P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

Discussing Resistance to Debt as Political Strategy

via edufactory@listcultures.org

Presentation for the Round of Discussion on Debt

Last April, the conference in Minneapolis "Beneath the University, the Commons" launched a call for action against debt, the central tool of the ongoing crisis and financialization of our lives. The statement was discussed and approved in other activist encounters, for instance in May at the European meetings in Paris and Bologna. Now we want to build up a global campaign for a debt abolition movement and to promote a global day of action.

In the last few decades debt has been a perverse tool that substituted for welfare policies: better said, there was a sort of financialization of welfare. Welfare was used by millions of people to access their social needs. For example, despite the increase in university fees, there was a trend of increasing enrolments. This means that debt was used for mass access to higher education. In this context, the non-repayment of debt is one of the roots of the current economic crisis and banks and governments are more and more worried about so-called “at risk” loans, that is, loans that cannot be repaid.

We don't need a moralistic position against debt, but a political strategy. The abolition of debt is not a gift of governments or international bodies, but a field of struggle. We do not invoke the non-repayment of debt only because it already exists on a mass level, but because it is a form of resistance and reappropriation of social wealth. We can collectively contribute to the organization of this struggle at the global level, creating connections, and with social, political, and juridical instruments. We can claim the right of bankruptcy for workers, students, and migrants.

We know that debt has different forms and effects in different areas and contexts, from the local to the global scale. It is obviously not limited to the university and student debt is only one of the many facets of the process: in fact, ever since the 1980’s, the battle against debt in the postcolonial world has been a central issue that contributed to the formation of a global movement. Likewise, as stated earlier, debt is a central mechanism in the contemporary global economic crisis. Any campaign against debt must be global, or it will not be at all.

In calling for such a global campaign, we are aware that debt is not merely a financial matter but also a fundamental condition of the human animal. Because the human species depends on constant learning and education for its survival, these should be considered basic needs, along with shelter and food, to which all governments and social organizations provide universal access. Furthermore, human animals exist in a relation of environmental interdependence with other inhabitants of planet Earth, including inanimate and animate beings. The abolition of financial debt is a political correlate to the recognition and accommodation of these other forms of human indebtedness.

To build a global campaign against debt, we propose to use the edufactory list as a place of debate, connection, and organization. Starting the 15th of November, 2010 we have planned a round of discussion and political inquiry dedicated to the various forms of debt - as well as the various forms of resistance and struggles against it - all over the world. To improve free discussion and circulation of news and documents, we have prepared a calendar of scheduled contributions. If you want to send a contribution, please write to info@edu-factory.org.

All the material will be published on a dedicated section of the edufactory website, here.

Open Calendar for Contributions

Andrea Fumagalli – 15 November 2010
The Association of Blacklisted Students with Norihito Nakata and Sabu Kohso – 25th of November 2010
George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici – 15 December 2010

Jeffery Williams – 5 January 2011
Carlo Vercellone – 15 January 2011
Doug Henwood – 25 January 2011
Richard Pithouse – 5 February 2011
Midnight Notes Collective – 15 February 2011
Christian Marazzi – 25 February 2011

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