Instigator / Con
Points: 7

Violent revolution is a just response to political oppression

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 1 vote the winner is ...
christopher_best
Debate details
Publication date
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Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Two days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
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Rated
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5,000
Required rating
1200
Contender / Pro
Points: 4
Description
Must adhere to the Resolved: Violent revolution is a just response to political oppression.
Keep in mind, that these debates don't reflect my personal view, I am simply trying to grow as a debater.
No new arguments in final rounds, obviously.
Round 1
Published:
I must first thank my opponent for accepting this debate, as always. I hope we both become better debaters and better people through this exchange.

That said, I will delve into my constructive:

I negate the Resolved: Violent revolution is a just response to political oppression.
Because of the inclusion of the word "just" in the resolution, it forces us to consider whether violence is a just response
to oppression. This means that questions of whether violence is a moral response must relate to justice or the question of the resolution is not answered. As such, any argument my opponent makes fulfilling their Value but not the value of justice is invalid, and cannot gain them any ground in this debate.
As such, I observe that whosoever proves that they can effectively preserve the integrity and justice of society, without compromising some in the process, should win this round. Simultaneously, I also observe that whosoever proves that they can provide a moral response in any given situation to political oppression should win this round.
As such, it is the burden of the affirmative to prove that violent revolution does not in any way compromise the integrity and justice of society, while also proving that violent revolution is a moral response in any given situation of political oppression, as the resolution would imply.

Now, for better definitions: 
revolution - a catch all term for any effort to overthrow a government. A civil war can be a revolution, as can an insurgency, or even a coup. To the extent that there's a real difference in how you'd use the term, it's that you say revolution when you want to focus on the change in the government itself, rather than just a change in who is doing the governing.
violent revolution - any revolution in which revolutionaries choose to respond to repression with violence.
justice - fair and fitting treatment.
political oppression-  Wide, persistent and systematic violation of basic human rights or inequalities in political participation. 

My first contention is the counter-productivity of violent revolution when working to institute justice.
As Mattias Iser writes, in "The Ethics of War: Essays”
“The possibility of such violent revolution has as a precondition of what I have referred to as demonization or a denial that one is fighting humans who deserve respect.” Essentially, revolutionary violence breeds a culture that undermines the civility and restraint necessary for a political community, which undermines the revolutionary goal of achieving a more just and peaceful society that, after all, demands virtues of civility and compromise.

Let us take our own revolution, or civil conflict, for example: From the beginning of the revolutionary period in the 1760s, British supporters were harassed, intimidated, and often attacked by Patriot mobs. As war approached in the 1770s, the victims of Patriot wrath expanded to include lukewarm supporters and the vocally undecided, and the attacks upon them and the damage to their property, escalated in severity.

Let us look at the the French revolution, which quickly degenerated into a bloodbath.
The wave of revolutionary passion and widespread hysteria quickly swept the countryside. Peasants looted and burned the homes of tax collectors, landlords and the elite. Later, a wave of violence resulted in massacre if hundreds of accused counterrevolutionaries. Later, it sent King Louis the 16th to the guillotine; his wife suffered the same fate. Following the king’s execution, a bloody Reign of Terror came in which suspected enemies of the revolution were guillotined by the thousands. And worst of all, all of this ended with a bloodthirsty tyrant seizing control: Napoleon. The entire revolution, built up to nothing but counter-productivity.

Let us look at communist revolutions all over the world, where Lenin and his followers promised a system that would release the repressed, empower the proletariat against a wealthy bourgeoisie and create a land of abundance and social justice. The late Rudolph Rummel, the demographer of government mass murder, estimated the human toll of twentieth-century socialism to be about 61 million in the Soviet Union, 78 million in China, and roughly 200 million worldwide. These victims perished during state-organized famines, collectivization, cultural revolutions, purges, campaigns against “unearned” income, and other devilish experiments in social engineering. In its monstrosity, this terror is unrivaled in the course of human history, all in the name of justice.

How is it, that we can expect violent revolution to give justice, when all it does is reverse the roles of who is the oppressed, and who are the oppressors? How is it, that we can call such violence “just” in all situations, when such violent revolution and reversed oppression is clearly avoidable? For this reason in of itself, the affirmative must lose this round.

Wow, I must say that next debate I make, I will increase the amount of char





Published:
I agree with all of the definitions outlined by my opponent.

However, I would like to address something said by my opponent.

As such, it is the burden of the affirmative to prove that violent revolution does not in any way compromise the integrity and justice of society, while also proving that violent revolution is a moral response in any given situation of political oppression, as the resolution would imply.
This is not true. It is not my job to prove that violent revolution doesn't compromise the integrity and justice of society because such a resolution was not mentioned in either the description nor the title. It is only my job to prove that violent revolution is a just response to political oppression.

Political oppression is a tool which is hard to escape from under. Many times, in governments like the USSR or Germany before WWII, a secret police was created to enforce the law of the land, and political ideologies were enforced through physical force and abuse. The problem with this is that the power stays in the same place time and time again, and the people have no way to escape from this iron fist. That is where violent revolution comes through.

For example, we can look at the Russian Revolution. Russia had just lost a war with Japan, and many people had been conscripted and had died. This trend continued many times despite promises made by Tsar Nicholas II to change. Then, in 1917, there were two revolutions in February and October to take power away from the Tsar. Now, while this did end up in the communist USSR, we still see that the violent revolution is what made a change. There literally was no opening for anything else, so eventually, the people had to do what they could.

Now, some people may point to the non-violent protests in America for civil rights and evidence that change can occur without violence. However, the problem with that is that America is based on a voting system and democracy, and through those avenues change could be made. Another important aspect is that there was no secret police enforcing the law of the land as directly as some of the societies mentioned above. Because of this, political change was relatively easier in America than in other societies.

Another problem is that governments get bolder as no resistance is found. They essentially push the limits of their authority; that is simply the nature of greedy authoritarian leaders. The oppressed feel this and must do something if they are to survive, and hopefully make a change in their society for the better. If they are kept from politics and cannot make a change in that area, the only other possible option is violent revolution.

In these cases, violent revolution is just because it is essentially treating the government the way they've been treating the oppressed. As the only possible option, it is justified as a way to free those who are caged in by abused political power.

Rebuttal

My opponent's main argument is that because, many times, violent revolution has simply reversed the roles of the oppressed that it is not just. However, in the moment, if violent revolution is the only avenue that seems as if it can make some change in the lives of the oppressed, then it is justified. The end result after the revolution is irrelevant because all it sheds light on is the behavior of the people in the revolution and if they are able to transform their society to be better.

Over to my opponent! :)
Round 2
Published:
For the sake of clarity: I will first address my opponent's opening/rebuttal, then address their constructive while defending my own case.
 It is not my job to prove that violent revolution doesn't compromise the integrity and justice of society because such a resolution was not mentioned in either the description nor the title.
Justice is an essential component in the achievement of integrity (morality), which is the end-goal of Justice. You do not use Justice to make a less moral society. While there was no mention of integrity, the terms are fundamentally intertwined. This technicality revolving around the term is insignificant to the win/loss of this debate, however.
What IS crucial, though, is that proving violent revolution does not, under any circumstance, compromise the justice of society is an integral part of proving violent revolution as a just response.
Now, my opponent would object to this,
The end result after the revolution is irrelevant because all it sheds light on is the behavior of the people in the revolution and if they are able to transform their society to be better.
However, this form of argument is not a fair or correct one. Removing all forms of impact from the revolution gives us no means by which to determine whether the conflict was a just one.

In my personal conversations with Professor and Philosopher David Reidy from the University of Tennessee, he clarifies what we can do to determine whether conflicts are just.

He writes, “the use of violence as a means to the end of changing political conditions should be in all cases both a last resort, proportional, (which simply means the change in political conditions, should exceed the cost of the means used to secure it,) and likely to succeed to a sufficient degree, as what would be the point of the violence undertaken if it was destined to utterly fail?”

Under this framework, we can determine if revolutions are just ones, and I have already made it clear why the cost exceeds the value.
Under my opponent's, I could massacre 700 people because someone pinched my arm everyday for a week, and I didn't deem it feasible to talk to them. I had a problem and saw violence as the only means to solve it. Doesn't mean it's just, does it?

Now, to address their claims in constructive.

First claim: "The people have no way to escape from the iron fist of tyranny in a non-democratic society."

Let us take, for example, arguably the most oppressive government in human history: Nazi Germany. (Source 1)

The German army was well prepared to meet armed resistance, but less able to cope with forms of nonviolent action.

A famous example is when the Norwegian teachers were told to join the Nazi party and teach Nazi ideology in schools or face the consequences.12,000 teachers signed a declaration against the new law, and after some months the order was cancelled and they were allowed to continue their work. We can just imagine what would have been the success if many professions had followed in the footsteps of these teachers.

In Denmark almost all Jews survived because they were helped by the resistance movement to escape to Sweden and avoid the gas chambers.

In Bulgaria most of the country’s 48,000 Jews were saved when people threatened to lie across railroad tracks to prevent Jews from being deported.

Even in Germany itself people opposed the arrests. In one famous example 6000 ”Aryan” German women took part in a nonviolent protest. Thanks to these brave women 1700 prisoners were indeed released.

Clearly, even under the direst of circumstances, nonviolent revolution is severely underestimated by the Affirmative.
This was not only one of the societies my opponent mentioned, but it is an extreme example with the very "police forces"  and authoritarian leader he mentions.

Second claim: "Violent revolution is justified because it is a form of proportional justice."

Self-defense is not justified if it devolves into hurting innocents.
What cost is the Negative willing to pay for reciprocity?

Loyalists here in America, slaughtered.
Killed without trial or conviction but only accusation, from the oppressors to the oppressed just like that. Does that sound proportional?

We also have the French revolution, bloodbath.
Same as American, but more so. Does that sound proportional?

Communist revolutions all over the world, roughly 200 million dead worldwide.
Those were not the oppressors by any means, but innocents caught in crossfire. Does that sound proportional?

If a revolution comes at the cost of innocent life, it is unjust. If a revolution comes at the cost of switching the roles of the oppressor and the oppressed, it is unjust.
Trying to defeat the state with violence is like cutting down one tree while planting hundreds of seeds. In the end, you are acting in the best interest of violence, the very idea the state profits from.


Sources:
Jorgen Johansen
26 March 2010

Published:
Justice is an essential component in the achievement of integrity (morality), which is the end-goal of Justice. You do not use Justice to make a less moral society. While there was no mention of integrity, the terms are fundamentally intertwined. This technicality revolving around the term is insignificant to the win/loss of this debate, however. 
What IS crucial, though, is that proving violent revolution does not, under any circumstance, compromise the justice of society is an integral part of proving violent revolution as a just response. 

Allow me to be clear. Such a resolution was not made clear in either the title nor the description. If it had been, I wouldn't have accepted. It is dishonest debating to interpolate a new claim in the middle of an argument.

justice - fair and fitting treatment.

This was the definition used for "just" (which is the word used in the title).

So, essentially, the resolution is that violent revolution is a fair and fitting treatment in response to political oppression. That means that we are COMPARING the two. Whatever happens afterward is completely irrelevant.

For example, if a judge sentences a murderer to life in jail, that's fair sentencing (in your average murder case and in most places in the US). However, what if that sentencing makes the murderer more likely to commit suicide? Well, guess what, the sentencing was still fair. Perhaps more work would need to be done on the system to give those people psychologists whatever, but in the moment, when comparing the action of murdering and the sentencing to life in jail, the resulting sentence was fair in comparison to the murder. Whatever happens afterward is irrelevant to the question "is it fair and fitting treatment." The same exact argument applies to the contention.

Under my opponent's, I could massacre 700 people because someone pinched my arm everyday for a week, and I didn't deem it feasible to talk to them. I had a problem and saw violence as the only means to solve it. Doesn't mean it's just, does it?
First of all, pinching is not political oppression. Second of all, I never said every violent revolution is a just response, and that isn't the resolution. Third, a massacre isn't a revolution, violent or not.

First claim: "The people have no way to escape from the iron fist of tyranny in a non-democratic society."

Allow me to change this claim. The people have few ways to escape from the iron fist of tyranny in a non-democratic society."

Remember that Nazi Germany controlled many of the forms of newspapers, so who knows whether the citizens were able to hear about such incidents that my opponent mentioned.

Also, many times non-violent revolutions are met with violence. Such is the case many times in slave America, where slaves had no freedom and rarely non-violently protest without severe bodily harm.

Also, I would like to make it clear that I am not contesting the effectiveness of non-violent protest. However, just because non-violent protest can be effective doesn't mean that violent revolution isn't a just response.

For example, if you're frequently beaten up at school, and one day you just punch the bully in the nose, would that not be just? Many would argue that it is because it is fair treatment of what happened to you. Now is it the most effective? Perhaps not because the bully may become angrier and hit the kid more. Maybe telling a teacher or principal would have been more effective. However, this debate is over whether it is just, not effective.

And, remember the resolution is not is violent revolution the most just response to political oppression, just is it just, or is it the most effective. It is clear that from atrocious acts like in Nazi Germany, America from Britain, and many other places such as Russia and the USSR, they were clearly warranted. They organized and worked to overthrow the government and make the countries better for their citizens (at least until a communist came into power and undermined that goal, but that's beside the point).

Self-defense is not justified if it devolves into hurting innocents.
What cost is the Negative willing to pay for reciprocity?
Again, the debate is not "is it justified". It is "is it a just response". Those are two different things, so this claim is completely irrelevant to the debate.
Round 3
Published:
My opponent seems flustered about the burden I placed on them within the first round, I would like to hopefully clear things up here, so that there is no further bad blood.


Allow me to be clear. Such a resolution was not made clear in either the title nor the description. If it had been, I wouldn't have accepted. It is dishonest debating to interpolate a new claim in the middle of an argument.
It is not dishonest debating to draw parallels between justice and morality. Burdens are often used by either side of the debate (something you could very well employ yourself,) to make decision-making process by judges easier. It is not an addition to the Resolution. The burden of your proof never increased. To prove violent revolution as (in some respect,) moral, is necessary to prove violent revolution as a "fair or fitting treatment."

In my analogy (that my opponent took too literally), the resolution I gave to the problem at hand was not proportional to the cost of that resolution, making it unjust. It was also an immoral action, as I included innocents in my judgement, which is again, unjust.

Therefore, in order to be just, the blood-soaked hands of revolutionaries must be soaked only in the blood of their oppressors, who must have been proportionally brutal to the revolutionaries.

In my opponent's murder-case analogy, no such innocents were condemned, the convicted murderer was given due process by trial, and his fate in prison matters little. 

There are no parallels between that case and the ones in question. 


I never said every violent revolution is a just response, and that isn't the resolution. 

The resolution is not “violent revolution is sometimes just,” or "can be just," 
it is absolute.

Remember that Nazi Germany controlled many of the forms of newspapers, so who knows whether the citizens were able to hear about such incidents that my opponent mentioned.
Irrelevant. 

Also, many times non-violent revolutions are met with violence. Such is the case many times in slave America, where slaves had no freedom and rarely non-violently protest without severe bodily harm.
The repression against those in non-violent revolutions is perhaps the most valuable aspect of them. 
Take the recent uprising in Egypt. In the first days of the uprising, military and security forces cracked down heavily on protests. but activists circulated instructions to protesters detailing how to respond to the crackdown and began placing women, children, and the elderly on the front lines against the security forces. The handouts encouraged protesters to welcome the soldiers into the ranks of the movement and strongly forbade any violence against them. Movement leaders also made sure that repressive acts against peaceful protesters were caught on video and publicized. Ultimately, the Egyptian Army refused orders to suppress the campaign — and the regime lost one of its key centers of power.
This is especially clear in the Civil Rights movement in America. During that period of time you had people who were being murdered, homes being bombed, churches being bombed and there was a sense that evil would prevail.A 1965 march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama is remembered as "Bloody Sunday."In Birmingham images of police using attack dogs and fire hoses to disperse protesting school children were broadcast around the world.


But this turned out to be the factor that won over the people.
"The violence was being perpetrated by the oppressors, not the oppressed and that was an incredibly powerful message and an incredibly important tool during the movement," said Richard Cohen an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

this debate is over whether it is just, not effective.
Under Just War Theory, the effectiveness of the method matters.
It may not be the deciding factor, but if a lack of effectiveness makes the method immoral or unjust, then it can be.

Self-defense is not justified if it devolves into hurting innocents. A lack of effectiveness will exponentially increase this probability.


There are quite obviously, plenty of alternatives.
There are documented 198 different forms of nonviolent action, classified into three categories according to their strategic function.(Source 1)

If the loss of innocent life at the hands of revolutionaries is avoidable, it would be unjust not to avoid it.

Nazi Germany, etc..basically reciprocity.
I've shown how the alternatives work in these very nations, and how innocents can be spared.
Reciprocity does not work when it is against those who have done no wrong to begin with.

 
For these reasons, extend my points, back to my opponent :)

Sources:
1. Dudouet 2016, Véronique Dudouet (Programme Director for Conflict Transformation Research Berghof Foundation), “Nonviolent Resistance in

Published:
It is not dishonest debating to draw parallels between justice and morality.Burdens are often used by either side of the debate (something you could very well employ yourself,) to make decision-making process by judges easier. It is not an addition to the Resolution. The burden of your proof never increased. To prove violent revolution as (in some respect,) moral, is necessary to prove violent revolution as a "fair or fitting treatment."
Proving the morality is not necessary. Is the death penalty fair treatment for murder? In many cases it can be. However, many would still argue that it is immoral. However, whether it is or isn’t doesn’t change the fact that it is still fair and fitting treatment.

In my analogy (that my opponent took too literally), the resolution I gave to the problem at hand was not proportional to the cost of that resolution, making it unjust. It was also an immoral action, as I included innocents in my judgement, which is again, unjust.
Being “unjust” and being an “unjust RESPONSE” are two completely different things. Violent revolution could be the most immoral thing in the world (and that is not a concession on my part), but as long as it is a just RESPONSE, AKA relative to political oppression, then I have won the resolution.

Therefore, in order to be just, the blood-soaked hands of revolutionaries must be soaked only in the blood of their oppressors, who must have been proportionally brutal to the revolutionaries.
Again it must be a just RESPONSE. The resolution is not whether it is simply just or not. Violent revolution in and of itself is just, as my opponent has essentially conceded. He has only argued that the methods through which it is carried out is unjust in some cases. However, that does not change the fact that violent revolution is a just RESPONSE, only the fact that the methods used in the revolution were immoral.

The resolution is not “violent revolution is sometimes just,” or "can be just," 
it is absolute.
Again, it is not my job to say that every violent revolution is a just response. If it was, such a claim must have been specified in the resolution, but it was not. That then implies that the resolution means violent revolutions in general.

“Remember that Nazi Germany controlled many of the forms of newspapers, so who knows whether the citizens were able to hear about such incidents that my opponent mentioned.”

Irrelevant.
This is completely relevant. My opponent pointed out examples of non violent revolutions, and I showed how the lack of spreading information could’ve lessened the potential for such movements to take place massively in Nazi Germans.

Also, many times non-violent revolutions are met with violence. Such is the case many times in slave America, where slaves had no freedom and rarely non-violently protest without severe bodily harm.
The repression against those in non-violent revolutions is perhaps the most valuable aspect of them. 
Again, all this shows is that non-violent revolution may be more effective than violent revolution, but that is not the resolution.

this debate is over whether it is just, not effective.
Under Just War Theory, the effectiveness of the method matters.
It may not be the deciding factor, but if a lack of effectiveness makes the method immoral or unjust, then it can be.
My opponent failed to show how the effectiveness makes the method an unjust response. In fact, I see no correlation between the two, and without elaboration then this point must fall.

Self-defense is not justified if it devolves into hurting innocents. A lack of effectiveness will exponentially increase this probability.
Self-defense and violent revolution are not the same. Secondly, if violent revolution is a just response (which I have shown it is multiple times), then it hurting immigrants does not change that fact. That simply means that the methods used were unjust, However, violent revolution as a whole can be judged as one; there is no need for an individual basis. Because of that, the justness of the methods used is irrelevant.

If the loss of innocent life at the hands of revolutionaries is avoidable, it would be unjust not to avoid it.
I completely agree. However, once again, it being unjust does not make it an unjust RESPONSE, because that deals relative to the political oppression being faced.



Added:
--> @christopher_best
Good luck! They've used this topic before at NSDA nationals, so they're should be plenty of material out there for you.
#5
Added:
--> @christopher_best
Anytime, dude, lol
Contender
#4
Added:
--> @Speedrace, @bsh1
This is actually the LD topic that I will be having to debate at the NSDA Nationals in Dallas this coming week. That's why I practiced some argumentation here, to get a feel for what others would say in response to my Con :)
Instigator
#3
Added:
A good, old-fashioned LD topic...They don't make 'em like they used to. I'll think about voting on this.
#2
Added:
--> @Speedrace
Good debate! Gave me proper run for my money! We will see who is the victor during judging :)
Instigator
#1
#1
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Sorry for the delay in posting - I normally favorited unvoted debates and missed this one
This argument mostly ended up as an argument over what the resolution meant.
The resolution here seems to indicate that violent revolution is to be considered just. If I take the reasonable interpretation of this, the idea is that the resolution requires the violent overthrow or uprising to be a fair and legitimate response to oppression. I think that would be how I would interpret the resolution as a contender.
Pro is arguing more a type of justice that is a measure of an appropriate reaction.
I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the contender here; as they don’t know the subtleties of the resolution as well as the instigate
The case is essentially, that violent revolution often appears to be bloody, sprawling affairs that kill innocent people; what was excellent about cons case, is that he tied in the justification that it is inherent in violent revolution based upon what it is and how they operate.
Pros case is that they are the only means of eliminating existing oppression - even if they do end up causing more oppression. His case is that it’s also fair due to the government having the oppression visited upon them returned.
Pros rebuttal didn’t fully cover cons case here. I would have liked to see more of an explanation concerning deaths of innocents and the disproportionate violence towards part players that con elaborated on
Con continues by pointing out the benefit of non violent protest at effecting change over violent revolution - and again reiterates the harm.
I have issues with pros response - while I buy the concept that there’s not necessarily a way of overthrowing the government non violently, pro doesn’t really address the issue of loss of innocent life, and associated untargetted violence that comes with it. I’d be willing to agree if pro provided a weighting of the harms of the revolution against civilians, or to show examples of broadly fair revolutions.
Con provides a great contrast in the final round with non violent protest. While I don’t necessarily fully agree on the practicalities, this is a pretty well rounded point.
Pro mostly reiterated his underlying response.
So, let’s weigh this all up. I’m afraid I mostly side with pro in terms of the resolution in general: If a fair and reasonable revolution violently overthrew a government, this would meet the criteria, even if the end result ended up leading to worse. Cons case to explain the resolution wasn’t intuitive enough for me to accept. This is probably a formal vs online debate thing (so please bear that in mind!)
What I side with pro on - again, but only a little - is that pro must show the inherent justice in violent revolutions in general: I wouldn’t go so far as to say all, but I felt there was an onus to argue why many were fair. I would have accepted a theoretical argument (they could be just if done right) but things never went this way.
Pros issue is that while I would be prepared to buy that particular revolutions are or were just, the issue of the deaths and punishment of innocents that come with them was never weighted: while I would accept that punching a bully in the face is just - punching three innocent people and a bully needs justification - that was not forthcoming from pro, and for that reason I must award the debate to con.
Please not, con: some of the arguments for the resolution and meaning felt as if they were trying to make the debate harder for pro - without imo good reason, you had an excellent argument for innocents that could have won regardless of the resolution arguments.