Fellow debt strikers, my name is Eli Campbell, I’m an activist and artist and I’ve been writing about the need for a student debt strike over at DebtRevolution.org since 2016, in part inspired by the work done by Strike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee. I am writing you today seeking advice and criticism on an idea for a livestreamed panel discussion.
Last year I presented a panel discussion on the subject of a mass debt strike at LeftForum, and I was intending to organize another panel discussion this year, but the conference has of course been cancelled due to Covid-19. However, given that we’re all online doing Zoom anyway, perhaps we can still have the discussion online and I thought those of you here would be interested in having this discussion be realized.
My plan for this year’s panel was to focus the discussion on how we mobilize the movement to actively resist student debt through a mass strike. I think the importance of such a discussion to this moment we’re in cannot be overstated.
Last year’s panel happened the same week that Bernie announced his support of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s plan to cancel ALL student debt. In the year since we have seen what we here already knew: there is widespread support for cancelling student debt, and people everywhere are eager to fight for that cause. Now we are either essential workers on the frontlines, or in isolation quarantining, but despite our general inability to pay, our debts continue to burden us.
As far as panelists go, I reached out to NY District 40 Assemblymember Ron Kim, a champion on the issues of debt cancellation and economic justice, and Debt Collective’s Astra Taylor. At that point, covid-19 swept the nation, so it was then pointless to continue reaching out, but I think having at least one more panelist would also be good, in my mind preferably someone from Gen Z to speak to the issues that the younger generation is facing and the role they could play in mobilizing such a movement.
I have been enjoying the livestreamed discussions put on recently by Haymarket books featuring people such as Astra Taylor, and perhaps they would be interested in hosting such an event, or perhaps Democracy Now. The panel I organized last year can be found at debtrevolution.org/2019/06/30/leftforum-2019-panel/, but we did not have the technology or platform to broadcast it as effectively as I would have liked, so that is of utmost importance.
So to all of you I would ask- is this a worthy idea? And how best to make this discussion (or something along those lines) happen? How can it best be organized to advance the movement to resist student debt and demand its cancellation? All thoughts and opinions are welcome. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’re staying healthy and safe.