better questions? To think this through lets look at some neg cards and try and think strategically about them. From the wiki I have basically randomly selected the following, I don’t mean to mock anyone specific (other than roy)

So first we have an orientalism card, for the sake of space i have only included the part to be mocked:

Blah blah blah epistemology the link in our cite doesn’t work

Anand 07 – (Dibyesh, Reader, IR, U Westminster. PhD, politics, Bristol, “Western Colonial Representations of the Other,”

Starting with Said,6 the enterprise ofpostcolonial theory has unpacked the notion of neutral academic expertise andhighlighted how Western knowledge and representations of the non-Westernworld are neither innocent nor based on some pre-existing ‘reality’, butimplicated in the West’s will to power, and its imperial adventures. The imageof a scientific, apolitical, disinterested, knowledge-seeking ‘gentleman’ bravingall odds to study non-Western cultures has been revealed as hollow. Forinstance, Colin Mackenzie, the first surveyor general of Madras in India, wasclear about his necessary complicity in the brute realities of colonial power. Heconflated the role of the soldier and the scientist and wrote:That science may derive assistance, and knowledge be diffused, in theleisure moments of [military] camps and voyages, is no new discovery;but … I am also desirous of proving that, in the vacant moments of anIndian sojourn and campaign in particular… such collectedobservations may be found useful, at least in directing the observation of those more highly gifted to matters of utility, if not to record facts of

importance to philosophy and science.7

The mask of objectivity in the colonial discourse hid relations of inequality and

domination. Fiction as well as non-fiction writings were permeated with

various strategies of representation. These were not epiphenomenal but central

to the ways in which the Other was sought to be known. What Rana Kabbani

points out about travel writing holds true for non-fictional writings in general:

during imperialism, it ultimately produced ‘a communal image of the East’,

which ‘sustained a political structure and was sustained by it.’8

Ok, if you are still awake after reading that you need to think “what is the argument made here”. This is crucial- if you dont understand what the other team is saying then your questions need to be about figuring that out. So what is the argument here- that western representations of the other are not scientiffic or objective. A truly stunning observation no doubt, in formulating a strategy to respond to it you need to figure out what the neg is going to do with it.

Probably some of the following

-you have no harms

-western knowledge –> the harm


So here are some questions you could ask, before reading my commentary below think for yourself- are these questions useful- why or why not?

1. Where did we claim to objectively represent x?

2. Are all western representations equally biased?

3. What is it about our particular representations that feeds imperialism given that they are tied to a program for withdrawal?

4. If all western attempts to know the other are tainted by imperialism, how can we argue for an end to overtly violent occupation?

Let’s top there. So….

What did you think of the questions? In truth, they are all terrible in isolation- the neg will never give you the answer you want to any of them. Used as the basis of a LINE of questioning however they are all useful. By line of questioning I mean a series of questions with a strategic purpose.

1. Where did we claim to objectively represent x?

This is probably the most facially silly/easily batted away by K jargon. In reality, it gets at a central component of (what should be your) K answers given the nature of the topic. If the other is fundamentally unknowable/unmanageable by western imperialism… we should probably get out. Saying the war is failing doesn’t necessarily entail the rigid identity constructs their evidence is talking about (though your cards may make them). The idea that we can’t know the other is prog the best reason the war will fail- forcing the neg to try and explain how your ev links is a good way to get them to overstretch themselves or prove your we solve their impact style arguments.

2. Are all western representations equally biased?

Unless the neg is Kim Jong crazy they will have to say no to this. This is seemingly meaningless concession but it is devastating to the kind of broad link args the neg is often forced to rely on to beat perms/clever affs. Some examples of how you can follow this up

Neg: no

Aff: Your link ev is indicting specific authors and specific claims, why does it apply to our XYZ evidence

-here the neg has to basically make up things on the fly which is usually good for you, or they have to make up how their generic evidence indicting people who say the opposite (most likely) of your claims also indicts your claims

Neg: No

Aff: How do we determine when orientalist biases are in play

-this gets at the heart of their epistemology- forcing them to lay it out makes it much easier to turn or no link. One problem teams have debating orientalism is that the term is just sort of thrown around “xyz are orientalist”- this is much better for the neg because they don’t have to defend a coherent schema of orientalism, the more structured/ordered you can make their claims, the more you can pin them down and then turn things. So for example they might say “your representations of stability assume the east is irrational”. Now you can link or impact turn their claims about stability, we have shifted from “your authors are orientalist” which is hard to defend against since you don’t know them, to “x claim is orientalist” and since X is part of your 1AC hopefully you have thought about defending it.

3. What is it about our particular representations that feeds imperialism given that they are tied to a program for withdrawal?

This gets at the ol’ fw/plan focus debate right from the start in kind of a crude way. But sometimes you need the sledgehammer instead of the scalpel. Here the neg needs to either say “its just reps” (which also may be clear from other cards in the 1NC) or they need to somehow make a dumb turns the case argument. This is a good way to flush out impacts that might not be obvious to you to avoid the “OMG THEY DROPPED EVERYTHING” 2nc ov. I liked asking questions like this because usually specific links come out in the block and the 1AR given time constraints gets less time to deal with them. Against over eager K teams who want to spend all 3 minutes outlining their specific links, I would often let them ramble as I wrote out responses to all of them for the 2AC. This can disrupt the flow of the block whos pre-scripted link overviews are now repetitive /useless.

4. If all western attempts to know the other are tainted by imperialism, how can we argue for an end to overtly violent occupation?

This kind of question can establish either that the alt does the plan, or grounds for a permutation. The crucial follow up is this- after they say “oh you could do XYZ” you have to ask “DOES THE ALT DO XYZ”, if not- they just said the alt doesn’t do what is necessary to solve the case- game over man. If so- permute. This is a simple trick, youd be surprised how often it works.

Next card, here i included the full text since it says google books but the pages are not available on google books and the book is from 99 not 92

Imagining enemies means we fight them
Wendt “Social theory of international politics”, pages 261-266,

  Enemy images have a long pedigree, and some states continue to position each other in such terms today. The Greeks represented the Persians as “barbarians”; the Crusaders perceived the Turks as “in®dels”; medieval Europeans feared their defeat at Liegnitz at the hands of the Mongols heralded Armageddon; later Europeans treated the peoples of the Americas as savages; conservatives thought civilization was threatened by the French Revolution; and, in our own century, we have the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the early Cold War, Northern Ireland, Pol Pot, Palestinian and Israeli fundamentalists, the Bosnian Civil War, Hutus and Tutsis ± all based on representations of the Other as intent on destroying or enslaving the Self. It is important to emphasize that this concept implies nothing about whether enemy images are justi®ed. Some enemies are “real,” in that the Other really does existentially threaten the Self, as the Nazis did the Jews, and others are “chimeras,” as the Jews were to the Nazis.43 This difference may affect the dynamics of enmity and whether it can be overcome, but it does not affect the reality of Hobbesian cultures. Real or imagined, if actors think enemies are real then they are real in their consequences.44 Representing the Other as an enemy tends to have at least four implications for a state’s foreign policy posture and behavior, which in turn generate a particular logic of interaction. First, states will tend to respond to enemies by acting like deep revisionists themselves, i.e., they will try to destroy or conquer them. This does not necessarily mean their interests will be revisionist; a state might actually have status quo interests, but the threat of the enemy forces it to behave “as if ” it were a deep revisionist, on the principle of “kill or be killed.” Second, decision-making will tend to heavily discount the future and be oriented toward the worst-case. (Negative) possibilities rather than probabilities will dominate, which reduces the likelihood of reciprocating any cooperative moves made by the enemy. One might say that prospect theory rather than expected-utility theory will be the basis of “rational” behavior.45 Third, relative military capabilities will be seen as crucial.46 Since the enemy’s revisionist intentions are “known,” the state can use the enemy’s capabilities to predict his behavior, on the assumption that he will attack as soon as he can win. Power becomes the key to survival, and as such even status quo states will vigorously arm themselves on the principle of “if you want peace, prepare for war.” Enmity, in short, gives capabilities a particular meaning, which derives neither from their intrinsic properties nor from anarchy as such, but from the structure of the role relationship. Finally, if it comes to actual war, states will ®ght on the enemy’s (perceived) terms. This means observing no limits on their own violence, since that would create a competitive disadvantage, unless it is clear that self-limitation is safe. And if war has not yet broken out but clearly will soon, states must also be prepared to preempt, especially if offensive technology is dominant, lest the enemy get a fatal advantage from a ®rst strike. What states facing a enemy must do, in sum, is engage in no-holdsbarred power politics. It has become common practice in recent IR scholarship to refer to such behavior as “Realist.” If Realism is taken to be merely a description of power politics then this practice is harmless, but taken as an explanation it invites confusion, since it suggests that the existence of power politics is somehow evidence for Realist theory. This cannot be the case, at least on any non-tautological de®nition of Realism; con¯ict is no more evidence for Realism than cooperation is for non-Realism. It all depends on what explains it. The account developed here explains power politics by reference to perceptions of Self and Other, and as such sees it as fundamentally social in the Weberian sense. I take Realism to be a theory that explains power politics ultimately by reference to material forces, whether biological or technological, and as such its view is not fundamentally social. In order to keep alive the possibility of meaningful theoretical disagreement, therefore, it seems better to follow Iain Johnston’s practice of calling power political behavior “realpolitik” rather than “Realism.”47 The Realist tradition contains much descriptive wisdom about realpolitik, but this does not entail the truth of its explanation for realpolitik. What Realism-as-description shows is that when the Other is an enemy the Self is forced to mirror back the representations it has attributed to the Other. Thus, unlike most roles in social life, which are constituted by functionally differentiated “counter”-roles (teacher±student, master±slave, patron±client), the role of enemy is symmetric, constituted by actors being in the same position simultaneously. Self mirrors Other, becomes its enemy, in order to survive. This of course will con®rm whatever hostile intentions the Other had attributed to the Self, forcing it to engage in realpolitik of its own, which will in turn reinforce the Self’s perception of the Other, and so on. Realpolitik, in short, is a self-ful®lling prophecy: its beliefs generate actions that con®rm those beliefs.48 This is not to say that realpolitik is the sole cause of con¯ict, such that in its absence states would be friends, since if states really do want to conquer each other then realpolitik is as much effect as cause. The point is that whether or not states really are existential threats to each other is in one sense not relevant, since once a logic of enmity gets started states will behave in ways that make them existential threats, and thus the behavior itself becomes part of the problem. This gives enemyimages a homeostatic quality that sustains the logic of Hobbesian anarchies. Unlike foreign policy role theorists, who treat roles as qualities that states attribute to themselves and thus as properties of agents (what I would call role-identities), I have focused on the role attributed to the Other, and thus on role as a position in or property of a social structure. Like role theorists, however, I have so far treated enmity as an interaction- or micro-level phenomenon, as based on subjective images or perceptions. I did so partly for presentational reasons, but also because macro-level structures only exist in virtue of instantiations at the micro-level, which means that whatever logics the former have depend on actors acting in certain ways. In most cases, however, micro-level role relationships are embedded in macro-level, collective representations. Collective representations have a life and logic of their own that cannot be reduced to actors’ perceptions or behavior (chapter 4, pp. 150±165). As more and more members of a system represent each other as enemies, eventually a “tipping point”49 is reached at which these representations take over the logic of the system. At this point actors start to think of enmity as a property of the system rather than just of individual actors, and so feel compelled to represent all Others as enemies simply because they are parts of the system. In this way the particular Other becomes Mead’s “generalized Other,”50 a structure of collective beliefs and expectations that persists through time even as individual actors come and go, and into the logic of which new actors are socialized. (The concepts of “discourse” and “hegemony” I take it have a similar, macro-level orientation.) It is in terms of positions within this structure that actors make attributions about Self and Other, rather t
han in terms of their actual qualities. The result is a logic of interaction based more on what actors know about their roles than on what they know about each other, enabling them to predict each other’s behavior without knowing each other’s “minds.” This in turn generates emergent patterns of behavior at the macro-level. Collective representations are “frequency-dependent”51 in that they depend for their existence on a suf®cient number of representations and/or behaviors at the micro-level ± the representation known as “Canada” only exists if enough people sustain it ± but as long as that number remains above the tipping point collective representations will be relatively autonomous from or supervene on ideas in the heads of individuals. The logic and tendencies of the Hobbesian anarchy emerge at this macro-level of analysis. The logic of the Hobbesian anarchy is well known: the “war of all against all” in which actors operate on the principle of sauve qui peut and kill or be killed. This is the true “self-help” system (by which I mean to suggest that the anarchy described by Waltz is not that; see below), where actors cannot count on each other for help or even to observe basic self-restraint. Survival depends solely on military power, which means that increases in the security of A necessarily reduce that of B, who can never be sure that A’s capabilities are defensive. Security is a deeply competitive, zero-sum affair, and security dilemmas are particularly acute not because of the nature of weapons ± the offense±defense balance ± but because of intentions attributed to others.52 Even if what states really want is security rather than power their collective beliefs force them to act as if they are power-seeking. This structure generates four “tendencies,” macrolevel patterns that will get realized unless they are blocked by countervailing forces.53 The ®rst is endemic and unlimited warfare. This does not mean that states will constantly be at war, since material considerations may suppress the manifestation of this tendency for a time, but as long as states collectively represent each other in Hobbesian terms, war may quite literally “at any moment occur.”54 A second is the elimination of “un®t” actors: those not adapted for warfare, and those too weak militarily to compete. This means, on the one hand, as Waltz argues, that we should see a tendency toward functional isomorphism, with all political entities becoming “like units” (states) with similar war®ghting capabilities.55 On the other hand, however ± something Waltz does not predict ± we should also see a high death rate among weak states. Since their territories will be conquered by the strong, this will generate a corresponding tendency toward empire-building and reduction in the overall number of political units ± toward a concentration of power.56 Partly counteracting this tendency is a third: states powerful enough to avoid elimination will balance each other’s power.57 However, in contrast to Waltz’s view of balancing as the fundamental tendency of anarchy in general, the lack of inhibition and self-restraint in Hobbesian cultures suggests that balances of power there will be dif®cult to sustain, with the tendency toward consolidation being dominant in the long run. Finally, a Hobbesian system will tend to suck all of its members into the fray, making nonalignment or neutrality very dif®cult.58 The principal exception will be states that are able to “hide” because of the material condition of geography (Switzerland in World War II), although geography’s signi®cance is itself subject to material changes in technology (nuclear weapons).


I will say- one of the reasons I picked this card is I think it is pretty good- we can’t shoot fish in barrels all the time. It lays out some decent args for enemy image –> violence, and pre-empts a lot of affirmative arguments.

That being said- this is also a card where given its length- about 4 full pages, as much as it probably pains you the un-underlined parts should probably be read. I don’t know how people underline this, but I assume they keep the “threats can be real” part out of it. But I digress…

So what kind of questions do you need to ask here? Again, start with understanding the argument ( i know, annoying). Wendt is a (the) constructivist -so his bief is that IR is a social endeavor and realists are like D&D players- anti social.(sidebar- if you can defend that you are not realist, this would be a good place to do it)

This is a good place to start setting up your case specific arguments with some questions about your specific advantages and how the negatives alternative view of the world addresses them. For starters, I would ask: “is the alternative constructivism” – if its not this card probably doesn’t do much for them- if we don’t work identity into our concept of IR we can’t really alter the image of the enemy. If they have combined this card with Grondin for example, they have some problems. But lets assume their links are consistent and they say yes we defend constructivism. You are now in much better shape than 9/10 other K debates as you have a specific theory you can attack. If they say no, you need to ask follow ups like “how does the alt challenge enemy images since they are already out there/not all caused by the aff”. Another good follow up would be to ” since your evidence says all enemy images cause conflict, what about XYZ” and insert examples where people hated each other but didn’t go to war- like the cold war, the US and Canada, Angelina and Jennifer, Ja Rule and every good rapper etc.

One more quick example

Securitization is a precondition to genocide- their advantage descriptions will be used to justify massive violence
Karsten Friis, UN Sector @ the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, 2k [Peace and Conflict Studies 7.2, “From Liminars to Others: Securitization Through Myths,”]

The problem with societal securitization is one of representation. It is rarely clear in advance who it is that speaks for a community. There is no system of representation as in a state. Since literately anyone can stand up as representatives, there is room for entrepreneurs. It is not surprising if we experience a struggle between different representatives and also their different representations of the society. What they do share, however, is a conviction that they are best at providing (a new) order. If they can do this convincingly, they gain legitimacy. What must be done is to make the uncertain certain and make the unknown an object of knowledge. To present a discernable Other is a way of doing this. The Other is represented as an Other — as an unified single actor with a similar unquestionable set of core values (i.e. the capital “O”). They are objectified, made into an object of knowledge, by re-presentation of their identity and values. In other words, the representation of the Other is depoliticized in the sense that its inner qualities are treated as given and non-negotiable. In Jef Huysmans (1998:241) words, there is both a need for a mediation of chaos as well as of threat. A mediation of chaos is more basic than a mediation of threat, as it implies making chaos into a meaningful order by a convincing representation of the Self and its surroundings. It is a mediation of “ontological security”, which means “…a strategy of managing the limits of reflexivity … by fixing social relations into a symbolic and institutional order” (Huysmans 1998:242). As he and others (like Hansen 1998:240) have pointed out, the importance of a threat construction for political identification, is often overstated. The mediation of chaos, of being the provider of order in general, is just as important. This may imply naming an Other but not necessarily as a threat. Such a dichotomization implies a necessity to get rid of all the liminars (what Huysmans calls “strangers”). This is because they “…connote a challenge to categorizing practices through the impossibility of being categorized”, and does not threaten the community, “…but the possibility of ordering itself” (Huysmans 1998:241). They are a challenge to the entrepreneur by their very existence. They confuse the dichotomy of Self and Other and thereby the entrepreneur’s mediation of chaos. As mentioned, a liminar can for instance be people of mixed ethnical ancestry but also representations of competing world-pictures. As Eide (1998:76) notes: “Over and over again we see that the “liberals” within a group undergoing a mobilisation process for group conflict are the first ones to go”. The liminars threaten the ontological order of the entrepreneur by challenging his representation of Self and Other and his mediation of chaos, which ultimately undermines the legitimacy of his policy. The liminars may be securitized by some sort of disciplination, from suppression of cultural symbols to ethnic cleansing and expatriation. This is a threat to the ontological order of the entrepreneur, stemming from inside and thus repoliticizing the inside/outside dichotomy. Therefore the liminar must disappear. It must be made into a Self, as several minority groups throughout the world have experienced, or it must be forced out of the territory. A liminar may also become an Other, as its connection to the Self is cut and their former common culture is renounced and made insignificant. In Anne Norton’s (1988:55) words, “The presence of difference in the ambiguous other leads to its classification as wholly unlike and identifies it unqualifiedly with the archetypal other, denying the resemblance to the self.” Then the liminar is no longer an ontological danger (chaos), but what Huysmans (1998:242) calls a mediation of “daily security”. This is not challenging the order or the system as such but has become a visible, clear-cut Other. In places like Bosnia, this naming and replacement of an Other, has been regarded by the securitizing actors as the solution to the ontological problem they have posed. Securitization was not considered a political move, in the sense that there were any choices. It was a necessity: Securitization was a solution based on a depoliticized ontology.10 This way the world-picture of the securitizing actor is not only a representation but also made into reality. The mythical second-order language is made into first-order language, and its “innocent” reality is forced upon the world. To the entrepreneurs and other actors involved it has become a “natural” necessity with a need to make order, even if it implies making the world match the map. Maybe that is why war against liminars are so often total; it attempts a total expatriation or a total “solution” (like the Holocaust) and not only a victory on the battlefield. If the enemy is not even considered a legitimate Other, the door may be more open to a kind of violence that is way beyond any war conventions, any jus in bello. This way, securitizing is legitimized: The entrepreneur has succeeded both in launching his world-view and in prescribing the necessary measures taken against it. This is possible by using the myths, by speaking on behalf of the natural and eternal, where truth is never questioned.


First thing I would ask in cx here is “what is a liminar”- Vegas puts the line at 5-2 they don’t know. Anywhoo- this card like most has strengths and weaknesses. CX is the time to hype up the weaknesses, and the biggest weakness of this card is the abstract/theoretical nature of it. It has no examples or scenarios leaving the impact very nebulous. So instead of asking the previously mocked “name 1 dead liminar” style of question, a stronger version is the “XYZ liminars not dead, how?”. But we can do better than even that. At its most simple, I would ask a question like “how do we kill liminars in Iraq when the plan withdrawals all our troops?”. Here they will have to rely on some kind of turns the case style arg which are always soooooooooo lame, and now you get to answer it in the 2AC instead of 1AR- cross apply from above. If they connect the plan to a broader project of militarism, then you need to ask follow up questions about the link threshold- if the impact stems from broader militarism how is it unique/how is the plan what pushes us over the brink etc.

I would also ask a series of questions about what the affirmative does to counter the violence of representations- I don’t think the point of this card is “if you dont vote aff, problem goes away entirely” – it is making a much more nuanced argument like that. If the neg commits to simplistic explanations of how the alternative solves it makes a permutation much easier. Which brings me to my last point, using the answers you get from these questions.

What do I mean when I say use their answers to support the perm? I am generally of the mind that most perms are stupid, they seem ok in principle but they end up a mashup of sandstorm and soldier boy- extremely disappointing. The more specific you force the neg to be about the alternative, the easier it is to make a perm make sense however. If the neg says “the alt does XYZ to overcome ABC” you can now permute specifically XYZ, and the odds they have evidence about the combination of your advocacy and XYZ is low. This is an effective trick because most negatives want to take the easy road in cx- they don’t want to spend time on nuance or don’t understand enough to explain their argument fully- so they fall back on debate tricks and rubrics they have learned over time. Fearful of losing alternative solvency, they will often say things they shouldn’t and even though their links are to reps they will explain the alt as action and then you have them because their perm answers won’t make sense.

7 thoughts on “Asking better cx questions vs a K

  1. Herndon

    Great post & a good read. My only contribution is that I often think that it is good in cross-x "to pick on the runt of the litter." Your example is mocking the "no value to life" impact.

    Anytime you can make large meta-questions like Value-to-life, framework issues, impact framing in general, have less value – you should do it.

    Although, maybe you just think judges already give VTL less credibility than I fear they do now.

    As Dylan Keenan once suggested, "If Capitalism means there is no value to life, does that mean no human in the western world has had value for the last 2000 or so years?" is a quality question, no?

    2010 ENDI 6 week Seniors Staff

  2. Scott Phillips


    what possible answers do you think they could give/how does the answer change your 2ac?

    Im guessing they would either
    -nit pick the question- cap hasn't been around for 2k years, is not a western concept exclusively blah blah blah
    -say somethign dumb like "of course not, cause the plan was never done to trigger the link"
    -say "nope"
    -say "various people have had various levels of value related to their exposure/exploitation by capitalism"

    either way the 2AC still has to read AT: v2l card.

  3. Choi

    In reference to the Wendt article, why is constructivism incompatible with Grondin? Aren't they both critical of hegemonic interpretations of IR and think they are in some way socially constructed?

    1. Scott Phillips

      Re: Grondin/Wendt

      Being against the same thing doesn't mean you are for the same things.

      Nalini PERSRAM Sociology @ Essex ’99 in Soverignty and Subjectivity eds. Edkins and Pin-Fat p. 169-170

      There is an instructive narrative here, one that has a well-defined objective and tactical rhetoric. In making the formulation of a mainstream critical theory of world politics the goal, drawing upon concepts of social construction and intersubjectivity that are taken by too many to be indica tive of the cutting (but not dangerous) edge of international relations theo ry, and finally stepping away from this mode of interpretation, what is pro duced is an account that has proved to be convincing to a number of scholars who believe themselves interested in the development of a critical theory of world politics. There is an air of having grasped the crucial insights of some of the more influential contemporary social theories and having been discerning and selective in order to make an important contri bution to the refinement of the study of what really continues to matter in international relations: the state. The ingenuity lies in the overtness of the distancing maneuver: it is what makes the narrative seem plausible and innovative and what construes its author as a craftsman. The implications associated with the critique of epistemology (realism and rationalism) that would initiate an ontological shift (at the conceptual level of the state) are cut off. What remains is an aura of reconstructedness that lends a renewed authority to primacy of the reified unit of analysis in international relations theory, the essentialized state. The account of constructivism, while neglecting subjectivity, speaks of radical transformation using the overdetermined vocabulary of the "cogni tive individual."I8 But no degree of gesticulation toward the notions of intersubjectivity or social construction—toward "expanding the vocabu lary"—can change "the ground one is walking on" if, to stay with the anal ogy, that ground is a linguistic structure. 19 Critiques of rationalism and real ism notwithstanding, rationalism in its instrumental form is left largely intact, appearing as the promise of the increasing technologization of power through the manipulation of cognition, itself a concept that remains wedded to the notion of a fundamental separation between "structures" and "agents"; not too far behind it trails a form of realism that draws upon the powers of cognition to act "as if' there were a real world out there. A recent rendition of social constructivism states that realism and liberalism share, broadly speaking, a complementarity whereby theories of norms and identi ty fill the gaps of other perspectives.20 Constructivism has been shown to overlap with rationalism in its focus on choice21 and elsewhere has even been characterized as being one color of the many "stripes" of realism.22 The discourse of constructivism reflects an exemplary moment in the exercise of appropriation in international studies. If singularity has had its day, then better a dual ontology than a split subject, is what seems to be the slogan. From the mainstream, constructivism appears to be subtle and sophisticated; from the critical sidelines it looks very different in its uncouth engagement with the practice of disciplinary sovereignty.23 By refusing to shake the assumption of the subject as essentially unified ego and therefore to take on the profound implications that follow such radical questioning, constructivism represents not the possibility for developing a critical theory of world politics but newly adorned neo-orthodoxy.

  4. Anon

    Considering the utility of the link turn and perm on a lot of the K's this year (i.e. Orientalism, Spanos, Imperialism) what arguments should the negative make against link turns etc. because it seems here that obviously saying "we k your representations of the middle east as a dangerous place" is not enough…

    1. Anon

      Against Spanos the link turn is the opposite of what you want to do. The link IS that you are sanitizing imperialism by making minor modifications to the distribution of military assets.

  5. Michael Antonucci

    @ Anon.

    Characterizing your arguments as "link turns" is almost universally disastrous.

    You can and should make all of the same arguments about an alternate political strategy.

    Analogizing these arguments to "link turns" implies that you accept the negative's overarching approach, but actually instantiate resistance better than the alt.

    That's extremely difficult to do – you're setting yourself up to fail with an analogy that doesn't clarify.

    To answer your actual question –

    – claim the alt solves all the link turns. Support this claim with arguments.

    – consider floating the alt. If you're very concerned, consider overtly declaring that you're going to do the aff in the 1NC, as most affs are terrible on theory these days.

    – not to be cute, but… get a link to what the aff does, and make your criticism entirely about that link from the outset. Links are very important.


    Great post.

    I eagerly await the trickle-down of your sample questions. When I hear "are all Western reps EQUALLY biased – like in EVERY WORLD? In ALL THE WORLDS? What about the world of the alt and the plan done later – are they AS biased then?" I'll now know who to call.

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