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➜ Reflections on the History of Debt Resistance: The Case of El Barzón - Strike Debt!

By the wonderful George Caffentzis.  Excerpt:

The El Barzón movement in the 1990s had a significant impact on Mexican society and is close enough to us in time and space to indicate some of the perennial problems and possibilities of debtors’ movements that are relevant to Strike Debt.

Prolegomena to a History of Debt Resistance

El Barzón is a mass organization of debtors that, at its height, had half a million members and chapters all over Mexico. It provided to its members both legal aid and “muscle” to resist foreclosures and repossessions due to debt default. Before we re-create and review El Barzón’s story in thought, we should recognize that there are many forms of debt and many different kinds of debtors. As a consequence there are many forms of debt resistance. One of the most important distinctions is that of debt contracted in order to make more money, what I call “profit debt,” and debt contracted to purchase a commodity that satisfies some nonmonetary need or desire, what I call “use-value debt.”

To get our bearings, let us see how these kinds of debt appear in the world of contemporary economics statistics. “Profit debt” is called “corporate debt” (comprising the debt of both “financial” and “nonfinancial” corporations), and “use-value debt” is called “household debt.” Contemporary US “corporate debt” is approximately $26 trillion, while “household debt” is approximately $13.5 trillion.

There is a caveat that I should make at this juncture. Although, for the most part, proletarians take on use-value debt and capitalists profit debt, in the history of debt resistance these debt categories do not always coincide with a simple class dichotomy. Let us take a moment to examine these “failures of coincidence” between class and debt.

There are many noncapitalists who take out loans “to make money” in order to supplement a largely subsistence livelihood (for in a monetary society some money is necessary even for a subsistence life). Many debt resistance movements have been led by small farmers or small businesspeople who had some kind of collateral (usually land) and were producing for or selling in a market in order to earn their livelihoods. Another failed coincidence arises because capitalists act as consumers as well. They can get into debt in order to purchase commodities for their use value—that is, they buy yachts, expensive vacations, and so on—without an immediate intention to gain some profit on the commodity purchased. They do, of course, recognize that some commodity purchases for the purpose of enjoyment such as a Basquiat painting can eventually become “good investments.” Indeed, some capitalists can become so indebted due to their “use-value debts” that they organize against their class colleagues.

Still another failure of coincidence arises because some proletarians (who are not always class-conscious angels) attempt to transform use-value debt into a form of profit debt. Thus, although much of the real estate speculation in the 2000s was due to capitalists (in financial institutions), some proletarians became indebted in order to speculate on the prices of second or even third homes. Clearly, they were trying to use debt as a way to make real estate profit and were not using these homes as a means to satisfy their need for housing.

An even more troubling case of this failure of coincidence is the question of student loan debt. Most contemporary proletarians are told that they have to “invest in themselves” and pay for postsecondary education in order to earn higher wages than their friends who only graduate from high school. Since they do not have the immediate funds to pay the high tuition fees, they often have to take out loans. Are these use-value debts or are they profit debts? Doesn’t student loan debt imply a way of borrowing money to make money, that is, a profit debt? But, at the same time, the “more money” in question is in the form of wages not profits, so is one’s labor power a form of capital? Just because neoliberal economists say it is does not make it so. They do not have the power to magically transform every worker into a little capitalist! Nor can they, with the same wand, transform wages into profits. On the contrary, the labor power that is sold in the labor market is a commodity simply because workers have no choice but to sell it to live. The profits that labor power generates when put to work (both in the sphere of production and reproduction) are only for the employers and their class.

The point of these prolegomena is to show that, due to these failures of coincidence, one often finds complex interclass alliances in debt resistance movements. For example, in the struggle against debt imprisonment in the US in the nineteenth century, formerly wealthy capitalists and dirt-poor farmers fought in the same campaign because they both were liable to find themselves in the same prisons.

bartleby-company:

Vintage illustration of Lenoid Meteor Storm over Niagra Falls 1833.

bartleby-company:

Vintage illustration of Lenoid Meteor Storm over Niagra Falls 1833.

(via fleshtemple)

➜ “I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light”

Leo Kottke - The Last of the Arkansas Greyhounds

Wow.  Just wow.

My inner life in a nutshell^^

I identify strongly with Pooh bear.

I feel like I live with a Tigger and a Piglet.

My inner life in a nutshell^^

I identify strongly with Pooh bear.

I feel like I live with a Tigger and a Piglet.

hazeykatie2:

Lyrics to “Things Behind the sun”  from the liner notes of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”

hazeykatie2:

Lyrics to “Things Behind the sun”  from the liner notes of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”

perfectlycrystal:

"Things Behind The Sun" - Nick Drake


➜ Marie Cirillo, "Stories from an Appalachian Community." October 2000 : Schumacher Center : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

Fascinating : )

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When asked by Vice President Gore what she would do if elected President, Marie Cirillo said she would introduce a program of land reform. For thirty-three years Marie Cirillo has lived and worked in Clairfield, Tennessee, located in a valley hemmed in by two big mountains, and made up of a network of twelve unincorporated communitiesmost of which are former coal camps. Her single goal has been to gain some measure of economic self-sufficiency for the Appalachian people whose land and livelihood were wasted as a consequence of the extractive practices of absentee corporate owners. Marie’s first task was to regain control of the land for human settlement and restoration by establishing theWoodland Community Land Trust. Her struggle for and with the people of the region to achieve that purpose makes her one of the true heroes in the effort to reverse the patterns of globalization.

This audio is part of the collection: Community Audio
Artist/Composer: Schumacher Center
Keywords: land reformeconomicself-sufficientcommunity land trustschumacher

Creative Commons license: Attribution 3.0 United States

Stevie Wonder - Power Flower

crag-n-dale:

how you get to walker’s knob // thanks walker

crag-n-dale:

how you get to walker’s knob // thanks walker

(via appalachian-appreciation)

There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be. No climbing mountains and sitting in caves. I do not even say: ‘be yourself’, since you do not know yourself. Just be.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (via abiding-in-peace)

Leo Kottke - Sunrise (1969)

➜ GANAS - New York City

GANAS - an intentional community in Staten Island, NYC.  Learned about this from my friend Z. today.  I may someday meet his friend who has chosen to live in this community!

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From their website:

"Ganas" is a Spanish word meaning "motivation sufficient to act". 
We’ve found that solving problems together gives us the “ganas” 
and satisfaction that makes community living sustainable. 
The result is an environment that provides personal and
interpersonal challenges, creates rich opportunities, 
and truly embraces diversity.

Our purpose is to bring reason and emotion together in daily problem solving, in order to create our world, with love, the way we want it to be.

Ganas people dream of developing open minds with which to talk together and understand each other better. We want to learn how to cooperate, care, share resources, and welcome those who want to join us.

Ganas started on Staten Island in 1979. Our population has grown from 6 to about 75. Most of us think of ourselves as a bonded, caring, hard working, fun loving, extended family.

THEME BY PARTI