Archive for securitization

3nr’s Recommended K Article?

Posted in Manifestoes with tags , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by izak

I should preface this post by saying I have nothing but the utmost respect for Scotty P and it was one of my favorite pastimes to watch him in outrounds (which I had no chance of being in, of course) smash people with 50 Derrida cards in the neg block. But I must take issue with one of his recent posts.

The 3nr has posted a “recommended K article” regarding security studies. Full citation is Kolodziej, Edward, “Renaissance in Security Studies? Caveat Lector!” in International Studies Quarterly 36.4 pp. 421-438. While the article is a good read when you want to get to know the sort of structure of security studies and what it may exclude, there isn’t card one in the piece which could be read on the negative because the article ultimately assumes an epistemology whereby all of the concerns that the article raises about “mainstream” or “renaissance” security studies could be subsumed by security studies itself. In other words, I am not objecting to the article’s content itself–Kolodziej’s writing is clear and he summarizes his largely valid concerns about realist security studies lucidly–but rather its utility as a “K article.”

The article takes issue with a so-called “renaissance” in security studies proclaimed by Stephen M. Walt. Kolodziej argues that Walt’s proclamation “analytically…limits the objects of study [to the state and state concerns about security],” “normatively…focuses exclusively on American national security,” and “methodologically…restricts security studies to a highly restrictive and largely traditional array of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches [read: realism and neo-realism].” Now Kolodziej’s problem isn’t necessarily with realism (indeed, he claims in the closing paragraphs of the article that “realism is not on trial”) nor with security studies per se. Rather, he feels that security scholars have focused too much on the state (as opposed to non-state actors) and the threat of violence (as opposed to “positive sanctions”, psychological factors, or behavioral realities) when trying to come up with theories of war and peace.

The article recommends, then, five or six things that security studies ought to include when formulating its theories: it should be more accomodating to alternative visions of “reality,” it should be explicit about its behavioral and normative commitments, it should include more work from the social sciences, it should include non-Western experience, and finally it should let the problem determine the scope of theory rather than the other way around. None of this is really good as K evidence–rather, it makes up the overall argument for the permutation. Now, that doesn’t mean that this is good evidence–Kolodziej simply assumes that all of these concerns can and should be subsumed under the security rhetoric rather than arguing for the possibility of such a synthesis–but this is the working assumption of the article.

And isn’t this precisely what much of what Dillon or Der Derian or Campbell would critique? I can already see what Dillon would say, that this sort of move is just another demonstration of the merely technical virtuosity of the modern administration of life and calculability–including more things in the banalizing process of calculation doesn’t really ameliorate the impact of calculation proper (a standard move in ontological critique: changing the appearances of things without “making appearance appear”). Der Derian would probably say something Nietzschean about how this move doesn’t come from a height of feeling or a lightning bolt or something else pregnant with suggestiveness but ultimately leaves one wanting more (a standard move in psychological critique: that you’ve got the wrong feelings in your heart when you do stuff). Or Campbell might say something about how our ethical obligation to the other transcends the sort of “study-focus” of the article, that one needs no material study about how the world is in order to get behind this obligation (standard move of ethical critique: that you justify something anethically). In any case, the article hardly provides any good K evidence unless you count decent permutation evidence as K evidence.

The middle of the article could be “spun” for link cards as it outlines some of the shortcomings of realism’s exclusions of the social sciences, normative inquiry, and non-Western experience. However, the impact articulated in the article amounts to nothing more than “you couldn’t have predicted the end of the Cold War,” and one is already working too hard to get an impact from their critique of neo-realism if this is the route one has to take.

To all of these concerns about the content of the article, add the fact that its from 1992 and much better critiques of the shortcomings of neorealism have since emerged (i.e., critiques of neo-realism in its own right as well as critiques from outside the tradition like Dillon or Der Derian) and one wonders if this is really a K article to be recommended.

In conclusion, I offer better recommended K reading, especially for international topics:
Kelly, M.G.E. “Foucault, Globalisation, and Imperialism,” in Theoria 57.123, pp. 1-26.

I would also like to pose a question to the audience. The 3nr did a piece a while back where they tried to list good IR K articles and journals. I think such an attempt is a little facile, especially for someone trying to map out actual academic concerns about the discipline rather than mine text for cards. So I would like to ask: which “K articles” and books do you find particularly foundational to critical IR studies? Of course, Ashley and Walker’s work in the late 80’s/early 90’s is widely regarded as the seminal in-journal articulation of “critical IR”, but beyond this what do you think?

My final goal here would be able to create a reading list for people interested in the K. One would break up the reading lists according to topic and we’d have the ability to refer to the archive whenever someone comes asking us where to begin research on a particular K. So, let’s start compiling the first “Critical IR Research Archive”!

The post is not a lie.

Securitization and Framework: A Lecture

Posted in beating Ks with a traditional aff, camp, lectures, tactics, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2010 by izak

What follows is a lecture given at the GDI regarding Securitization (from Dillon/Heidegger’s point of view) and Framework.

Now, I understand that a lot of this lecture is quite basic, and I tend to find the life of Heidegger somewhat more interesting than his philosophy (damn you psychoanalytic critique!). Yet, I feel I need to highlight a few things, especially given that the lecture ran long and I foolishly put the main point last.

First, critiques are not about the plan. Some lectures will claim that a dirty word link to a word that is in the plan text links to the plan, but this is merely semantic noise. What framework asks is that the link be predicated off of plan action, not the diction of the plan. So, there is no such thing as a critique link to the plan–what you have there is a non-unique disad.

Second, alternatives are not alternatives to the plan action–rather, they are frameworks. If a critique is any argument which links to framework, then the alternative should be an alternative framework. I think this follows easily enough.

Third, every argument has a framework. This is where the lecture runs short. At the end of the lecture, I had desired to emphasize that your framework argument should not be designed to exclude the critique but rather justify your arguments in the face of the critique. So, for example, if the critique is Securitization and its framework is “Ontology First,” instead of a framework which merely excludes ontological questions (either theoretically with education and fairness arguments or politically with a Rorty card) I would rather listen to a framework which answers the question. In CP terms, these sort of answers might be “disads” to the CP. It should be clear that I think the disad/CP model of understanding critiques is horrid, but I think an analogy might prove useful. Against a CP (hell, against every argument, right?), we would like to generate a diversity of arguments. We usually read Theory, Solvency Deficits, and Disads against the CP. Theory is to the CP as Theory-Framework is to the Critique. Solvency Deficit is to the CP as Politics-Framework is to the Critique (remember, the impact to these Rorty claims is the aff–it is weak to claim simply that the critique “makes political engagement impossible.” One would rather provide a scenario for this claim: the aff is impossible under the neg framework). Finally, Disads are to the CP as “Justifications” are to the Critique.

When someone reads “Ontology First,” perhaps their opponents should justify their ontology. It is not as if they don’t have one–oftentimes, they simply don’t know what it is. For example, Mearshimer and Guzzini cards that nobody ever cuts or reads can offer defenses of certain ontological positions (although, one would rather turn to someone who defends the ontology of realism rather than simply describes it: a Machiavelli, a Hobbes, a Carr, or even perhaps a Morgenthau surrounded on all sides by social scientists). Before the lecture ran long, I had intended to identify some basic ontological commitments traditional policy debaters generally make.

One thing that characterizes the ontology of most TPD is the realism of the state: the state exists in the world apart from the individual perceptions of the debaters in the room. TPD would also like to assume that the most effective politics arises from engaging in the state, but this is a normative claim that one would have derive from the ontological commitments of TPD (that is, one would like all this stuff to hang together coherently rather than be a disconnected series of taglines). So, as an ontological position, TPD claims that Political Being finds its locus in the practices of the State (for an account of this one could look to Schmitt, but I would rather look to Aristotle or Arendt, since despite the former being a slaveowner at least he wasn’t a card-carrying Nazi).

Another thing which characterizes the ontology of most TPD is determinism: in its barest formulation, the notion that all events are caused. Perhaps this would be best characterized as a metaphysical position, but this post is no place to get into the nitty-gritty of semantic distinctions when I am mostly out to make strategic recommendations regarding rounds that wouldn’t dare get into those distinctions in the first place. Defenses of this “assumption” can be found all over the place: I am a big fan of turning to someone like a Leibniz in this case, but Kant does the job better as causation becomes a sort of condition for the possibility of experience in the first place. If you’d rather have some sort of update, David Lewis’s 1986 Philosophical Papers or Hart and Honroe’s Causation in the Law provide excellent resources regarding the metaphysical nature of “Selection” and causation (i.e., what factor makes an event a “cause,” what is the nature of this factor?). In any case, this is where a rather elegant defense of realism can be derived. The main agents in political actions are states; all events are caused, which is to say that as individuals we can predict the trajectories of state and collective action; hence, the aff.

Of course, this only scratches the surface: one could discuss whether or not IR-Realism is in the fact the affirmative’s ontology (for the most part, especially on this year’s college and high school topics, this doesn’t seem to be the case), whether or not IR-Realism has anything to do with philosophical realisms (i.e., epistemological realisms like correlationism, Aristotelian naive realism, etc), and whether or not the defenses outlined above are really defenses.

Notice that this argument is very parallel to the “Solvency Deficit”: even in a dispositional (re: Debate, not Chalmers for example) world, these are disads to the CP. However, they are disads that have to do more with the aff than simply the CP’s action. Perhaps this is where my analogy breaks down: I feel that these Justification arguments are disads to the Critique (but they are about the aff–so maybe the Rorty card is really the Disad and the Justification is really the Solvency Deficit) insofar that they are Impact Turns to the critique. Now one might object: But Izak, the only impact here is some philosophical hoo-ha about “right thinking”! And you would be right, but I would urge you to examine what the nature of critique impacts are. They sound like “genocide, nuclear bombs” and other delicious things from terribly interpreted Rabinow evidences. But the internal link to all of these impacts is “right thinking”: think about biopower wrong, and bam!–the nuke sneaks up on you… (and another aside: all “impacts” are really just internal links to death/suffering; debate terminology fails to be philosophical in exchange for being efficient).

However, there is a sense in which the Rorty card contains an ontology as well–its ontology just assumes that we can’t “know” what this ontology is in any truthful sense. This is why Rorty might say something about how ontological questioning can’t lead to real progress: there is a sense in which nothing can be built on this question that has a relevant relationship to politics because it is impossible to say how we would settle these arguments given our radical seperateness from ontology proper. But this is a different post, to be sure.

In sum: every argument has a framework. That is, every argument carries with it or assumes or underwrites the conditions concerning how each team wins and which impacts are allowed into the debate. If this is true, I would submit that it is biconditionally related to the notion that if the argument “Ontology comes First” has gotten anything right, it’s that every argument carries with it or assumes or underwrites its own ontology. And I feel that we should not run from these debates (notwithstanding Rorty’s brilliance).