Under the slogan “You are not a loan, you are not alone,” Occupy Wall Street’s “Strike Debt” group is aiming to inject life into a resistance movement against debt repayment. The operation is gaining worldwide support, and could very well revive the protest movement which was born a year ago.
The movement is already world-wide, but its momentum originates in the United States, where a striking reality cannot be denied: a debt strike is actually already underway there. Nicholas Mirzoeffe writes in his blog:
- 27 percent of student loans are in default and that number is rising.
- $1.2 trillion of mortgage debt is underwater (debt exceeds value of property) or about one-third of all properties.
- 5 million homes have been foreclosed and 5 million more are under threat of foreclosure, meaning that owners are in default or behind on payments. 300,000 people had a foreclosure notification added to their credit report in the first quarter of this year. 27% of mortgages are seriously delinquent–ironically, a slight improvement. 300,000 more people went bankrupt.
- The average credit card debt per household has fallen from $17, 936 in 2009 to $14,336 now: because of mass default. In 2010, credit card companies had to write off fully 10% of all debt.
These observations are striking. But how does one go from an individual refusal to repay – often without much choice – to a collective rebellion against debt? That is the object of the Strike Debt operation. On the operation’s official site there is even a “Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual.” In each comprehensive, referenced section, a short history of the evolution of the banking and financial system allows for a better understanding of the perversity of the financial system.
On November 15, Strike Debt will announce the launch of an operation named “Rolling Jubilee”. The idea is to create a network of mutual help, allowing those who are not indebted to legally buy up the personal debts of those who are collapsing under their repayments.
The anthropologist David Graeber is one of the main sources of inspiration behind the operation. Graeber, one of the early instigators of Occupy Wall Street, is the author of a key work published in 2011, “Debt: the first 5,000 years,” in which he explores the history of debt, and launches an appeal for a debt jubilee, which was an important custom in antiquity.
In the name of what type of ethics does the debt contract rule?
Going beyond economic justifications, Occupy activists completely reject the moral argument often associated with debt according to which “all debt should be repaid.” On the site, The Occupied Times, Michael Richmond writes:
What kind of morality is this morality of debt that says paying one’s debts is more important than anything else? We are seeing a regression back to Victorian times when debtors were criminalised, jailed and branded with a stigma that couldn’t be erased. And yet, everyone is in some kind of debt because the system is built on it, none more so than the entire financial sector which can only survive on public bailouts.
Astra Taylor interpreted it on September 5 2012 on the site The Nation:
Debt, a growing number of organizers believe, has the potential to serve as a kind of connective tissue for the Occupy movement, uniting increasingly dispersed organizing efforts around a common problem (debt) as opposed to a common tactic (occupation).
Occupy was right to resist the temptation to issue concrete demands. But if I were to frame a demand today, it would be for as broad a cancellation of debt as possible (Graeber).
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Translation posted 27 October 2012 10:55 GMT ·
View original post [fr] http://fr.globalvoicesonline.org/2012/10/22/125399/