EBDA at the Bookfair – Drop the Debt!

One Trap Fits All

EBDA, along with the Bath Activist Nework will be hosting a workshop at this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, calling for a debate on the idea of cancelling ALL personal debt.

The workshop will take place on Saturday 12th September at noon until 1pm – drop by and say hello!

Here’s one argument for the debt cancellation, in comparison to the arguments used to cancel debt in Developing Countries:

“At the Gleneagles G8, 18 of the world’s poorest countries were forgiven $40 billion to clear their official state debt. In all of the let-downs, shouting matches and planned hatches of the various left-groups that opposed the G8, no one ever said that relieving poor countries of the debts they owed rich countries was a bad idea.

The origins of the $40 billion had been spent on arming police forces to crush people’s revolts. It had been spent on building never-used palatial swimming pools in rain-parched parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. It had been spread like gravy over the family albums of a string of corrupt dictators, all kept in power with the Weapons of the West.

These countries were force-fed IMF adjustment programs that Naomi Klein has now scandalously exposed in their full spectrum of horror. Then they were deliberately infested with the worst corporate vermin that neo-liberalism keeps in its shit-smeared burlap bag, and their own culture of industry left defenceless. And then finally they were crushed flat by the central pillar of the capitalist system – interest on the amount.

In the same year as Uganda’s debts were cancelled, Idi Amin’s son was given an amnesty and made head of the secret service, not asked to set up a repayment plan for the slushy millions channelled his family’s way. No one from the World Bank is calling Haile Mariam Mengistu’s daughter and telling her to “put daddy on”. No one from the IMF is sending bailiffs to Honduran ex-President Maduro and getting them to hammer on the door and shout through the letterbox. Yet these were the men who spent the money that became the debt that compounded the interest on the amount. To us it didn’t matter. Better to wipe the slate clean and let these states start again.

However. When a woman on benefits walks into a branch of Curry’s with depression, and walks out with a widescreen tv and a crippling set of monthly payments, we don’t believe that her slate should be wiped clean. We don’t believe she should be allowed to start again. Well, we say…… you know…… I’ve been down before and I didn’t go out and buy a big tv….. all I’m saying is ….. you know….. no one put a gun to her head, did they? Or ….its a stupid tax…maybe it’s for the best if it cures her of her addiction to consumerism. Or…. she’s got to at least try and pay some of it back, for the sake of her own self-respect, she needs to learn the value of money.

Shame on you, who call yourselves anti-capitalists! There is no difference to the process used to destroy the economies of developing states and the process used to destroy the lives of individuals here. Both were done deliberately and were an inevitable by-product of the capitalist process. Both were done by the same group of people, for the same basic reasons, that form the basis of the capitalist system: an excess of capital is obtained by exploiting a resource, and then lent back to the exploited resource to generate interest on the amount. From an IMF loan to Bolivia to a 110% mortgage in Bradley Stoke to a 50 pound post-dated cheque cashed on Gloucester Road. The indiscriminate, uncaring hand of the Capitalist is behind them all.

Individuals in the West Country were force-fed flexible working patterns and other readjustment programmes that destroyed the fabrics of their lives. They were encouraged to borrow money they couldn’t afford instead of getting paid higher wages, and then were used as targets for capitalist investment when the foreign debt taps were turned off. Then, when things turned bad, their debts were reinforced by the government, so their parasitical capitalist hosts could uncouple from them without being damaged. The individual debtors were left to be slowly crushed by the central pillar of the capitalist system – the interest on the amount.

Most of the trillion pound debt mountain we have built as a nation was borrowed to survive the physical hardships of living today, and the rest was spent battling the mental hardships. We took comfort wherever we could, in order to survive living under a desperate regime. Some can handle it, some can’t.

If you didn’t get into debt, it was only because your dice fell right at crucial times, it had nothing to do with judgement or moral character.

You appreciate the value of money because you have a C in Maths.

You don’t fall foul of the hooks in the adverts because you don’t watch them in tears in your pyjamas at 3.30pm.

You don’t spend your time thinking about what the kids could eat on Friday if you didn’t eat with them.

You don’t work in a job where 5 o’clock is such a release that everyone heads to the pub on a high 4 times a week, just to stay sane.

You don’t think a family holiday to Disneyland would be the perfect way to end a truly terrible year, until it is.

You don’t promise yourself that you’ll spend 100 less this month to get back on track, and then find out that that 100 represents the only good times you ever have.

You’re not always running to stand still, always slowly, shamefully, choking on the interest on the amount.

The CAB reported in 2009 that the average debt level is 18 times the person’s monthly income, and would take 93 YEARS to clear at a rate that the client could afford. In effect, a death sentence. People give up to the inevitable all the time, removing themselves from being a burden to their family, rather than face the humiliation of losing everything they and their families own. People kill themselves because of the pressure they face from being in debt. Marriages disintegrate, dreams of a better life become a bitter laugh. People stare into the near distance and wait to explode.

The cancellation of personal debt would emancipate MILLIONS in this country. Freed men and women would uncurl and investigate their surroundings, as the credit life-support system falls back and dies. A society with time to think, grateful to their fellow community for a second chance. Can you imagine MILLIONS having the same breathing space as us to reach the same conclusions, but with a deeper anger fuelled by bitter experience? Eyes open and empathetic to the plight of those still in servitude all over the world? Exciting, eh?

Relieving poor countries of the debts they owe rich countries is a good idea, whatever the circumstances. Relieving poor people of the debts they owe rich people is an even better idea, whatever the circumstances.”

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