An idea post

6 Oct

So I thought some of our discussions on debt recently raised an interesting organisational prospect that we never got around to talking about – though I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of it. So I thought I’d stick it up here and see if it might lead to further discussions.

A DEBT UNION:

An organisation/federation of anyone in debt, starting with students, particularly those getting the new bigger and nastier loans, and expanding outward to include people with credit card debts, mortgages or any other type of debt.

There is a lot of latent power here: if one person refuses to pay their debt, they are in trouble, if ten thousand, or a hundred thousand refuse, eventually the bank is in trouble. This is about building a power bloc long-term, organising non-hierarchically.

Some outline building blocks:

• This power can give some initial wins, like fighting on casework – taking up the causes of individuals being screwed over by SLC or credit card companies etc

• But if it grows it can be pushed much further. We could be asking for changes to the terms and conditions of our debt, even to interest rates. Ultimately, a powerful enough union could, in the right circumstances, declare that the money is ours and repayment no longer necessary.

• Dependent on the strength of the union it could also address political demands beyond debt issues. It would at least have a self-educational role, helping people learn about the nature of money and exposing people to the mechanics of the economy.

• The organisation would have a very low annual fee, perhaps £3, with no permanent paid staff or offices, and the money used for websites, publicity and occasional payment for e.g. getting a solicitor’s letter.

• The organisation would be horizontally structured, as directly democratic as possible, and would be based on geographically distributed ‘cells’ of people who live near each other.

A possible ambition: go beyond a single issue organisation. It could be a local social organisation providing mutual assistance on issues that can be resolved with mutual aid or direct action, e.g. food collectives, fighting abusive landlords, education rights, employment conditions, pensions and so on.

So there it is. Just thought I’d post up these thoughts cos they came out of our recent discussions.

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