July 01, 2011

Debt as a moral issue

... 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.

-David Graeber teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. He is the author of several books, his newest book–"Debt: The First 5,000 Years" (Melville House) comes out later this month.

The quote was from Democracy Now 7/1/11

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