The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

History Will Not Look Kindly on the First Decade of the 21st Century

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,294 times Debate No: 14501
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I would first like to thank my opponent in advance for accepting this challenge. I am arguing this same position on this same motion in a few weeks for the City Schools final. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but hey, it's the biggest competition I'm eligible to enter. In any case, in this debate, I will be attempting to prove that history will not look kindly on the first decade of the 21st century.

As the instigator of this debate, I feel it falls upon me to define this motion for the purposes of the debate. That future generations will view the years between 2000 and 2009 in a negative light.

My argument will be based on:

1. Establishing what history tends to remember

2. Establishing what noteworthy events took place in the defined time period

3. Establishing which events will live longest in our cultural memory

4. Proving that said events will not be looked kindly on

I eagerly await any challenger, and would like to provide for them a concise explanation of my argument:

1. On my first point, what does History tend to remember? The key question in this debate is what will the decade be remembered for. To understand this, we will have to establish what previous decades have been remembered for. Acknowledging that a decade is a pimple on the face of history, we must confine our speculation to within the 21st century. To get a better idea of this, we must therefore examine the preceding century. Let us examine two decades from the 20th century. One looked kindly on, and one not looked kindly on.

I would nominate the 1940s as a decade history does not look kindly on, and the 1960s as one that it does look kindly on. What is remembered from these decades?

In the 1940s, the obvious thing is World War 2, probably what the decade is best remembered for. Millions were killed in the war and many more wounded. The USSR gained power, as did the USA. Nuclear weaponry saw its inception as a military tool and the Cold War became a fixture of international politics for the rest of the century. Does this mean the decade was all bad? No. There were stunning advancements in political thought, (England establishes the NHS in 1948, free healthcare) science, (radar) economics, (pulled out of depression) women's rights, (women working in the workplace) and more. However, these advancements are largely unacknowledged and the decade is considered one of the darkest times in modern history. Why? Because the War eclipsed all of these achievements.

Because these advances were not tied to the greatest event of the decade (the war) in the minds of the people, they were not associated at all with the decade.

What are the 1960s remembered for? Social liberation, women's rights, political radicalism, and the civil rights movement. Most of which happened in the 40s, but people didn't notice. Why remember this decade so well? The civil rights movement is perhaps the defining event of that decade, equivalent to WW2 in the 1940s. But the Civil Rights Movement was born out of segregation, discrimination, oppression, and a whole slew of ugly words. This was as tumultuous a decade as any of the century. There was experimentation with drugs and a rise in crime rates. Surely this decade was as bad as any?

It was remembered well because of the strides forward made in Civil Rights. Why? This was the decade overcoming its greatest blemish in segregation. People remembered the positive which came from the negative.

The crux of my argument is that the events which History tends to remember are either the negative ones, or the positive ones that came from the negative ones. Good events on their own do not live long in the cultural memory. A lot of negative events happened this decade, of course, but any good which may come of the bad has not, as of yet, emerged. The decade is up, and this period failed to produce a phoenix from its ashes.

As such, one cannot help but feel that future generations will, like ourselves, remember either bad events, or good ones in reaction to bad ones. Failing to see any positive events from the myriad negative ones, they will not look kindly on the first decade of the 21st century.

I look forward to hearing from any potential challenger.


I would like to thank my opponent for selecting such an interesting and unique topic! Before we begin, I would like to pose a clarifying question. Will this debate focus on American history in the 21st century, or on a more international level (as per your excellent examples)? Until hearing back from you, I will assume that we are concentrating on the United States. Thank you.

Resolved: History will not look kindly on the first decade of the 21st century. I strongly disagree with this resolution. I believe that three themes have defined this decade: the fight against terrorism, reform in all aspects of the government, and growth in technology. I would certainly welcome additional themes to discuss! I will attempt to prove that each of these three themes (as well as those suggested by my opponent) has had a positive impact, and will assume that having done so will result in my victory :)

First, I address the fight against terrorism. While terrorism is certainly a terrible and uphill battle (and in no way is *terrorism* beneficial to the United States) it is an unavoidable consequence in involvement in controversial issues. Perhaps the best embodiment of this are the tragic events of 9/11. However, despite the horror of the occasion, any American (especially those that live in New York City, as I do) will remember the resurgence of patriotism and national unity that followed. America gained new, long-lasting strength from this bond. The remainder of the decade has been colored in no small part by a pro-American stance that has been beneficial for the nation.

2. Second, I would like to highlight the immense reformative changes that occurred during this time. Our society has continued to move forward in important ways. During the decade, America elected its first black president (an accomplishment unheard of a mere 40 years earlier. This is arguably the culmination of social reform and civil rights--in this very decade! And this is, of course, to merely skip past incredible advances in healthcare reform and the like.

3. Third, there have been incredible advances in technology that will be sure to reap positive values in all aspects of life. From new drugs to fight HIV/AIDS, to the iPhone, to YouTube, this decade will be remembered as one continually striving forward. To focus on a single example is difficult, but the massive growth of the internet (and blogging in particular as of the 21st century) has helped to disseminate information, bring political awareness to the forefront of society, and aid in education.

Once again, I thank my opponent for this topic, and I look forward to both an excellent rebuttal and debate!
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I'd like to thank you very much for your time and look forward to an entertaining and intellectually satisfying debate for all.

Addressing your original question: you have assumed this debate to focus on the United States. Not unreasonable of you, by any means, but not what I had in mind. I had meant world history. Chiefly Irish history, in fact. I'm Irish, and the debate that I'm preparing for is being held, of course, in Ireland, so if anything, Irish history will be most closely scrutinized, but for the purposes of the debate, we should focus on world events. The USA played a very big part in the decade of course, so focussing on it is not wrong, and indeed, is an ideal starting point. However the debate should ultimately brach out into other aspects of the history of the 21st century.

You have started your argument at what I believe I had established as my 2nd point, Establishing what noteworthy events took place in the decade, which of course, I had intended to focus mainly on in round 2 anyway. I would contend that your 3 main themes are not sufficient to cover the decade. I would add a 4th: economic meltdown. I would put it to you that reformative changes are nothing significant or special about this decade, and I would argue that history will not remember our scientific advancements in the context of the decade, as it never has done in the past.

Essentially, what I am proposing to you is that while your 1st point stands, as there is no precedent for the war on terror, legislative and scientific advancements have not been so radical as to stand out in our cultural memory, and that instead the massive failure of our economic system is a much more identifiable theme of the decade. What this would leave us with is two main themes:

1. The war on terror
2. The economic crisis

I welcome any counter argument made to my negation of the legislative and scientific advancements of the decade, but in order to prove that these points are memorable, you must prove that these advances were significantly greater than in other decades. In my view, you have not done this. I concede that there have been advancements, but as of yet, you have made no argument for why they will be remembered above the negative events. The first point I made, which I feel, still stands, is that history will either remember the bad, or the good which has come of the bad. You have offered a lot of good from the decade, but war on terror aside, (which I will be dealing with) none of it came from bad. Until you negate this argument, we must logically assume that History will forget what positive events you have made, and remember only the War on Terror, (which I will attempt to prove as a negative event) and (unless negated) the economic meltdown. (obviously bad)

2. My second point:

Thusfar, we have identified 4 noteworthy events of the decade; the war on terror; the culmination of the civil rights movement; (in the election of Barrack Obama to the office of President) Scientific innovation; and the economic crisis.

On the first of these events, the war on terror. 9/11, and the response to it, will most likely become this decades defining point, as much as world war 2 was to the 1940s or the civil rights movement to the 1960s. We have always had terrorism, but in 2001 with the attack on the world trade centre, it became a much more real and terrifying problem. It has been said that there was a surge in patriotism, but this was not qualified as being a good thing. Why is patriotism a good thing? Patriotism to what end? To prevent more terrorist attacks? An entire country quivering in fear together? If there has been a surge in National pride, this is its extent. The so called "pride" led the nation and the world to excessively curb civil rights in the name of counter terrorism. Surveillance has become all-pervasive and we live in an era of fear because of the threat of terrorism. Is this a good thing? What has the fight on terror achieved? It is as I said, the war on terror stemmed from a tragic event, and whatever good may come of it has yet to emerge. Even the staunchest Republican argues that the war on terror will only come to fruition in the future. Progress, perhaps, but no noticeable benefits. The United States and the world would be better off without 9/11, and this is unquestionable. The onus is on the Con to prove the contrary.

On the second event, this advance is negated by my expansion on the first. For all the advancements, civil rights in this decade have emerged at a deficit from the last. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

The third instance I concede, but I will go on at length in my third point in round 3 to prove why these advances, divorced from any other significant event, will not raise the standing of the decade over all.

On the fourth main event identified, the economic crisis. The end of the decade saw the collapse of the financial world. The only historical precedent for this crash was the Great Depression in the 1930s. In Ireland, future generations will remember this as the decade where their futures were remortgaged. The IMF has had to come to Ireland to help them arrange their finances. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Iceland and Spain are all either bankrupt or at bankruptcy's door. I would suggest that this will forever be remembered as the decade that capitalism went too far. We have seen shocking rises in extreme Leftist parties worldwide. Not a horrible thing in itself. However we have also seen a shocking rise in extreme Right-wing party membership as well. The middle ground is thinning. This will be the decade where we forgot how to manage money. This will lead to the same kind of austerity which only ended with World War 2 in the 30s. Unemployment and crime soars. No good has come of this crisis. We have nothing to show for it, and I believe it will define the decade.

I eagerly await my opponent's rebuttal. Thank you.


mrsvonnegut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I don't know whether to take the forfeit as a missed round or a resignation. If you wish to continue the debate, please inform me. Thank you.


mrsvonnegut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


This debate will end sooner if I reply


mrsvonnegut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Here ends our debate. Vote pro if I've done a reasonably ok job.


mrsvonnegut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by The_Harlequin 7 years ago
Someone vote for me, please? I want to take something out of this at least. >.<
Posted by The_Harlequin 7 years ago
It's fine mrsvonnegut.

That said, any potential voters should default to pro because of Con's resignation.
Posted by mrsvonnegut 7 years ago
Hi Harlequin! I'm sorry--my parents took my computer away (heh). I don't have it back yet, so I don't think I can participate in this debate. Again, I'm sorry, I didn't anticipate this! I look forward to seeing you around the site after I get my comp back!
Posted by The_Harlequin 7 years ago
Anyone who'd like to step in to challenge me, please do.
Posted by The_Harlequin 7 years ago
As mrsvonnegut seems to have resigned, I have started the debate anew:
Posted by USRugbyfan 7 years ago
Given that I actually know The_Harlequin, I can't help feeling amused by the assumption that this debate is confined to America given that we are in Ireland and the the debate definitely refers to the world.
Posted by Grape 7 years ago
This is an excellent topic and it looks like it will be a good debate. Welcome to the site, Harlequin.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by adealornodeal 7 years ago
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