From Circuit Debater LD
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Background Info

Virilio was a french sociologist and continental philosopher, and not very commonly read in debate. He is most well known for his theorization about military conflict, technology, speed, and society and how they relate to each other, and developed these ideas after being affected by the Second World War. In debate, his arguments can be read in a variety of ways, which can be more philosophical or critical depending on which parts of his theory are being used. However, it is most commonly read as a critical affirmative, or an affirmative that defends the topic using a critical literature base.


For Virilio, speed is one of the defining features of modernity. He is highly critical of capitalism's tendency to produce things that go faster. For example, in the beginning, there was a horse and buggy. Due to capitalism, methods of transportation have evolved. Now, there are cars that can accelerate from 0-60 in less than 2 seconds, and bullet trains that travel at nearly 200 miles per hour. Still there are more inventions being looked into, such as hyperloops, that seem to suggest that faster is better. In a similar vein, this type of acceleration can happen with both technology and politics.

His overall thesis suggests that humans can only process so much - our phenomenological capacities are limited by time. As the world speeds up, the ability for people to process it diminishes to the point that it becomes impossible to relate to the world properly, and people become empty subjects. Because it is not possible to relate to the world, people become observers to their own lives, unable to really process much of anything. This makes a very useful preclusive claim when extended in later speeches, because it is often not addressed in the opponent's speech, making it a prerequisite to accessing their arguments.

Additionally, the speed at which events occur collapses the physical dimension, which creates a feeling of claustrophobia or anxiety as things keep happening at a pace that the mind cannot keep up with. This is exacerbated by inventions like instant communication, because entire cities are connected. There is now functionally no difference between two cities, because technology keeps them so connected that all cities become one ultracity. Typically, though, Virilio's urbanist ideas are not used in debate.

In order to resolve this type of violence, Virilio endorses dromology, which is the study of speed and how it affects society. This is typically the role of the ballot in a Virilio affirmative or kritik. The method that he proposes is one of grey ecology, which simply is a withdrawal and interrogation from systems of technology. It is a study of how society has been polluted by capitalism's rampant acceleration, as opposed to green ecology, which is about pollution due to factories.


One of Virilio's most central claims is about the Accident. He believes that inherent in every technological system, there is a potential for an accident. Accidents can come in different forms, from negligible to catastrophic. As capitalism accelerates though, it becomes more difficult to deal with such accidents, therefore accidents will increase in magnitude and probability. Before the capitalism spread across the globe, accidents were isolated and less important, but with the invention of the internet comes the "Information Bomb," the accident that will happen at a specific location but be broadcast everywhere.

The accident itself is not an impact in debate, but rather it links to one. The widespread fear of accidents brought about by the internet spread anxiety and fear everywhere. This creates endo-colonization, which is when the state turns in on itself and colonizes every moment of life, with more technological/oppressive solutions to the apprehension. For example, the Patriot Act was meant to soothe people's fear of terrorist attacks after the September 11th attacks, but in reality, it was a method for the state to gain more control and surveille minorities.

Virilio also makes another claim about politics and technology, which is that in the age of instnat transmission, subjects are bombarded with so much information that they become confused and cannot act, a similar claim to what Baudrillard Ks say about politics and the media.

One other important note specific to debate - oftentimes opponents will ask about whether Virilio says technology is negative. Although he is extremely negative about technology, make the claim that he is neutral about technology, because it's about the speed at which technology functions, not technology itself. This will make it easier to shift out of cap good turns or tech good turns, which are a major part in answering Virilio.

Answering Virilio

One of the most intuitive responses to a Virilio aff is that because someone is spreading the aff, it's a performative contradiction, since Virilio is critical of excess speed. This makes a pretty good top level argument as it proves the affirmative's method of engaging in debate is contradictory to what they say.

Second, there should be a few cards in the 1nc that proves that capitalism is good, which would impact turn the 1ac. However, it's important to not read too many cards, as they can be responded to quite easily after being grouped. Additionally, more specificity in the cards is much more strategic, because it's much easier to answer cap solves disease or cap solves climate than it is to answer tech pessmism bad.


Please feel free to add onto this extremely short list!