For every creditor there must be a debtor and both are necessary. While the creditors – the banks – have realised their power, the debtors – everyone else – haven’t. A glance at the level of private debt reveals just how much potential there is.
Student debt now stands at an estimated £40.3bn, while a combination of stagnant pay and high living costs has left Britain’s average family with unsecured loans worth £7944 each – a staggering total of £210bn of unsecured debt. It is a severe drag on an already knackered economy. Suppose, though, if people refused to repay.
Rather than channelling falling incomes back to the banks that scripted the recession, they simply reject repayment. Immediately, there would be a union of debtors capable of clawing power away from financiers. The old cliché would kick in: ‘Owe the bank £10,000 and the bank owns you. Owe the bank £10,000,000 and you own the bank’. Like those canals and railways of industrial Britain, the credit cards and student loans of financialised Britain give people leverage over elites. The difference is that it now takes debt strikes, and not labour strikes, to harness this power.