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March 29, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Answering Critiques of the Political Process Disadvantage

What Ks of Politics are you talking about?

Most affs link to these Ks.

Often these Ks link to these Ks–in terms of the type of journalism they describe. (aka perf con….ideally well implicated).

Usually there is no alternative or external impact. The alternative is no media outlets. We just read books. Thats massively more anti-thetical to education.

We’re critically educated, so we can parse through propoganda, which solves back better than totally eliminating.


If you want to see underlined versions of the following evidence go to the Cross-x thread here.

Evaluating political costs and understanding tradeoffs key to prevent genocide
Lanz 8
(David, Mediation Support Project for Swisspeace, “Conflict Management and Opportunity Cost: the International Response to the Darfur Crisis”)

There are no simple solutions for the contradictions outlined above – they represent complicated dilemmas and tricky trade-offs. It would be naïve to call for more coordination among external actors in Darfur, as the difference of their approaches is structural and refl ects their respective interests and contexts. There are, however, two lessons that we can learn. The fi rst is that resources are scarce and effective confl ict management requires priorities. It is not possible to simultaneously run a humanitarian operation, deploy peacekeepers, try the Sudanese President in an international court, negotiate a peace agreement, and foster the democratic transition of Sudan. We need to think about what is most important and concentrate our resources – money, political capital, personnel – to achieve this objective. The second lesson is that actors working in or on confl ict, whatever approach they take, must be aware that their decisions and actions have opportunity costs and that they can “do harm.” As David Kennedy writes, “the darker sides can swamp the benefi ts of humanitarian work, and well-intentioned people can fi nd themselves unwittingly entrenching the very things they have sought voice to denounce.”30 Also, those involved in the grand scheme of managing confl ict Darfur must realise that they are in essence projecting their morals and a Western political agenda and that, consequently, their good intentions may not be perceived as such, especially in the Arab world. Indeed, moving from selfcentred and self-righteous dogmatism to a pragmatic assessment of causes and consequences would be a big step, and it would certainly improve our ability to manage conflicts in Darfur and elsewhere.

You should evaluate our politics DA. Their dogmatic refusal to consider political process implications is grounded in the same destructive blindness the aff criticizes.
David Chandler, Centre for the Study of Democracy – University of Westminster, ‘3
(British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5.3, “Rhetoric without responsibility”)

The attention to the articulation of a political mission, beyond the petty partisanship of left and right, through foreign policy activism abroad has been an important resource of authority and credibility for western political leaders. The ability to project or symbolise unifying ‘values’ has become a core leadership attribute. George W. Bush’s shaky start to the US presidency was transformed by his speech to Congress in the wake of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks, in which he staked out his claim to represent and protect America’s ethical values against the terrorist ‘heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century’ (Bush 2001). Similarly, Tony Blair was at his most presidential in the wake of the attacks, arguing that values were what distinguished the two sides of the coming conflict: ‘We are democratic. They are not. We have respect for human life. They do not. We hold essentially liberal values. They do not’ (The Guardian, 27 March 1999). Peter Hain, minister of state at the UK Foreign Office, also focused on the ‘values that the terrorists attacked’ in his call for political unity around ‘tough action’ (The Guardian, 24 September 2001). By association with the cause of the victims of international conflicts, western governments can easily gain a moral authority that cannot be secured through the domestic political process. Even general election victories, the defining point of the domestic political process, no longer bring authority or legitimacy. This was clear in the contested victory of George W. Bush in the 2000 elections, which turned on the problem of the ‘hanging’ chad in Florida. However, the problem of deriving legitimacy from elections is a much broader one, with declining voter turnouts. In the British elections in 2001 Tony Blair achieved a landslide second term mandate, but there was little sense of euphoria—this was a hollow victory on a 50 per cent turnout which meant only one in four of the electorate voted for New Labour. The demise of the framework of traditional party politics, the source of western governments’ domestic malaise, is directly associated with the search for an external source of legitimacy. This process is illustrated in Michael Ignatieff’s quote from the writings of British war reporter Don McCullin: But what are my politics? I certainly take the side of the underprivileged. I could never say I was politically neutral. But whether I’m of the right or the left—I can’t say … I feel, in my guts, at one with the victims. And I find there’s integrity in that stance (Ignatieff 1998, 22–23). Ignatieff suggests that the external projection of legitimacy or moral mission stems from the collapse of the left/right political framework, stating that ‘there are no good causes left—only victims of bad causes’ (ibid., 23). Governments, like many gap-year students, seek to define and find themselves through their engagement with the problems experienced by those in far-off countries. This search for a moral grounding through solidarity with the ‘victims of bad causes’ has led to an increasingly moralised ‘black and white’ or ‘good versus evil’ view of crisis situations in the non-western world.10 The jet-setting UK prime minister, Tony Blair, has been much criticised for appearing to deprioritise the domestic agenda in the wake of September 11, yet even his critics admit that his ‘moral mission’ in the international sphere has been crucial to enhancing his domestic standing. The search for ethical or moral approaches emphasising the government’s moral authority has inexorably led to a domestic shift in priorities making international policy-making increasingly high profile in relation to other policy areas. The emphasis on ethical foreign policy commitments enables western governments to declare an unequivocal moral stance, which helps to mitigate awkward questions of government mission and political coherence in the domestic sphere. The contrast between the moral certainty possible in selected areas of foreign policy and the uncertainties of domestic policy-making was unintentionally highlighted when President George Bush congratulated Tony Blair on his willingness to take a stand over Afghanistan and Iraq: ‘The thing I admire about this prime minister is that he doesn’t need a poll or a focus group to convince him of the difference between right and wrong’ (UKGovernment 2002). Tony Blair, like Bush himself, of course relies heavily on polls and focus groups for every domestic initiative. It is only in the sphere of foreign policy that it appears there are opportunities for western leaders to project a self-image of purpose, mission and political clarity. This is because it is easier to promote a position which can be claimed to be based on clear ethical values, rather than the vagaries of compromise and political pragmatism, in foreign policy than it is in domestic policy. There are three big advantages: first, the object of policy activism, and criticism, is a foreign government; second, the British or American government is not so accountable for matching rhetoric to international actions; and third, credit can be claimed for any positive outcome of international policy, while any negative outcome can be blamed on the actions or inaction of the government or population of the country concerned. The following sections highlight that the lack of connection between rhetorical demands and accountability for policy-making or policy outcomes has made selected high-profile examples of ethical foreign policy-making a strong card for western governments, under pressure to consolidate their standing and authority at home.

Ignoring political tradeoffs is totalitarian
Dean Richard Villa, Political Theory – UC Santa Barbara, ‘96
(Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political, p. 246-7)
Arendt appropriates Heidegger’s genealogy of the technical sense of action in order to highlight the tradition’s persistent attempt to overcome plurality, the politically most relevant expression of the finitude of the human condition. Subjecting praxis to the rule of an end-representing reason makes it possible to exchange the nonsovereign freedom of plural political actors for the command and control exercised by the artisan. The Platonic “translation” of acting into the idiom of making established the pattern for deriving action from first philosophy or theory, a pattern that offered an escape from the irreducible relativity which besets the realm of human affairs. The substitution of making for acting initiates a paradigm of correspondence that, as Lyotard notes, delimits the Western tradition of political philosophy. Within the tropological space opened by this substitution, politics is viewed as the means or techné by which “the ‘fashioning’ of a people according to the idea or ideal of just being-together” is accomplished.27
So long as political philosophy sees its task as the articulation of first principles with which actions, peoples, and institutions must be brought into accord, it reiterates the Platonic schema; moreover, it perpetuates the idea that politics resembles a plastic art. Arendt’s critique of the “Platonic” tradition reveals the drive to conflate political and artistic categories at the core of Western political theory, underlining the stubborn persistence of the state as artwork/politics as techné tropes. The strength of these figures is measured by the fact that the closure of the tradition barely shakes the logic of justification institutionalized by the Platonic separation of theory and practice. Western political theory, as Schürmann points out, has always demanded that action be grounded in some extrapolitical first (the cosmic order, natural or divine hierarchy, Reason and natural right, History, the greatest good for the greatest number, the emancipatory interest of the discursive community).28 As a result, it never really abandons the view that politics is a kind of plastic art, the “fashioning,” more or less violent, of a people in conformity with an ideal. The persistence of this trope is explained by its efficacy for reducing plurality and difference, and by its ability to represent violence and coercive power as “right.”29
Arendt’s theory of nonsovereign, agonistic action smashes this figure, breaking the circuit of justification through the liberation of action from the rule of grounding principles and pregiven ends.30 The essentially normative function of political theory – that is, the theoretical specification of the conditions for the legitimate exercise of power – is suspended.31 In its place Arendt develops a phenomenology of action and a narrative approach to the closure of the public realm in modernity, an approach designed to keep the memory of an agonistic public sphere alive. With this bracketing of the legitimation problematic, a new appreciation of spaces and practices not typically viewed as political becomes possible.32 Moreover, the Arendtian liberation of action throws the antipolitical, not to say the inhuman, consequences of the tradition’s conflation of artistic and political categories into sharp relief.
The teleocratic concept of action may be seen as the primary and most enduring expression of this conflation. With the collapse of transcendental grounds for the political, the logic of correspondence and justification built into this concept turns inward. The result is that the fashioning or “fictioning” of the community in conformity with an ideal of Justice is transformed into an exercise in self-production.33 And with this transformation, the threshold of modernity is traced.
We can see this transformation at work in the emergence of the Hobbesian problematic: the construction of the “Leviathan” needed to overawe its subjects is the work of those very subjects, in their “natural,” presubjected, and radically dissociated state.14 The example of Hobbes clearly demonstrates how, once the “art” of politics is deprived of its natural ground (once techné can no longer be seen as the completion or accomplishment of physis), a paradoxical and impossible logic asserts itself. The conundrum is simply put: the people, who do not yet exist as a people, must somehow always already be enough of a subject in order to author or fashion themselves qua community. The answers to this riddle proposed by the social contract tradition – Hobbes’s pact of association, which is simultaneously a transfer of power to a designated sovereign; Locke’s presupposition of what Laslett has called “natural political virtue”; the Rousseauian mechanism of the total alienation of individual rights and powers by which a communal, sovereign power is formed – have all been unconvincing, to say the least.35 Romanticism can be seen as the attempt to escape this paradox by radicalizing it. Instituting what Jean-Luc nancy has
called an “immanentist” logic of communal self-formation, romanticism elides the distinction between process and end: the subject is redefined as work in the double sense of self-formative activity and product.36 As Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe notes, in the romantic vision the community at work creates and works itself, thereby accomplishing the “subjective process par excellence, the process of self-formation and self-production.”37 The aim of the community of beings becomes “in essence to produce their own essence as community.”38
With this move, a peculiarly modern version of the traditional conflation of art and politics is created. The organicity of the political, origincally laid down by Plato’s Republic, takes a new and extreme form: the figure of the subject who is simultaneously artist and work absorbs that of the aesthetically integrated state. This subjectivization of the state as artwork trope culminates in the totalitarian will to self-effectuation: the will to the self-creation of a people characterized by full actualization, complete self-presence.39 The only community capable of achieving such self-presence is one from which plurality, difference, mediation, and alienation have been expunged: a community, in other words, that is not a political community at all.


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