Updated: Apr 11, 2020
**The "Best speaker award" sections will analyze great speeches based on the rhetorical devices, logical structure, and debating strategy that they use.**
Today, I have heard a beautiful speech from Harvard University's top debater Bo Seo. In fact, I believe this speech is by far the most artistic speech I have ever heard. To briefly introduce him, Bo is an Australian with Korean heritage who first started debating at a fairly young age. He delivered the speech in the WUDC, held in Thessaloniki 2016.
The motion read "THBT the world's poor is justified in pursuing a Marxist revolution." Although I wasn't clear what a Marxist revolution meant, I could see from the context that it would entail a sort of subversion incited by the global poor. Also, as the wealth gap is one of the areas that I am most interested in, I chose to watch this debate.
Here is the link to his speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tngaDNSlCpU&t=184s
Great person. I wish to become like him someday.
Analysis of Bo's Speech:
Within the debate, Bo synthesizes a cogent argument to justify the poor's pursuit of a complete Marxist revolution.
First of all, Bo incisively comments on the inherent trait of a "Marxist Revolution" to frame the debate and analyze the status quo. He states that no matter what method it takes, it opposes "private property." Through this statement, the scope of the debate becomes lucid, and Bo also sets the framework favourably while also fairly. He also claims that such a revolution can exist in both internal and external methods, allowing him to debate on a larger spectrum and construct a more inclusive argument. Also, when Bo states that he will also defend a revolution that takes form through subversion, it allows him to engage with also the worst-case scenarios of his cases and be viewed as impartial.
Bo also clearly states what their team needs to defend. He concedes that a Marxist revolution would not succeed in all instances; yet, this debate is not about the effect of such revolutions. Rather, this debate is centred around whether the poor have a principle justification of pursuing a Marxist revolution. So even though the revolution is bound to fail, Bo has a higher chance of bringing the debate home.
Bo's employment of various rhetoric strategies is also remarkable. He encourages the audience to "use their imagination" to portray a world in which a Marxist revolution succeeds. He then states that private property has emerged recently and that our vision of property is extremely chronometric; this strategy allows the audience to conceive a Marxist revolution as an attainable goal rather than a fanciful chimaera.
Then, Bo delivers an insightful analysis of the society that we live in today. He strives to analyse in the broadest scope possible so that it would justify a Marxist revolution triggered against as every ownership of private property. For instance, Bo states that the cause of poverty is "negligence" even if it wasn't a direct instance of theft. He provides examples such as conservative intellectual property rights or the refusal to tax properly. This analysis encompasses everyone who has a hold to property, allowing his team to deal with a wide range of parties.
In addition, Bo also appeals to moral reasoning to grant justification. For instance, he states that the fact that the "property has been unjustly acquired in and of itself" gives a justification to the poor. Not only is the logical structure of the argument significant, but also he now takes the moral high ground of the debate by depicting the poor as victims of plunder. He also states that the poor need a "redress" that cannot happen under side opposition. Here, Bo recognisably takes the moral high ground, while he also establishes a comparison right from the beginning of the debate.
Another beautiful rhetoric device is used when he transits from his justification argument to his comparison. He states that
We're going to give you systematic reasons why you don't get reforms on their side but notice that this as a principled argument is independent from a consideration of practices - that's to say compensation or giving more money is unlike categorically what these people require in principle which is a redress from the fact that they've been taken out of the system of moral equality by theft and negligence.
Such beautiful and eloquent speech. Such "metadebating" not only boosts his credibility but also the impact of his arguments. But what is the most impressive is Bo's logical structure of speech. The structure flows like this:
What is a "Marxist Revolution"?
What does this world look like?
In that world, why do the poor hold a right to property? (Answer: plunder)
What about those who did not directly steal off the poor?
Then, how is the poor disadvantaged RIGHT NOW?
Finally, how will the world change if the poor succeeds?
All of the questions go hand in hand, filling in the logical gaps of each other.