Mr. Anderson,As is my custom, I directed him to the Wikipedia page on the subject, which, like a lot of Wikipedia, is a decent enough place to start. However, it presumes a little more familiarity with the subject than your average novice possesses. Hence, this quick guide to the kritik.
I've been seeing a lot of people talking about Kritiks and how they try to use them in almost every debate. What is a kritik, and what does the structure mean? Do you have any resources that can help explain them better?
What is a kritik?
A kritik is an argument about the mindset presupposed or called forth by the language of the resolution. It's about deconstructing--peeling back the layers of, or exposing the invalid assumptions of--the resolution.
How does it work?
In Lincoln-Douglas debate, it might work like this. Say we're debating the resolution, "Resolved: states ought not possess nuclear weapons." The Negative can argue that because the resolution is cast in terms of states, it is inherently statist, and to affirm adopts a statist mindset that, in the real world, empowers states to control or subjugate individuals regardless of whether nuclear weapons ever enter the equation.*
The alternative, the Neg argues, is to negate the language (and hence power) of the resolution / statism, offering an alternative such as anarchism, which empowers individuals.
The structure is fairly straightforward: link, impact, alternative. Returning to our argument, you can see the structure.
Link: the resolution employs statist language / forces us to adopt a statist mindset.
Impact: by adopting the statist mindset, we reduce human freedom / dehumanize (ethical impacts), or perpetuate totalitarian genocide (historic or empirical impact).
Alternative: reject the statism inherent in the resolution through anarchism.
The modified kritik.
Because some of the impacts of kritiks are ethical, it is possible to shoehorn a kritik into the traditional framework of the event. Consider our previous example, modified into a standard V/C with three contentions:
Contention 1 (link): the resolution employs statist language / forces us to adopt a statist mindset.
Contention 2 (impact): by adopting the statist mindset, we reduce human freedom.
Contention 3 (alternative): to restore freedom, reject the statism inherent in the resolution by encouraging anarchism.
Words of advice.
1. If you are debating in novice (or in many cases, JV), don't run a kritik. Chances are, you don't have enough experience under your belt to do it correctly--and, more likely, your judge will either deplore kritiks, or be unfamiliar with them.
2. Never run a kritik you don't fully understand. If you're facing a more experienced opponent, it can backfire terribly. And, similarly to #1, if you don't understand it, how will your judge?
3. Thus, if you plan to run a kritik, it's essential to ask the judge before the round, something like, "What are your thoughts about theory or kritiks?" If you get a blank stare, put the kritik back in your file and save it for a different round.
Questions or criticism are greatly appreciated. As a fairly traditional LD coach, I don't pretend to be the world's foremost authority on kritiks, and would welcome any clarifications, corrections, or additions.
* This lack of direct engagement with the specific argument of the resolution is one reason some find kritiks distasteful.