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That nationalism has a damaging impact on society

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BlackflagBlackflag (OG)
I'm glad to open this contentious issue on our parliament's agenda. An issue that dates back to the beginning of history itself. To answer the question of government promoted nationalism, we must first ask, does nationalism hurt society or aid society?

My party is of the belief that nationalism both hurts and helps society, but the resolution we come to discuss isn't over whether nationalism is good or bad, but if it has a "damaging effect on society". The party I represent has done vigorous research on the issue, and are confident that while nationalism is good and beneficial, there is a degree of collateral damage that damage's the society we are sworn to protect.

By identifying the damages, our government can ensure adequate legislation in minimizing the harms, and maximizing the goods. The CRA has identified three primary forms of nationalism...
- Civic Nationalism
- Ethnic Nationalism 
- Territorial Nationalism  

The house is willing to present an in depth analysis into each form of nationalism, and in proper manner, show evidence for the various harms that come as a result. We are a proud government! We are a united government! We must not let our pride and unity blind our duty to protect liberty and ensure world peace!

I leave the floor to the opposition, and eagerly await their reply to our assertion of evidence. Our house will wait on the opposition's thoughts before proceeding with our evidence. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-15 19:17:02
| Speak Round
JoepbrJoepbr (OO)

Thanks for inviting me to this debate.

First, I'd like to clarify that I'll be taking the position that, on balance, the benefits of nationalism outweigh the harms. This position arises from a very different interpretation of the resolution than that presented by OG. It seems that OG is assuming a quite comfortable BoP by implying that simply proving that nationalism has "a degree of collateral damage" is enough to support the resolution. Now, I think anyone can reasonably agree that almost everything - especially such a controversial issue as nationalism - has a downside, even things like eating chocolate and having sex have downsides that even the worst chocoholics and perverts would admit, so it would be extremely pretentious if I tried to claim that nationalism have no downsides at all, as OG is implying to be my BoP, since all you have to do is to open any mediocre history book or watch any ordinary news channel do see the evidence against such a claim. 
That said, I could just as easily shift the interpretation of the resolution in a way that favors my side, that is, by claiming that, in order to support the resolution, the government must prove that nationalism is harmful in every way, but doing that would not only be unfair, but also unnecessary. When OG says that "while nationalism is good and beneficial, there is a degree of collateral damage that damage's (sic) the society we are sworn to protect", it can be assumed that the idea he is trying to propose is that, despite some minor disadvantages, nationalism is, as a whole, beneficial and desirable. Well this goes directly against the resolution he is supposed to defend, so it can safely be considered a concession, especially when some of his final declarations points not just to a support to the idea of nationalism, but also to an attempt of promoting it.

With that said, I'll proceed to develop my case, first by identifying exactly what nations and nationalism are and where they comes from, which is crucial to understand that nationalism is not just beneficial, but also a necessary element to guarantee stability and harmony in any modern society:

Imagined Communities

Unlike OG points out, nationalism is not an issue that "dates back to the beginning of history itself", in fact it's quite a recent phenomenon, as OG himself seems to indirectly notice with the video he uses to illustrate his argument: nationalism arises with the French Revolution (although it gradually developed throughout modern history, it was in the French Revolution that it emerged as we know it today). According to Benedict Anderson[1], a nation is an "imagined community", that is, a broad group of individuals who share, or at least believe to share, a common identity and a sense of fraternity. It's imagined because, since it encompasses a great number of people, it's impossible for a member of such a community to have direct contact with all the other members, therefore, such a community can only exist as the product of a social construct, and the social element that is responsible for the creation, development  and perpetuation of this construct is called nationalism.
However, a nation isn't the only type of 'imagined community'. Humans have an inherent necessity of belonging to and being accepted as part of something great then themselves, since national states as the main form of organization of societies and the international system were only formed in the 17th century, people before that would have allegiances to other types of groups similar to "imagined communities", such as the group of members of a religious faith or the subjects of a king. The most important difference between these other communities and the idea of a nation is that the nation is necessarily both territorial and sovereign. It's territorial because it has has finite (albeit elastic) geographical boundaries, therefore no nation claims to extend its domain to the whole humankind, nor have such a domain as its final goal, like some universalist religions (e.g.: Christianity and Islam) do (OG identifies "territorial nationalism" as only a form of nationalism, however, by its own nature, every nation must have or at least claim to have a defined territory, therefore it's clear that every type of nationalism must be territorial, so I hope he can clarify this point in the next round).  And it's sovereign in the sense that those who pledge allegiance to it must not be subordinated to any other authority higher or equal to that of the nation itself, a characteristic that is directly opposed to the types of allegiance that existed in the medieval and early modern era, in which a person could have equal allegiances to several institutions at the same time, like the rule of a monarch (or even to different monarchs), the authority of a church, and several other hierarchical structures that existed independently of the interference from a higher power.
The nation, and consequently nationalism, is superior to any other form of imagined communities, because, without being bounded by a territory, a community will be necessarily in permanent conflict with any other group in the world that refuses its supremacy, as can be noticed by the historical relations between the Christian and Islamic worlds, for example. And without the primacy of sovereignty, different authorities that overlap each other have an strong potential for conflict, something that happened in the Thirty Years' War, when the conflicts between religious and secular allegiances could only be solved with the establishment of the sovereignty of the national state as the fundamental premise for the organization of the international system[2].
The conclusion we can take from these ideas is that the elements of territoriality and sovereignty that define the "imagined community" of a nation have intrinsic stabilizing elements that prevents the conflicts inherent to non-bounded communities and the instability characteristic of non-sovereign ones, however, for a nation to be completely successful in superseding these unstable and conflictual institutions, it must not only exist objectively, but it must be promoted in the hearts and minds of people, since an "imagined community" is in essence a social construct, and nationalism is the element that underlies this construct.

Nationalism is more modern than you might think

I could summary my argument in the following way:
  • Humans have a natural tendency to seek to belong to a group or an "imagined community";
  • Other types of "imagined communities" other than a nation are inherently unstable and conflictual, since they lack the stabilizing elements of territoriality and sovereignty;
  • A nation is, thus, the most beneficial type of "imagined community";
  • Therefore promoting the ideals that create and sustain the "imagined community" of a nation through nationalism is beneficial and less damaging for a society than having it pledging allegiance to other institutions;
  • Which means that, on balance, nationalism is more beneficial than any other alternative.

In the next round I'll develop an analysis of an specific case that exemplifies the reasoning behind my argument.

[1] - http://www.nationalismproject.org/what/anderson.htm
[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Westphalia

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-18 05:11:30
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (OG)
I thank the opposition for opening up this debate. We fully concede that humans have a need to be apart of something. A greater purpose let's say. Unfortunately, that does little to further the resolution. We are asked, is nationalism damaging on society? Not on balance. This isn't a debate where one side has to prove nationalism is 51% good or bad. No, we are asked, as a government, to decide the issue, "does nationalism have a damaging impact on society"?

My side will be arguing nationalism does have a damaging impact. The opposition should be arguing nationalism doesn't have a damaging impact. I hate clarifying the set resolution during a debate, but my house does not believe we are debating whether nationalism is net-harmful or not. The item is clear. We gathered here to debate the issue. Does it damage our society, in anyway? The opposition feels this resolution is unfair to their side. The truth is one sided, it doesn't pick favorites. The government doesn't host competitive debates. The government hosts debates to reach conclusions on pretentious issues. As far as the floor should be concerned, the opposition has already conceded that nationalism has a damaging effect on society, when the speaker uttered the words... "a controversial issue as nationalism - has a downside"

The resolution is, and for final clarification, "Nationalism has a damaging impact on society"
Not "on balance, the benefits of nationalism outweigh the harms".

The Consistent Harm: Connection between Civic, Ethnic, and Territorial Nationalism 
My party, has discovered a consistent tread arising in all three forms of nationalism. Those being, for the record, civic, ethnic, and territorial nationalism. 
The damaging impact, being that all three forms of nationalism promote pride in where one come's from. The problem with pride, is that it can so easily evolve into other things. Pride can develop into several categories, dependent on the type in question.
- Civil Superiority (My government is the best. Other nations should be more like us)
- Ethnic Superiority (Our people are the hardest working, most cultured, and educated bunch. Others ethnic groups aren't at our level) 
- Territorial Superiority ( Territorial Nationalism is co-existent with ethnic and civic nationalism)

Territorial nationalism, despite developing into a superiority complex like ethnic and civic nationalism, has a second damaging impact.
- Irredentism (Belief in expanding borders to bring ethnic/civic way of life to a larger territory)

My party believes, that while many people can be nationalists, and not develop a superiority complex, a large portion, if not the majority of people, will develop a superiority complex. This is an uncontrollable variable. No matter how much the government educates people, eventually some will fall to the superiority complex.  Even if 10% of a nation develop the superiority complex, citizens are still put in serious, life threatening danger. 

Here are three things which can result from the three forms of nationalism.
- Genocide (Ethnic Nationalism)
- Imperialism (Territorial Nationalism)
- War (Civic Nationalism)

If the opposition can find a way to prove some people wont develop a superiority complex, without resorting to sharpshooter fallacies (most aren't), True Scotsman fallacies (If you believe you're superior you're not a true nationalist), or any other fallacy which interferes with the gaining of the truth, then half the battle would of already been won.

Alternatives To Nationalism
Humanism - Belief in the value of human beings in general
Big Tent Philosophy - Belief in the importance and merging of all civil ideologies 
Melting Pot Philosophy - Belief in the importance and merging of ethnic groups 
Globalization Philosophy - Belief in the importance of inter-connection and cooperation throughout the world.

All of these are being asserted as better than nationalism. I leave the floor to the opposition. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-20 00:09:38
| Speak Round
JoepbrJoepbr (OO)
I thank OG for his response.
On this round I'll answer and refute OG's ideas, and add a practical example of my argument.

It's important to clarify what I mean when I mention possible downsides of nationalism. I'm not referring to any elements that are commonly regarded as problems of nationalism, like for example, a negative sense of superiority leading to intolerance, racism and/or war. I have the belief (and I'll make the case for it throughout this round) that such problems can not be considered intrinsic characteristic or conditions sine qua non of nationalism. They are not an integral part of the essence of nationalism, but rather, unrelated elements that use nationalism as a channel to propagate their ideas. If a downside could be identified on nationalism itself it is merely the possibility of such channels to be opened, but it's hard to argue that this is necessarily damaging to society, since the same channels that can be used to propagate bad ideas can be used just as well do the same to constructive ideas, like hard work, acceptance of differences and cooperation. As I argued in the last round, nationalism is essentially the foundation of an "imagined community", which is fundamentally a social construct, and as such, it can use any type of ideas as its building blocks, the ideas themselves can argued to be damaging or constructive in relation to the grand order of things, but nationalism per se shouldn't be judged based on the possibility of being constructed with bad ideas. A house build with broken bricks is surely bad, but just because some houses might be built with broken bricks it doesn't mean that the concept of house is itself damaging to society.
In short, all of this means that any damage to society that may be connected with nationalism is merely potential, and not inherent. The damage doesn't arises from nationalism itself. In the last round I argue that almost everything (if not literally everything) has a downside, and the downside of nationalism is that, since it's a social construct that can use a wide range of ideas as base, it's possible that bad ideas can be used in that construct. Any damage that may arise from this is on balance much smaller than the damage that arises from any alternative that can be made to nationalism - and it's here that the "on balance" part is important: The damage that arises in the nationalist framework can exist, but it's potential, and doesn't come from nationalism itself, it's not inherent to nationalism, while the damage that can rise from alternatives to nationalism arises exactly from the nonexistence of the stabilizing factors of nationalism (territoriality and sovereignty), and this damage consists in a permanent state of conflict and instability that can only be overcome through the establishment of a nation, and is therefore an inherent characteristic of any system in which nationalism is absent.
Speaking of which, at the end of his argument, OG present us some ideas that he identifies as better alternatives to nationalism, however, if analysed cautiously, we can notice that none of this ideas are real "alternatives" to nationalism. Any of this ideas can be incorporated to it as one of the "good ideas" that can found on nationalism a channel for it's development, and, in return, improve the quality of an specific expression of nationalism. What OG calls a "melting pot philosophy", for example, can, through a nationalist discourse, be turned into a "national value" and a source of pride to its people. Many nations, including Brazil and the USA incorporate this idea as one of the most important characteristics of their "national spirit". On the other hand, whenever any of the ideas presented by OG are developed outside a nationalist framework, they fall into the same contradictions, instabilities and conflicts that characterize institutions that, unlike the nation, don't have territoriality and sovereignty as their fundamental principle, for example, if you try to promote the concept of globalization as a universal value that must transcend the nations, you will necessary be in a permanent state of conflict with absolutely every group on Earth that resist to this idea, in the same way that, before the establishment of the sovereignty of the national state, Christianity was in a permanent state of conflict with every group that refused to convert to the religion. In this sense, it can be argued that even the best of the ideas, when developed outside the territorial and sovereign framework of a nation can be extremely damaging, therefore, it's evident that any alternative to nationalism is indeed inherently damaging.

A Practical Case

Well, I think that my ideas were extremely philosophical but offering little practical evidence, so I'll now present a case that exemplifies all of the benefits that make nationalism a necessary thing: the case of Arab nationalism.
As we all know, the Middle East is the most politically unstable region of the world. The ideas that I presented on this debate can help us identify the cause of this, and I believe that the element that it can be mostly explained by one thing: the failure of Arab nationalism.
Nationalism appeared in the Arab world around the First World War, when the British promised the Hashemite family (the one that ruled over the region of Hejaz and the two holy cities of Islam) that an Arab nation would be established comprising of the Arab-populated areas of the Ottoman Empire in exchange for their support in the fight against the Ottomans, who were enemies of the British in the war. This represented the first attempt of unifying the Arab population in one single national state, and an Arab nationalism soon developed, building the ideal of an "imagined community" in the minds of the population, however, the British also made several promises that contradicted that to the French of sharing that region in colonies under their direct rule and to the Jews of establishing a Jewish state in the area of Palestine. At the end these promises were the ones that prevailed, and the Arabs were not allowed to create their state. In fact, when they tried to create a government in Damascus, they were attacked by the French, and the region of Hejaz was annexed by a rival clan of the Hashemites, the Saudis, who were supported by the European powers, since they were Wahhabi fundamentalists who had no interest in creating a national state, but rather only in defeating their enemies and taking possession of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
After the colonization, the region would be sliced in several different states ruled by authoritarian rulers who failed to rebuild the Arab nation and nationalism, the one who got the closest to it was Gamal Abdel Nasser, who found opposition from powers like the USA who saw him as a potential ally of the Soviets and enemy of their Saudi allies. With the failure in the attempt of creating a national state to which the Arabs could relate through nationalism, the people turned to the other thing to which they could relate: Islam. Without the stabilizing factors of territoriality and sovereignty, this change of allegiances, from a national identity to a religious one, made it inevitable that sectarian violence and terrorism would rise, and the only permanent solution to this unstable situation can only can only be a return to nationalism.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-21 22:26:50
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CG)
As the second speaker for the Government, it's my privilege to address the floor on this important issue. As my colleague has already stated in his opening address, it is the opinion of the Government that Nationalism has a damaging impact on Society
To begin my round I'd like to address the definition of the term, "Nationalism". Neither of our opening speakers have done this in a formal manner and I believe this oversight has led to some confusion in some of the views being submitted.

Nationalism vs Patriotism
The crux of the matter comes in understanding the line where Patriotism, (Good) becomes Nationalism, (Bad). A full definition can be found from several sites including this one, but I'll summarise it below.
Put simply, Nationalism unites people with a common cultural heritage. As my colleague has pointed out, this could be through Ethnicity, Language or Religion.
Patriotism, by contrast, unites people with a common love for a country. Generally, this is reserved for people who are actually citizens of said country, but could also include immigrants or even people who just really REALLY like that country.  

It's important to note two things:
Firstly, Patriotism is, by definition, INCLUSIVE. To use the examples the Opening speaker for the Opposition brought up, both the USA and Brazil, and yes, even New Zealand, can all be termed "Multi-cultural" countries. To love your country in a Patriotic manner when you are a citizen of any of these Nations requires you to be accepting and tolerant of other citizens, despite the fact that they may worship a different God, have a different skin colour or even speak another language. They still make up a part of your nation - a nation that you love.
By contrast, Nationalism is EXCLUSIVE. A citizen of any of these mentioned countries who held a Nationalistic viewpoint would reject any individual they saw as being different to their definition of "American/Brazilian/Kiwi". 

Secondly, it's important to note that every study on these relative terms, (including the one I've cited above) is at pains to point out that inherent in Nationalism is an element of radicalism and extremism. People who hold Nationalist views tend to be more aggressive against those they see as not belonging. My colleague has already extrapolated this aggressive feeling of superiority out to its logical conclusion of war and genocide.
George Orwell famously said that Nationalism is the enemy of peace. He is quoted as saying,

"Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

You'll note that George Orwell, noted Political commentator and published author, holds a view directly contrary to that of the Opposition. In his view, the negative sense of superiority, leading to intolerance, racism and war mentioned by them in the beginning of their second round is INSEPARABLE from Nationalism. It's the opinion of this Government that George Orwell is more qualified to comment on this than the Opposition.
Today's debate focuses not on Patriotism, but rather on Nationalism. 

Does a Nation need to hold Territory?
One final point of correction on the Opposition's case: In their first round argument, the opening speaker for the Opposition claims that holding territory is a defining element of a "Nation". In the context of this debate, that is simply not true. I can give several examples of community groups which would be considered by outsiders, and would consider themselves, to be a separate nation - despite the fact that they hold no fixed territory. Perhaps the most obvious of these would be the Romani - Gypsies. 

The only reason this point is important is that the Opposition speaker has claimed that Nationalism can only exist when Territory is involved.
"OG identifies "territorial nationalism" as only a form of nationalism, however, by its own nature, every nation must have or at least claim to have a defined territory, therefore it's clear that every type of nationalism must be territorial..." - Opening Opposition, Round 1.
As I've already pointed out, Nationalism is not confined to mere countries, but rather to people groups, regardless of the territory they hold.

By extension to my colleague's opening rounds, I'd like to pick up one further point in regards to the damaging effect Nationalism has on Society - in my opinion the single most important effect.

Nationalism suppresses Individuality 
As I've already mentioned, Patriotism is inclusive in nature. It doesn't matter what individual beliefs are held by the citizens of a country, if THEY love this country as I do, then we are all on the same team. Team Kiwi. Go All Blacks!
In a society permeated by strong Nationalism, citizens must conform or risk being attacked. For example, in a Theocracy, citizens must conform to the religious beliefs of their leaders. In extreme cases, where nationalism is strong, failure to do so can lead to physical harm.

This effect of nationalism is so damaging because society moves forward when we are MORE accepting, MORE tolerant, MORE willing to listen, learn and embrace new ideas. Nationalism has the effect of stunting this growth and isolating the country from any benefits to be gained by working with others.
Nationalism reduces the ability to work with other Nations
Extend the above concept beyond the individual citizens of a nation and into a global scale, where "society" is made up of individual nations. A country with a strong Nationalist fervour will struggle to accept criticism or adopt ideas from other nations - regardless of how well founded that criticism or how beneficial those ideas may be. 
Japan may refuse to stop killing Whales. Brazil may refuse to stop clearing Rainforests. China may refuse to stop burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow. 

All of these actions from an individual have global impact. A Patriotic attitude would bring the same internal benefits to those countries, while still allowing them the clarity to listen to other nation's concerns with an open mind. A Nationalistic one isolates and separates them from everyone else.

In this government's opinion, the fact that Nationalism suppresses rather than includes, teaches rather than learns from and preaches conformity rather than celebrates individuality makes it singularly damaging to society.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-23 12:20:01
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CO)
First of all, I'd like to thank all the previous speakers for this debate so far. It's an honor to be involved.

Quick summary of the debate so far as I see it. I'll be honest, I feel like the opening half of this debate was weak in general. Opening government asserted a lot of links between nationalism and violent extremism, but never showed the causal link as to why that should be the case, nor even any evidence to back that up. The closing government has attempted to fill that glaring gap by claiming nationalism is exclusive, which I'll deal with once I've briefly explored my extension.

The opening opposition got a lot closer to the truth than either of the government sides, by claiming nationalism has inherent boundaries, unlike what other alternatives to nationalism may exist in the form of "imagined communities". While I don't deny these arguments are true (and don't believe they've been effectively rebutted in their substance), I simply don't see them as being that important to the debate. Let me therefore explain what this debate should be about.

Monoculturalism Is Best
There's no problem inherently with people of inferior nations coming to live with us. What the problem is, is that they try to bring their inferior culture with them and expect us to simply accept it. If other people want to continue with their uncouth cultures in their own countries, so be it. But our nation has a certain way of doing things, and if others don't like it, then perhaps this isn't the nation for them. Indeed with the national mobility of today, this has been both the source of the problem and the solution. Multicultural societies suffer from the burdens of accommodating cultural practices that are harmful to that society, but the solution is painfully obvious. It's easier now than ever before to send anyone who doesn't belong in this country away (and do so perfectly peacefully, I might add).

This debate is about real people. Every national culture is developed in a particular context - hence why some very large nations have slight differences to culture in different parts of the country. Cultures - being nothing more than rituals and customs that particular societies have jointly developed over time - exist only because they make life better in the context in which they were developed. If somebody takes half of one culture and half of another culture, then no matter which of the two contexts those cultures were developed in the person ends up living in, they only get half the benefits that culture would otherwise have to offer. The more cultures you add, the smaller the benefit that culture can bring you - 10 cultures would bring you 1/10th of the cultural benefit that others may experience who have only one culture, no matter which of the ten contexts you live in. The person with only one culture would, of course, be limited to only living among his own kind, but he still has ten times greater benefits from following that culture as other people.

As such, a wise person who knows everything about 10 cultures would practice the culture of whichever one of the ten lands he is in. He would not seek to strike a balance between every single culture on the planet as modern multicultural societies often do (at their peril). It is the claim of our side of the house that utility is maximized when everyone in one nation follows one culture and sticks to that.

Cultures aren't great merely because they're different, they're great for the society that created them. They're a tightly integrated set of rules that works together in the context of the society in which it was created. Once you start picking and choosing, you lose that synergy and relevance.

The real issue, though, is that choosing to be multicultural hurts other people, not just yourself.

An obvious example is language. People who do not speak any of the official languages of New Zealand with absolute fluency should not be allowed to immigrate into New Zealand. And there are very good reasons for that in terms of achieving the aforementioned synergies:
  • Inability to communicate with police causing crime to go unsolved
  • Inability to communicate at work causing work to not be done
  • Inability to buy stuff from the shop causing generally poor standard of living
  • And so on and so forth

But that affects society in other ways too. Rather than helping to bring people together, the presence of another culture divides people by culture. Or put another way, when there is only one culture in a nation, then there's one less thing to divide us. I can't talk with people who only speak Turkish, and if they can't talk with me either, then birds of a feather will naturally flock together. They'll live in their places, I'll live in mine. The solution is not for me to learn Turkish because they're too lazy to learn English when they come here. The solution is for them to learn the language that is the culture of the nation, or to go to a nation where speaking Turkish is the culture (such as Turkey).

It is only in rejecting all the other nations of the world that we can collectively reap the benefits of this national unity. Far from being more divided as closing government claimed, nationalism is a big part of how people get along - by creating a shared identity and grouping around that. Individuality and such are equally divisive, dividing every single individual from everybody else.

The modern ideal to counter this destructive instinct of patriotic societies lacking in nationalism has been tolerance, the idea that we should accept people who hold different beliefs and just move on. Tolerance is even more damaging, however, as I am about to show.

Anti-nationalist societies harm all of society
Choosing to follow a culture not compatible with the rest of society harms not just the individual, but everybody else as well. 

As I began writing my post, Canada suffered the most terrible terrorist tragedy the Americas have seen in a long while. News reporters everywhere were saying how the attack suspects "didn't fit in" and that it was "unfortunate" they followed such a "dangerous culture". Fortune had nothing to do with it. Canada has a long-standing policy of promoting tolerance towards others in their country. They routinely accept and tolerate people who don't fit in. Why would somebody who doesn't fit in be compelled to harm other members of that society?

Well, there are a few reasons:
  • Social rejection. If one member feels outcast from a society, then to seek some kind of retaliation against that perception of harm is a natural response.
  • Unintentional slight. Not every culture is equally tolerant (for reasons that are often connected to the different contexts that different nations inhabit) and as such some small details of other cultures may provoke a terrible tragedy.
  • Resentment at tolerance itself. Certain societies have good reasons to hate certain other societies and putting up with these would be considered problematic in a tolerant context.

These could manifest themselves in any of the ways OG so nicely pointed out. Genocide, for example, almost always happens when two cultures are forced to coinhabit one nation. The natural solution, therefore, is for everybody who does not conform to what the government determines to be the national culture to go away, or change. The outcome of that is better for everybody, not just the dominant culture - more peaceful society, more happy people holding hands working together joyfully, etc etc.

But even more importantly, not all these harms to the dominant culture are intentional. This is the real tragedy. For example, when African migrants come to France in search of a better life, or Mexicans come to America, they do not require the same level of income as each dollar in local currency is worth a lot more back home. Through this principle they displace a lot of the employment and income, which is then shunted off back home. When people whom you can't talk with, who always hang out in their own cliques, do things differently from everybody else and make zero effort to integrate into the new society in which they live take things away from the dominant culture, you can expect that culture to retaliate back too. So both the dominant and sub-dominant cultures have incentives to attack the other. This is what breed hatred and resentment towards other cultures. The only alternative is the forced change of the dominant culture to make it compatible, which has all the harms I listed earlier.

Benefits for smaller national identities
It might seem that this model would be harmful to foreign interests, trade etc. In fact this couldn't be further from the truth - nationalism is the best way to ensure peaceful co-habitation of this planet earth with people living in other contexts and nations.

Most obviously, when people don't hate each other within a nation, they don't really have much incentive to attack people of another nation either. They're all getting along well enough and reaping the benefits of both peace and prosperity that nationalism offers. What possible incentive could they then have to start a conflict? While cultural slights are always a feature of international diplomacy, they are not a problem unless they impose on the nation itself. Hence why nations with split national identities, such as the Ukraine, have such high levels of conflict. The more clear the split is, the greater the conflict. And that spills over into other nations all the time. Hence why Russian militia are in the Ukraine. Examples of the same principle abound throughout the middle east.

In fact it is when different nations are each best able to exercise their own identity that economic principles such as comparative advantage are optimally realized, because resources in a nation can be best placed to produce what they can best trade. This creates more of everything for all cultures involved even if natural resources are not evenly distributed.

People not being persecuted under a nationalist model trumps any incidental benefit that my opponent can bring up regarding the negative aspects of certain cultures. If people are not happy with a culture, they can choose to live in a different one, so long as they commit themselves to the new national identity. It is important not to confuse nationalism for racism or general bigotry, because national identity is a choice that people can make by changing their culture and actions. Often it is aggressive foreign national interests that cause these very harms in the first place, not a part of the native culture: for example, whales were introduced to the Japanese diet by the Americans after food shortages following world war 2, and similar things can be said about Brazil and China's examples.

I'm not claiming this will solve every diplomatic crisis in the world. I'm just saying this would make things a lot easier.

So is nationalism damaging?
Far from it. Nationalism is the only way forward for the nations of the world to find peace. Through shared national identities we can come to literally love our neighbor as ourselves because we will actually be much alike. Nationalist attitudes that encourage such a society have an undeserved bad reputation that my side of the house is proud to challenge. The very harms that the government has mentioned can only come when society is not nationalist enough.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-25 02:31:08
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CG)
I thank all the parties for their contributions to this debate. 
So much has already been said in this debate, so I'll try to keep this brief. 

The closing speaker for the opposition has opened his round with some emotive and unsubstantiated language. Let's review some of these comments, but before we do I'd like you to remember the sentiment of his closing remarks...

"Nationalism is the only way forward for the nations of the world to find peace. Through shared national identities we can come to literally love our neighbor as ourselves because we will actually be much alike."

Nice sentiment right? Explain to me how this, loving, tolerant, peace-seeking sentiment for with the language used in the quotes below from his first paragraph...

"There's no problem inherently with people of inferior nations coming to live with us."

Just the fact that the opposition sees other nations as inferior is a concern to his expected positive outcome of nationalism. In fact he makes a similar derogatory comment in reference to other nations two more times in the first three sentences. 

"What the problem is, is that they try to bring their inferior culture with them"

"If other people want to continue with their uncouth cultures in their own countries, so be it."

This feeling of superiority is fully detailed in this source, which lists some of the results of a superiority complex as including,
  • Grandiosity
  • Narcissism
  • Megalomania
  • Haughtiness
  • Lack of Empathy
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Intense reactions to perceived insults
  • Lying
  • No regard for other's opinions or points of view
  • Defience of authority
  • Manipulation of others with no regard for their feelings

Now does this list sound like a tolerant nation?

The opposition is clearly xenophobic. 

He goes on to make several claims, none of which is backed up with any evidence.

Exposing a person to multiple cultures leads to net harms. - unsubstantiated. 

People who don't speak the language can't communicate with police - unproven and blatantly ignores interpretors. 

People who can't speak the language can't work - unsubstantiated and ignores the fact that people work all over the world every day, despite not speaking the native language.

People who can't speak the language can't buy things - completely unproven and demonstrably false. 

Whaling was introduced into japan after world war 2 - please. The 1930's saw the largest slaughter of whales by the Japanese ever! This noted culinary historian dates the Japanese diet of whale meat back to 3000BC!

And so on and so on... Seriously, the opposition's argument is so riddled with holes we could drive a truck full of grateful immigrants through it and into a welcoming neighbourhood of people who embrace new things and see cultural diversity as a breeding place for gleaning the best of people and building a united, stronger society by celebrating differences, rather than building walls. 

At the end of the day, the opposition's opinion on the matter is irrelevant. The government has made its case, supported by evidence. 
It's a view is shared by noted and cited professional political commentator, George Orwell. The opposition have provided no such expert, instead asking us to accept their case unsupported. 

Patriotism is a positive view which will ensure that differences in culture, ethnicity and religious groups will be trumped by a shared love of a tolerant and accepting society. 
Nationalism is, by definition, divisive and alienating. It breeds a superiority complex which is aggressive and bullying. It suppresses individuality and promotes blind conformity, which in turn limits creative thought and holds technology back and stunts moral reform. 

It is damaging to society. The resolution is affirmed. 

Vote PRO. 


Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-26 12:00:37
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CO)
It's an honor to be delivering the final speech in this debate.

Here's the problem. Aside from a brief appeal to the authority of Orwell, the closing government has not themselves been able to substantiate their claims that nationalism is bad. It remains an uncontested fact in this debate that national identity is context-specific and thus it is inherently unbeneficial to not follow it in that context.

Every other nation will always appear uncouth and inferior to us, but that's because they come from another context. If we understood that context, we'd know that in their world, their actions are very sensible. It doesn't mean we're better than them. This is called tolerance, and ironically the government side has had very little of it in the debate today. The idea that our side is xenophobic is thoroughly negated because we had whole paragraphs of analysis showing that we want better outcomes for foreign cultures too, and this model delivers on that.

But nothing has also been rebutted of my claim that tolerance within a nation is a failed ideology, as is multiculturalism. They were crazy liberal experiments that have slowly devalued our culture and caused it to no longer provide the benefits it once did. Look at how divided our communities are, all because we have irreconcilable differences that won't be solved by the government waving their magic wands. Like I said at the start, the solution is simple. If you're not with us, then get out of our country.

Putting one's text in a larger font size doesn't inherently make the argument truer either.

Though opening government had a nice extension, they have failed to defend it against the opposition member's attacks, much like opening government failed to defend against opening opposition. The government side have utterly failed with their burden of proof. At closing we have brought you fresh analysis that we feel has impacted the debate most strongly, certainly to evoke that strongly emotive response from closing government. And with that in mind, we urge a CO ballot in this debate. Cheers!

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-27 22:40:37
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CO)
For some reason, I was under the impression that this was a BP debate, not one with reply speeches. As such, I'm not sure how this is intended to be used. I presume the other sides will be seeking to re-establish their narrative and do additional rebuttal. I don't agree with that, but that's ok, it's not my decision. At this point in the debate, I will say that it should be obvious that my narrative is firmly established as the most important issue, one that other sides will no doubt want to rebut more completely because right now my analysis is as good as ignored. Therefore, nothing I could say would actually add to my case.

Thanks to everybody else for a fun debate!

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-27 22:50:28
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CG)
Given the traditional format of BP Debate, I also don't know what this speech is supposed to be used for. 
Since the closing speaker for the Opposition basically passed on his reply speech, I think the fairest thing to do is to pass on mine as well. 

The only thing I will do is apologise for the formatting in my last round! I was painstakingly typing that out on my phone in an airport lounge and I assure you it didn't look like that on my phone! Haha - oh well.
This debate WAS a fun exercise, I'll remind the judges that this is the first of four, and that you are casting a vote for the member who argued the strongest case in regards to this motion. Thanks for reading!

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-28 01:07:01
| Speak Round
JoepbrJoepbr (OO)
I will conclude my participation on this debate by recalling the main points made by each debater and clarifying why my position is the one that best explain the issue of nationalism and its impact on society.

 - The Opening Government position is the weakest one, since it argues that an association between nationalism and a sense of superiority is enough to consider it damaging to society, my position not only successfully challenges this idea by stating that this and other elements that could potentially be considered downsides of nationalism aren't intrinsic to it, but also asserts that all the "alternatives" presented by OG can be incorporated in a nationalist discourse, and therefore aren't real alternatives;

 - Closing Government, on the other hand tries to establish a dichotomy between the concepts of "nationalism" and "patriotism", in which all the perceived benefits of a national identity are related to "patriotism", while all its evils are part of "nationalism". This dichotomy isn't compatible with the concept of nationalism I presented, which include a set of shared ideas and identities that promotes the establishment and perpetuation of the "imagined community" of a nation. This dichotomy is also tautological in that it claims that nationalism is bad because it's the bad part of national identity, while any good part of it belongs to the concept of "patriotism" instead. (Also I'd like to clarify that I don't consider the Romani/Gypsies as a nation, they are an ethnic group with a relatively unified culture, but there is no claim for sovereignty on the form of what we could call a nation);

 - Finally, the Closing Opposition, despite defending the same side of the resolution that I did, it does so based on completely different point of view. While the idea of nation presented by me consists of a social construct, which has nationalism as the element responsible for its construction, CO sees the nation as a perennial and objective fact characterized by homogeneity and rigidity. This can be perceived in that, while I argue that a melting pot philosophy can be incorporated in a nationalist discourse as an element of national identity, CO sees it as an anti-nationalist concept that threats the structure of the nation from within.

As we can conclude after this analysis, while the view presented by me establishes clear and valid concepts of nation and nationalism, this view is hardly challenged by my opponents, even though it explains the phenomenon of nationalism, and proves its inherent benefits - those of territoriality and sovereignty, essential for the development of a stable and prosperous society - as much as it shows that any damage eventually associated to it is not inherent to its nature.

That said, I urge you to vote in favor of the Opening Opposition.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-29 05:20:14
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (OG)
I agree with the closing government and closing opposition, that the leader reply round shouldn't be used for new arguments, which I certainly need to make for my case to have a shot at winning. Let's summarize my argument for the sake of clarity...
  • Nationalism comes with lots of harms 
  • There are better alternatives to nationalism
  • The opposition hasn't proposed a way to minimize these harms.
  • This debate's resolution is "nationalism has a damaging impact on society". Both the OO and OG argued nationalism is net good, dropping the harms that the OG and CG proved to have existed. 

I do believe in fair judging, and in a parliamentary debate, you must make different arguments than your opening counterpart, and I believe some of the OG's arguments mimicked mine. With that said, I'm throwing my support behind the OG, because his arguments still feel superior to mine, and the fact that the opposition had dropped the majority of our strongest points. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-30 17:59:16
| Speak Round

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Lol, yeah, my bad
Posted 2014-10-31 00:40:02
Yeah I noticed that too. I'd actually just come right out with it and accuse OG of Plagerism. His arguments didn't just mimic, they were exactly the same as yours. For shame!
Nobody vote for OG, poor conduct on that man!

Don't worry bro, I got your back. ;)
Posted 2014-10-31 00:08:02
Legion, I think in your last paragraph you confused OG with CG lol. "OG's arguments mimicked mine"
Posted 2014-10-31 00:05:11
Fear not. Next round, you'll be pressed for time as per usual.
Posted 2014-10-18 05:40:00
Sorry, I noticed something strange with the time, but I did need the extra time.
Posted 2014-10-18 05:23:00
Joepbr will likely come on by tomorrow.
Posted 2014-10-17 02:28:04
Last I looked there was a day to go. Might pay to leave it as is though, Joepbr might need the extra time?
Posted 2014-10-17 02:27:15
Oh - maybe by accident when I removed that extra box. You remember what it was at before?
Posted 2014-10-17 02:22:32
Did the time in this debate get reset or something?
Posted 2014-10-17 02:20:56
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2014-11-07 04:09:23
whiteflameJudge: whiteflame    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: admin
I am going to try to judge this debate following the BP style, and as such, while I'll award a vote to the winner, I'll also provide rankings. Before I do, I'm going to run back through each of the debaters' arguments.


In R1, the lack of a case is pretty glaring. I understand the desire to establish a solid burden of proof, but it ends up doing little for your case, and leaves you with only one round to establish your actual arguments. What's worse, by the end of the debate, the issue of BoP has practically disappeared, making this appear to be a minor point. It's a substantial loss of space.

R2 starts by expanding on BoP, which didn't require as much elucidation as you gave. The remainder of your case breaks down into an explanation following the outline you gave in R1, and a series of alternatives. In each case, they don't come across as strongly as they should.

The pride and superiority arguments are well-founded, but I don't see solid links to substantial harms. Instead, I see a jump to irredentism, genocide, imperialism and war. Developing a superiority complex doesn't necessarily mean that you want to spread your superiority far and wide, and it certainly doesn't mean you'll engage in genocide or war. There's a couple of important links missing here, not to mention evidence of nationalist societies that have engaged in these sorts of behaviors. I still buy these arguments against the OO as he doesn't provide any direct response or attack your link structure, but CO effectively either de-links or turns these arguments.

Meanwhile, the alternatives just sit there. As the OO points out, none of these appear to be mutually exclusive from nationalism. Even if they were, I'm given no explanation of why these alternatives are better, and why I should prefer them to nationalism. I can understand why I might think that, but that would require me to assume links and impacts that aren't provided.


Again, I understand the incentive to argue BoP, but it ends up becoming too much of a focus for your R1, and ends up looking like you're getting side-tracked from the issue at hand.

However, I get a very interesting and detailed explanation of the importance of bounded communities in this round as well. It utilizes an extensive definition from a rather extensive quote (though it's difficult to determine why Benedict Anderson's views on what nationalism is are accurate), but that definition doesn't get challenged in the opening rounds. CG provides a counter-definition later, but fails to actually compare and contrast his definition with yours, so I view it as being at least as valid as his. And since this is the main point that CO builds upon and runs with as his case, it is an important point within the debate. As the stability argument is further upheld by an uncontested “Practical Case” in the Middle East, it stands as potent.

The responses to OG's alternatives are pretty solid as well, though the lack of engagement on most of OG's case (namely, the huge impacts he provides) is pretty glaring. I buy that the impacts might come from non-nationalism sources, but that's really just about the lightest tap to OG's link story you could have given, since you even verify that nationalism is being misused in these ways. It just doesn't come off as a very strong response when you admit that the potential for damage is very much present, even if it's not inherent to the system. Perhaps that's a reason to prefer your arguments, but not one to dismiss his.


It was nice to see you pushing to reframe the debate from the outset by providing some context to the definition of nationalism, though it's probably not a good idea to completely ignore the fact that OO did provide a definition in his R1, especially since that's what you have to weigh against to have your definition be the one I prefer. I don't agree with OO's view in the response round that your definition is tautological – it doesn't seem like the definition inherently makes nationalism out to be bad, nor does it necessarily tout all that is good in patriotism. You do that, but that's what you're supposed to do.

So I like this reframing – it starts to place things in a context where I can more easily evaluate the options on the table, and I think patriotism stands as a better explained and warranted alternative as compared with OG's options. I also like the effort to expand what groups nationalism can apply to, though I think this should have more explanation behind it, especially if you meant to counter OO's point wholesale. Even if I buy that these other groups exist, it's still a better way to divide people than any other I've been offered in this debate. It seems to me like sticking to “any division is bad, and inclusion is good” would have been a better route than spending time here with so little explanation.

I think the extensions are suitably large to be potentially important points. The problem with the first, and this is exploited quite heavily by CO, is that individuality isn't really weighed within the debate. I know it's tempting to argue that tolerance and multiculturalism is good on its face, but CO challenges that preconception pretty strongly with his arguments, and I have a hard time finding counters here. Building off of the claim that failure to conform “can lead to physical harm” might have been a good way to go, but I don't see that in your second round.

The second gets a little more leeway, but still fails to make a big impact on the debate. Much of this is just a series of claims with few warrants to support them. I buy that nationalism may lead countries to reject advice from other nations, but that explanation should be more blatant – if countries think other nations are inferior to them, they're going to reject advice, and thus will become entirely selfish. Beyond that, I need support for how countries have stepped out of these mentalities by changing their attitudes, which I don't see. It could work, but it's too nebulous to carry much weight.

Much of your second round just seems to ignore the blows to your case in favor of going after CO, which isn't much help, especially since you seem to be spending more time attacking his rhetoric than his arguments. I buy that there might be some harmful rhetoric in there, but I think you take it a little far with some of these responses. You hit at some of the examples CO provides, but by ignoring much of the explanation that comes with it, CO's case remains pretty strong by the end of your round. I agree that the missing evidence is a problem, but if all you're saying is that his case is less well substantiated than it should be, that's not enough for me to dismiss his case, especially when the warrants are still there. This is made all the worse by the fact that your case isn't substantiated by evidence either, as a quote from George Orwell doesn't do much to help you.

This would all be fine if you had spent some time in your last round rebuilding your case, but I don't see much in the way of case defense. You do try to build up a larger argument using the superiority complex, but without any solid impacts, I can't evaluate this within the debate, especially when CO is providing me with links from these outcomes to his impacts.


Reframing the debate as you did in your first round was certainly an intriguing way to take it, as it takes the focus off of the nationalism/patriotism issue and turns it into a monoculturalism/multiculturalism issue. It allows you to dramatically alter the rhythm of the debate by analyzing one of the central links that has been missing from the arguments of both sides and allowing that change to direct the flow of the debate, and CG's failure to redirect the debate back to normal ends up making this the lens through which the remainder of the debate is viewed.

This is not to say that the arguments are all solid. The arguments for why monoculturalism is better do come with some intriguing ideas, though there are numerous assumptions being made here, specifically that people can belong to numerous cultures and thus acquire more benefits through a system that recognizes those multiple pieces. This doesn't get the necessary response, however, so I buy it.

The rebuttal you provide is somewhat weakened by CG's responses to your examples of lost synergies, but even after his responses, these still stand to a diminished extent. For example, I buy that translators exist, but not that they will be everywhere they are needed. That kind of argument should have appeared in your final round, but it's relatively apparent.

The example of the anti-nationalist society is, perhaps, the strongest argument made here because it points to the substantial reasons why multiculturalism and a rejection of nationalism in particular lead to the harms OG discussed. The lack of response from CG here is really problematic, as this is the strongest link you have to huge impacts.

Much of the remainder of your argumentation seems to be defensive. The idea that individual nations engaging in nationalist sentiments leads to international strife or more disagreement is certainly a point that could have come up in more detail from the government, but I don't ever see it take shape in a substantial way. I can understand why you'd try to preempt that, it just seemed unnecessary in this instance.

The main thing I'd say is problematic in your arguments is that, in your final round, you refuse the opportunity to shore up much of your examples that CG sought to knock down. I get that you're winning the most essential arguments of the debate, but it seems like you're opening yourself up unnecessarily here. I think spending more time talking about how the debate progressed and why your reframing of the debate was necessary would have helped as well, since it would have provided you a reason, independent of winning your arguments, for the vote to go to you.


It seemed like each debater was trying to take this debate in a different direction, and that ended up hurting the flow of the debate as a whole. The debate was markedly different between the upper and lower halves, mainly due to the way that OG and CO allocated their space and handled their opposing side's arguments. However, the direction of the upper half of the debate seemed awkward, leading more away from the issue at hand and focusing more on technical aspects of it. I think that ended up harming the debate as a whole. Both halves of the debate seemed to suffer from a lack of engagement with the opposing case and a lack of defense of their own.

Given these aspects, I've determined the following order:

1: CO
2: OO
3: CG
4: OG

Plutarch – This type of debate really doesn't lend itself to a focus on technical aspects of debate, and it definitely doesn't lend itself to making a number of assertions without much in the way of support. Your case should be as clear and as well-supported as possible, and that requires more effort in both rounds. I know you're trying something innovative here, and that might work in a different kind of debate, but it doesn't for this one.

Joepbr – Your arguments came through as some of the more important ones in the debate, but you let yourself get side-tracked, not to mention that you were highly dependent on your definition being the only one that mattered. That leaves you open to some of the criticism you get in the lower half, and the usage of patriotism as an alternative. It's worth taking the time to produce definitions that are more broadly accepted and simpler to parse. “Even if” statements could benefit you a lot – oftentimes, I was waiting to see one with regards to OG's views on how the debate should be evaluated.

nzlockie – It's all about the case defense and hitting the core of your opponent's arguments instead of getting stuck in the details. If your opponent reframes the debate as substantially as CO did, remind the audience why you ran the debate the way you did. It might well have been possible to say that the monoculturalism/multiculturalism debate was off topic, but that has to be made very clearly. The main thing is that you need to ensure that he's not directing the debate too heavily, and I just don't see that happening. Your arguments were comparably strong to OO, but they just didn't stay that way.

admin – Ballsy strategy, and it certainly paid off here. You filled in a lot of the blanks made by the assumptions of the other debaters with your arguments, making yours the more clarifying rounds to read. Any feedback I have for you is given above.
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2 comments on this judgement
Thanks Whiteflame. I agree with your points. I wish I'd been able to access a computer for my second round. I had to post it from my phone and I only had about 15 minutes to do so as I was in another country and using airport WiFi.
Oh well, next time.

This was a tricky one for me because "Nationalism" as a construct is already very clearly defined and yet it didn't seem to be what either of the opening speakers were arguing. I looked pretty carefully at both their arguments and decided that I could get away with officially defining it at that late stage.

Thanks again!
Posted 2015-08-26 09:59:37
Ah, I see. I agree that there were some issues with defining the debate in the opening rounds, but I really needed a direct response to OO's own definition before I could go anywhere with yours. I actually liked your definition better because it put it in contrast with another construct of humanity built around borders (patriotism), and it seemed like the OO put out a pretty complex and somewhat biased definition himself, but I needed to see those arguments in order to see the debate really shift to the new one.
Posted 2014-11-07 14:54:51

Rules of the debate

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  • Individual debate
  • 2 rounds
  • No length restrictions
  • Reply speeches
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