Resolved: Violent revolution is a just response to political oppression
The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.
After 1 vote and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...
- Publication date
- Last updated date
- Number of rounds
- Time for argument
- One week
- Max argument characters
- Voting period
- Two weeks
- Point system
- Multiple criterions
- Voting system
Revolution: As a historical process, “revolution” refers to a movement, often violent, to overthrow an old regime and effect, complete change in the fundamental institutions of society -- http://www.columbia.edu/cu/weai/exeas/asian-revolutions/pdf/what-is-revolution.pdf
Violent: using force to hurt or attack, used to describe a situation or event in which people are hurt or killed -- https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/violent
Political: Relating to the activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/politics)
Oppression: a situation in which people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom
Just: morally correct (similar to Justice: righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness)
- The debate structure as agreed upon can be found here.
- CON defines “just” as morally correct. Well, in this scenario, what does a “morally correct” response entail? A more detailed definition of “just” by Ethics Defined states: “Justice is considered post fact; as a means of reciprocity – correcting the scales to provide some equilibrium of fairness.” “Political oppression” in the resolution makes the agent of oppression the government, tipping the scales out of balance. A “just,” “morally correct” response therefore would be anything that attempts to correct those scales to a proportional degree. This does not entail that the response would have to be successful to be “just,” hence the word “attempts,” but instead it requires us to consider whether the attempted response is proportional to the injustice it attempted to correct.
- Along this line, to be a proportional response in this scenario, violent revolution must be done against a government where it has been deemed necessary by an exasperated populace that feels as if they have no other choice. There are an arsenal of options for people to take to combat political oppression, such as trying for reform and civil disobedience. Declaring war against the state is a heavy matter that puts the lives of the revolutionaries and their families on the line, people do not undertake such a risk without having exasperated all other options. Indeed, as soon as those peaceful methods inevitably fail in the most tyrannical of governments, or they appear to have no utility against them, violent revolution then becomes the last-resort in the arsenal of options of the oppressed. Thus, CON must prove that violent revolution would be unjust even in the scenario where there seems to be no other choice for the oppressed (i.e. CON must prove in all scenarios, violent revolution is unjustifiable), while PRO must prove that violent revolution should be a tool in the arsenal of the oppressed in case they deem its use necessary.
- Leadership and coordination
- Being branded as a terrorist
- Access to weapons and Goods
- Selfishness and reluctance of cost/benefit
- Misinformation linked back to 1 that makes it hard to justify
- Battling trained soldiers while being untrained
Once you have felt so angered that you feel you must physically act, I see no inherent barrier preventing you from doing the same to others who fail to act. The nature of violence sets the other as an enemy; you would only inflict pain on those who have seriously violated your rights. You are far more likely to see the world as a dichotomy of two views set against each other and believe that anyone NOT on your side, is on the enemy’s side. The enforcement of your belief through violence re-enforces the idea that you must not tolerate even the slightest hesitation.
- if the state is killing your community ... why should anyone condemn you for trying to protect them?
- Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed
- Nonviolent attempts in the past to change the system in China have been thwarted violently.
- it is difficult to imagine nonviolence being viable for Jews against the socialist government in Nazi Germany
- In El Salvador today, where public protests are broken up with guns and riot gear, worker and peasant organizers are arrested and tortured, and villages are brutally massacred.
- RECALL that according to the debate structure, PRO is only permitted to respond to CON’s R1 this round.
- CON argues that since political oppression is most likely to appear in a form that does not entail physical violence, we can no longer classify revolution as self-defense, and thus it is immoral. Notice that CON conveniently only addresses revolutions that use violence against non-physically violent regimes. This glaring hole is even acknowledged, but simply brushed off by CON: “it is arguable whether humans can fight for their freedom with their lives at stake.”
- RECALL & EXTEND PRO’s 1st Contention. Violence as a whole isn't just direct, physical violence. Violence also includes structural violence, which by definition makes even the revolutions against non-physically violent yet oppressive regimes self-defensive in nature.
- Leadership and coordination (you can get public support, but can you get together before the regime finds out?)
- Being branded as a terrorist (your people may accept, but will other governments support you after you take over?)
- Access to weapons and Goods
- Misinformation that makes it difficult to ascertain whether the oppression is truly severe enough
- Battling trained soldiers while being untrained
- RECALL & EXTEND:
- While CON may retort to the last point by saying any action that escalates suffering in the short term is immoral, he yet again ignores that the aim of the short term escalation of violence is to protect the people from an unyielding structural violence that causes harm over many years. The long-term prospects inherently outweigh the short term harms.
- Again, CON’s method of moral judgement relies on the examination of results instead of intent. RECALL & EXTEND: Whether a tactic ends up working or not is irrelevant in discussing whether it is a “just” tactic to undertake. Such a standard for “just” chops away intent and only leaves results. Intent matters.” If we were to adopt this pseudo-morality, then Poland should not have resisted against the Nazis. Greece should not have fought valiantly against both Italy and Germany, and Ethiopia should not have resisted against a fascist Italy invading their homeland. He may respond with his self-defense exception here, but PRO has already demonstrated how structural violence is just as serious in the long-term as direct violence. This renders any such objection inconsistent logically. This has major implications. By extension, we can dismiss all of CON’s practicality based arguments. This rules his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Contentions toothless.
- Even further, by CON’s own arguments he does fulfill this standard either. Under his own admission, nonviolence is unsuccessful about 50% of the time (ignoring the data flaws in the study, obviously). And most of these examples are in reform movements in mostly unoppressive democracies, not movements to topple the ruling elite of truly oppressive nations (RECALL that, comparatively, nonviolence is used in less oppressive regimes compared to violence in more oppressive ones). Any nonviolent movement that seriously threatens the ruling powers is likely to evoke violent retaliation at the hands of the state, as it did in Communist China at Tiananmen Square and in El Salvador. In this regard, the negative is being hypocritical with this form of argument, not only is nonviolence far from being very effective, but it devolves into the very violence the negative has condemned. They may say, “we cause less so prefer us,” aside from being wrong, that’s not the point. The point is that their own standard of absolutist morality is so intrinsically flawed that even a nonviolent resistance is immoral by their own standard.
- Even if the above point is completely rejected by the voter, and we used CON’s arbitrary standard, PRO would fulfill it quite easily.
At the very least, this renders CON’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th Contention’s non-unique as both PRO and CON can access those impacts.
- Even further, the voter can RECALL & EXTEND PRO’s R2 refutations of CON’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Contention. There is no good evidence that nonviolent revolution is more effective than violent revolution, therefore there is no reason for CON to be trying to leverage this standard against PRO.
- NOTE: CON’s source citing “Mr. Weede” should be thrown out until CON provides an accessible copy. The link provided does not work.
- No revolutionary fights against an oppressive government with the intention of establishing a similarly or even more oppressive government. Once again PRO ignores intent and judges based on outcome. Thus, cross-apply all of PRO’s refutations of outcome-based arguments. Just as much as there is no guarantee that the revolutionaries will win, there is no guarantee that they will create a successful state either. That isn’t the point. The point is that, given a violation of the social contract between the people and their rulers, the people reserve the right to try and reform that government through violent means if they deem it necessary.
- RECALL & EXTEND: “Even further, by CON’s own arguments he does fulfill this standard either....Any nonviolent movement that seriously threatens the ruling powers is likely to evoke violent retaliation at the hands of the state, as it did in Communist China at Tiananmen Square and in El Salvador. In this regard, the negative is being hypocritical with this form of argument, not only is nonviolence far from being very effective, but it devolves into the very violence the negative has condemned.”
- The idea that violent revolution always devolves is highly contested.
- Pre-Revolution: Pro has failed to refute my idea with people holding power they had previously agreed to give away. In more democratic societies the “oppression” is appropriately defined and always in an unfair way, especially since the people may decide ambiguously that inequality can be oppression. Or even something as vague as “taxation without representation” that the British had little idea the Americans valued. I already mentioned this was too vague to work, and I’ll detail precisely why here. *** Even our most famous revolution’s justification was dubious to think of. *** Britain had begun a war and needed to pay for the costs while being in debt. It protected the American colonies and despite no “representation” the addition of taxes was entirely acceptable. The Americans enjoyed a great amount of liberty and were basically equivalent from being freed from tyranny. They claimed oppression while in reality only the negros on the plantation were in true slavery. Historians widely “criticize American Whigs for their highly inflated prattle about the "slavery" resulting from British policies” . The colonists never wanted to be represented (as they would simply be outvoted), and would never agree to being taxed (as it is more practical and convenient otherwise). Therefore, Pro’s argument is clearly wrong that the oppression is always obvious, agreed on a universal level, and the VR response is “just”. The people’s judgement were biased and this point stands. The colonists claimed “tax without representation” yet failed to reaffirm the right in the constitution. It seems to me that the people will use any excuse to justify the VR, oppressed or not. Even if we say this is cherry-picking, more morally ambiguous charges can still be used to justify VR’s, making the self-defense argument completely moot.
- Planning Revolution: Pro has given examples of ways that people have managed to succeed but has not defeated any of my reasoning why these may be outliers. It seems illogical to me that the nonviolent resistance with far more participants would fail, while VR with the only fit, skilled and daring fighters would somehow succeed. His source tells us that we must combine both for the idealized resistance. He has not explained how this connects to VR’s in a vacuum.
- During Revolution: Pro has dropped the impacts on their people. With the pre-revolution emotional manipulation in place, the revolutionaries are also likely to harm other innocents and attack the wrong people. Consider that, the military is only following orders and that my argument about defection powerfully sways people to your side. It takes severe pressure and motivation to attack non-violent people.
- Post-Revolution: Pro did not refute the idea that the rational planning necessary for the new government to succeed is inherently gone in the mind of the violence that was so urgent to win. As the revolutions only lead to the same cycle recurring, Pro advocates for a world of endless slaughter and no real solution. This is the crucial difference between self-defense and VR. Hell, Pro advocates for the people’s own power without depending on others for help, yet his own source in R2 that lists the four successes finds “without external intervention, the initial configuration of precision parameters would have led to a rebellion followed by a return to the status quo”.
- “People will abuse violence”
- “Most revolts are not justified” (Craigg)
- “Cases of self-defense are amoral”
- First and foremost, note that CON continues to use his flawed outcome-based moral model.
- Second, RECALL & EXTEND: “Even if... we used CON’s arbitrary standard, PRO would fulfill it quite easily.”
- As for defectors, Howard Ryan addresses this point extensively:
- Addressing CON’s reasoning for why nonviolence works better, he continually ignores that there is a limit to what nonviolence can accomplish. While it’s true that nonviolence is easier to execute, it comes with some drawbacks that make it impractical in the face of true oppression.