Exactly. This is how the Democratic base of people of color and civil rights has been kept from even knowing that Clinton and Obama use Executive Order saying they are going to ignore enforcement of Federal law. It is how black citizens often do not know that all of what MLK worked for in justice for black citizens has been dismantled by Clinton and Obama.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CLINTON WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS CONTROL THE PEOPLE'S PARTY---IT BECOMES ABOUT A FEW PEOPLE GETTING VERY RICH.
Social Democracy has a history of the greatest period of economic prosperity-----business growth-----dignity for the lowest of income. The Democratic base IS labor and justice. So, women, disabled, workers, seniors all fail under this umbrella.
ALL THESE GROUPS SHOULD BE EDUCATING AS TO HOW CLINTON/OBAMA NEO-LIBERALISM IS WORKING AGAINST THEM.
Below you see the heading for a meme that indicated the Secret Society/Freemason reference I recently addressed myself. This is the war of deception in politics folks. We have experts having risen to leadership in the US in LYING, CHEATING, STEALING. Clinton neo-liberals.
THE BLACK MASTER'S OF CONFUSION-----WHEN YOU START FIGURING THINGS OUT, IT BECOMES THEIR JOB TO KEEP YOU IN DOUBT.
Strategic trickery: The U.S. Army’s use of tactical deception
Story by Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers
The art of tactical deception, or attempting to mislead enemy forces during a war, is a technique that dates back to ancient times. From the Trojan horse to double agents, tactical deception has been a go-to strategy for military leaders – a strategy that has turned the tide in battle.
The article below does a great job in telling the history of economic and social strategies after WW 2 that at first created a first world social economy that benefitted most Americans and then it shows how in the 1970s the issue of corporate profits became the driver of policy that took US corporations out of the US to super-size profits. The creation of the very global institutions of IMF, World BANK, and World Trade Organization took the US from the benefits that came from the industrialization growth from WW 2----and made it about MORE AND MORE PROFITS and not solid economic policy for domestic prosperity. We do not want to think economic strength built on going to war is a good thing----but it was the decision of profiteering from the demolition of war overseas that killed the American society. IMF, World Bank, WTO all set the stage for breaking Glass Steagall wall in banking and bringing on neo-liberalism to replace social democracy.
Women and people of color will say it wasn't until the 1960s and civil rights Amendments to the US Constitution that this prosperity was shared---and indeed, this economic stability lasted through the 1980s when Reagan took the Republican Party from policies of strong domestic growth----to global market economies----Clinton then did the same to the Democratic Party. All of this was driven not by economic need by US corporations---it was done because of greed----needing profits in the millions to become profits in the billions. The terms innovation come from a corporation's ability to charge more for products rather than simply producing what people need (generics for example). The US economy would have continued on as a strong and stable economy without all the INNOVATION corporations need to maximize profits.
'And along with growing inflation, which was pumped up by the rising price of raw materials from the Third World, came a prolonged period of sluggish output growth, high unemployment, and increasing political unrest that paved the way for the neoliberal years of the 1980s'
Think about the concept of 'mixed economies of the 1950s' and today's complete economic tie to technology and finance and how that fits with the creation of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. WE THE PEOPLE KNOW THAT REVERSING THIS ECONOMIC STANCE IS THE SOLUTION TO ECONOMIC STABILITY.
IS YOUR DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CANDIDATE SHOUTING THIS??????????
'The Golden Age trends in accumulation, profits, investment, output growth, and employment are associated with these particular historical conditions. As such, they laid the groundwork for the set of institutional arrangements that urged capitalism toward the mixed economies of the 1950s'.
IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST—PART I
THE POST-WORLD WAR II GOLDEN AGE OF CAPITALISM AND THE CRISIS OF THE 1970s
World War II was one of the Houdini-like maneuvers that capitalism has miraculously come up with in its history to escape great crisis—in this case, the economic crisis of the depression years [1929-1939], which followed the political tumult of World War I and the Russian revolution. World War II—by contrast, and at the great social cost of a descent into fascism on the part of certain representatives of capital—lifted the global economy into full-fledged recovery, with special benefits to the United States, the new world hegemon.
In the United States before the war, the New Deal policies implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration had proven to be moderately successful, but the US economy still faced serious constraints. In 1939, for instance, 15% of the American workforce was unemployed. The war effort quickly lifted the US labor force into full employment through high rates of output growth and investment—in other words, the economy was busy, with factories employing many workers, producing many products (which means more income, which then re-enters the system) and having an edge in productivity within the world system. This dynamic growth was driven initially by industrial production for the war, then by the expansion of production for export. The American economy, thus hyper-charged with industrialization, ushered in the Golden Age of post-WWII capitalism.
It is important to clarify that "Golden Age" refers only to the conditions of capital accumulation from the 1940s to the 1970s and to the rise of the "welfare state" in centralized economies within the capitalist sphere, primarily in Western Europe, Japan and the United States. These are also the countries that became synonymous with the term "First World." It does not describe the condition of complex social life around the world in an era that also brought forth the Cuban and Chinese revolutions, the Vietnam war, the de-colonization in Africa and Asia, the Cold War, McCarthyism, and intense class conflict and political turbulence around the globe.
To really understand what was happening during the Golden Age, it is important to look at the rate of profit. The global economy created conditions for very high investment rates, high output growth, low inflation—and surprisingly—low unemployment.
This economic climate created extremely favorable conditions for profit rates to grow. But what allowed the profit rates to continue to grow year after year, from the mid-1930s until the end of the war in 1945, was a pattern of technical change in which labor-productivity rose at increasing rates and capital productivity kept solid rates of growth. Technical change during World War II created more jobs than it destroyed, not the opposite, as conventional wisdom would expect.
The Golden Age trends in accumulation, profits, investment, output growth, and employment are associated with these particular historical conditions. As such, they laid the groundwork for the set of institutional arrangements that urged capitalism toward the mixed economies of the 1950s. In addition, the threat of communism and the US victory in World War II established the terms of the Pax Americana. Internationally this meant an increasing role for the US, which had already been the main creditor of World War I, and now seemed to have two main goals:
First, the political and economic containment of Soviet influence in Europe, which was seen as the most strategic region of the globe. This idea materialized in the reconstruction of Western Europe through a series of money transfers and direct investment like the short-term emergency relief from United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and especially the Marshall Aid (European Recovery Programme) that started in April 1948 and was due to last four years. The Marshall Plan provided aid to pay dollars ($13.365 billion) for commodities and services.
In Germany in 1947-49, 57% of imports were financed by this form of aid, which remained at 2.3% of GDP for five years, and peaked at 5%, thus helping Germany reach pre-war production levels in only three years.
Second, after 1950, US emphasis shifted to global military containment, a strategy that necessitated a worldwide American military presence, and wars in Korea (1950-53) and Vietnam (1957-75).
There was also a faction of the US government and capitalist class that wanted to create a set of long-term international arrangements capable of rebuilding and regulating global capitalism. Thus the US took a leading role in the organization of the Bretton Woods agreement, which was codified in new set of international institutions:
- Exchange Rate Stability and Return to the Gold Standard:
One of the main goals of Bretton Woods was the idea of exchange rate stability in order to avoid (according to Keynes) a "beggar thy neighbor" policy, through competitive devaluations of national currencies in order to boost exports. The negotiators at Bretton Woods devised rules of behavior designed to avoid unilateral devaluations. A crucial element in this new arrangement was a return to a gold-backed exchange rate system—the "gold standard."
This worked via a mechanism that linked non-US currencies to gold via the US dollar. In practice, this meant that the gold-value of one dollar (fixed at $35/1 oz fine gold until 1971) was the core of the international monetary system. This dollar-backed, fixed-exchange rate meant that devaluations of currencies required American consent.
- Financing Trade Deficits—The Creation of the IMF:
The International Monetary Fund was set up to help finance trade deficits and prevent recessions. The Fund would manage a central pool of reserves used whenever a member country faced a temporary crisis in their balance of payments. The US has kept a tight leash on the IMF since its foundation and has historically been its main contributor.
- GATT and Free Trade:
The US insisted on trade liberalization. The new terms of trade were written up in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], which was signed in 1947 and which was succeeded by the World Trade Organization [WTO] in 1995. GATT dictated that tariffs be removed, according to the tenets of orthodox economic doctrine, in a move that opened markets around the world for American products.
And last, but not least...
- The Establishment of the World Bank:
The World Bank was created to finance the postwar reconstruction and development of post-colonial countries.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal: In the 1930s, while Italy and Germany descended into fascism, the US moved from laissez faire into a considerably state-regulated economy. Under the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt [FDR], the US experienced a series of programs that established a new institutional setting for American capitalism.
The Social Security Act (1935) was organized in order to assure income for the elderly. The Wagner Act of (1935) finally allowed workers to unionize. John L. Lewis founded the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).
FDR's economic policy incorporated heavier taxation on the wealthy than previously and a bold work-relief program for the unemployed. It also allowed deficits in the budget that took the US off the gold standard.
In addition, the Roosevelt administration created new controls over banks and public utilities. This was when Joseph P. Kennedy—Wall Street insider and father of the future president John F. Kennedy—was appointed Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commissions.
The Golden Age regime was founded on a large-scale political compromise, or "social contract", between the bourgeoisie and the upper and middle factions of the working class that was mediated by the welfare state in the form of Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies. Spectacular conditions of profitability in the system during the Golden Age made it possible to redistribute gains from increased productivity back to workers in the form of real wage increases [ie. those that are adjusted for inflation]. The result was increased middle-class demand, which created a growing market for mass-produced goods that is now one of the fundamental features of modern industrialized societies.
By the late 1960s, the Golden Age had exhausted itself. There are many explanations for its decline and fall, but most of the Left traditions in economics agree that the end of the Golden Age was caused by a precipitous fall in the rate of profit toward the end of the 1960s.
The graph above shows the rate of profit in the American business sector from 1929 to 2003. Starting in 1965—after the economy recovered from a normal business cycle that had reached its trough in February 1961—we see the beginning of a clear and continuous fall in the rate of profits that lasted until 1982. [This time period is represented by the light band on the graph.]
The economic crisis of the 1970s expressed itself—in part—in the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. This involuntary restructuring of the very capitalist institutions that had legitimized the post-war social contract meant that a falling rate of profit was combined with dramatic shifts in international relations. The significance of such seismic activity in the very core of the global system becomes increasingly apparent with time.
The relative stability of post-war accumulation—that is, the long period of stability during the Golden Age—was partially based on a monetary system that ran according to America's rules. For instance, the gold standard in the post-war period owed its credibility to the US's enormous gold reserves. This feature of the monetary system gave American capitalism the ability to take on increasing amounts of foreign debt without the usual constraints faced by other nations, which are obliged to use US dollars for monetary reserves and as international means of payments.
But the dollar's ability to hold its value depended on the strength of the American economy and American capital abroad. As soon as the return on dollars invested by American firms started falling, the dollar-holdings on foreign countries assumed the marked characteristics of debt, with an increasing pressure on the link to gold. This situation generated a tendency for the devaluation of the dollar that was ultimately expressed in a liquidity crisis that reached the world economy in the late 1960s.
In a liquidity crisis, foreign governments no longer accept the dominant currency—in this case, US dollars—at the rates previously established. Starting in the late 1960s, a generalized liquidity crisis caused a run on US reserves similar to the runs on banks that occur during financial crises.
As a result, the dollar price of gold—the fixed link between dollars and gold—grew increasingly artificial, as dollars lost their value while still trading for gold at the old, fixed rate. The fictional dollar price of gold was ultimately exposed to the world by President Nixon on August 15, 1971, when the growing discrepancy forced him to take the dollar off the gold standard.
With this announcement, the apparent stability brought by the Bretton Woods agreement began to crumble. Free-floating currencies immediately replaced the Bretton Wood-based fixed exchange rate system, and inflation in the world economy shot up, with skyrocketing price increases—especially for oil.
According to Marxist economist Geoffrey Pilling, in his book The Crisis of Keynesian Economics, the resulting shock to the capitalist system was caused by its adjustment from the reality of the early 1950s—when US gold reserves were seven times greater than the dollar assets of foreign powers—to the reality of the early 1970s—when that figure had plunged to around one fifth.
And along with growing inflation, which was pumped up by the rising price of raw materials from the Third World, came a prolonged period of sluggish output growth, high unemployment, and increasing political unrest that paved the way for the neoliberal years of the 1980s.
Social Democrats along with some Republican groups saw the removal of the Gold Standard and the drive to maximize corporate power and profit tied to global expansion as the path that should not have been taken. It is this disconnect from Gold Standard that created a Wall Street that leveraged and leveraged, and leveraged all to create short-term profit and all tied to absolutely nothing real. It was this maximizing profits by global markets that killed our US anti-trust and monopoly laws written to protect Americans against this global corporate and rich dynamic the Revolutionary War was fought to escape.
These are the backbone of economic policy that killed a first world social democracy and these are the policies that must be reversed. So, Clinton neo-liberals in 2009 PRETENDED to be addressing this in the Dodd Frank Financial Reform Bill all while knowing Trans Pacific Trade Pact and International Economic Zone policy would kill any of Dodd Frank.
THESE GLOBAL POLS POSED PROGRESSIVE WHILE MOVING FORWARD BAD ECONOMIC POLICY.
At the same time REAL social Democrats were shouting to control the FED------the FED needed to be regulated and power taken away------talks of returning to the Gold Standard to keep Wall Street in line-----all good economic policy that Clinton neo-liberals would never do. Rather, Clinton neo-liberals doubled-down with the bad FED to make economic matters worse for the US with the goal of breaking down US sovereignty and handing the US to a global colonial status.
Now, Bernie Sanders pushed this original bill and succeeded in obtaining critical information from a FED audit that opened the door to bad FED actions. Then, as usual------this strong bill was watered-down. So, was Bernie posing? We know he was the only one to come forward to fight for this correct reform of US economic policy. REFORMING THE FED------returns the US to economic policy that gets away from Wall Street leveraging and global market profiteering.
PLEASE TAKE TIME TO LISTEN TO THIS VIDEO THAT ADDRESSES WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO REFORM THE FED AND THEN YOU SEE WHY A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CANDIDATE WOULD MAKE THIS HIS/HER STANCE.
Sanders Full Floor Speech on Federal Reserve Transparancy Amendment
Uploaded on May 6, 2010Sen. Bernie Sanders argues for his amendment which would bring greater transparency to the Fed.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WOULD BE OUT IN FRONT MAKING SURE THIS MOVEMENT TO GOLD STANDARD WAS DONE IN A WAY THAT IS PEOPLE NOT PROFIT
Now, reforming the FED and returning to the Gold Standard may be the most important issues nationally, statewide, and locally---DO YOU HEAR ANY DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CANDIDATE TALKING ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT ECONOMIC ISSUES? We will not have any of the social democratic needs without these policies....yet, no one is talking about this.
Again------the policies around this much needed change are already being designed AGAINST THE INTEREST OF WE THE PEOPLE and for the yet again huge profits of the richest. This is why after several years of FED policy that imploded the nation with bond market debt and a crashing economic crisis super-sizing the wealth of a few-----NOW BERNANKE AND REPUBLICANS THINK THIS IS THE BEST THING TO DO. No Clinton neo-liberals are saying this.
What happened these several years of Wall Street Obama and Clinton neo-liberals was the FED policy and super-sizing the wealth of the few allowed the world's rich to buy all the world's GOLD. The US has sold lots of its GOLD reserves these decades off the Gold Standard and now, if we are to return to Gold Standard----WE THE PEOPLE must buy it from the world's rich at prices that will be super-inflated. If we had done this in 2009 with a super-majority of Clinton neo-liberals---the price for GOLD was lowest. Now it is record high.
What Rule of Law would do to the rich having all that wealth to buy all that GOLD----would be to recover the trillions of dollars in Wall Street and corporate fraud in GOLD. This would stop the profiteering already planned.
THE US BUYING BACK GOLD RAISE THE PRICE OF GOLD NEEDS TO BE DONE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE RICH HAVE THAT WEALTH THROUGH FRAUD.
Strategic trickery will have the Republicans posing progressive with this Gold Standard stance all while having every intention of soaking the US Treasury that seeks to buy back more gold and Clinton neo-liberals will be silent as they do it.
US 'will return to gold standard', says Euro Pacific Capital chief Peter Schiff
A major US investor has predicted the world's leading economy will return to the gold standard, giving further weight to Republican moves to set up a commission to look at the issue.
The gold standard has returned to mainstream US politics for the first time in 30 years with a 'gold commission' becoming part of official Republican party policy Photo: Reuters
By Andrew Trotman
2:22PM BST 31 Aug 2012
Peter Schiff, chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital, has argued that the US is heading for a currency crisis, and an immediate move to peg the dollar to gold is needed as the economy is caught in a "phony recovery".
"Eventually we will be back on a gold standard, not because politicians want it, but because the public demands it and the situation requires it," he told King World News.
"We are headed for a currency crisis, and the only way we’re going to stop it is by putting real value back into the paper dollar. So we have to tie it to gold.
"The sooner we do it the better because the sooner we start to repair the problems the easier it is. The longer we wait, the bigger the problems get. But I think it’s happening soon [a return to the gold standard]."
The economy is so bad, Mr Schiff argues, that despite Ben Bernanke's speech today in which he is expected to dampen hopes of further monetary policy stimulus, the Federal Reserve chairman will soon be forced into another round of quantitative easing.
“QE3 is coming. You know we’ve got a phony recovery, so it’s going to fail. So we are going to get more QE. It’s not that we need it, but if we don’t have QE3, then we are back in recession," said Mr Schiff, who ran as a candidate in the Republican primary for the US Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010.
"We have a lot of problems, and if we cure them it’s going to mean a short-term recession as we repair the damage. Until the Fed lets us have a real recession, as painful as that may be, we are never going to have a recovery."
Added to North America's economic woes, a "fiscal cliff" is looming. A number of tax increases and spending cuts are due at the end of the year that are expected to weigh heavily on growth and possibly drive the economy back into a recession.
Mr Schiff believes this will push the US into currency and debt crises, paving the way for a return to the gold standard.
"They want to keep growing the government, growing the deficits. That eventually means we will have a currency crisis, and a sovereign debt crisis, which will lay the foundation for a return to the gold standard."
The gold standard has returned to mainstream US politics for the first time in 30 years with a “gold commission” becoming part of official Republican party policy. This commission will look at whether a return to the gold standard is feasible.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman from Tennessee and co-chair of the committee, recently told the Financial Times: “These were adopted because they are things that Republicans agree on. The House recently passed a bill on this, and this is something that we think needs to be done.”
The proposal evokes memories of the Gold Commission created by Ronald Reagan in 1981, 10 years after Richard Nixon broke the link between gold and the dollar during the 1971 oil crisis. That commission supported the status quo.
Some argue a return to the gold standard would foster economic stability and prosperity, primarily by creating price stability, fixed exchange rates and placing limits government deficit spending as well as trade imbalances.
However, opponents believe it would limit the flexibility of governments and central banks in managing economies, restricting the ability to adjust money supply, government budgets and exchange rates.
Gold rose 0.3pc to $1,660.95 an ounce on Friday.
The format in the US of election 'debates' has been so undermined they are worthless. When we watch a national election debate it tells us nothing. We get little truth and canned political talking points. Political forums give chance for a candidate to give a point of view----but no discussion happens to open a real debate with the audience.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS CREATED ONGOING FORUMS FOR ALL KINDS OF POLITICAL DISCUSSION. THIS IS FOR WHAT A REAL SOCIAL DEMOCRAT WOULD BE SHOUTING IN CLOSED-CAPTURED POLITICAL SYSTEM.
'But the greatest loss comes when we lose an opportunity as students and as citizens to engage an issue that has material consequences for actual people — people whose daily realities exist far away from the classroom or the bully pulpit. In this single-minded scramble to play the debate game, everyone loses'.
Friday, October 9, 2015
To win the argument, lose the debate
Willow Yang/StaffBy Zion Barrios | Staff
Last Updated October 9, 2015
Comment0 On a recent Tuesday, nine UC Berkeley undergraduates and I gathered in a lecture room at the Goldman School of Public Policy to debate the subject of jus soli birthright citizenship — a principle enshrined in the 14th Amendment, which grants legal status to all persons born in sovereign U.S. territory. Despite my preparation and my crafted arguments, I had no chance of predicting the outcome.
Those of us who participated in the debate were chosen at random and assigned to a position: Five argued for the preservation of the jus soli principle, and five argued for its abolishment. I was assigned to the former.
In any other context, I probably would’ve been shitting bricks at the thought of debating. But at UC Berkeley, winning an argument in favor of birthright citizenship seemed like low-hanging fruit, as it goes without saying that our campus is widely regarded as a paradise for leftist politics. Not to mention those who earnestly favor abolishing birthright citizenship have been (mostly) tactless conservative candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, effectively poisoning the well from which alternatives to birthright citizenship might conceivably be drawn.
Arguing at a place like UC Berkeley to uphold jus soli birthright citizenship is therefore basically preaching to the choir — or, to coin an appropriately secular equivalent, is like teaching evolution to atheists.
For my own part, I began the assignment feeling fairly neutral about the issue. This isn’t to say I didn’t believe in a position, but I genuinely thought my perspective was free from emotional bias. And in this unflappably unbiased state, I envisioned myself going through the debate swaddled in a golden fleece of sanctimony, floating on a cloud of my own self-righteousness, high above the heads of my squabbling peers, who’d be too focused on the performance of debating to see they had lost sight of its true purpose — whatever that might be.
All of that clarity evaporated the moment I began the research process, and what was once a clear academic exercise morphed into a hideous crucible of anxiety.
First and foremost, I was immediately sucked down by the tactical minutiae. My team and I parsed out our individual roles like soldiers preparing for war. We strategized about the likeliest route the other team would take and how best to engage it. Our language quickly took on a combative quality, and as the theme of battle cemented itself in the approach we took, the pressure of facing “the enemy” grew ever more palpable. I began to obsess and agonize over anticipating the possible responses to our arguments: What would the other side say? What could I counter with? What would they counter that with?!
I struggled to arm myself with as much information about birthright citizenship and U.S. immigration policy as I could stand — not because I wanted to be more informed about the issue but because the fear of sounding like I didn’t know what I was talking about and the fear of losing were so overwhelming.
As I soaked up information regarding the process of naturalization; the bog and labyrinth of bureaucracy, legalese and inept agencies; the sea of personal stories of people lost in a nightmarish limbo, all of it worked to convince me that jus soli birthright citizenship is the only reliable safety net this country provides to people attempting to gain legal status — people who are staggeringly vulnerable.
In the blink of an eye, I fell victim to the initial problem I set out to avoid and had thought in my arrogance that I was above. I became a partisan.
The speech I gave on the day of the debate reflected my deep partisanship. My words dripped with pathos, which I’d hoped would work to influence the audience and disarm my opposition. But as I spoke, what emerged was my own emotional outpouring. It wasn’t until that moment that I understood how much I truly cared about the issue of immigration and what abolishing jus soli birthright citizenship might do to people. None of my preparation helped when it came to my own visceral reaction, and it became clear that I was, in fact, deeply emotionally biased.
By the end of my speech, I wasn’t sure if I was shouting (my team said I wasn’t), but I do know that biting my lip until it bled inside my mouth and training my eyes on my notes was all I could do to keep from breaking down and sobbing once it was over.
The rest of the debate was a haze during which I may as well have been drunk. At least then I might have been better equipped to deal with my emotional implosion. And being drunk would have also shielded me from learning that I am a pretty lousy debater, despite the effort I had put into my speech and research. My pressure-induced sweating and inability to stammer out a coherent response do little to phase an opponent, apparently.
My nerves felt so shorted out that I was hardly able to keep track of the opposing side’s ultimate proposal on the issue of jus soli birthright citizenship. It was only after all was said and done that I was able to learn in actual detail what the opposing side had even argued for.
When the debate finally ended, our professor asked the class to vote for the side it supported by a show of hands. Before the debate had commenced, the class had taken the same survey.
None of my classmates changed their vote as a result of what we had done.
For all our efforts, we weren’t effective at allowing the debate to sway our own beliefs or the beliefs of our peer audience. And despite the debate’s openness, it seemed nearly impossible to open our social consciousnesses to include ideas that didn’t already reverberate inside the UC Berkeley echo chamber of liberal political discourse.
Maybe this is because the critical awareness that is assumed of UC Berkeley students blinds us to our own susceptibility to becoming as ideologically insulated as the people we disagree with. Bias doesn’t occur in a vacuum, after all.
Or maybe this is a fundamental misreading of debate. Maybe debate is not so much a forum to interrogate a complex topic as it is an arena where battles are waged and fought with words and wits.
If so, is it reasonable to expect people to emerge from a debate with new appreciation for ideas or political identities radically departed from their own? The latter scenario is probably rare, if not purely imaginary, and the reality is that people walk away from debates further entrenched in their thinking. How can this be otherwise when debates combine the imperative to win with the psychology of belonging to a team?
Debates foster a situation where people are no longer listeners poised to understand a different perspective. Instead, debaters become adversaries who monitor one another for weaknesses, who watch hungrily for opportunities to attack and undermine their opponents. When two people have a normal discussion, even if it concerns controversial or volatile subject material, there isn’t typically a clear objective, if an objective exists at all. A debate, on the other hand, carries the very obvious mandate to win. Debate is an artform where the debaters’ skill is measured by how well they can argue each side, regardless of what they believe, what is empirically true or what is objectively right and ethical. Because the competitive element exists in debate — defines it, even — the debaters are forced to orient themselves and their argument around winning.
This isn’t a benign side effect, and it changes the way people perceive their roles. It transforms debaters into combatants whose obduracy reflects little more than a human weakness to resist a flawed game. Debaters become both champions and bannermen for larger political ideologies, and audiences are consigned to a subdued spectatorship, where they lust and demand to see their champion win these political battles, to inflict psychic wounds and to draw figurative blood. New histories are created this way in the saga of “the culture wars.”
But the greatest loss comes when we lose an opportunity as students and as citizens to engage an issue that has material consequences for actual people — people whose daily realities exist far away from the classroom or the bully pulpit. In this single-minded scramble to play the debate game, everyone loses.