What we're about

The SFDebate Meetup is an open forum for discussion on the events of our time. We have three goals:

(1) UNDERSTAND OTHER POINTS OF VIEW. With so much news available to us, it is easy to fall into the trap of relying on sources that simply support and reinforce our own limited beliefs. The SFDebate Meetup is a chance for you to expand your perspectives and understanding. We believe that when opinions are discussed in public, our critical faculties are sharpened as we are exposed to diverse viewpoints that we may not have considered before.

(2) DEVELOP YOUR PERSUASIVE SKILLS. If you want to be able to convince others of your ideas, if you want to change the world we live in, SFDebate is the forum for you. Consider SFDebate to be a 'dojo' for persuasive speaking. It is a place where you will not only be exposed to opposing points of view, but a safe place where you will be encouraged to find and speak up for yours. We work hard to keep things civil and will not tolerate physical intimidation or threats of any kind.

(3) The point is to HAVE FUN and MAKE FRIENDS. It is a meeting of minds, and we follow every meeting with drinks , a bite to eat, and some drunken debate at a nearby bar/restaurant.

Upcoming events (1)

Is it Better to Live under a Dictator, or not live under State Control at all?

Link visible for attendees

The war in Ukraine has left bare the dangers of authoritarianism on the world stage. One of the world’s largest militaries, mostly under the control of one person, invaded its much smaller neighbor, unleashing a global humanitarian and economic crisis that has yet to abate. Authoritarianism is dramatically on the rise worldwide.

In its annual Freedom in the World report, Freedom House states that in the last 16 years, a total of 60 countries suffered declines in democratic standards and freedoms, while only 25 improved. Only 20 percent of the world’s population now live in “Free” countries, the lowest since 1997. Even the United States, long considered the bastion of democracy, has had its own brush with dictatorship during the events of January 6th.

Most people would agree that living under a dictatorship – one in which a single individual or small group of people control all public institutions and severely restrict personal freedoms – is undesirable. But are the so-called “liberal democracies” really the desirable alternative? To varying degrees, all Western democracies have large and imposing State-controlled institutions. A myriad of laws control practically every aspect of citizens’ lives, from where you can live and walk your dog to how you use your own private property. This huge apparatus is funded by increasingly high levels of taxation, imposed on the citizens at almost every level of the economy.

Perhaps the most visible symbol of State control are the police forces. The conduct of these forces can be extremely violent and often escape accountability. In Europe, using recent terrorist actions as justification, police forces have become increasingly militarized and brutal, at the expense of personal freedoms. The result is a populace hesitant to speak out, for fear of State reprisals.

The response by many to this occasionally heavy-handed imposition of State control is that it is a necessary function of any civilized society. Without the threat of force to enforce rule of law, mob rule would take over, with self-serving individuals imposing their will on others. Countries would devolve into fiefdoms of power-hungry warlords, ruling by violent means. Liberal democracies understand that a level of State control is necessary in order to ensure the freedoms our societies otherwise enjoy.

With all of its downsides, dictatorship at least offers social order and a degree of personal safety, the opposite of the utter chaos that statelessness would bring. Besides, dictators are not always bad. Lee Kuan Yew ruled as absolute dictator of Singapore from 1965 to 1990, but transformed the impoverished and backward city-state into one of the wealthiest and most advanced nations on earth.

This practice of ceding liberty to the State that liberal democracies increasingly seem to make is rejected by so-called “anarchists”. Noam Chomsky put it this way:
“When you look, most of the time (these) authority structures have no justification: they have no moral justification, they have no justification in the interests of other people, or the environment, or the future, or the society, or anything else – they’re just there in order to preserve certain structures of power and domination. Noam Chomsky, ‘On Anarchism’ (2013)

To be sure, collaborative agreements between people are required in order for a society to function properly. But these should be voluntary and not imposed by the threat of force. Sure, these private arrangements will be imperfect. But they are far better than ceding our precious freedoms and enormous resources to a State that invariably acts in its own interest rather than the interests of its people.

Join us at SFDebate as we discuss this very relevant and thought-provoking topic. The debate will be conducted online. Once you sign-up, you will be sent a Zoom link to the events. Although not required, everyone is encouraged to share their opinions.

15 Countries That Had No Government For The Longest Time (therichest.com)
The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule | Freedom House
https://www.oxfordphilsoc.org/Documents/StudentPrize/2019_Thc2.pdf
https://roswellpoliticaltheory.blogspot.com/2011/10/anarchy-vs-dictatorship.html
https://www.createdebate.com/debate/show/Anarchy_vs_Dictatorship
https://www.girlsaskguys.com/social-relationships/q2628323-would-you-rather-live-in-a-dictatorship-or-an-anarchy

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