debt as power
Streamed live on Jun 15, 2021: Discussing the true nature & purpose of debt with Astra Taylor (@astradisastra) and yanis varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) and Jayati Ghosh (@Jayati1609) .. frank barat host (@4frankbarat) – LTIO & DiEM-TV Debt is power. Extractive power over people and planet. Class societies ensure that the debts of the extractors are never paid while insisting that the debts of the exploited are sacrosanct. In this episode of LTIO we dissect debt and discuss how to overthrow its hold over the many…
notes/quotes from hour video:
10 min – y: david graeber and debt as power.. and debt is a promise.. if so.. debt is everywhere reciprocity is based on debt.. who has right to decide which promises are being kept and which aren’t.. whole point of capitalism is that debt is not a favor
13 min – j: i would say debt is an expression of power.. it’s not that all debt has to be repaid.. germany was a beneficiary of this.. what you have is a legal system in favor of creditors.. globally now complicated.. not just govts and big banks.. it’s bond mongers.. so complicated now.. the system has to rely on legal reinforce it
15 min – a: david recruited me to the debt resistance.. my parents had lost their home.. i was angry but i wasn’t in a collective.. debt is power.. the question is power for whom.. the idea of the collective.. is turning their debts into assets/power.. can we engage in collective negotiation.. and create a society where we don’t have to debt finance our basic needs..
what we need is a nother way to live .. based on legit/deeper basic needs
17 min – a: debt is power lever based on the pretense of equality.. ie: you signed the contract like an equal.. it’s never that way.. so many go into it under duress.. ie: homeless.. loved one in jail.. uni
19 min – a: i had no idea how central the power of debt is to the us.. founding fathers were concerned w debt revolts.. don’t want people to get too in power and demand.. ie: if debtor has to much power they would demand debt cancellation.. t jefferson wrote that debt shouldn’t last long.. but that was for people like him.. ie: indigenous land.. so just for certain people.. cancellation is too far for most.. only people who get write offs are corps..
y: j what’s happening in developing world during epidemic.. where we see debt rising almost exponentially.. inform us about the new forms of imperialism
21 min – j: suddenly all that debt was available.. massive expansive monetary policy.. very low % rates.. large amts of money.. so go to developing countries and offer loans.. so we had a huge explosion of debt even before the pandemic.. economically the pandemic damaged developing world much much more.. so .. have to write off a large part of debt.. that didn’t happen.. instead g7 offers debt service extension.. just a moratorium.. so have to pay much more at end.. so a worse situation after a year.. and no talk of a *substantial restructuring.. to how much gdp countries are losing
w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring
we have to let go of any form of m\a\p
29 min – y: it’s a very smart way to conduct a class war and imperialism.. there’s no failure here.. they are doing exactly what they are planning to do all along.. even admit cruel/unusual punishment.. sending messages .. deep down.. it’s just a chess game.. used strategically to divide countries et al.. austerity is a way of extracting value from the majority
31 min – f: not only about debt.. it’s the society we live in .. debt for things we shouldn’t be in debt for in the first place..
a: yeah.. debt has a very anti demo component.. it’s a very anti demo weapon.. it has a disciplinary function.. debt disciplines us because you can’t make the choices you would otherwise make.. you are harshly penalized if you can’t make a payment
yeah but.. we also need to let go of any form of democratic admin.. like y referred to in beginning on reciprocity .. all the red flags.. because even thinking choices is a human being thing.. is messing with us.. is is unmooring us
we need to get back/to curiosity over decision making et al
32 min – a: if you default.. can’t get services.. all your links to housing, et al taken away.. we speak consciously of debt abolition.. in the sense of dubois w/o these *predatory relationships and with the things we need to survive.. so instead of predatory lending.. we’d like a world we’d like to see **socially productive credit.. we know people need credit .. we want people to be able to expand the possibilities of the present.. but not on *exploitative terms.. not on these anti demo terms..
**that’s not abolition.. that’s *same song ness
33 min – a: so politics we’re suggesting is one that challenges the phony morality around debt.. because like you said y.. you can’t moralize about debt.. but they (lenders) moralize to us.. so we reject even the language of debt forgiveness.. we don’t need to be forgiven for anything.. we’re demanding justice in the form of debt abolition.. for individuals and for countries
34 min – a: so abolishing the system.. and we’d like to reclaim the language of credit.. it’s trust.. it’s trust in each other.. not about banks.. i think if we want to honor david’s vision.. he wanted us to not see ourselves as debtors but to see ourselves as creditors
oh my.. let go
creditor: A creditor is an entity (person or institution) that extends credit by giving another entity permission to borrow money intended to be repaid in the future. … People who loan money to friends or family are personal creditors.
any form of people telling other people what to do.. ie: permission et al..
a: right? like we’re entitle to things.. we’re entitled to a descent life.. and there’s no shame in that..
35 min – a: so we say.. not your fault .. if we ban together we can change this.. we’ve reclaimed over 2 bn dollars for uni debts.. been doing this for 10 yrs.. ie: getting biden to take 10 000 off debts is progress
36 min – a: one of our slogans is.. you’re not in debt because you live beyond your means.. you are in debt because you are denied the means to live.. and don’t win those means w/o banding together
yeah that.. but also because we don’t grok enough ness.. we needs a means to undo our hierarchical listening so we can get back/to that
a: our other slogan.. you are not a loan.. not the only one.. we need that collectivity to win.. one thing greece has showed us is that one country is not enough
37 min – j: one thing really important astra said.. basically because denied means to live.. that’s the critical thing.. the denial of public services.. so paying for things you can’t afford.. ie: water.. you have to get to the broader point.. denied you rights as a citizen.. that’s an integral part of understanding the current debt problems
again.. not really.. the critical thing is that we have no idea what the means to live is.. we keep org ing around non legit needs.. we need a legit nother way to live.. otherwise.. just spinning our wheels in the structural violence of tragedy of the non common
39 min – y: but is it something far more fundamental.. isn’t that the basis of capitalism.. enclosure.. eviction of peasants from land et al.. so the denial of means is the basis for a proletariate that doesn’t have alts.. and that is the foundation of capitalism.. so is it possible to allow people to means of existence/subsistence/life .. *while we live under capitalist existence..
even deeper y – *while we live with any form of m\a\p
40 min – j: on defn’s of capitalism.. ie: in past it (c) did provide.. would say we need to differentiate a little bit.. make changes in this.. bring the beast back.. reg a bit.. prevent it from going completely rampant
42 min – a: also we know that c didn’t invent debt.. as the econ evolves.. that reorg.. has opened up ways for debtors to org selves.. how can we turn these conditions into power.. meet people where they are.. ask then ask .. can you imagine changing..
44 min – y: when you talk about caging the beast.. finance was constrained.. but c took off these shackles.. but you’re right.. there are things you can do to restrain the beast.. but i think there are also other things beast can do
y: speak to youth who think they will be liberated thru tech
47 min – j: digital currencies et al.. on data collecting from all this.. being used in all kinds of (bad) ways.. creates a diff kind of concern in regard to protest.. it’s a question of which one can be ahead of the other in forms of mobilizing.. i think c has become too successful to be viable.. ie: living on life support from the state.. keeping c alive.. a big dead body lying over everybody.. and what can pull that away
y: what do you say to those who are so enthusiastic.. about ie: bitcoin/ethereum et al
51 min – a: my books.. serfing the net and people’s platform.. so i’ve been on other critical side for some time.. my point is .. not just about the tech.. we have to pay attention to the underlying political econ.. not a problem we can crypto away.. people saying it’s democratizing.. to ie: a casino.. this is not my idea of democratizing
astra taylor books
52 min – a: i guess what i’m worried about is fintech.. the merging of the fin sector and tech.. part of what neolib is .. new ways to dig in and profit.. by burying us in debt.. by fin-in the econ.. so how do they more geekly monetize their users.. et al.. so tech co’s becoming fin co’s and protected by govt
53 min – a: what i wrote for can’t pay won’t pay.. about tech and why trends matter.. these digi tools repeal tons of years of hard won progress.. ie: uber doesn’t have to pay min wage .. protections et al.. so worrying trends.. we need public banking.. it’s a political fight..
55 min – y: let’s go back to title.. debt as power.. power for what.. ? .. as power to compel.. that’s the main issue.. comment on the effects of money.. because money’s not neutral.. who has the capacity to print/exclude the money et al.. how do you democratize money.. how do we end this convo.. to compel others to do stuff
57 min – j: money is about power.. that part we know.. but i’d say causation doesn’t go from money to power.. it goes from power to money.. the money is really the expression of the power.. *i think the critical thing to think here.. is how do we dismantle this.. **how do we democratize any of it.. is to look at the legal and reg structures
huge *we need to org around legit needs ie: a nother way
w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring
let go.. you’re just going on an on and on with the fuller too much law.. ongoing inspectors of inspectors et al.. can’t dismantle legal/reg if actions are just talking about reforming them.. fighting them.. et al.. we have to see them as irrelevant s.. and legit.. let go
59 min – a: i like the formulation that it’s power first.. so many myths to bust.. before occupy wall st.. was the debt ceiling.. congress owned the convos about debt.. we need to challenge the debt sovereignty.. need to displace that american centric view
no.. we need to let go of it.. not waste our energy on that convo
1:01 – y: if could change one thing/wish what would it be
j: international law and legal (?) to contracts
oi.. band aids.. cancerous band aids
a: politically.. make climate change not a threat.. personally i’d go back in time a see nina simone in concert
y: i thought you’d say something like.. all records of debt are wiped out
1:02 – a: we might be able to cage the beast a bit.. but if people aren’t org’d to maintain those victories.. then we’ll lose them.. so erase debts and still in c system.. they start back up next day.. so this is why i believe you really have to get power from ground up.. engage people
imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..
j: this is my answer.. based on what astra said.. the one thing i’d change is that people across the world get it
and will only happen if we find a means to undo our hierarchical listening.. trusting that deep down.. we all already get it.. just have to uncover that grokking ness..
y: that’s the greatest power.. bestow upon the people.. an understanding that the way their powerless ness is being produced
ugh.. not about bestowing.. not even about understanding.. not even about power.. we need a legit means for 8b of us to get back/to us.. back/to the dance