Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.
For every $1 donated, we are able to buy and abolish $20 worth of debt.
The Rolling Jubilee project is one of the cleverest, simplest direct action ideas I’ve ever seen, a way to short circuit the toxic relationships between debt and poverty that the economic crisis has made worse (and made worse the economic crisis). I’ve blogged about idea of a Jubilee before, but never thought of doing it like this.
There are some caveats of course; buying up debt like this does help, in the long run, to prop up the whole rotten banking and lending system, but in my opinion this is cancelled out by the good it does now. Besides, the system is propped up already by the tax payer and the working classes anyway and this way we actually receive some benefit from it.
What, a social movement inspired by the excesses of Anglo-American Protestantism and promoted by middle-aged blowhards is not terribly inclusive, caring, or supportive itself?
I came by my atheism the honest way, by getting doubts about the religion I’d grown up in, reading about all the miracles and wonders of the universe we live in, getting into rows with my very religious and constantly worrying grandmother. Granted, my church was not the most oppressive or backwards church in the world and nobody actually much cared about what you did or didn’t believe. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been a bit wary about the militant atheist movement that has started up in the last five years or so. Atheism alone is not a broad enough base for a political/ideological movement.
It doesn’t help that its two most prominent public figures — Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitches — are both professional arseholes. The latter was a not very intelligent leftwinger when leftwing politics were in fashion, became an even dumber rightwinger when fashions changed and helped cheerlead the War on Iraq. The former, though no doubt a good biologist and science writer, always had a nasty streak in him. I don’t think he’s ever written a book without putting in a dig at somebody.
But the real problem with militant atheism is that it operates in an ideological vacuum. Atheism, though it has been historically associated with the left, with socialism, is not a left nor rightwing thing anymore. Which means that in the professional atheist movement you have people who agree with each other on nothing but the idea that god doesn’t exist. And since it’s largely an internet movement, it is taken its shape from the biggest loudmouths on the web, which more often than not are rightwing/libertarian blowhards.
It’s no wonder that sexism, rape jokes and assorted bad behaviour is rampant in the “community”.
Aging Norwegian folkie leads 40,000 people singing the Norwegian version of Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Race, in a giant fuck you against Breivik and all he stands for
The news can seem unending grim day in day out, then something like this comes along and restores some of your faith in humanity. A reminder that despite all the Breiviks out there, there has been progress in the past seven decades since WWII, that the belief in the equality and worth of all people, no matter their race, creed, faith, orientation or gender, is utterly mainstream. The fascists and nazis have lost, they may still be dangerous but they cannot win.
That whole Invisible Children/Kony 2012 campaign is the worst case of “what these people need is a honky” style of activism. It’s overtly simplistic, revolves more about the activists’ egos than about the supposed cause they’re supporting and it all looks a lot like a scam to get money out of idealistic but gullible people. That the director of the video is an Evangelical Christian fits with the m.o.; Evangelical Christians are masters of the fake charity.
I’ve spoken to people at the European Central Bank – they are very smart, and very sincerely believe that the best path to long term prosperity is through enforced austerity. They are also – by design – nearly completely insulated from democratic pressure. And despite claiming that they are apolitical, they are in fact playing a profoundly political role, dictating the kinds of domestic institutional reforms that states need to implement if they want to continue getting ECB support.
This means that ECB decision makers are under no very great obligation to think about why they might be wrong, up to the point where complete disaster occurs. And disaster is very likely, if the lessons of the gold standard in pre-World War II Europe tell us anything at all. Enforced austerity does not produce economic growth. What it does produce is political instability.
The people at the ECB may very well be smart — or at least middleclass and polite– but you will never convince them of any facts their paychecks depend on denying. They cannot be reasoned with, they can only be forced to abandon their neoliberal economic orthodoxies and since they cannot be forced through the ballot, it will have to be by the bullet. The radical austerity policies the ECB, IMF, EU and all the other parts of the alphabet soup are enforcing on Europe are pushed through not to benefit the voters, but the banks. Simplistic? Yes, but closer through the truth than what you read in respectable newspapers or hear explained on the news.
Politics and the mainstream media together form a closed system, where only limited deviancy from the orthodoxy is accepted and which has been carefully designed to give the impression of democratic control while making sure to limit any influence ordinary voters might have. Anybody who paid attention could see this in the runup to the War on Iraq: on a single day two million people marched in London alone, millions more across the world but it didn’t stop the war, didn’t even slow it down. It wasn’t an election year and therefore it was easy to ignore the voters: let them march, let them write letter to the editor that won’t be published, let them vent their outrage on Question Time or Any Questions, the smart people know it won’t matter. Give it a month or a year and the smart people can all pretend everybody was in favour of the war; well everybody who counted anyway.
Yeah, sure, Blair had to give up being prime minister a couple of years later, when the smart money was already shifting towards the Tories anyway, but he’s got millions in the banks thanks to cushy jobs given to him by his grateful friends in the private sector and all the respectable newspapers and televion newsshows still take him seriously as peace envoy to the Middle East. Some people might spit on him in the streets, but when was the last time Tony walked anywhere anyway?
Democracy has been made safe for capitalism again; voting won’t change anything important. And if voting doesn’t work, if the ballot is powerless, then the bullet remains…