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The Average 25-Year Old's Debt Has Grown 91% in the Last Decade -- Will Borrowers Learn to Push Back?

Debt grinds on the American psyche, yet building a movement against it has proven difficult.

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It also seems that in its financial handling of the Rolling Jubilee Strike Debt may have exposed itself to tax risks, which the IRS can go after up through 2017, though the group has been consulting with a financial and legal team since the summer of 2012.  Naked Capitalism editor Yves Smith wrote a great post back in December 2012 about how these potential pitfalls could land those that the Jubilee was trying to help with yet more debt.

One idea that’s been tossed around by activists who work on the issue of debt refusal, such as Strike Debt, is to focus on getting people who know they will be defaulting on their loans anyway to do so collectively. At the end of March, Strike Debt will release the second edition of its Debt Resistors Operations Manual (DROM). The new DROM, published by Common Notions (the original existed in pdf and pamphlet form), will feature new chapters, most notably a chapter on climate debt, and expansion of existing chapters, particularly the last chapter about organizing around debt. Launch events will take place in Oakland and New York in the coming weeks.

It is also important to note that, while the debt resistors movement in the U.S. is relatively weak, there are ally organizations worldwide including the International Citizens Debt Audit Network (ICAN) throughout Europe, Egypt, and Tunisia; CAC in France; ELE in Greece; IAC in Portugal. The most recent Rolling Jubilee was inspired by the Jubilee South movement of the 90s and early 2000s, widely acknowledged to be one of the most important and effective social justice campaigns ever undertaken, and particularly Jubilee 2000 where more than 40 countries collaborated in cancelling third-world debt, organizing peaceful protests all around the world. “Much of the white middle-class indignation,” writes Ross “is a response to being treated like the indebted brown peoples of the South, or minority populations in the North with long experience of disenfranchisement and bad debt.”

Hopefully these movements will manage to unite the debtors of the world in collective action. Until then, the invisible hand of unchecked credit market forces remains at the throats of borrowers everywhere.

Hannah K. Gold is a journalist, creative writer and former intern at the Nation. She lives in Brooklyn and blogs here and on Twitter @togglecoat