[Opening Half] Thessaloniki WUDC 2016 Open Finals – THB that the world’s poor would be justified in pursuing complete Marxist revolution

[Opening Half] Thessaloniki WUDC 2016  Open Finals - THB that the world's poor would be justified in pursuing complete Marxist revolution.

Grand Final Teams:

  • OG – Harvard A
  • OO – Hart House A
  • CG – Sydney B
  • CO – PEP A


THB that the world’s poor would be justified in pursuing complete Marxist revolution.

Video Source


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

The Transcript

Prime Minister: Bo Seo


Madame chair, the global poor, all around the world and no matter what country in which they live, currently live in a  system of dictatorship. They live under a dictatorship known as no alternative, shackled by capital that’s  been unjustly acquired, constrained by landed gentry who have no incentive but to pursue they own interests, and chained by the fact they can’t do anything but to look at the question of their own subsistence, they are unable to reach out the right to liberty and the self-determination that we think inheres in the human condition. 

Set Up

How are we going to define a Marxist revolution in this debate

We say that in all its forms it shares the feature of wanting to break down the system of private property, that’s what a Marxist revolution means. It can take place in one of two ways. 

One, it can happen through internal systems that exist presently. That is to say you vote in Marxist governments who support things like mass redistribution and the abolishment of private property, or it can exist externally in the instance of forcibly bringing down governments that for far too long have tread on these people’s rights. 

The first thing that I am going to note just on account of the model is just a picture of what we think  this world looks like. That is to say that we accept that this attempt to revolution won’t succeed in all instances, that in many just lead to the rise of Marxist parties, but in the world succeed we encourage you to use your imagination. That is to say, just notice how chrono centric our vision of civilization is, that is a system of private property emerged out of the enlightenment that is the last 300 hundred years of human existence. Prior to that people lived in sharing economies where they defined themselves as something greater than their labor and their productive force, that is the kind of world that we support. 

Two things then I’m going to begin with this speech with, 

Argument #1

First, private property constitutes a fundamental assault in human dignity in three key respects.

First, it is found and in has been acquired unjustly. In the vast majority of instances, the reason why wealthy countries are wealthy is through processes like colonialism, through slavery, through patriarchy. It represents plunder when you refuse to give any representation or resources to whom and from whom you took money, but even if it wasn´t in those direct instances of theft, in many instances it was negligence, that’s to say the creation of vastly constrictive intellectual property rights that means that individuals don´t, in the poor, have proper access to things like medication, its refusal to tax properly. We think negligence is morally culpable. The fact that it is unjustly acquired in and of itself gives the poor a claim to that property and to an institution that itself has been harmful. 

The second thing it enables the poor in terms of a principle is that it allows them to get redress in opposition to centuries of disenfranchisement.  That is to say theft and negligence represent the stripping of the individual right to assert themselves. We are going to give you systematic reasons why you don’t get reforms on their side, but notice that this as a principle argument is independent from a consideration of practices, that’s to say compensation or giving more money is unlike categorically  what these people require in principle which is a redress from the fact that they´ve been taken out of the system of moral equality by theft and negligence.  

The last thing to say is let’s take them at their best, that is, let’s wipe the slate clean and accept that everybody has equal access to resources. 

Why then is property still oppressive and why does it represent an assault on human dignity? 

The first reason is that competition and the premise on which it is based is artificial. That’s to say it trades on morally insignificant or  arbitrary factors. The fact of scarcity which allows many corporations to succeed, the fact that I was born with certain talents or certain skills that other individuals weren’t. We think that those are morally arbitrary from the consideration of desert and we don’t think that’s just ground. 

The second thing is a question of actors so capital continues to decide what begets it so you get to decide as the head of a corporation who you hire and what kind of skills you have. Principally private property assaults dignity. Notice what´s on the other side, the reason why they need to defend the SQ is that they don´t get the structural reforms that you require.  

There are three reasons for this:

The first is the democratic system that through processes of gerrymandering which are almost irrevocable in many parts of the world the poor are systematically disenfranchised. They don´t control hegemonic media that control media narratives about what a good policy is. They usually kept apart by racist rhetoric that accentuates other ascriptive descriptions preventing them from coming forward. The fact of historical disenfranchise furthermore means that they´re less likely to turn out the vote in a way that other people are. 

The second reason why you don’t get structural reform Is because it´s internationally imbalanced on the consideration of nations. so the Bretton Woods  institutions largely built by the west, the institution of human rights, which favors civil and political rights of a socio-economic human rights. We say that those things mean that the alternative they need to defend is continued and systematic in action. 

What do you get on our side? 

One, the success cases, these are the one in which the revolution works, closing I will take you if you have something, opening. 


Despite this rhetoric, the last two decades have seen almost a billion people lifted in Asia because private companies have an incentive to unlock an unskilled and uneducated workforce that they otherwise wouldn’t. 


We refuse that premise, the reason why we were able to get socio-economics rights in countries like China is through massive systems of redistribution and bringing up the poor from the public, so if you want to claim literally the communist country from your side is to say the people who´ve put together the single biggest program of economic and social rights. Yeah, I think enough said. 

Argument #1 (continued)

So, let’s say the world in which they succeed, we think that those communities will succeed for three reasons. 

First, it encompasses the vast majority of the global population and given that capital is dependent on labor to get any return from it,  we think that’s beneficial. 

Second is the location of resources in many parts of the developing world mean that they have access to those things. 

The third thing to say is that you get cross-pollination and you get global solidarity across racial lines where currently capital have the incentive to get them divided. Those deals with the best case scenario for their side where you get complete revolution, Fanele will also talk about why you get structural reforms along the way that are beneficial. 

Closing Lines

What we need from an opposition is a comprehensive account of property, why it’s just, and why it doesn’t, as it continually done throughout history, assault human dignity.

We are very proud to propose.

Leader of Opposition: [Did not consent to be filmed]

Deputy Prime Minister: Fanele Mashwama

Opening Lines

Panel, Ladies and Gentlemen, at opening government we say  there is a specter that haunts the landed gentry, and that specter is the freedom of the poor that have been systematically excluded from the society that we all should have a right to call our own.

Early in this year in South Africa, a bunch of students tired of the figure of roads looming over their university decided enough is enough and they said that they are going to get rid of this. That led to a movement for the requirement and the request of higher education, to which the government said ‘we simply do not have the money.’

What they did is they stormed parliament and said you make it a mandatory requirement because our parents fought for the liberty that we were denied by the Apartied regime. This is precisely the sort of thing we are standing for at opening government. The suggestion that you want to work is absolutely absurd. 

A number of things in this speech.

We’re going to talk about the principle and the feeble response we heard. And then I am going to talk about pragmatic benefits, but before which I just want to start with two things. 

One, I want you to ask yourself about a human life. It is such a precious thing and we only have about eighty years in this world, if at all if you’re lucky. Fourty of those years are actually useful and we spend those years working nine to five jobs, which all of us hate, just to get 60,000 US dollars if you are very very lucky, at the very best, and you call that freedom. Bo and I reject that this is a realistic way to which individuals have a right to live their life. We think it is absurd that this is the extent to which we aspire to. We think that is nonsensical and principally something we haven’t heard a justification for. 

Reconstruction of Case

What did we hear from the previous speech? 

Quickly a mechanistic quibble saying we can’t work both within and without the system. Two things.

Firstly, he misunderstood Bo. We are very happy to stand for violent mechanisms like we saw with the ‘roads must fall’ movement within South Africa. These are literally students who are able to get the government to invest millions they otherwise said they weren’t, and take that money out of private property by increasing taxes within that country.

Secondly, we think it’s totally consistent with it working within the system. Thinking of abolishing certain property laws, like intellectual property, is the sort of thing we are standing for, so it can work both within and without the system. 

Engagement on the Principle

On the principle, I am going to start by telling you just how violent private capital is. The vast majority of people who are imprisoned in the world’s prisons are imprisoned in virtue of crimes where they were trying to get something for themselves. So you are burgling somebody or that sort of thing. The vast majority of these people are actually poor, so what they are striving for is the bare minimum required for sustenance. In the developing world, their governments can’t provide them with that. The state then, that is supposed to represent all of us, puts these prisoners in cages. They put these people behind cages. We think that that is never at all justified, and this is the sort of system of enforcement that is required by private property. 

Secondly, wars of conquest “for minerals?” in the vast majority of the world are justified on the principle that  potential gain will actually justify this war. We think that this violence is the direct assault on human dignity that Bo was talking about. 

What did we hear in the previous speech? 

Firstly, and this is important because this is the extent of the principle argumentation that we heard out of opening opposition. This is a principle debate.

They said, in the instance that you fail, this amounts to sadism. The analogy was the extent of the argument. Panel you have nothing else there on which to vote. Why is this problematic?

Bo and I say self-defense, even when you’re guaranteed to fail, is a justified thing to do. I’m going to give you an example.  In the 19th century, at the end of the Holocaust there was a sudden individuals in a Polish ghetto and they knew that the German assaulters were coming to get them. Those people had two options: they could just kind of concede and capitulate because all of them are going to die in any case or they could pick up their  arms and give it their best shot, fight against the Luftwaffe as they did. We think that they were justified in pursuing these means even if it meant that they were going to fail because the resistance of evil is a good in and of itself. We think that this is the principle we stand for on opening government. You heard nothing of comparable sophistication in the previous speech. 

The second thing for which he said was a principle but in fact was just a pragmatic argument was that these people aren’t culpable. Firstly, ask yourself about how the process of the acquisition of private property occurred. It was slavery, it was the Industrial Revolution, the principle was actually taking people and plunder. Taking people away from people, so we think that that acquisition was unjustified. But secondly, they talked about people who want to buy a piece of bread and that sort of thing and that we’re going to take money away from them. We think their ability to imagine a world outside of the confines of property is severely constrained. The only extent to which that is an argument is if you buy the premise that the paradigm we need to operate under is one of private property. 

Practical Clash

Pragmatic Benefits. They had a number of things here.  

I’m going to start by telling you why contextually the state of affairs are getting worse for the global poor. The aggregate levels of absolute poverty in Africa are worsening today than they were in the 1960s. Median wages of African Americans families approximate apartheid South Africa and the trend is that they’re decreasing. The one percent continue to own more and more wealth in society. Why was this important and Bo gave you five pieces of material that weren’t responded to, but principally they said two things. One, capital in all instances seeks to exclude and secondly, it seeks to self propagate. We gave you five reasons why we can’t change it from within the system. He told you about where people live. He told you about the media, the collective action problem, disenfranchisement, and the international system that protects private property. To this all we heard was that unions and democracy will solve. Panel look at what they’re saying in terms of argumentation and compared to the sophistication you heard in Bo’s speech. 

The second thing they wanted to have then was they wanted to bring up the example of Asia. Two sorts of responses here, the Asia Tigers. Firstly, we say state-owned capital in many of those circumstances approximates on a balance closer to what we’re talking about then what they’re talking about. These instances like Singapore, China, while aren’t ideal but getting closer to the sorts of ideal we want. Closing, I really encourage you to ask me a question.


You honestly think that Singapore more closely approximates Marxist Russia than it does Western liberal democracy.


Literally, this is our point. Our point was this: yes the state-owned companies were acting in a capitalist manner but the ownership of that is based on the Democratic principle which everybody has the potential to benefit from. Yes it exists in capitalism but it’s an approximation that we think is a step in the right direction. The bourgeois element before we get to Marxist utopia.

Okay, on Asia. The second thing to say is that we don’t think this is freedom at all. When people are dying and burning factories in Bangladesh and they don’t have the political enfranchisement to say ‘hey this is unacceptable’ to their government. We don’t think democratic representation is something that is at all beneficial.

What did we give you then in addition to this. Firstly, we told you they can succeed and this is contrary to their arguments about them having better guns. Three sorts of things. Firstly, the soldiers that man those armies we think in very many circumstances are the global poor. The vast majority of the draft in the United States happens to be African Americans who have systematically been prejudiced by that government. Secondly, we think just by virtue of the number of people that are actually poor, if all of them decided tomorrow that they would like to follow opening government’s on their way to success, we think it would be very successful. Thirdly, we think that the resources happen to be in the places where very poor and capital requires labor for it to be effective. Panel, there is a principle here and an assault on human dignity, even if we fail self-defense is justified. 

Incredibly proud to propose.

Deputy Leader Of Opposition: Sydney Union B

Opening Lines

Bo wanted to champion China as an example for his side of house, but Mao’s revolution in China condemned millions and millions of people to famine and poverty. In actuality if you want to talk about lifting people out of poverty it’s only since China has since started to liberalize and allow flow of capital into their country that people have lived better lives and continue to live better lives into the future. 

We’re going to do a number of things, but first we are going to talk about why opening government have been completely misleading on the scale of what a global pursuit of Marxist revolution looks like. We think Marxist revolution in this context must be violent. Then we are going to look at the circumstances under which we think violence is justified. Thirdly then, why would this be disastrous for the poor in the period preceding this revolution, during the revolution, and after the revolution even if we assumed the level of success that they wanted to say would come about.

Why This Revolution must be Violent?

So firstly, in rebuttal, why do we think this must be violent? Because Bo presented us with two options for this revolution: so we can use internal structures, he then went on to say in his speech about how the poor are locked out of all those internal structures like democracy. His second option which he wasn’t so keen on in talking about through the rest of his speech was external ones, forcibly removing the structures of power. The forcible removing of those structures that he wanted to talk about, but that he didn’t really want to explain, was a war and what was essentially a war because that was the only way that you could convince literally millions and millions of people who were privileged by the systems of capital and lives really good lives and enjoyed their lives and didn’t want to have that capital stripped away from them to just give it all up and consent to this world where there is literally no conception of private property. Which you said is the goal of your revolution.

Justification of Violence

So where do we think the violence is justified? Firstly, we think that you have to justify it on pragmatic grounds. We think there has to be some expectation of actual liberation in the end because otherwise you’re simply engaging in revolution for the sake of making yourself feel good. We think that that is akin to a level of sadism. It’s like harming others in the hope that you get some level of pleasure or satisfaction out of that act itself. We don’t think that that’s good enough.

Secondly, we think that the people that you were targeting have to be shown to have a high level of culpability for causing your suffering. Bo wanted to talk about a dictatorship that the world’s poor live under, but let’s actually look at how that dictatorship works. That’s like individual consumers in capitalized, liberalized societies choosing to spend small portions of their money on certain products which then directs that money to large T&Cs and then those T&Cs engage in oppressive practices on the other side of the world. We don’t think that each of those individuals which are the people that you have to target and the people you holding responsible are particularly cognizant of that action or aware of that action to the point where you can hold them to a standard, where you can revolt against them. 

Thirdly, we think that all the imperative that Bo wanted to set up was not as great as he wanted to make out because we would tell you in opening opposition that capitalism is working better and better for the poor. We pointed in a point of information to have lifted one billion people out of poverty, and we think that is because of the very selfish incentives of capital gains that Bo wanted to decry. Because you want access to more labor markets in the developing world. Because it’s economically efficient to tap into intelligent and underutilized populations around the world when your own populations have become too educated and too wealthy to demand their rights. But on top of that we think that you don’t just have to rely on the systems of capitalism in our world. Because democracy and things like collectivization into labor unions becomes more and more successful according to the trajectory, so as those people become marginally wealthier through the flow of capital that the capitalistic incentives create their ability to spend it on things like education and self empowerment and self-determination improve as well. That’s why you get better participation in those internal structures in our world than after you engage in this revolution. So we don’t think they meet the standards required for this revolution.  

Preceding the Revolution

But why even if they do engage in this revolution would it be disastrous, particularly for the world’s poor.  So I want to firstly talk about the period preceding this revolution because the premise of any marxist revolution, whether it be through these internal voting structures that they then said were not open to the world’s poor or through forcible removement of power structures and violence, the premise is total solidarity and as much buy in as possible. Because that’s your comparative advantage as the global poor, it’s an advantage in numbers. The way you trigger that buy in then, is by further [slipping] into greater and greater poverty. By making those people’s circumstances so much worse and so bad that that is where they are willing to rise up and join in your global revolution.

What does that actually look like in the real world? That means undermining things like welfare programs, like foreign aid schemes, like public health insurance. That means you are condemning people now for the sake of some hope of a better future, and the people you condemn are the most vulnerable amongst that movement because there are relative levels of poverty and we think that your Marxist revolution and the people who are making those decisions are likely to be the most privileged. the most educated, and the most well-off amongst that group and the people who they choose to sacrifice in pursuit of this end are those who are the most vulnerable. We don’t think that is acceptable whatsoever. 

Why the revolution would fail

Now why do we think that the Marxist revolution, even once you’ve reached that unacceptable level of buy-in is still likely to fail. Because we think the way the tools that you need to use and utilize are force and violence that might have made sense when Karl Marx was writing, when the tools of war and revolution were attrition, but we’ve moved on since then the tools of war are increasingly complex and technological. The modern bourgeoisie is the modern state and the economic elite who have access to intense amounts of weaponry  and abilities to defend and protect their private property that you never gave us a reason why they would just want to give up. We think that means that your capacity to actually achieve your revolution is limited. Bo accepted this when he said they would only succeed in some instances. Yes, closing.


You claim that in the end it would be beneficial because capitalism means people become richer. If a Chinese worker was paid 3 dollars a day wouldn’t it be likely that they would be replaced by some kind of mechanized workforce?


Yes, but at that point when you create technological workforces there are still people designing that technology, there are still people implementing that technology, and the capacity of those people to be like Chinese is greater when they have some money you can spend on things like education. We don’t think without this revolution we’re destined to a world where everyone is unemployed. 

Why implementation is harmful

Finally, even if you get this implementation, why do we think it’s still disastrous? We think your Marxist state is likely to be an economically depressed one, because your incentives to work are going to be gone when the enterprises are all run by the state and there’s no competition. When your capacity to live is exactly the same with or without you as an individual working in that workforce because you make such a marginal contribution to that economy. That leads to a stagnated and poorer state, and the most likely scenario is an incomplete revolution which means you have poor states next to rich states in their world. Which means they are likely to be excluded and continued to be screwed by those same capitalistic structures, and those communist states are going to be the ones that live in the developing world which means they don’t have the capital now to exist on their own. And there is no reason for Western liberal actors to inject capital into those markets.

They had to show why this revolution would work in order to justify it in the first place. It definitely wouldn’t. We oppose.