The Society gathered for the Second Annual Jessica Caroe Debate to consider Resolved: Liberalism is Imperialism. Making her induction, Ms. Charlotte Pennington (MSB ’16) of Maryland spoke with Mr. Gavin Bade (SFS ’14) of Michigan on the affirmation. Ms. Shalina Chatlani (SFS ’17) of Mississippi was also welcomed into the Society, keynoting for the negation with Mr. Christopher Stromeyer (SFS ’14) of Argentina.
Happily thanking Mr. Arber for his good mentorship, Ms. Pennington got off to a rousing start, noting the various ways that Liberalism dominates the world stage. She argued that Liberalism exists to expand its free-market values into new territories. Lambasting the nefarious Western interests that rule the classically liberal World Bank and IMF, she pointed to the Congo as an example of Liberal values trampling on the well-being of the Third World just like King Leopold did more than a century before.
With his charismatic pomp, Mr. Stromeyer invited the ladies and gentlemen of the Grand and Eternal Philodemic Society to join him on the side of liberty. He maintained that Liberalism is not only NOT Imperialism, but that it actually represents the exact antithesis of that antiquated ideology. While Imperialism oppresses the individual, liberalism holds personal fulfillment as its highest ideal. After expounding a bit on economic ideology, as he is wont to do, Mr. Stromeyer ceded the dais to Mr. Bade.
Speaking with the passion of an avowed socialist, Mr. Bade turned Mr. Stromeyer’s economic approach on its head. Since Liberalism fundamentally entails a commitment to global capitalism, any liberal state will try its hardest to expand free-market economies around the world. Under the guise of spreading freedom, the U.S. has fought imperialist wars across the Global South. Mr. Bade maintained that Liberalism is “just the same old wine in a new bottle”.
Ms. Chatlani strongly struck back against Mr. Bade’s version of Liberalism. She maintained that Liberalism is about interdependence, not control. When liberal countries involve themselves in the affairs of other nations, it is to restore peace and human rights, not exacerbate conflict and exploitation. Sometimes the West may not live up to these values, but that does not make the values themselves Imperialist.
Since seniority is reversed at the Caroe debate, President DiMisa called on Mr. Patrick Eisen first. Mr. Eisen controversially claimed that interventions to protect human rights are Imperialist because they foist Western values on unwilling nations. This drew the ire of Mr. Danny Graff who argued that everyone wants to be a liberal. “It’s not imperialist to invite somebody else to your party.”
Mr. Patrick Musgrave declared that cultural imperialism ought to be the real essence of the debate but Mr. Will Greco said Imperialism must involve political control. Mr. Jeff Naft brought the idea of personal agency into the debate while Vice President Anna Hernick quickly steered us back to the framing and declared that capitalism does not equal imperialism.
Proudly attaining her third speech, Ms. Taylor Oster (SFS ’17) contended that people always should have the liberty to decide what their government looks like while Ms. Natalie Caceres (MSB ’17) said we should negate the resolution on semantics alone. Mr. Christopher Zawora (COL ’16) insisted that imperialism aside, Liberalism is a good we ought to strive for. Mr. Thomas Shuman (COL ’17) agreed, but pointed out that those positive effects make Liberalism inherently un-imperialist.
Mr. Samuel Kleinman found little to distinguish our global system of capital from nineteenth-century exploitation but Ms. Ashley Burke called this a historical fallacy. With her lovely sense of ironic humor, Ms. Heather Regen called Ms. Burke’s notions of “time” and “place” needlessly “totalizing” in a world where black can be white. Mr. Jacob Arber vehemently rejected Mr. Regen’s sociological wishy-washiness and jokingly insulting her capabilities as a mentor. The President was not amused, but Treasurer Grace certainly was.
Channeling his hero Pope Francis, Mr. Luke Schafer contended that capitalism imperializes the poor. Ms. Asha Thanki defended free markets while Mr. Alejandro Perez-Reyes boldly tried to win the argument by virtue of wearing a bowtie, insisting that culture is Imperialism. Dismissing the zany idea that McDonald’s and overseas colonies can be placed in the same category, Mr. Drew Cunningham emphatically declared that Liberalism is not Imperialism but Mr. Alden Fletcher pointed to our national monuments to argue against him.
When the debate returned to the keynoters, the always-lovely Ms. Chatlani focused on foreign policy, telling everyone that America takes a liberal approach because it acts multilaterally. This is a far cry from Imperialism. Ms. Pennington contended that we only act multilaterally in that we recruit other Western democracies to help us out when we invade other nations.
After waxing poetic about giving his last keynote, Mr. Stromeyer declared capitalism the victor of the Cold War and agreed that the rich world has had a first-mover advantage but that does not make it imperialist. Mr. Bade made some equally eloquent emotional appeals before purposefully striding down the floor to tell us that the coercive and manipulative power of global capital secretly lies at the heart of liberal democracy.
The Society then voted to determine the new member who had improved the most over the course of the year. I’m happy to report that Mr. Drew Cunningham deservedly won the Second Jessica Caroe Medal! Huzzah!
We then tallied the votes, with the negation winning 23-4-27.
Finally, with a springtime spirit of fun and cheer, we inducted our two newest members, Ms. Charlotte Pennington and Ms. Shalina Chatlani! Hip-hip-huzzah!