Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay


A Powerful Guide to Action for People in Debt.

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The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition

By The Debt Collective
Foreword by Astra Taylor
Haymarket Books

Debtors have been mocked, scolded and lied to for decades. We have been told that it is perfectly normal to go into debt to get medical care, to go to school, or even to pay for our own incarceration. We ‘ve been told there is no way to change an economy that pushes the majority of people into debt while a small minority hoard wealth and power.

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that mass indebtedness and extreme inequality are a political choice. In the early days of the crisis, elected officials drew up plans to spend trillions of dollars. The only question was: where would the money go and who would benefit from the bailout?

The truth is that there has never been a lack of money for things like housing, education and health care. Millions of people never needed to be forced into debt for those things in the first place.

Armed with this knowledge, a militant debtors movement has the potential to rewrite the contract and assure that no one has to mortgage their future to survive.

Debtors of the World Must Unite.

As isolated individuals, debtors have little influence. But as a bloc, we can leverage our debts and devise new tactics to challenge the corporate creditor class and help win reparative, universal public goods.

Individually, our debts overwhelm us. But together, our debts can make us powerful.

“By prioritizing redress and repair, we can win free and universal education, housing, and healthcare. No one should have to go into debt to meet their basic needs,’ Debt Collective declares in this urgent book, which lays out concrete strategies and a powerful vision for radical change.”—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of How We Get Free and From #blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation

“The Debt Collective has given us a visionary roadmap for forming an army of debtors that is powerful enough to make capital scream.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine

“Defusing explosive debts and undermining the legitimacy of the punitive, profitable debt system of the current United States is insurrectionary work, and uniting debtors in common cause is solidarity and justice work. This anticapitalist manual is a beautiful guide to how and why to do all those things.”—Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark

“This book explains why we are overdue for a debt revolution and, more importantly, how to do it. To abolish debt is to begin to rebuild society. We need to start doing so now.”—David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5000 Years

Additional information

Weight 7.8 oz
Dimensions 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.33 in



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