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Strike Debt: Rolling Jubilee

Alyssa Goldstein
November 11, 2012

by Alyssa Goldstein
So here’s an awesome thing that’s happening: Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee. Strike Debt is an Occupy-affiliated group that views “debt as a global system of domination and exploitation of the 99% by the 1%.” The Rolling Jubilee (which takes its name from the ancient Jewish/Christian tradition of the universal forgiveness of debt once every fifty years) seeks to turn the system of debt collection to the 99%‘s advantage. As The TThe People’s Bailout: A Variety Show and Telethon to Buy and Abolish Debtelegraph explains, “Individuals or companies can buy distressed debt from lenders at knock-down prices if it the borrower is in default or behind with payments and are then free to do with it as they see fit, including cancelling it free of charge.” Usually, debt collectors buy up this discounted debt, and then hound and threaten the debtors with the hope of collecting the full amount. Instead, Strike Debt cancels the debt as a random act of kindness.
Strike Debt plans to kick off its Rolling Jubilee with the People’s Bailout Telethon on November 15 at 8:00 PM. They hope to raise $50,000, which they will then use to cancel a million dollars’ worth of debt. Even if you can’t make it, I’d strongly encourage you to watch the telethon online and to donate to this worthy and creative project.
Though Strike Debt certainly won’t be able to free everyone debt this way (as one in seven Americans are being pursued by debt collectors) it’s a way of getting out the idea that debt isn’t an incontrovertible fact of life or straightforward moral obligation but is instead, in the words of David Graeber, “a promise that has been perverted through mathematics and violence...the most effective way to take a relation of violent subordination and make the victims feel that it’s their fault.”