Next Meetup

Motion: The American Revolution was morally unjustified
We have speakers lined up. If you would like to moderate this debate, contact Deborah via this website. Also, we’ll be allowing 2-minute speeches related to the Motion by anyone who wants to give one. “What if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America—what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them?” - Adam Gopnik (“We could have been Canada”, 5/15/17 New Yorker) Some say that America and the rest of the world would have been much better off had there never been an American Revolution. They argue the American Revolution was actually a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment rationalization, producing a country that was always marked for violence, disruption and demagogy. The good stuff (democracy, human rights, rising living standards) would have happened anyway and the bad stuff lasted longer. For instance, slavery would have been abolished earlier, American Indians would not have faced the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policy making easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse. From this perspective, Donald Trump is a feature and not a bug of the system of government enshrined by our Founding Fathers. Others argue that the American Revolution was responsible for much that is good in the world. It ushered in a movement that tore down systems of privilege in favor of more egalitarian ways of organizing society. It inspired popular movements within the US and across the globe, including Latin America, Europe, and Africa. The American Revolution created a political and legal environment that transformed the economic landscape of the country, unleashing an entrepreneurial spirit that has played a huge role in improving global living standards. These are moral goods. Had the American colonies remained part of the British Empire, slavery might have actually gone on a bit longer, particularly for Northern slaves who were emancipated long before the Civil War. There is no evidence the southern states would have given up slavery without war had they remained British colonies. There's also little reason to think that native communities would have fared substantially better had the Revolution never occurred, given British extermination campaigns during the colonial period as well as later British atrocities in Australia. And the US presidential system does have its advantages, such as preventing demagogues from taking over the entire government. Donald Trump may dream, but, thanks to the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers were able to put in place the separation of powers to stymie the monarchical impulse. What do you think? Was the American Revolution really worth it? Are we better off for its having happened? Or did the American Revolution result in more pain and suffering and less flourishing of humanity than had it never happened? Looking back, was the American Revolution justified? Or not? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these questions. Further reading: https://www.vox.com/2015/7/2/8884885/american-revolution-mistake http://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2011/02/was-the-american-revolutionary-war-a-just-war-john-fea-02-09-2011 https://www.vox.com/2015/7/7/8908481/american-revolution-mistake https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/we-could-have-been-canada https://www.vox.com/2016/7/3/12062334/american-revolution-liberals https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom

Mechanics' Institute Library

57 Post St · San Francisco

What we're about

The SF Debate Meetup is an open forum for discussion on the events of our time. We have three goals 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 SF Debate 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. 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. HAVE FUN, MAKE FRIENDS SFDebate is also good fun. 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. More info at http://www.sfdebate.org/

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