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Symbolically Exchanging Arguments for Ballots: Understanding Baudrillard

Module by Sean Fahey and Daiya Massac

Poststructuralism structuralists thought that culture could be understood
through some structure that binds reality and abstract ideas, for example
Foucault understood this third order as power. Poststructuralism critiques this
model of finding one specific unifying structure and instead are interested in the
phenomena that support those structures and create them.
1. Who is Baudrillard?
a. Jean Baudrillard was a French poststructuralist who wrote about a
lot of different things this is where the policy phrase thats not
our Baudrillard comes from
b. Topics that he wrote about
i. Postmodernism - Post 9-11 critique of the West
1. Talks about an objective view of what terrorism is
which he believes was lost in the War on Terror
2. This connects to what he argues is a new Western
view of the Other in the global East
ii. Technology - focused on how technological advancement and
the increasing speed of information exchange create social
iii. Semiotics the creation of meaning
1. Thought that meaning was not singular, but was
created by a large and complex system of signs and
signifiers working together. This is shown primarily
through language which is a reflection of a lot of
underlying cultural phenomena. However, language is
often a reflection of power and power is often a
reflection of who controls language there is no one
unifying answer.
2. Meaning only exists relative to other things like
Derridas differance
2. Hyperreality, Simulation, Simulacra
a. Believed that society is situated within this web of difference in
meaning, we try and find meaning and are constantly confounded
because when we think we are one thing it is only because we are
not something else, but when we try and find out what that thing is
we only understand it by what it isnt.
b. To solve this confusion we create a hyperreality or a world with
objective meaning that we create independently. As the exchange of
information got increasingly faster, we as a human race had an
easier time forming some objective whole. Conflict occurs when
groups deviate away from what the powerful considers the objective
whole think the War on Terror and the fight against globalization.
c. Symbolic Order - Since the world is predicated on a sort of symbolic
meaning that we posit, that makes it very sensitive to symbolic acts
this is why Baudrillard often cites act of terrorism such as 9/11 or
the acts of hostage takings
3. How He Is Used In Debate
a. Meta-debate K
i. Critiques the debate format itself, or specific parts of how
debaters use arguments, as a form of symbolic exchange
ii. Suffering Commodification Debaters use images of
suffering as a form of symbolic exchange for ballots which
laud them as having done something good, but fiat is illusory
and nothing actually just happened to solve that suffering.
This answers critical/structural violence affs well.
iii. Political Stasis Debates structure mirrors political systems
that dont do anything and cry that great change is occurring
which is a bad model of politics, use this to turn policy
making good frameworks.
iv. Debate Terrorism (Daiyas K) In line with the suffering
commodification arguments, one can argue that debate is a
simulation of reality in how we exchange these symbols of
suffering (i.e. the media, politics, etc.). An alternative to this
that Baudrillard talks about is a disruptive symbolic act as a
form of terrorism against the appearance of meaning. This
usually takes the shape of a nontopical aff or a refusal to
debate the topic, etc.
1. Hostage Taking Double-bind I read an aff that
critiqued fiat and refused to affirm the resolution in a
postfiat sense (didnt defend implementation to pull
theory) and said that was an act of hostage taking (a
symbolic act that disrupts the space) which
Baudrillard argues is a sort of double bind. Either the
space youre rebelling against lashes out against you
and your case is a martyr for its cause (I generally
said this was theory) or your action actually exposes
issues and causes change.
b. Reversibility
i. Meaning is artificial parts of the hyperreal, the act of reversal
of meaning exposes that everything is made of the same
molecular nonsense and is equal. Dissolves binaries and
stuff. Andrew Robinson is a good author on this.
c. Capitalism K
i. On living wage, Baudrillard was read as a cap K because
Baudrillard really hates capitalism
1. Baudrillard critiques capitalism as a form of symbolic
exchange, which replicates a Master/Slave dialectic
(s/o to Hegel) to satisfy an economy of symbols.
2. Death Drive capitalism functions off of reducing life
to productivity. The creation of plastic toys from
China becomes the goal, not quality of life. This
enhanced exchange of symbols, goods, and
information devalues human life.
4. How to Answer Baudrillard
a. Defend your politics (the aff) as good and say that you are
disrupting the debate space with a good political approach
b. Alt probably doesnt solve, go hard on nonunique approach defense
c. If they make an argument about reversibility, not all binaries are
bad consent example
d. A popular Baudrillard strategy is to go for the floating PIK, by
reverse this also means you can probably win perm-do the alt then
the aff
e. Baudrillards refusal of the real and of science mean that we cant
solve real material harm or find real solutions like medicine.