The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Oppressive government is more desirable than no government.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,761 times Debate No: 34478
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




This is the National Forensic Society Lincoln-Douglas debate resolution for the national tournament for 2012-2013. I prefer that this debate be done according to the conventions of NFL Lincoln-Douglas (this is how I will do it), but this is not essential. I am willing to debate any logical, fair negation of the topic. Please respond to accept.
Also, this is my first time on


Thank you for the debate. I'll start just by laying some definitions and then letting my opponent go from there.



Debate Round No. 1


JDoe forfeited this round.


I personally believe that it is better to have no government than an oppressive one. When I say no government, in America, by the definition provided, I mean no congress, no supreme court and no president and cabinet ect, Instead I hold a belief in which all men are held to the same two laws. 1) Do all you have agreed to do and 2) Do not encroach on others or their property. I believe that these 2 laws are the only two laws necessary for society. Any other law drafted is an encroachment on your personal freedom. Now one may ask, how do you ensure that society does not fall apart with no government? Well, I have two theories to answer that question. My first is, how many of you act in the norm of society simply because it's right, and not because a law tells you to, and how many people act out of the norm of society even though a law says not to? Good people will act decently with no law to tell them to do so and some people will not even though there are laws that say not to. My second theory, for those not appeased by my first theory, is a peace officer corp. A peace officer corp would fulfil a role similar to that of a police officer, but the peace officer corp answers to only the two laws I mentioned. They do not answer to a political power and they cannot be wielded by one who wants to assume power. By these terms they avoid the pre-defined definition of "Government". Thank you. Floor is your's pro.
Debate Round No. 2


I affirm that that oppressive government is more desirable than no government. I will begin with a point-by-point refutation of my opponent's argument.

First, I propose that only one law is needed for society, as opposed to my opponent's two (the right of contract and that of property). This law is the Kantian categorical imperative. If you act by this law in it's most basic formulation (roughly the golden rule) you will have all my opponent says and more.

Thus, I concede the point that morality and rights can exist in absence of government. However, I disagree with my opponent that these can be enforced in the lawless state of nature. The problem is getting people to stay honest. Even in the US, which few rational people would consider an oppressive government, there are gross violations of the law. There are people who rape, murder, steal from, and generally wrong innocent people. You don't need to have a majority of immoral people to have frightening implications. Even though I disagree that good people will not need the government, it is even more evident that bad people need the government to keep them in check. This is clear, and my opponent senses so as well so he provides a second option: the peace officer corps. My opponent offers a lot of attributes of the corps. My opponent doesn't provide any evidence for how this is even possible, however:

A peace officer corp would fulfill a role similar to that of a police officer, but the peace officer corp answers to only the two laws I mentioned. They do not answer to a political power and they cannot be wielded by one who wants to assume power.

Why? Because you said so?

The fact is when a group has a monopoly on legitimate power, there has to be internal and external checks. Otherwise, absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is nothing stopping the police corps from abusing power, or from abused power from standing up to the corps.

With that, I will sparsely outline two reasons why you should vote pro:

An oppressive government can deal with external threats.

An oppressive government can maintain civilization where as anarchy will tend not to.


Actually, the Kantian imperative is more of a way of life or philosophical concept, not a law that can be enforced. The two laws I stated, are enforceable. And I believe that you twist my words sir, the legislative, judicial, or executive branches do not do anything to stop immoral people. Police officer, or in my case peace officers, do. And to your other statement, a peace corp I mentioned earlier wouldn't really have a monopoly on power because they are not commanded by another body. Police are controlled by politicians who can make them act as they please, but the peace corp I mentioned will only answer to the law of the land. They will not have the authority to make and enforce their own laws because by doing so they will be breaking both of the mentioned laws. Any one man who wanted to gain a monopoly on power would have to bribe every peace officer to follow him because he will be thwarted if he tries to. Similar to how one man cannot illegally gain control of an entire police department without being arrested.

You claim that an oppressive government can maintain civilisation. Civilisation as defined by who? The government? And at what cost? What freedoms will be sacrificed, what rights will withheld, privacies destroyed all for the sake of the "greater good", by a government that feels it is "all powerful"? Doesn't sound like a pleasant living environment now does it? In my suggested society, all rights, freedoms and privacies are guaranteed unless you infringe on someone else. Just because there's no man in front of a teleprompter, doesn't mean society collapses. That's also one of the jobs of the peace corp. I also failed to mention earlier that if you break those laws, you are placed outside the protection of those laws, which is how the peace corp can exist without being seen as infringing on the people.

You also claim that an oppressive government can deal with external threats. Please be a little more specific. Do you mean things like military invasion and hostile fanatics? The only reason they would have to threaten us is because we infringed on them. We infringed on the Middle east in the cold war which is why they bombed us on 9/11. If we treated them according to the 2 laws mentioned, they wouldn't be so hostile to us. Same applies to military invasion. Don't encroach on others and they won't encroach on us. Let's say hypothetically that we were invaded anyway, in America, we have such a high number of armed citizens, with a dense population of ex-military/LE, and with the right to keep military hardware(under the two laws, until they lose those rights) and such a high number of tactical trainers involved, we could amount to a very frightening welcoming party to any invader. But that would never need to happen if we stayed out of other people's business.

With that I will give two reasons to vote Con:

An oppressive government dictates your lifestyle according to it's beliefs.

An oppressive government will encroach on others all for the sake of it's interests, which will cause hostility towards it.
Debate Round No. 3


I will begin this final message by noting that I did not stick to the L-D format to which I originally set out, but this is because in light of my opponents argument structure, I found it unnecessary and cumbersome. With that, I will refute my opponent's case.
I offer the following neutral definitions that I believe are more pertinent than the earlier ones.:
government is...
The body with the power to make and/or enforce laws to control a country, land area, people or organization.
A group of people who hold a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given territory.
-from wiktionary

If a body makes or enforces laws or holds a monopoly on legitimate force, then it is probably a government.

First, my opponent argues that my the idea of a Kantian categorical imperative is a philosophical concept and not a law, and therefore not enforceable. However, the two are not mutually exclusive and indeed a law must be a normative philosophical concept. Perhaps (s)he is right in that it is difficult to enforce because it is difficult to interpret. However, my opponent's laws of 1) Do all you have agreed to do and 2) Do not encroach on others or their property are similarly vague and incapable of facile enforcement. For example, what if a person has agreed to conduct a surgery but ends up killing the patient? My opponents two laws could be interpreted to find the morality in this case, but they would do little good to determine culpability. To determine if malpractice was committed, you need more than a brute Utopian "peace corps." You need a law system, expert witnesses, industry standards, all of which a government, even an oppressive one, could provide.

My opponent claims that " the legislative, judicial, or executive branches do not do anything to stop immoral people." This is a simplification of the US government (and some other governments) that is not true. For example, the executive branch finds guilty people, and the court tries them, but there are also state governments that do the same.

Also, you need to have more than the holding of hands and the singing of "Kumbaya" to enforce laws. How does any organization (such as your corps) not have a leadership? Also, once your peace corps has a leadership it is a government because it is able to enforce laws in a systematic manner (i.e. according to the leadership), and in a manner in which it has a monopoly on legitimate force (it will be the only "legal" way to do "justice"). Your peace corps either a) disorganized but well-meaning an therefore ineffective as a neighborhood watch b) organized and malicious, therefore an oppressive government c) organized and well meaning, therefore a good government d) disorganized and malicious and therefore a scourge. Look at option B: Why the oppression? Precisely because your twin laws are so vague. The peace corps leadership can interpret those laws as it pleases, and enforce them as it pleases. In addition, it is still possible to corrupt your peace officer corps because they are human. Take for example a Napoleonic figure who uses propaganda to get the masses on his side- he doesn't need bribes, he only needs demagoguery and opportunity. By necessarily having a leadership structure and enforcing laws, your anarchic peace corps would turn into an oppressive government. I am corroborated not only by theory but by empirics. If we look to the historical record, almost all anarchies have turned into oppressive states (before later becoming less oppressive).

My opponent, at the end of his case states, in essence, that an oppressive government is bad. This, I concede. However, this does not negate the resolution by itself. Thus, I will defend my reasons for why an oppressive government still has worth.

First, an oppressive government can and has maintained civilization. For example, the US was oppressive to blacks for most of its history but it was still one of the most democratic institutions on earth. Your suggested society sounds a lot better, but that's about it. The fact is, you have no way of guaranteeing the freedom you promise. You have no check in the force of the police corps. I, too, can think of a utopian anarchy, but the problem with what I and you think of is that utopian societies depend on the good people triumphing, which doesn't always happen. The peace corps can and would be corrupted. The answer, to preserve society, is government. The man in front of the teleprompter isn't society. Society is the executive branch stopping the rapists, murderers, and thieves. The vigilante peace corps isn't society. Society is the government.

Second, oppressive governments can deal with external threats, while anarchist ones cannot. It is ironic that you cite "fanatics", and then claim that "The only reason they would have to threaten us is because we infringed on them." Do you believe that fanatics need a reason to attack us? I would argue that your analysis of 9/11 is overly simplistic, and the conclusion you draw, "Don't encroach on others and they won't encroach on us" is wrong. For example, if Joe is crazy, he doesn't need a reason to hurt Bob. Furthermore, if Dan sends Joe an angry letter signed "Bob," Bob could get hurt even though he didn't do anything. Replacing the names in the above example with those of countries is one counterargument to your misguided maxim. Furthermore, let's apply the analysis to your 9/11 scenario. You say that we encroached on the Middle East in the Cold War, so that's why they bombed us. But imagine you are the Middle East- you were just encroached upon without cause by the US! That disproves the principle of "Don't encroach on others and they won't encroach on us" because otherwise, there would be no conflict in today's world. The fact is, people and countries sometimes encroach without cause. Life isn't fair. And in history, an anarchist state has not been able to defend itself when life throws injustice at said state. This is the number one reason for my claim that anarchy turns into oppressive government eventually. Look at the example of anarchist Catalonia, which only lasted a few years before coming under the fascist government of Franco. Or, look to the example of the Free Territory of the Ukrainian revolution which was, in a few years, taken over by the Bolsheviks. No large anarchist society has been able to defend itself from external threats adequately. It can therefore not defend civilization because it ceases to exist and is instead replaced by the external threat, which usually does retain civilization.

Switzerland is a small independent society, armed to the teeth, that no one invades. Note that it has a government.

To conclude, I have attacked the idea that a utopian anarchy can exist, even with the idealistic "peace officer corps." In addition, I have defended, and provided empirical, historical evidence for the notion that oppressive governments can maintain civilization, and defend against threats, while the anarchist state ceases to exist after a few years.

I now ask that my opponent refute and rebut my arguments and defend his/her own without making any new ones. (S)he may provide new evidence, but I will not be able to respond to new arguments, so they shouldn't be allowed. I conclude this debate with a preemptive apology if I have come off as rude and a request of voters to please prioritize the overall logic and rhetoric when voting, as opposed to individual ideas.


I'm going to just address your points one by one for my last statement.

First off, you can't just put forth a new definition in the last round to make my argument look bad. If you wanted to set the terms you should have done so in round one. But since you didn't, I posted the definitions. And it also seems peculiar why you waited to submit it now, instead of in an earlier round or in the comments. You didn't have a problem with my definitions earlier, why now?

I'm curious as to what you mean by "vague" when talking about the 2 laws. They're very straightforward. Also interesting to use the doctor as an example. In order to be a doctor you have to sign a contract with the hospital and I believe you also have to work under certain rules of a doctor. If you sign the contract an follow the rules, you are agreeing to do something. I'm sure somewhere in the contract it says that their patients lives are their responsibility. If the doctor screws up, but does everything he/she can to save the patient, then they have not broken the law, because they did everything they agreed to do. Accidents are a part of nature and cannot be predicted so they should not be used as a basis to sue. And why would a court be necessary? If it were included in the doctor's contract to report any mishaps in the O.R, the other doctor's would let the boss know. When the other doctors in the room say that he did everything he could to save the patient, then he's fine.

Also, as you try to refute my point about the 3 branches of government, you actually affirm my argument. What you stated is a government going through a judicial process. Once again, it is not stopping or preventing the crime, just laying out a punishment.

That statement all depends on how high the leadership goes. Naturally, a corp would be laid out like a police department because it would be most familiar to everybody. City by city, no more, no less. That way, one "precinct" cannot gain control over the other. Once again, you say the laws are vague, but they're not. They're very straightforward. And you say they can interpret and enforce as they please but provide no evidence as to back up that claim. Police officer's don't interpret the law as they please. They follow what is written. And saying a check is needed for the corp is like saying a check for the police is needed. Which it isn't.

I would also like to point out that my opponent's opinion about corruption in the corp isn't backed up with a source, and also, my idea of the corp has never been tried so we don't know now do we? Also, his theory about Dan, Joe and Bob and then translating it to countries, doesn't really work or make sense considering government framing isn't the easiest or practical of crimes to commit. You also claim that anarchy leads to oppressive government, which is true in the cases provided, but my theory hasn't been tried yet so you really can't say it won't work.

My opponent's last statement also doesn't make sense, I'm not quite sure how to refute your points and defend my own without making new arguments. And you didn't outline those conditions in round one.

In closing: I believe that no government is more desirable than an oppressive one because under the two laws it promises freedom and privacy, economically, socially and personally. It's attitude of forcing opinions down the throats of it's citizens is unjust and doesn't warrant a desirable society. Look at Fascist Germany and the USSR. A country that lives under the two laws will not act in a manner that warrants hostile retaliation and will not discriminate against peoples regardless of ethnic background or religion.

My thanks to Jdoe for this debate.

Vote con
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by JDoe 5 years ago
A note on the definitions: the new definitions weren't meant to make you look bad- they were intended to be neutral. I just didn't think the definitions in the first round framed the debate as specifically. As with anything I offer, you have the prerogative to reject the definitions, especially if you find them biased or irrelevant.

I also think I should clarify the part about no new arguments. My intention was that you would not be able to bring up a new point out of nowhere. You could still make counterarguments. However, if you, for example, came up with something completely new (e.g. there would be a "meta-peace corps" to govern the peace corps) that wouldn't be fair.

Finally, as I forgot to do so in the debate, I would like to thank Juris Naturalis for his prompt and well-thought out debate. His good conduct made my first experience with very positive.
Posted by Juris_Naturalis 5 years ago
I know, but some of the definitions had multiple, lengthy explanations so I thought it faster to just paste it.
Posted by gordonjames 5 years ago
I don't know if anyone else cares, but if you include the definition TEXT in your debate rather than the link it is better.

1. It counts towards your word count.
2. Readers don't have to go hunting.
Posted by Juris_Naturalis 5 years ago
I meant to say "government's attitude" and "life under the two laws". My bad. I submitted that last one on my phone.
Posted by JDoe 5 years ago
I forgot about the time restriction and forfeited my round (I didn't think anyone would accept). I'm sorry if this inconveniences the Negative, but I'm sure it should be more of a bonus.

In response to MrParkers, LD is a one-on-one debate focused on logic and philosophy. It deals with how things ought to be rather than how they are. LD values strong argumentation and philosophical analysis, but not necessarily the layman appeal of public forum debate.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
I meant the format, the goal, etc.
Posted by gordonjames 5 years ago
LD debate program
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
I was in Public Forum debate, and my school didn't have a Lincoln-Douglas debate program. Care to explain it for me?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by gordonjames 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
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Total points awarded:41 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited - Conduct point Con - links not definitions - style / grammar point Tied on lack of references and personal opinion. Pro did a better job (IMO) on arguments. Welcome to