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Report back from IOPS-NY chapter Meetup at the OFS monthly meeting.

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Report back from IOPS-NY chapter Meetup at the OFS monthly meeting.


 


On Wednesday night IOPS-NY had a chapter meetup at the Organization For a Free Society (www.afreesociety.org/) monthly disscussion. There were four IOPS members in attendance and around fifteen people total at the meeting. We all got to introduce ourselves and hear a bit about our politics and perspectives as we had four presentations and a thoughtful discussion around debt and debt based movements, using this prompt: 


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"Debt is an integral part of our capitalist economy that keeps us increasingly dependent on oppressive power structures. The vast majority of our lives are characterized not only by our personal debts--credit card bills, student loans, medical bills, mortgages, etc.--but also by the debts incurred by our cities, states, and countries.


 


 


These debts are felt most damagingly by the poorest people and populations. The resulting poverty, austerity measures, and Structural Adjustment Programs exist to maintain the status quo and benefit the elite – whose own debts have been forgiven through bailouts and corporate welfare.


 


Resistance movements are challenging the control, pervasiveness, and legitimacy of debt. Students swamped in loans are demanding free education for all. Homeowners in foreclosure are fighting for a human right to housing. People in debt are coming together to bailout each other.


 


At this meeting, we’d like to deepen our understanding of debt and resistance by exploring the following questions.


 


1. What is the revolutionary potential of debt resistance?


 


2. Can debt resistance raise radical consciousness and build popular power?


 


3. How can we popularize radical, anti-capitalist understandings of debt?


 


4. What kind of work is being done on the ground right now? What strategies are most effective? How can debt resistors be more effective?


 


We invite all who want to present responses to any of the above questions to come with a prepared 3-5 minute presentation. We hope that everyone will participate in the open discussion that follows.


 


This is an opportunity for those of us who are not professional theorists to theorize in an open and supportive environment. We urge you to give it a try.


 


If you are presenting, please let us know in advance. Please keep your piece as accessible as possible and avoid unnecessary jargon or obscure references."


 


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The Organization for a Free Society (OFS)  is very supportive of IOPS, has a similar shared vision, mission and goals. A number of people who members of both groups and currently OFS has a much more organized, active, and diverse membership. The OFS monthly meetings are a great way to increase organization, analysis and relationship building for IOPS members, while having a monthly place to meet each other in the city. There are more then 120 people signed up on the website for the NY chapter and this is an important step toward building them into an active chapter in NYC.


The next OFS open meeting is the Wednesday of the 2nd or 3rd week of January at the 7:30pm at the Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, New York, New York 10019. I will be sending an invite message to NY members when the date is confirmed or you can check the OFS facebook page, where they post the open meetings a week ahead of time:https://www.facebook.com/afreesociety


I hope that every IOPS member in the NY area can attend next month and look forward to seeing you all there!


 


Discussion 2 Comments

  • Abram Spritzler 4th Feb 2013

    Hello all in NY!

    I would like to submit my answers to the questions you guys are pondering.

    1. The revolutionary potential for debt resistance is the same as any resistance to inequality. Resistance to debt is a resistance to inequality. This resistance is based on a belief in the superiority of inequality's opposite; equality. The potential for building a large movement for real democracy is found in the positive values of billions of ordinary people. People try to, in the small ways that they feel able to and that they feel will Actually have an impact, make the world a better place for their friends, family, and community. Every act of kindness and solidarity, no matter how small, is Implicitly revolutionary. Class war is a struggle over what values should shape society: the values of the ruling class; greed, competition, destruction for profit, and commodifying everything on one hand, and the values of the working class/ordinary people; solidarity, equality, democracy, and mutual-aid. People are already engaged in a struggle against capitalism in their everyday lives, whether they know it or not. The work of revolutionaries is to help people see this and help provide the context and organization required to defeat the ruling class.

    2. Yes, debt consciousness can absolutely raise awareness and build popular power. Henry Ford said that it was ok with him that people did not understand the money and banking system, "for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." By conversing with people about how capitalism works, primarily what values it requires and thrives on, we can help people shatter the myth that "we have to pay back the debts." Working people should own all the fruits of their labor because they *swear word* labored for it,, not the bankers! People are hesitant to reject the repayment of debts to banks because they are afraid of being viewed as rejecting the very noble principle that you should repay what you borrow. What we need to do is help people see that a just society requires that people contribute as they are able and take as they require. If you go to work and care about being a good person and good neighbor, then you deserve to have a home, food, education, healthcare, and the same access to leisure time and other things as anyone else. "What right do bankers or any other capitalist have to live off of my work while providing nothing of value to society themselves?" None. This is what we need to help people talk about.

    3. To popularize a radical understanding of debt, we need to talk about what could replace debt. In a truly democratic society, it is my belief, that there would be no money. Democracy is the practice of egalitarianism. Money is a 'a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal - that there is no human relation between master and slave." Tolstoy said that. Money is incompatible with egalitarianism which is based on a personal relationship with everyone.

    Helping people understand that in a just society, contributing what you can is what gets you a place at the table. Working people have contributed, where is our place at the table? Only without capitalists and other elitists in power will people be treated as human beings and not as a balance sheet.

    Engaging people in a conversation of how things in our society should be decided without money is the key to building massive understanding and organized resistance to debt and every other weapon of capitalism and the ruling class. Discussing how money is based on, and fosters, a lack of trust in people and allows for some to have inordinate amounts of power and privilege. Money attacks our humanity and sense of connectedness with others. A society with money as we know it guarantees that a few will preside over the many.

    4. As for what is being done now, and what is working and how we can help, I wish I knew more. I am very grateful for Vida Urban/City Life in Boston area that does fantastic work in organizing, demonstrating, and keeping people in THEIR homes. Our work to fight capitalism explicitly will hopefully help groups like Vida to become explicitly against capitalism as well, thus bringing more people into the movement. We can work and hope.

    Thank you so much, and I will be keeping an eye on the developments in NY.
    for more on anything i touched on, please check out:http://www.newdemocracyworld.org/revolution/Thinking.pdf

    I strongly believe it will be well worth your time. PEACE -Abe

  • Preeti Kaur 10th Feb 2013

    Thanks for this update Jon! I hope more IOPS members in NY came out to the January OFS monthly meeting!