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Debt jubilee: Revolutionary change or reform to stabilize capitalism?
Canceling the world’s debts would be a welcome reform, but in itself wouldn’t challenge the world capitalist system without a debt jubilee being one piece of a more comprehensive struggle.
Debt has been a crucial lever in implementing austerity, both as an instrument and a moral cudgel. Eliminating debt, private and public, would have transformative effects — but would doing so be revolutionary or merely a reform to stabilize world capitalism?
Those are not the only two choices, of course, and the mere thought of a debt jubilee would send many a set of teeth gnashing. Debt jubilees are not a new idea; in fact they have existed since long before capitalism was born. But given the unprecedented level of debt, a jubilee today would entail unprecedented complexity.
The Australian economist Steve Keen has for several years energetically promoted the concept of a debt jubilee. His concept is to bail out people instead of banks, reasonably arguing that people would spend the money, reviving the economy. So in this formulation, radical as the concept of a jubilee is (and radical as the idea of helping working people instead of the super-wealthy is), it is conceived as a reform.
Professor Keen conceptualizes a jubilee in a form that would not cause damages to debt holders not responsible for the crisis, such as pension funds.
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