Debt in a time of coronavirus

This video shows a discussion introduced by Kate Bradley and Seb Cooke about how coronavirus has boosted household debt, the impact on working-class people and on the capitalist economy, and the possibilities for campaigning and resistance.

Large 3D word "debt" with chain and shackle
Image: www.ccPixs.com

Debt, inability to honour it, and refusal to cancel it are increasingly at the heart of economic crises in the last few decades. In the UK, the average household now has over £15,000 in unsecured debt, which doesn’t even include mortgage debt. Yet the struggle against debt is largely individualised, and there is little activism or campaigning that deals with personal debt in an anti-capitalist way.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen renewed conversations about debt. These have come from both from the government proposing that individuals and businesses take out loans to cover their losses during the pandemic, and from individuals worried that they will be unable to pay their debts.

In this conversation, we ask some questions which are fresh in many people’s minds: what effect is COVID-19 having on people’s reliance on credit, and the finance sector more broadly? What action can be taken against debt and money lenders, both during and after COVID-19? What campaigns and projects are out there already challenging debt, and what do we think of them? How do we collectivise resistance to debt and support each other to resist indebtedness in a radical way?

The conversation was started by Kate Bradley from Manchester rs21, who talked about the debt sector and its effects on people during Covid-19, and Seb Cooke, who discussed government loan schemes, ‘zombie’ firms who become reliant on government funding, and the potential economic consequences of this crisis. The wide-ranging discussion also included sections on imperialism and global debt, ‘debt cancellation’ initiatives, debt and rent strikes, and the necessity of challenging the British state on the failing universal credit system.

 

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