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:
"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."
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!