Members of Occupy Wall Street have recently started an effort called “Rolling Jubilee” and the stated mission on their website is to: “buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt – instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.”
The Rolling Jubilee project is seeking donations to help it buy-up distressed debts, including student loans and outstanding medical bills, and then wipe the slate clean by writing them off. Individuals or companies can buy distressed debt from lenders at knock-down prices if it the borrower is in default or behind with payments and are then free to do with it as they see fit, including cancelling it free of charge.
As a test run the group spent $500 on distressed debt, buying $14,000 worth of outstanding loans and pardoning the debtors. They are now looking to expand their experiment nationwide and are asking people to donate money to the cause.
As a friend, supporter and also a critic of the occupy wall street movement over the past year and a half, it has been exciting and interesting to see the loose knit, decentralized movement transform and grow into many different branches that are taking a more local and decentralized approach than we saw from the protests last year.
Recently, I have been noticing that various pockets of occupy wall street are beginning to practice agorism, and starting initiatives and projects to replace inefficient state programs with their own voluntary mutual aid approaches. This Rolling Jubilee project is one example, and the recent efforts to go where FEMA wouldn’t after Hurricane Sandy is another example.
For those of you that are not familiar with the term “agorism”, it is a strategy of noncompliance that uses counter economics and underground markets as a way of keeping power in the hands of the average people, thus slowly diminishing the power and relevance of the control structure.
Growing food, starting mutual aid or charity groups, using bitcoin, homeschooling, running a small business without licenses, bartering and starting community currencies are all examples of agorist activities. Some agorists are even so bold as to create businesses that will challenge existing state monopolies, like we saw earlier this year when Detroit residents created their own community protection agencies because the police were no longer responding to 911 calls.
It is as simple as finding a need in your community for a particular good or service, and attempting to provide that value without any sort of interaction with the government or any other unchosen 3rd parties. In other words, the basic idea is to try solving the problem yourself, with your community instead of waiting around for a politician to make the problem worse.
Occupy Wall Street outshining FEMA in the wake of a natural disaster is reminiscent of actions taken by an agorist in early American history, Lysander Spooner. Lysander Spooner was an outspoken philosopher, abolitionist, and anarchist during the 19th century who was not only a brilliant author and speaker, but he also started a letter delivering service to compete with the government post office.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter-culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer and reporter for The Intel Hub and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com