Strike Debt is calling for a movement-wide conversation on Debt, Privilege, and Common Struggle to be held on January 21st, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day.
If you are in NYC, join us Judson Memorial Church at 12pm
If you are not in NYC, or are joining after January 21st, you can use the following links to participate:
Dear Strike Debt Chapters and Friends,
Over the past two months, Strike Debt has raised more than $500,000 through the Rolling Jubilee fund–enough to purchase and abolish more than ten million dollars worth of defaulted medical debt. A first round of beneficiaries has just been notified that their debts have been erased, and a much larger announcement is scheduled for February of this year. This bailout of the People by the People has touched a nerve, sparking an outpouring of generosity and a nation-wide conversation about the immoral and predatory debt-system of Wall Street. A consensus is emerging that no one should have to sign their future away to a creditor for access to the basic goods of life.
Building on the phenomenal momentum of the Rolling Jubilee, Strike Debt is calling for a nation-wide visioning session entitled Debt, Privilege and Common Struggle: Where Do We Go From Here? to begin January 21st, 2013–Martin Luther King Day.
Strike Debt looks to Martin Luther King as a cultural symbol of a dream deferred–a dream not just of civic equality, but of a multiracial beloved community based on economic justice at local, national, and global scales. In his seminal 1967 speech “Where Do We Go From Here?” King named “the capitalistic system” itself as the obstacle to that dream, and called for a “restructuring of American society as a whole.”
Over the past year, Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt, and our allies have highlighted debt as a primary mechanism of contemporary capitalist society–one that is inseparable from the history of racial inequality. A debt-financed existence has been both an alluring dream and a punishing nightmare for communities of color, who have been the hardest hit by predatory lending of all sorts from subprime mortgages to pay day loans as overall wages have stagnated and public services have been rolled back. Debt is a tie that binds the 99%, but it binds some of us more tightly than others.
Throughout the week beginning January 21st, we will conjure the legacy of King and freedom struggles from around the world by gathering in places of worship, community centers, union-halls, classrooms, art spaces, dinner tables and living rooms to push forward the conversation started by the Rolling Jubilee. Where do we go from here? How do we get there? What would a bailout look like in your community? What alternative economic models can we imagine as we build a debt-resistance movement? What can we learn from history as we envision another world based on our obligations to our friends, families, and communities rather than to the 1%?
Strike Debt NYC will host its visioning session at Judson Church in Manhattan from 12 PM to 3 PM. Friends and allies from across New York City and the Northeast are welcome, including those from the faith and labor communities. The family-friendly event will feature music, slideshows, and facilitated brainstorming sessions around themes including Movements, Targets, Cities, Cooperative Economics, Alternative Credit, and more! The event will conclude with food, drinks, and a performance by the Strike Debt Radical Children’s Theater, facilitated by the Little Red Squares Childcare Collective.
For Strike Debt chapters elsewhere in the country interested in holding similar visioning events on or around J21, we encourage you to gather with friends and allies at whatever scale you feel is appropriate to have a meaningful conversation about building a debt-resistance movement–from a gathering of friends after church, over dinner or a drink at the bar to a full-on debt-assembly. We will soon be launching a “meet up” interface on the Strike Debt website, along with a visioning session toolkit with some suggestions about how to structure your event. Please let us know about your event here: email@example.com. Following the distributed events, we hope to gather report-backs from participants and consolidate them in an online document that can eventually give rise to a collective blueprint for a New Economic Vision.
In the words of MLK:
I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where do we go from here?” that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. (Yes) There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. (Yes) And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. (Yes) But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. (All right) It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” (Yes) You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” (Yes) You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?” (All right) These are words that must be said. (All right)
Now, don’t think you have me in a bind today. I’m not talking about communism. What I’m talking about is far beyond communism. (Yeah) My inspiration didn’t come from Karl Marx (Speak); my inspiration didn’t come from Engels; my inspiration didn’t come from Trotsky; my inspiration didn’t come from Lenin. Yes, I read Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital a long time ago (Well), and I saw that maybe Marx didn’t follow Hegel enough. (All right) He took his dialectics, but he left out his idealism and his spiritualism. And he went over to a German philosopher by the name of Feuerbach, and took his materialism and made it into a system that he called “dialectical materialism.” (Speak) I have to reject that.
What I’m saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. (Yes) Capitalism forgets that life is social. (Yes, Go ahead) And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. (Speak) [applause] It is found in a higher synthesis (Come on) that combines the truths of both. (Yes) Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. (All right) These are the triple evils that are interrelated.
In other words, “Your whole structure (Yes) must be changed.” [applause] A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will “thingify” them and make them things. (Speak) And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. (Yes) And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. (Yes) [applause]