CAN’T PAY, WON’T PAY
The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition
The Debt Collective. Foreword by Astra Taylor
Haymarket Books (September, 2020)
Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9781642592627 • US $9.95 • 96 pgs.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Debtors have been mocked, scolded and lied to for decades. We have been told that it is perfectly normal to go into debt to get medical care, to go to school, or even to pay for our own incarceration. We’ve been told there is no way to change an economy that pushes the majority of people into debt while a small minority hoard wealth and power.
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that mass indebtedness and extreme inequality are a political choice. In the early days of the crisis, elected officials drew up plans to spend trillions of dollars. The only question was: where would the money go and who would benefit from the bailout?
The truth is that there has never been a lack of money for things like housing, education and health care. Millions of people never needed to be forced into debt for those things in the first place.
Armed with this knowledge, a militant debtors movement has the potential to rewrite the contract and assure that no one has to mortgage their future to survive.
Debtors of the world must unite. Through tactics such as strikes and collective bargaining, debtors’ movements can help redress our country’s foundations in racial capitalism and environmental destruction. As isolated individuals, debtors have little influence. But as a bloc, we can leverage our debts and devise new, powerful strategies to challenge the corporate creditor class and help win universal public goods.
Individually, our debts overwhelm us. But together, our debts can make us powerful.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
The Debt Collective is a membership organization working to transform our individual financial struggles into a source of collective power, offering services to empower people to dispute debts and conducting direct actions and campaigns of noncooperation with the finance industry.
Astra Taylor is the director of the documentary films What Is Democracy? Zizek! and Examined Life. She has written for The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Baffler, n+1 and other outlets. She is the author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age and Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.
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