Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (See my previous posts here and here) a global social movement that brought income inequality in the national consciousness. In a recent piece in The Nation, activist and anthropologist David Graeber, highlights the system that reinforces the relationship between the have’s and the have-nots, the creditors and the debtors, the owners and the workers:
The rise of OWS allowed us to start seeing the system for what it is: an enormous engine of debt extraction. Debt is how the rich extract wealth from the rest of us, at home and abroad. Internally, it has become a matter of manipulating the country’s legal structure to ensure that more and more people fall deeper and deeper into debt.
Early on, Occupy was criticized for not having a clear set of demands. Today, Graeber writes:
Occupy was right to resist the temptation to issue concrete demands. But if I were to frame a demand today, it would be for as broad a cancellation of debt as possible, followed by a mass reduction of working hours—say to a five-hour workday or a guaranteed five-month vacation. If such a suggestion seems outrageous, even inconceivable, it’s just a measure of the degree to which our horizons have shrunk. After all, only fifty years ago many people assumed we would have gotten to such a point by now. It is only by breaking the power of the engines of extraction that we can once again begin to think on a scale and grandeur appropriate to the times.