The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual

We are not a loan. Strike Debt came from a coalition of Occupy groups looking to build popular resistance to all forms of debt imposed on us by the banks. Debt keeps us isolated, ashamed, and afraid. We are building a movement to challenge this system while creating alternatives and supporting each other. We want an economy where our debts are to our friends, families, and communities — and not to the 1%.

Strike Debt

I’m always trying to figure out ways that students can write about what matters to them; best of all, I’d like to find ways to use writing assignments to help students think though important issues, especially issues related to (their own) contemporary life. As an online teacher, of course, I am more than a little limited since I can’t re-design my course each session, much less offer new assignments that address new issues.

I can, however, point students to ideas and issues that are outside of their usual intellectual haunts and I can encourage them to take on research projects that might challenge some of their basic assumptions. This is the basis of teaching critical thinking skills. I just read a post by Doug Henwood on the Debt Resistor’s Operations Mnaual, and while I agree with most of his critique, I think it’s a text that nonetheless deserves a lot more attention.

The DROM is interesting for a lot of reasons. In terms of process, it’s a collectively edited project. Henwood argues– using examples– that the collective tamped down his rhetoric, trying to make it more palatable. The process of collective editing, and the traces it leaves on or in a text, is a subject that ought to be of intrinsic interest. A wiki would make it easier to understand how the text was edited and how the collective process worked.

The DROM is also interesting because it offers practical advice and touches on a subject that is a central aspect of American life. The study of debt, and the resistance to debt, could hardly be more relevant to students facing a long future of paying off loans. It also helps students to see connections among what might otherwise seem disparate issues, like personal and municipal debt and financial regulatory policies.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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