Life and Debt: Global Studies of Debt and Resistance

debt freedom
You would hardly know it from the UK media, but around the world people are resisting the rule of debt.

That's something we set out to address in our new report, Life and Debt: Global studies of debt and resistance, which examines in detail the debt situation of nine countries - from the global South to Europe - and the social movements in those countries fighting back against debt and austerity.

It shows that despite the differences between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries, between former imperial powers and former colonies, people around the world today share certain experiences - of living with, and fighting against, debt.

Read and share our Life and Debt report now >>

The report examines Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Jamaica, Latvia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal and Tunisia. It discovers:
  • Jamaica’s government spends more on foreign debt payments than Greece, a huge 33% of its revenue. As health spending has been slashed, the number of mothers dying in childbirth has almost doubled in the last 20 years. Campaigners are calling for a moratorium on payments and an audit of the debts, saying 'No to debt slavery, no to the IMF'.
  • Greece itself is spending 29% of revenue on foreign debt payments. After four years of IMF and EU imposed austerity, the economy has shrunk by 25%, and 1.25 million people now live in ‘severe material deprivation’. Groups like Women Against Debt are providing support for low-income women affected by austerity measures while fighting further cuts.
  • Pakistan has received ‘temporary’ IMF bailout loans for 30 of the past 42 years, yet the country is still spending 20% of revenue on foreign debt payments this year. The campaign for a public audit of the debt, much of which dates back to past military regimes, has been growing since the devastating floods of 2010.

debt freedom 2In every country we study, we find signs of hope. Amid the devastation caused by debt and austerity, we find people not only picking up the broken pieces of their societies, but building something different. We hope this report can be an inspiring resource for debt campaigners across the UK.

Download, or order a copy, of the Life and Debt report now >>

Report Intro Extract:

"Along the way, we dispel some myths – the myth that debt crises emerge when people force their governments to splurge on expensive welfare states, as well as the accompanying myth that ‘we all partied’ and must now tighten our belts, like a crisis-stricken household.

These myths are used by powerful elites to justify the fact that many millions of people are suffering poverty in countries as diverse as Jamaica and Greece, Pakistan and Portugal. Even in the poster child country of austerity, Latvia, we expose the false picture painted by the international financial institutions.

Most importantly, in every country we study, we find signs of hope and inspiration. Amid the devastation caused by debt and austerity, we find people not only picking up the broken pieces of their societies, but building something different. We find people searching for a society no longer subject to the logic of the financial markets, which debt seeks to impose on us all.

At the heart of these movements is a deep questioning of the legitimacy of debt. Through campaigns to ‘audit’ debts, activists across the world are asking: by what right does debt redistribute wealth from poor to rich, from public to private? By what right does debt remove our power and strangle our democracy?

Through questioning debt we begin to dispel the biggest myth of all – a myth that underlines the economic orthodoxy, a pernicious myth that seeks to eradicate the possibility of social change by robbing us of our imaginations: that there is no alternative.

Across the world, people are proving that alternatives are alive and well."