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…

with yanis varoufakis and astra taylor


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

david graeber.. reciprocity

red flags.. any form of m\a\p

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

waste of energy.. talking of all this balancing ness.. and w same systemic language et al.. let’s legit do a *restructure.. re\set


let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

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

structural violence et al gets/keeps us all in sea world.. where we now have no idea what legit free people are like

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

let go.. we’ve got to let go of any form of m\a\p.. abolish the system.. good bye cycle

moten abolition law

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

as long as we’re tit for tat ing ( any form of m\a\p ).. we’re crushing the itch-in-8b-souls.. we’re compromising fittingness

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: 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..

oi.. rights.. red flags.. killing us all

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

oi.. same song.. perpetuating tragedy of the non common

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..

can’t pay won’t pay

need to let go of hard won ness (and any form of m\a\p) if we want to be legit free..

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

let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring

because **democratic admin, legalities, regs.. are all a part of the thing you keep saying you want to dismantle.. all part of the same structure

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..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

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




debt (book).. taylor debt law.. strike debt.. debt..