The Debt Resisters' Operations Manual
Over the last thirty years, as wages have stagnated across the country, average household debt has more than doubled. Increasingly, we are forced to take on debt to meet our needs, from housing, to education, to medical care. The results—wrecked lives, devastated communities, and an increasing reliance on credit to maintain our basic living standards—reveal an economic system that enriches the few at the expense of the many.
The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual is a movement-produced handbook for debtors everywhere to understand how this system really works, while providing practical tools for fighting debt in its most exploitative forms. Inside, you’ll find strategies for dealing with credit card debt, medical debt, student debt, housing debt, and an analysis of tax debt, sovereign debt, as well as the relationship between debt and climate. You’ll also find tips for navigating personal bankruptcy, and for protecting yourself from credit reporting agencies, debt collectors, and payday lenders, alongside a vision for a movement of mass debt resistance.
Strike Debt emerged out of assemblies held in May 2012 in solidarity with the student strikes in Montreal. Working groups such as Occupy Theory, Occupy Student Debt Campaign, and Free University collaborated to hold an assembly on Education and Debt. Several weeks later, the group continued to meet under the name “Strike Debt,” which quickly realized that organizing around all forms of debt provided much-needed energy and systematic analysis to the movement.
The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual is a project of Strike Debt, which is building a movement of debt resistance and liberation based on principles of anti-oppression, autonomy, democratic decision-making, and direct action. In addition to this manual, Strike Debt initiatives include launching the “Rolling Jubilee,” a mutual-aid project that buys debt at steeply discounted prices and then abolishes it; hosting debtors’ assemblies; and planning direct actions across the country, ranging from debt burnings to targeted shutdowns of predatory lenders.
This manual is a practical guide that will aid anyone who is struggling with debt. But even more important it is a political guide that illuminates the myriad kinds of debt relationships that define our society and helps us imagine how we can begin to organize collectively against debt.
—Michael Hardt, author of Commonwealth
This brilliant manual is both a practical handbook and a manifesto for a true debt jubilee: an economic rebirth in which the indebted are freed and financial institutions are reinvented. It’s a stunning intersection of ferocity (against the debt industry) and compassion (for the people whose lives are broken by debt). In years to come, we may look back on it as a landmark in social transformation; right now it is both useful and exhilarating.
—Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell and Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Author: Strike Debt
Publisher: Common Notions/PM Press
Published: December 2013
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 240 Pages