Occupy's Trigger Moment

Strike Debt's Rolling Jubilee is a tactical mindbomb.

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With the election behind us, Occupy is emerging as an energized fighting force with new tactics and a renewed revolutionary potential. Spain's indignados are refocusing their rage against the banks by “jamming cash machines with glue and coins,” reports Reuters, in a tactical shift toward direct disruption of the flows of capital. Occupy Sandy is demonstrating the power of horizontal, people-to-people organizing with a relief operation that is feeding and caring for thousands in New York. And then there is perhaps the biggest tactical mindbomb of all: an audacious culture jam, originally conceived by Adbusters in 2009, to buy and abolish debt.

Tomorrow, Strike Debt, a maverick affinity group of Zuccottis, is kicking off the Rolling Jubilee . . . a project that “buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it.” The ultimate goal is to “liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.” The plan has attracted sizable media attention from CNN, the NY Times, Salon and more. Writing for the Guardian, Charles Eisenstein explains its “transformative potential”:

Two pillars uphold the present debt regime: the moral legitimacy of debt in society's eyes, ie, the idea that a person 'should' pay back what he owes; and the coercive mechanisms that enforce repayment, such as harassment, seizure of assets, garnishment of wages, denial of employment or housing, and even imprisonment. The Rolling Jubilee erodes both. It destigmatises debt by saying, ‘we're all in this together, we believe your situation is unfair, not shameful, so we're going to help you out’.

The Rolling Jubilee has already raised enough money to abolish over $3.2 million in debt . . . raising the tantalizing possibility that Occupy's biggest trigger moment – the spark of a widespread refusal against the financialization of life – is still to come.

November 15, watch the live jubilee telethon at

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26 comments on the article “Occupy's Trigger Moment”

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i think you guys should take a moment and ask a debt councilor if it's worthwhile to buy these pennies-on-the-dollar debts and free them. my guess is that is simply is not: it would be much more worthwhile to buy debt that hasn't yet gone bad. and honestly, it's probably best yet to simply give the money directly to the poor.

this whole thing is smoke and mirrors: you can't liberate $14,000 of real debt for $500. if you could - why wouldn't everyone?


>this whole thing is smoke and mirrors: you can't liberate $14,000 of real debt for $500. if you could - why wouldn't everyone?

smoke and mirrors


holy crap you're RIGHT!

i just bought a $200k house for $25 because i used this technique. the trick is buy the $200k debt for $1000, but put that on a credit card. then buy THAT $1000 debt for $25.

my wife just bought nine houses. this is FANTASTIC!


"Depending on the age and history of the debt, a buyer typically pays between 3 and 16 percent of the face value of the debt. Accounts that come directly from the original creditor without having been placed with a collection agency have the highest value, with prices decreasing based on the number of agencies that have previously attempted to collect the debt."


#smokeandmirrors [mine mine mine! ;) ]
'this whole thing is smoke and mirrors: you can't liberate $14,000 of real debt for $500. if you could - why wouldn't everyone?'

You are correct in a hazy sense since we liberated 14000 of debt for 466 dead tree paper pieces to be precise.


The plans liberates debt, but only the bad debt that is already considered toxic to banks and financial firms. This is old debt that consumers have most likely given up on paying, collectors haven't been able to collect, and banks just want to get rid of to get something back. The question, to me, is why haven't the people with this debt who have no means or intention to pay it back not gone into bankruptcy? Bankruptcy as an alternative seems like it would be much more efficient and would remove almost all their debt. Besides, it's not like these debtors have a sterling credit rating to ruin in the process. In a roundabout way, it appears that this plan helps banks more than consumers because the banks get all the money and consumers are relieved of debt that they never would have paid anyway.


> it appears that this plan helps banks more than consumers

precisely. give your money directly to the poor.

if you guys insist on going through with this scheme, at least make sure to watch WHICH banks get these buyouts. it'd suck if all this money is being siphoned to someone's favorite bank.


I'd love to go bankrupt. I can't afford the lawyer. I can get pro-bono help from a local firm if my wages start being garnished, but I don't make enough money for that to happen.Trying to go bankrupt without legal help is virtually impossible.


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