Mapping Kritik in the Policymaker Paradigm

How does a policymaking paradigm judge factor a kritik into a round? Or more profoundly, how should a stock issues judge handle them? Looking at ballots my team has received on their kritik debate, I’ve noticed both paradigms seem to have difficulty finding a place for the kritik and its supporting framework in the round. Many judges hesitate to consider them, given the capacity for them to be seen as an intervention activity. Consider this scenario: You just judged a round with two competent teams, a solid affirmative that carried some limited advantage but ignored a kritik, and a negative that gave equally modest offense against the affirmative but sustained a kritik. Let’s imagine further that we’ve got a Zizek K which advocates rejection of the affirmative’s advocacy given its lack of capacity to find the answer to the problem in the problem-space of the affirmative. As the negative kritik advocates, the solution points are outside the affirmative’s model and we must embrace fantasy instead of this affirmative delusion. Finally, both teams clashed fully on their frameworks and there was no clear winner.

From my experience, both policymaking and stock issues judges tend to quietly set that kritik aside as it raises uncomfortable questions (something Zizek might have something to comment on as well, but I digress). Instead, the kritik is treated as either an tie-breaking item of “last resort” or is judged on even more vague standards like performance.

Evolution of Inherency: Structural vs. Attitudinal
By returning to some earlier theory, I think there may be the capacity to connect a kritik to the flow in the policymaking and stock issues universes by evaluating the evolution in attitudinal theory. In the world of pre-spread debate, inherency was an item of significant importance and interest. Evolving from its more pure “structural inherency” form, theorists extended this resistance to change in the status quo from strict policy restrictions out to softer barriers. The inclusion of “attitudinal inherency” into the realm of legitimate debate became a critical advancement in the affirmative’s arsenal. Today, nearly every affirmative we hear lightly passes by inherency with a brief reference to some attitudinal restriction. It’s a comfortable position as our solvency certainly requires us getting past being stuck in the inherency mud, and we affirmatives are confident that as soon as we present this awesome plan, attitudes will shift and the status quo will jump on board. Indeed, attitudinal inherency gave the affirmative great expansion in its offense, yet can one identify where the negative’s offense has been equally balanced?

This balance of ground between the affirmative and negative in policy theory is important. Consider how theory has evolved with respect to the definition of legitimate affirmative and negative ground, especially in the application of topical counterplans. Many years ago, affirmatives advocated the resolution. Negatives argued against the resolution as the full advocacy left the negative ground completely outside the resolution’s landscape (hence counterplans finding legitimacy only when they were nontopical). But when affirmatives shifted to plan-specific advocacy, they abandoned large areas of the resolution. Theorists recognized this gave the affirmative new offensive capability, liberating them from having to defend all aspects of the resolution. But this new capability had to be balanced and the evolution of the topical counterplan brought this balance into place. By recognizing the abandonment of resolution space by the affirmative, the negative now had a right to claim that space as its own for a valid alternative. The counterplan wasn’t necessarily topical as it was non-plan. Balance was restored and both positions had new capabilities to advance their arguments.

Kritik to the Policymaker: Attitudinal Solvency?
Applying this balancing dynamic from policy theory, what has balanced the increased offense the affirmative gained by embracing attitudinal inherency? My suggestion is that we consider the kritik as this legitimate balance, as I would propose that the kritik represents an equivalent expansion in attitudinal solvency. What does the kritik claim? According to Asher Haig, kritik raises fundamental questions implied in the very advocacy of the resolution, including whether we really should pursue the path advocated resolution, whether the actor and policy-making approach is the right model, and whether we’re even all Resolved: at all about this. Indeed, what does it say that we claim we are Resolved: and by making this claim, are we continuing within a model that does not find the solution?

From this context, I believe we can give the policy-maker and the stock issues judge their way to flow and vote on the kritik. Consider K’s as attitudinal solvency, flow it at the top of the solvency flow, and factor it as a strategic-level meta-solvency argument. Using the Nozick kritik my team has run and won with, for example, “the affirmative will not solve because its solution locks it into a utilitarian universe that treats individuals as a means to an end and engages in progressive oppression and erosion of the individual. More Federal Government action in alternative energy simply will find no solvency because at an attitudinal level, we will reject it.”

I believe such an approach that finds its legitimacy for policymakers and stock issues judges by balancing attitudinal inherency with attitudinal solvency can allow the kritik to find a comfortable place on the judge’s flow. However, the idea certainly needs more thought as well as input from the policy debate world. Even if it is a valid “Rosetta stone” to translate kritik into the policy paradigms, further exploration of the scope of this meta-solvency argument need to be made. For instance, is kritik-as-meta-solvency an all-or-none proposition, or is there proportionality in its application (e.g. you get 30% solvency because of the K). And I’ve yet to consider a broader range of kritik arguments, such as language K’s and how they map to this attitudinal solvency space. Comments are very much requested.


2 responses to “Mapping Kritik in the Policymaker Paradigm

  1. If my understanding is correct, you say that Kritiks balance out the ground…because Affirmatives are now deviating from defending the entire resolution. To some extent, I am wondering whether the advent of the Kritik has given too much power to the neg.

    Let me explain: too often, Kritiks often have something in them that say they should be considered before anything else in the round. Does this not take away Affirmative ground? If the judge has to consider the moral obligation (and whether or not it is valid) before anything else, wouldn’t that hurt the Aff? Obviously, they can try to diminish it, but all the neg needs is a couple of cards, and the Aff case is not even considered. Does that make sense?

    I understand this was only a small part of the post, but it was something I found interesting.

    • The evolution of attitudinal inherency is what I believe requires a policymaker or stock judge to evaluate kritik and give it placement as a meta solvency argument. I should have expanded some of the thought on the evolution of solvency theory to support this, as there is good exploration on inherency’s progression detailed in Rostrum, but solvency’s evolution is less explored.

      Consider the following example of an affirmative with two advantages, one claiming structural solvency (mechanisms, policies, construction, etc. leads to the solvency) and one claims attitudinal solvency (the solution occurs in people’s heads from attitude changes):

      Adv1. Clean coal provides cheap electricity.
      -> this is structural solvency, to which we would expect timeframe arguments on both advantages and DA impacts based on how long it takes to construct these plants to a sufficient degree. While ratification and funding is typically fiat’ed, we will evaluate timeframe from structural mechanisms integral to carrying the affirmative plan out.

      Adv2. Solves racism: through some link, doing the plan will address a core racial harm. Simply having the judge vote for the plan and fiat its implementation signals the USFG is serious about changing its racist practices.
      -> this is attitudinal solvency, to which timeframe is claimed to be immediate by the Affirmative. Forget about building power plants, the affirmative claims immediate benefits.

      If we are to buy this attitudinal solvency model, this represents a serious gain in offense by the affirmative. Solvency is no longer predicated on external things happening; it occurs in our heads the very moment the ballot is voted (thanks again to fiat). My argument is that if a policymaking judge is willing to grant immediate timeframes from attitudinal solvency by events taking place in our heads, then he/she must also map kritik to this same space as the negative side of attitudinal solvency. Specifically: the solvency in our heads will not occur because of the criticism the kritik provides will keep us from realizing that solution in our heads.

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