Sascha D. Freudenheim on Tue, 22 Nov 2011 15:05:40 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Debt Campaign Launch

I appreciate Brian trying to make a more serious case for the
radicalism of this debt "campaign"--and his thoughtfulness deserves a
thoughtful reply in kind. So I guess I'd say that...

...I agree with the possibility (though I consider it less likely)
that by walking out on debt one sets off a chain of other (re)actions
that may help radicalize people and engage them in figuring out which
"side" they're on. Sure, what Brian outlines as a consequence is a
definite possibility.

...And I agree, as I've written previously, that the student debt
issue is both valid and important, and that finding a way to tackle
it--to prevent it from being a strangling force on graduates, etc.--is

...But I find I'm a little amused at the limits and presumptions of
the radicalism here. Indeed, Brian's opening line was:

Sascha, you may or may not be interested in a radical change of the
system we live under, but consider the views of someone who is.

And from there Brian sketched out some valid points about our failed
presidents, our failed politics, etc. Not much to argue with there!

Except: why stop there? I mean, if we're doing an analysis of
the systems and structures responsible for the mess our society
is in, don't we need to include "the academy" too? Colleges and
universities are (just as) responsible in some ways for the present
predicament--for teaching to, for, and in support of the status
quo--as any other institution or governmental body within our society.

And yet, aiming for "radical change" within that universe--at least
as articulated on this list--is all about this debt protest. Debt is
a real issue (I'll keep saying it until someone believes I believe
this!) but walking away from debt doesn't seem all that crazy radical
to me. Even accepting the scenario Brian sketched out, and even
accepting Michael Goldhaber's point about my focusing on the validity
of financial contracts as opposed to other kinds of social contracts:
this just doesn't feel that radical, and it certainly hasn't been
articulated in a way that makes a compelling case for its radicalism.

That's what I keep objecting to. It feels somehow very facile.
Actually, "juvenile" might be the right word, given the population. If
people want radical change to this system, they kinda need to push the
critique of the system further. As I mentioned before, I think walking
out would be much more effective (combined with non-payment of debt)
than just shirking debt.

SO, one more attempt at saying this in short form: It feels like these
folks want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to object
to the system by not paying their debt--without actually risking
their place in the system (whether their protests succeed or fail) by
dropping out of the system.


Sascha D. Freudenheim
Doubt is humanity's best friend.

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