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A Student Debt Strike Force Takes Off

Debt—and the shame that surrounds it—is the tie that binds the 99 percent. Can young people reimagine it as something productive, rather than a tool for profiteering?

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While it remains to be seen on what terms OWS will collaborate for S17 with its allies in the “ 99% Opposition” on the institutional left—ranging from the groups gathering for the Student Power Convergence in August to the 99% Spring network, to May Day partners such as SEIU—there are signs of an emerging consensus across the spectrum of the left that debt, and especially student debt, is a key note to hit for a longer-term vision of social and economic renewal. While some will attempt to yoke the energies of S17 to the timeframe of the electoral cycle and ultimately the established mechanisms of the state, OWS will push back with its own sense of time and priorities. The physical tactic of occupation first deployed on September 17, 2011, is unlikely to be replicated, but the spaces of education, empowerment, and imagination created by Occupy remain open. Debtors—which is to say, the 99 percent—are poised to step out of the shadows and into that space, providing it with the content and focus required for what was once a precarious encampment to evolve into a sustainable social movement.

This article originally appeared on Waging Nonviolence

Yates McKee is an art critic working in Occupy Wall Street; his work has appeared in venues including October, The Nation and Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy.