Excerpt: Most revolutions, more revolts in human history have been about debt. It’s the most perennial tool that’s been used by people who are powerful to make the victims of structural inequalities feel that it’s somehow their fault. So I wanted to unveil that and show that we’re actually part of a very very long history. There’s also a lot of hope in it. Because the other thing I realized is that much of the world religions grew out of social movements, which were exactly about “problematizing” debt. Basically saying, who owes what to who?
That made me think that we’re actually at a very strange historical moment because they’ve managed to convince people around the world that debt is somehow something sacred. I mean, a debt is just a promise, right? It has no greater moral standard than any other promise that you would make. Yet, here we have people accepting that it’s perfectly reasonable to say well, we can’t possibly keep our promise to the public, politicians say, to give you health care because it’s absolutely unthinkable we could break our sacred promises to bankers to give them a certain percentage of interest every year. How did that become a convincing argument? It’s utterly odd if you think about in terms of any kind of principle of democracy. As I say, if you look at the history of world religions, of social movements what you find is for much of world history what is sacred is not debt, but the ability to make debt disappear to forgive it and that’s where concepts of redemption originally come from.