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Empowering Debtors to Organize, with René Moya

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Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
Empowering Debtors to Organize, with René Moya

This episode continues the series What We’re Building—a look at the most noteworthy organizations and initiatives on the US Left today. 

The relationships between creditors and debtors—like those between bosses and workers and landlords and tenants—are foundational economic relationships under capitalism. All are at once sites of exploitation, and sites where class consciousness can be developed. Previous episodes this month have discussed tenants’ and workers’ movements. This week William talks with René Moya of the Debt Collective and LA Tenants Union, continuing the conversation about tenant organizing, digging deeper into debtor organizing, and looking at ways two intertwine.

Moya also explores the culturally constructed shame associated with all forms of debt and the work needed to politicize and end that shame. The conversation concludes with an optimistic lookto the future, envisioning a movement that fights for the decommodification of land by confronting institutions that perpetuate debt and exploitation.

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[00:00:00] Sound on Tape: This podcast is presented by Convergence, a magazine for radical insights. 

[00:00:07] Rene Moya: You will always get a moment. We’re in a building of 40 units, 50 units, a hundred units. There’s going to be that one tenant, that number, a handful of tenants who are going to tell you, I don’t want problems, right? Like, I don’t want to deal with this.

[00:00:21] I don’t want to organize. I don’t want to fight back. I don’t want problems. And my job as an organizer. And I say this quite point blank to folks is to say the problem is already here for you. The problem is that you already can’t afford your rent, that you’re living in horrible conditions, and that your landlord’s harassing you.

[00:00:37] The problem is that if you don’t resolve this, you’re going to end up either on the streets or having to move to a more expensive apartment far away from your social networks. What are you going to do? When you can no longer afford to pay the rent that you’re paying right now in a community where all the rents are going higher every single year.

[00:00:57] William Lawrence: Hello and welcome to the hegemonicon [00:01:00] a podcast from convergence magazine This is a show about social movements and politics strategy and ideology The immediate present and the rapidly onrushing future. I’m your host william lawrence I spent my twenties as a member of grassroots social movements, most prominently as a co founder and national leader of Sunrise Movement, the youth organization that put the Green New Deal on the political map.

[00:01:24] Now I’m in my early thirties, trying to make sense of what we’ve collectively learned in this last decade plus of social movements and heightening social crises. I talk with activists and researchers on the left, exploring the guiding theme of power. What it is, how it’s exercised. And how it’s distributed.

[00:01:47] All right, folks. Uh, welcome to the hegemonic con. Um, this episode is part of our ongoing series on what we’re building, uh, which is the most noteworthy organizations and initiatives on the U S left today. [00:02:00] And as I’ve been saying recently, when we talk about found foundational economic relationships under capitalism, several of these relationships really stand out.

[00:02:10] Of course, there are bosses and workers. There are. Landlords and tenants, and there are creditors and debtors, and these are all ways that those above the capitalists squeeze those of us below for profit. And they’re also all sites where some form of class consciousness can be developed. Um, in the last month, we’ve spoken with Alex Han about the state of the labor movement.

[00:02:39] We’ve spoken with John Washington about the state of the labor movement. Tenant movement. And this week, my guest is Renee Moya of the debt collective and LA tenants union will be continuing the conversation about tenant organizing, as well as digging deeper into debtor organizing. Uh, Renee, I’m really glad to have you on the show.

[00:02:58] Um, why don’t you begin [00:03:00] by introducing yourself to our listeners?

[00:03:05] Rene Moya: Again, my name is Rene Moya. I was born and raised and I live again here in LA, um, where I have been organizing as a tenant organizer for a number of years now, but also prior to that, um, did some work on homelessness and that space, right? And, and really the connection between, um, housing issues and homelessness.

[00:03:24] Um, I am the tenant power coordinator with the Debt Collective, the nation’s first debtors union. I’m sure we will talk a little bit more about what that means. Um, but you know, I have, I primarily am working on, um, our tenant power, uh, program, which we will kind of dig into right now to, to talk a little bit more right about what the connection between debt and tenant organizing looks like.

[00:03:46] Uh, prior to this, I was a tenant Uh, you know, the, the statewide coordinator for ACE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, where I worked a lot on housing policy at the state level here in California, um, I was the, uh, the campaign [00:04:00] director for a statewide ballot measure, the Proposition 21 campaign that would have expanded rent control in California.

[00:04:06] In 2019, 2020, uh, and then prior to that, I also, again, worked on a previous campaign for rent control, uh, have worked on multiple, uh, rent control initiatives, not just the state level, but also local, uh, fights for rent control, both at the ballot, but also, um, you know, legislative ones through city councils, through county boards of supervisors, um, And I’ve just been organizing in and around housing, um, you know, on tenants rights, uh, tenant protection, um, ordinances on trying to make sure that a broken, uh, I don’t know, emergency rental assistance program, um, doesn’t necessarily, you know, Do more harm than good, um, for a number of years now.

[00:04:47] Uh, I’m very excited to have been basically allowed to work for the Debt Collective, um, over the past two years and I’m really looking forward to deepening that connection really between the struggle [00:05:00] to cancel all of our debts. Yes, but I think really I’m more interested in even Going beyond that for a world with universal public and reparative goods for all, because ultimately that is the only way in which we’re going to be able to solve all of these connected crises that we’re confronting at the moment.

[00:05:19] Thank you. 

[00:05:19] William Lawrence: Um, there’s a, there’s a million and one questions that we need to ask you about rent control for our fight for rent control here in Michigan, because we’re, we’re working to get. Statewide preemption against local rent control policies, uh, removed. And if we could get it removed, then that would just be the beginning, of course, of fighting for it at a local level.

[00:05:37] So maybe we can come back around to that. But I want to begin by asking a very basic question. You are the tenant power organizer for the Debt Collective. That implies, um, some kind of connection between debt and the community. Tendency. So why don’t you just begin by explaining that connection for us?

[00:05:58] Rene Moya: For sure. And you know, at the [00:06:00] debt collective, we oftentimes talk about the, the, this idea, this notion that tenants unions are a form of debtors union. In fact, in some ways, they are the oldest, most successful form of debtors union. Now, what do we mean by that? You, one only has to look at what evictions And the threat of, of an eviction looks like and how it affects us.

[00:06:22] And in fact, what causes the threat of an eviction to see really that relationship, uh, laid bare. The vast majority of evictions, and this has always been true by the way, uh, the, the vast majority of evictions that we experience at, at the. local level at the state level at the federal level in fact at the international level the vast majority of evictions are as a result of a tenant being unable to pay their rent in other words if you conceptualize it a little bit differently rent debt is what drives people into eviction right um there are there are Plenty of stories I can, I can tell of tenants here in Los Angeles, where I’ve most worked with tenants, [00:07:00] but I continue to see this at the state level of tenants who quite literally have rent debt of 100, 50, just nominal amounts of rent debt that they owe.

[00:07:10] That then leads to a life changing process, right? That process being an eviction, um, and evictions while I think normally people want to normalize them, we want to pretend as though they are just these run of the mill events, you know, in the last 10 years we have been able to learn a lot more about that effect that an eviction has on the livelihood of people, right?

[00:07:33] We know, we understand evictions now in the last 10 years in the broader public, right? Not Among activists or organizers, not among the evicted, but among the kind of the general public and in the media, we now kind of understand evictions to be not just the cause or rather be caused by poverty, but also themselves constitute a moment of immiseration, right?

[00:07:55] They constitute a moment that has a. Yeah. deep and long lasting [00:08:00] impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods, making it more difficult for folks not to be evicted in the future, making it more difficult for people to avoid homelessness, making it difficult for people to live kind of full, healthy, uh, lives.

[00:08:13] And it can start, like I said before, with you having debt of all of 50, right? Uh, it can start with some, something as banal. And ridiculous as that small amount of rent debt, uh, with the tenant power, uh, toolkit, which is a toolkit that we developed the, we, the debt collective alongside the LA tenants union, the UCLA Luskin Institute on inequality and democracy, as well as the anti eviction mapping project, what we’ve actually been able to see.

[00:08:39] Because we are currently responsible for, um, providing legal answers to eviction paperwork, um, in L. A. County, primarily, but across the state, we are seeing that oh, well over 80 percent of all of the evictions that we are responding to at the moment are for non payment of rent. And so again, this idea of rent debt is very, very central to, [00:09:00] um, the question of tenancy.

[00:09:01] It always has been, and it’ll continue to be so, as long as housing is too expensive, as long as housing is commodified, right? There are other secondary and tertiary effects, though, or connections between debt and, um, housing and tenancy, really, right? Um, Oftentimes, we don’t explore enough how it, you know, developers and landlords getting themselves into massive amounts of debt, creating or partaking of very exotic financing mechanisms to be able to buy property that they can then kind of draw a rental income from how a lot of that debt that landlords get into that a lot of that debt that developers get into, then has knock on implications for the rest of us as well, right?

[00:09:45] That means. The ever increasing cost of rent, right? Number one, right? Uh, if you’re going to be able to service the debt that you need to be able to take on to build a new development, to be able to buy an existing [00:10:00] development, whether it’s old or new, you’re going to have to be able to service that debt as a real estate capitalist.

[00:10:05] And the way that you’re going to do it is by squeezing, uh, working class tenants, right? being able to squeeze every last drop of every last penny that they have to be able to do that. It also means in the this desire or in this in this attempt really this kind of ineluctable desire to draw more rental income out of tenants.

[00:10:25] It means that landlords have to pursue Ever more onerous, um, processes, they have to develop ever more violent processes, right? To be able to evict tenants. They want to do this because being able to evict a tenant means being able to bring in a tenant who possibly makes more money, who can pay their rent, can pay ever escalating rents on a rolling basis.

[00:10:49] And so what that means is that landlords are themselves, you know, as any Marxist says, right? The capitalist, like the worker, right? Has to. Whereas being drawn into the same sort of [00:11:00] processes, the same, or being drawn by the same forces of capital, these imperatives that force them to do all sorts of things, landlords, by the very nature of having to service all of these debts, are then forced, basically, to take on ever more of Horrible practices basically to either squeeze profits on one end by not making repairs in their buildings, right?

[00:11:19] by by really creating slum conditions in their housing or By evicting these tenants or forcing the tenants through harassment to leave these buildings And so again, not only are tenants squeezed by the debt that they have to incur to pay ever rising rents the landlords the real estate capitalists basically have to take on ever larger sums of of Of, you know, of debt to be able to buy these properties to begin with, so that the process of accumulation, the process of exploitation really, um, can continue it.

[00:11:51] It is the snake eating its own tail here a little bit. 

[00:11:56] William Lawrence: John was also speaking about this, how there’s this, this chain [00:12:00] of debt. All the way up to the top, and everyone is trying to squeeze a little more out of whoever is just below them. I felt like when I started to look at these capital stacks, it really helped me.

[00:12:11] The capital stack is what the developers call it, um, when they have to assemble various forms of equity and debt in order to pay, you know, whatever it might be, 25 million to develop an apartment building or something. And seeing the terms of debt on, um, I’ve never been a banker or a finance guy, but But coming to understand how this works and how the, it basically, there’s a whole, you know, stage sequence of who’s get paid out first, who’s going to get, get their money lost.

[00:12:39] If there’s, if you know, there’s a bankruptcy or something who’s first in line. And then the rates and the terms that get set, especially when you have to go into like the private equity market or where the, the, the rates are so much higher, it really did, um, uh, change the way I was understanding the calculus of these housing developers and property managers where [00:13:00] it’s true.

[00:13:00] They’ve got creditors calling and, um, if, if their creditors calling, they, they might have to hike rents or, uh, it’s, it’s going to be their shirt. So, um, I, I appreciate you bringing that to the fore. So let’s. Talk about the Debt Collective for a minute. You, you referred to the Debt Collective as, um, the, the first union of debtors, or at least in our modern context.

[00:13:21] So, um, what does that mean? What does it mean to be a debtors union? 

[00:13:25] Rene Moya: Well, I should start by saying that, you know, in a way, joining the Debt Collective, being able to work for the Debt Collective really was kind of like a, uh, a lot, kind of a bit of a weird, uh, Secondhand sort of, uh, return home, if you will, um, a lot of the early kind of, you know, anti capitalist organizing that I did, um, a lot of the activism that I did, you know, 10, 13 years ago was, you know, in and around, at the time in the UK, the imposition of austerity by the, the, the new Tory government, um, and, you know, through that process got to meet folks like David Graeber, who was one of the kind of the [00:14:00] initial leading lights of, uh, really this kind of this, this struggle against debt, right?

[00:14:05] Yeah. What do we mean by the debtors union? Uh, this is a great question because frankly, it’s one that we in the Debt Collective wrestle with as well. In, at a high level, we understand what that looks like. We know what that means conceptually, right? The debtors union is the, the union of debtors, right? The collection of debtors, uh, brought together as a class fighting against, um, the, the, their creditors, right?

[00:14:28] Because we understand that we have collectively. Quite a bit of leverage over those creditors under normal circumstances, right? What does that look like, right? It looks like, uh, if you have a bank, uh, to whom you owe X number of billions of dollars, if you get enough of the debtors for that bank to hold and to be able to leverage that massive amount of debt, That you have, but that for them is an asset, and you basically threaten to withhold that asset from them and or the return on investment of that asset.[00:15:00] 

[00:15:00] Suddenly, you find yourself with a lot of leverage, right? For tenants to use it in that kind of conception, given this is the space that I mostly work in, you know, if you as a tenant, right? Are, uh, uh, left to fight your landlord alone, uh, you are in, in, in a pickle, right? You’re going to probably lose a battle against your eviction.

[00:15:19] You’re going to lose a battle for the negotiation of better conditions or lower rents as an individual. And you, your, your small amount of rent is probably not that much relative to the amount of money and the number of assets that the landlord owns. If, on the other hand, you get together as a, a tenant and you form a tenants association with the other people in your building.

[00:15:39] If that tenant association that joins other tenants associations for that same landlord’s real estate portfolio, and all of you threaten a rent strike right to withhold your rent, suddenly, you have a lot of leverage over your landlord, right? And I should say, as a little side note, something really exciting that we saw here in the LA [00:16:00] Tenants Union recently, we saw That, um, landlords and, and, and realist and realtors are, we saw an example in the wild of a realtor basically putting in their real estate prospectus for a multifamily home complex.

[00:16:14] They put in their perspectives prospectus that the building was organized by the Los Angeles Tenants Union, right? Suddenly this changes the calculus for real estate capital and the investment that Possible investors might make in that land, in that property, right? So that’s the kind of conceptual nub of what we mean by a debtor’s union, right?

[00:16:33] Getting debtors to come together, to, to collectivize their demands and to use the leverage of the debt that, that for them is an oppressive sort of reality on a day to day basis, but turn it into collective power to use, to wield against their creditors, to make demands of these creditors help. In a, in a, in a better world, or, you know, with enough organizing in the years to come really to, to, you know, make sure [00:17:00] that these creditors don’t exist, right, to abolish these creditors to, you know, at the end of it in practice, though, that means a lot of different things, right?

[00:17:08] And so, you know, on the one hand, you know, I’ve mentioned tenants unions as a form of debtors union, it means that we the debt collective as an organization have Tried over many years and have succeeded really over many years in seeding different types of debtors unions for different types of debtors struggles.

[00:17:26] Right? Um, one of the more famous kind of storied very early version of this was the Corinthian debtors union, right? Um, Corinthians, the Corinthians were a number of debtors of student debtors who owed a ton of money to their for profit Uh, you know, university to, to, uh, Corinthian College, uh, and they basically were fighting to cancel their debt because they felt that they shouldn’t have to basically pay this debt because they felt it, that it had been an unjust sort of burden that they had maybe had even been defrauded by their, um, by their [00:18:00] university, by their college.

[00:18:01] That was a form of a debtors union that we helped basically, uh, bring together. And in fact, was one of the, was the original sort of. impetus or foundational moments for what has become our national, you know, years long struggle to cancel student debt at the federal level. Right. And so again, for us that idea, you all were 

[00:18:20] William Lawrence: talking about that long before presidential candidates or the department of education or Joe Biden, we’re talking about that.

[00:18:27] Rene Moya: A hundred percent. In fact, you know, if you ask, you know, our, our co founders, Astra Taylor, Or, or Hannah Pell to talk a little bit about this, they always have this kind of funny story about the first time they had a big direct action demanding the cancellation of student debt, like a decade ago, and seeing the New York Times and NPR coverage of that protest and of the questions that these reporters are making of the Debt Collective.

[00:18:53] Uh, organizers and those who were protesting basically, you know, ridiculing the idea that we would ever be able to cancel [00:19:00] student debt. Like, this is such a ridiculous idea. It’s an insane idea to think that we’d ever be able to do this. And look at us now, 10 years later, um, we have, we forced the, the, the Supreme Court to take up the issue entirely.

[00:19:12] So that is, I think, a testament to that kind of persistence, that kind of dogged persistence, um, that has really kind of been, uh, an important, uh, You know, element of our organizing for, for now, the last decade or so. 

[00:19:28] William Lawrence: Well, let me ask about that. Like, and maybe, uh, uh, bring David Graeber back in here. Um, he, he writes in his book, um, debt, which everyone should read.

[00:19:37] Um, he, if I recall in one of the first chapters, he talks about, there’s one of this, uh, paradoxes of debt, which is that it’s ethical obligation to. Pay one’s debts. That’s something that society believes. You have to pay your debts to be deadbeat on your debts is is a bad thing. Makes you a bad person. [00:20:00] And we also believe that creditors are bad people.

[00:20:06] To be a money lender is is is also a bad thing. Ignoble or unethical in some sense. So how can it be true simultaneously that, uh, that the creditors are bad and the debtors are bad at the same time. And then we make some seemingly this really contradictory ethical principle at the heart of our society.

[00:20:25] So I’m curious to hear your reflections on that as someone working in this space and, um, just about the sort of, um, shame that people feel about their debts and the work that has to be done to, um, politicize that shame and, uh, overcome it together. 

[00:20:40] Rene Moya: Well, you know, kind of drawing from Graeber himself again, and, you know, it’s been many years since I last read Debt, the first 5, 000 years.

[00:20:48] Um, you know, he starts the story by really laying out that debt has been a foundational sort of connective tissue between peoples in a society, in any given society, from the dawn of [00:21:00] man, right? Really the point being that Debt understood as an obligation, as a social obligation from one person to the other is as human as anything else, but and to understand really that this idea of obligation, debt as obligation, right, that obligations are the necessary connective tissue of society, that the moment that you sunder those connections, those linkages of obligations, You have, you might as well have just basically sundered society as a whole, right?

[00:21:29] This, the way that society works is through a series of interconnected obligations that there, it makes a lot of sense really to say, you know, if you don’t basically follow through with these kind of social obligations that I have, that’s a bad thing, right? That’s a very kind of deeply rooted. Um, you know, sort of moral argument that I think has a lot of, it makes a lot of sense, right?

[00:21:50] If I, you know, if we help each other through these things, if we collectively build roads together, then we should collectively make sure these roads are not being destroyed. Or a better example I have for those of us who [00:22:00] like public transit a lot, You know, our taxpayers go to paying for beautiful trains, right?

[00:22:06] Uh, I once got, kind of, uh, I had my, my fingers wrapped by a, an old Swiss woman when I was on a train and, you know, heading to Zurich many, many years ago. And, and because, it was because I had my, my feet on the, the, the, the seat right in front of me on this train. And she turned to me, she was very, you know, nice about it.

[00:22:24] She was like, look, Our taxpayers, our tax money basically goes to paying for these public goods, and we have these beautiful trades as a result of it. I’m asking you to respect it. It’s like, look, to me, that’s just like a kind of an example of how these kind of these different obligations really bind us together as a society, right?

[00:22:40] The problem of debt or with debt is the moment that debt becomes monetized and becomes this kind of financial cudgel. And especially when that financial cudgel is being wielded by people who don’t feel any sense of obligation to pay it. To, you know, wider society, the only reason they are in on this or for this is because they want to make money.

[00:22:58] They want to make a quick [00:23:00] buck out of unproductive rentier sort of, um, processes, right? So the, the issue isn’t that I am obliged to, to, to, to help my fellow man. I’m, that I, As a, as a member of society have obligations to wider society, the real issue is when you have, you know, JP Morgan basically breathing down the backs of people saying, if you don’t pay this mortgage because you lost your job, you know, tough luck for you, but I’m going to, I’m going to take your house over.

[00:23:28] I’m going to make you homeless. That is an entirely different sort of understanding of what that looks like. But I think that that is what is really at heart at the, you know, with the contradiction that you’ve kind of laid out, right? That debtors, that the sense of debt as a series of interconnected social relations obligations is old as time, but the increasing sort of financialization of these debts really historically over many hundreds of years, but especially in the last few decades.

[00:23:55] 40 to 50 years with literally this moment of financialization under neoliberalism [00:24:00] has made that process even more acute where that contradiction more acute. It has made it, I would argue, more extractive, more violent than anything that we’ve ever seen. The difference, of course, is that we hide behind, um, That this kind of panoply of laws and policies that give this kind of process of violence the veneer of civilization, right?

[00:24:20] Um, so I think that that is where that contradiction comes down to, you know, on the question of shame. Any tenant organizer worth their salt will tell you that shame is such a Big, um, hold up, right? So this big sort of barrier the tenants face when they are trying to organize, right? Even if, well, they’re just trying to do advocacy as themselves as an individual, it’s a big, uh, you know, moment of, of difficulty.

[00:24:44] Uh, why is that? It’s because of what you just said, right? People, so much of the, the, the social narrative about your inability to pay your rent. Is really about how you are a terrible person who made terrible life choices. You maybe should have spent less money at the groceries, uh, you know, at [00:25:00] the, at the, at the grocers.

[00:25:01] You should have, you know, not bought yourself that one t shirt that you wanted to at the supermarket. All of these kind of consumer oriented sort of, um, critiques. Really then kind of come together into the sense of you were, you were a bad person because you misspent your money. And didn’t pay your rent on time.

[00:25:19] Therefore, you, you deserve an eviction. It doesn’t matter for a lot of folks in the, in the kind of that standard narrative that the rent that people are trying to pay is 50 percent of their income or more, right? It, the idea is just in a very kind of crude way that you don’t pay this debt, therefore you are a bad person.

[00:25:36] Right. Again, it kind of, it kind of aligns. It must be your fault. It must be your fault. Absolutely. In, in the, in the broader debtor organizing space, we see this all the time, right? A couple of months ago, a few months ago, I was in Chicago for the socialism conference. Um, and we, we hosted a debtor’s assembly.

[00:25:54] Right. It’s a kind of a common sort of tactic that we use in the debt collective and a debtors assembly. A lot [00:26:00] of organizers and other kind of spaces might recognize, you know, elements of it. It really is bringing people together into a into a meeting. And what it is is really about giving people an opportunity to break through their shame and to talk about the debt that they hold.

[00:26:15] To talk about, you know, how that debt makes them feel, what effects it has, a material impact that it has, a material and emotional impact that it has on their lives, and really to talk about if, if they want, right, to talk about how, like, that even that process of talking about this, this, um, debt, how it makes them feel, right?

[00:26:32] Like, how does sharing this debt empower you? How does it make you feel about this entire thing? I mean, it was super powerful. Like all of these debtors assemblies tend to be, I mean, people cry, people, you know, really have like a, kind of a, almost like a, uh, uh, uh, come to Jesus moment talking about this step, because sometimes like they say, oftentimes, like I’ve never spoken about my debt.

[00:26:54] I’ve never spoken about the tens of thousands of dollars I have in student debt, I’ve never spoken to [00:27:00] folks about the fact that I had my home foreclosed on, I never talked to anyone about the fact that I owe 150, 000 in medical debt that I had to go into bankruptcy. Even, you know, there was one story of a gentleman who was like, look, I never talked about the fact that I went to school, saddled myself with so much, you know, student debt that was really breaking my soul, but that eventually I had the, the, the good fortune, the historic luck of having a grandfather who upon his passing basically gave me, you know, I inherited from my grandfather sufficient money to be able to pay off my student loans, and now I’m I want to spend my time.

[00:27:35] I want to dedicate my time to organizing around debt for other people who are less fortunate than me. Right. And so that breaking through that that shame is literally kind of almost like step number one and getting people to think of themselves as political agents capable of change. Uh, it really is kind of necessary to break through it.

[00:27:53] It’s not a battle. I should say that we always win whether I’m student debt, whether on medical debt, whether on, on, on housing debt, [00:28:00] right on, on, on rental debt. It isn’t something that we always are able to achieve. And you know, in, in, for any tenant organizer listening to this, I, you know, and especially for those organized Latino tenants, you will always get a moment where in a building of 40 units, 50 units, a hundred units, there’s going to be that one tenant, that number, a handful of tenants who are going to tell you, Es que yo no quiero problemas.

[00:28:22] I don’t want problems, right? Like, I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t want to organize. I don’t want to fight back. I don’t want problems. And my job as an organizer, and I say this quite point blank to folks, is to say the problem is already here for you. The problem is that you already can’t afford your rent, that you’re living in horrible conditions, and that your landlord’s harassing you.

[00:28:41] The problem is that if you don’t resolve this, you’re going to end up either on the streets or having to move to a more expensive apartment far away from your social networks. What are you going to do? When you can no longer afford to pay the rent that you’re paying right now in a community where all the rents are going higher every single year.

[00:28:57] And I really kind of, so I use that as a way to say to folks, like, [00:29:00] look, the problem is already here. The problem isn’t going away. The only thing that you have available to you is to, to fight back. 

[00:29:08] William Lawrence: Sounds like you’re a pretty good organizer. That’s how you got to get into it with people. Um, so let’s keep exploring then what are the kinds of, um, consciousness that, um, We can discover on, on the other side of doing that work, you know, the, the historic labor movement in this country has been organized around the notion of a working class.

[00:29:31] Those who are forced to work for a living. More recently, we’ve been hearing tenant organizers talk about tenants as a class. Those who are forced to rent in order to live. And now we’re talking about debtors as a class, those who are forced to assume debt in order to survive. And I’m, I’m curious, like when we’re talking about class formation, class consciousness for those below, I don’t even know if we should call it a working class because we’re talking working.[00:30:00] 

[00:30:00] In debt renting, we can use working class as a shorthand. But like, what are the differences and the similarities between the time, the kinds of class consciousness that get developed, um, from looking at these different forms of, of class relationships, I guess, just to be really pointed about it, you know, I think the, the, the The history of the left is rich in labor organizing, and we’re very accustomed to thinking about forming working class identity.

[00:30:28] And I think we’re all for that. But, um, what is the same and what is different when we’re instead thinking about debtors identity or tenants identity in a class kind of context? It’s 

[00:30:47] Rene Moya: such an enormous question, uh, that to me brings up a couple of sort of sub questions and or kind of, uh, sub topics, right, that you need to kind of unpack a little bit.

[00:30:59] Number [00:31:00] one, it’s like, what do we even mean by class? In this context and specifically about the process of exploitation and or let’s call it extraction, right? Um, in a modern capitalist economy, uh, number one, number two, about like what you’re calling kind of identity formation, really, that what I would like consider is like the idea of like subject, you know, formation, right?

[00:31:20] That the creation of subjectivities of, of, of political action, you know, the labor movement. Yeah. It’s organizing task has always been to create the subjectivity to reinforce the subjectivity of the worker qua worker, right? Um the worker as a worker and from that basically to be able to create the kind of the solidarities between workers necessary to Make demands of the capitalist class and ultimately hopefully to abolish class relations as a whole, right?

[00:31:49] Uh, or for rather for the worker for the working class to abolish itself, right that kind of um orthodox notion That is primarily [00:32:00] founded really on this understanding of workers as the fount of, uh, of, of value, right? We are the ones who collectively, you know, will the world into existence. It is through our labor that, uh, the goods and services that the, that society You know uses that we kind of enjoy it is through our labor that these goods come to be It is through our our labor and other forms that uh, this labor is able to to move right that we are also the kind of the the the the the Um, the arteries, the capillaries, the veins of the system that allow the, the, the, the flow of goods on an international scale to, to go such that you can buy a German car or a Japanese car in the United States, or you can buy, you know, Kobe beef in an American supermarket, um, or you can, you know, buy, Or watch American movies abroad, right?

[00:32:56] We are at the foundational stone of this [00:33:00] entire process as workers. This is why we have power. Our leverage is in our ability to be able to shut that down. Should we want to through the strike, we can stop the production. Of uh, whatever, you know said good on an individual sectoral basis or even firm level basis at the general level Through a general strike bring the whole system to a halt, right?

[00:33:21] We saw a fantastic a phenomenal Series of examples of that just within one labor union in the last year right with the united auto workers organizing first organizing Um, you know, one of the largest, if not the largest graduate student strike in the country to make demands of the University of California system.

[00:33:41] But then you saw, of course, the historic, um, organizing of auto workers, um, that brought, you know, the strongest deal that, that, you know, workers have been able to gain in many, many years, right? So that I think, you know, that to me is kind of like a very, uh, important sort of conceptual [00:34:00] and practical sort of way of understanding what that struggle has looked like historically, right.

[00:34:04] From that struggle have emanated these other kind of like bigger sorts of like ideas of what, The reconstitution of society can look like right. The idea in the history of socialism really is, is emerges out of this kind of like fundamental contradiction between labor and capital. Right now, that contradiction is not the only contradiction within capital, or rather, maybe to put it a little bit less maybe controversially, or maybe less Um, uh, heterodoxically is to say that there are other contradictions through which the capitalist experience, if you will, through which capitalist life is experienced by people, especially working class people on a day to day basis, that Please, 

[00:34:50] William Lawrence: you have full permission to be controversial at the expense of Marxist orthodoxy, I should say.

[00:34:55] But yes, carry on. 

[00:34:57] Rene Moya: I mean, I would actually say like, it’s an, it’s an [00:35:00] orthodoxy of people who just don’t want to like, You know, keep the times I, you know, I consider myself very much in the Marxist sort of tradition as an individual, but but to really kind of hammer home that point, right? You know, capitalist social relations.

[00:35:13] We should take a step back and remember capitalist social relations. are totalizing. We say this and yet we don’t then kind of take the next step in thinking strategically about what that means. What implications does it have? If we understand capitalist life, capitalism to be a totalizing force that, you know, shifts our identities, that, that Restructures what we mean by and or dissolves what we mean by by the family, it is able to sweep away religions that is able to and or and or weaken kind of the grasp of these religions, not entirely sweeping away, but really weaken their political power.

[00:35:48] If it is able to change the nature of our, you know, our amorous and our sexual relations as individuals to reconceptualize what it means to be a child, even, you know, by even by creating. New [00:36:00] categories like teenage dumb, if you will, right? Because of capitalism parents, if capitalism is able to do all of these different things, right?

[00:36:07] That means that capitalist life and capitalist social relations are constantly impacting on our lives in very different ways. And so therefore, the contradiction of capital itself, or the contradictions of capital themselves are myriad, right? And what that looks like in the housing space, it looks like Tenants, uh, not being able to afford their rent, right?

[00:36:28] It looks like I, as a tenant have to pay someone else, a property owner, a landowner, I have to pay them money to be able to keep a roof over my head over this basic human need, right? It looks like as a debtor, it looks like you, uh, having to go into his, you know, absurdly large numbers, absurdly large sum of debt to be able to pay for basic health care.

[00:36:53] You know, like I constantly see bills for American, you know, people where they have to pay 55, [00:37:00] 000 were it not for their insurance just to be able to deliver a baby, right? Uh, you know, that kind of absurd system that basically says that for you to be able to be able to have your basic human needs met, you have to go into this ridiculous amount of debt to be able to afford that I need to pay, you know, the equivalent of a quarter of a million dollars or more on over a four year basis to be able to afford to go to university.

[00:37:23] Right. That everyone tells me I need to do because that’s the only way that that I can, you know, advance as an individual, but also as a society, we needed a well educated workforce to be able to, you know, be more productive and therefore grow the economy. Right. Uh, you know, quote unquote. And so really it is about that, that, that sharp sort of, uh, uh, you know, insistence that we place on people to say, you have to be able to go into this amount of debt just to be able to live.

[00:37:50] In very basic ways just to be able to live and on the other side of that transaction on the other side, really of that of that relationship [00:38:00] are going to be the those creditors, right? It’s going to be your order to 

[00:38:03] William Lawrence: live today. You have to subject yourself to domination. Forevermore 

[00:38:09] Rene Moya: forevermore. I, I signed away my life picking up student loans when I was 18 years old, and I’m going to pay them until the day I die at this rate, unless something happens, unless our organizing wins.

[00:38:19] Right. And so the so to me, this idea of the debtor and the tenant, you know, as like subjectivities is really about looking at capital through another facet of our life. Right now from the kind of the broad sort of or at the very high, rarefied, very abstracted level of quote unquote capital, right with capital C.

[00:38:41] It really means just taking another bite at the apple from working class people, right? It means that we can exploit you. We can exploit your labor and draw, you know, surplus value, get, you know, um, you know, profitability off of your work. Me as a company, me as a [00:39:00] capitalist, I’m going to be able to do that, get that money off you.

[00:39:03] But it also means though, that when you go home, And increasingly, by the way, this is very much the case with the company towns up, you know, a century ago, it is increasingly now the case, given the kind of the corporatization of, of housing, given the creeping sort of role that private equity has had in not just buying companies, or like investing in these corporations, but also like buying up land.

[00:39:27] It means that after you leave your workplace where you have basically enriched your bosses, you go home and in some occasions are even enriching that same boss or that same set of investors by paying two, three, four thousand dollars of rent. For your housing, the same housing that might have like leaking pipes, broken windows, uh, the AC might not work, the, the heating might not work, what have you.

[00:39:51] And I have to be able to, you know, deal with the, uh, you know, the craven property management company that is harassing me for the, the [00:40:00] luxury of paying so much rent for so little value, right? So look, such little service, right? Um, and so what that looks like then again, is experiencing. The process, experiencing capitalism through the lens of the rentier, right?

[00:40:15] Or the rentierism when it comes to a landlord. It looks the same when you are, again, going into massive amounts of debt to be able to pay for your housing, to pay for your medical debts, to pay for your university, to pay for your lunch. As a student, you know, one of the things that Declock has been fighting.

[00:40:32] It’s maybe a less sexy sort of thing Or campaign for a lot of folks, but we’ve been fighting to abolish lunch debt for elementary school middle school students There are students who have literally not had their transcripts Um, you know been issued or they haven’t been able to kind of go through commencement or what have you at various levels of education K through 12 because their parents owed, you know, 10 20 dollars of lunch debt You To you know to the university to [00:41:00] their to their school district I mean, it’s that kind of absurdity of saying your life has to you know Be paused it has to be hit to be able to service this debt.

[00:41:08] It’s just an absurd sort of You know end result that we have of really insure of of insisting that that that basic human necessity Must be met by you as an individual And if you as an individual have to meet that then you have to go into massive amounts of debt to be able to do That so again to me You know The problem is still capitalism, right?

[00:41:29] The problem is still like, you know, like, uh, a number of us who I was part of a, uh, of a collective for years, they used to say like, look, capitalism is the housing crisis, right? That’s absolutely the case when it comes to debtor organizing. Does that mean that there are not differences? Therefore, right in that process, of course, conceptually, there are differences because, you know, through debt, and through, you know, tenancy, we’re not necessarily creating new value that has been then being extracted directly by the capitalist, right?

[00:41:58] On a conceptual level, there are [00:42:00] differences here that we should be very careful about. You know, conscious of at the same time, there are things that are very, the through line of how we basically build a subjectivity around these issues is still a fundamental necessity, but it will have a different sort of look.

[00:42:15] It’ll have different contours for different types of organizing. And so you have a question coming on here. I’m sure. But, but before you get to that, I guess what I’m trying to say with that is that, you know, when I am organizing A tenant, right, around their possible eviction. The similarities with labor organizing are that we are looking at one single space shared by the people who live in this building in the same way that traditionally labor organizing, and not, and much less so nowadays, but traditionally when we were organizing the industrial proletariat meant we’re going to go to the site of, of extraction, we’re going to go to the workplace where all of you are going into the same factory floor, and we’re going to organize you on the factory floor.

[00:42:54] That is the kind of the premise of industrial capitalist union, you know, unionizing efforts traditionally go to the shop [00:43:00] floor To me organizing tenancy the similarity is that we’re also going to quote unquote the shop floor here, right? Which is you’re going to the the one building where both this process of extraction is happening But also where the possibility of getting together with your buddies to then create a tenants association to fight back That’s It all happens in the same space.

[00:43:18] That is the similarity with union organizing for tenants. That is not the case for debtors generally. For student debtors, for Corinthian College, for example, to use them as an example, they all went to the same university, but they fought back. They got together. After the fact right after they had left that kind of single space that they shared.

[00:43:39] And so organizing that organizing that that subjectivity without that kind of same sort of physicality that same physical presence presents both opportunities but also very in you know serious challenges to how we organize that is a very big distinction really between you know worker organizing and debtor organizing this whole even tenant organizing [00:44:00] on the small scale.

[00:44:01] Right. Tenant organizing, um, within a particular building, the, the, the similarities between tenant organizing and debtor organizing, the, the, they become clear, much clear the moment that you’re organizing across, for example, a portfolio, especially for a transnational and or, uh, national sort of actor through a corporate.

[00:44:22] William Lawrence: Right, because your debt is someone else’s asset, your future rent payment is someone else’s asset. So the logic of the leverage and the intervention there is quite similar, whereas the logic of the worker strike is somewhat different.

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[00:45:24] William Lawrence: You were talking about, uh, you began that by, uh, speaking of the sort of imaginary horizon of the, uh, the maybe old school or traditional Marxist labor movement. It’s the working class in the process of its own abolition through, uh, through class struggle. And it seems like. While some of the practical organizing points are the same, others are different.

[00:45:48] And you laid that out very well. It seems in the case of, of, of debtor organizing, um, the redemption narrative of the, you know, dialectic machine going were, and the, the relations abolishing themselves [00:46:00] is a little more challenging to come by in the case of debt than in the case of work. Because maybe I’m missing it, but it feels harder to claim that the debt relations contain the seed of their own abolition or that debtors can simply put their hands on the means of credit in the way that laborers could put their hands on the means of production and theoretically come to own them entirely.

[00:46:23] Now, when we start talking about the means of credit, um, It gets very political and highly mediated in some ways, and now we’re talking about the Federal Reserve and and then it also seems like perhaps, um, these questions about debt when you start filing back through the historical record, it just becomes quite evidently a pure power relation like there’s there’s very little redemptive here in the sense that there’s some, you know, we can talk about value being created in the process of labor and whatnot.

[00:46:54] Really, this is about people who have the ability to extend credit and extract debt payments. [00:47:00] Um, other people who do not have the means of having money now. And so they need to take on debt. So someone has the means someone does not. And it’s simply a pure power relation of one person sort of squeezing another.

[00:47:14] Uh, am I oversimplifying it? I don’t know if you’re oversimplifying 

[00:47:19] Rene Moya: it. I do think that, you know, in practice. That isn’t necessarily the case, right? So to me, the promise of, uh, you know, organizing debtors to abolish their, their debt and in the process to make demands really kind of build the leverage that we need to then go beyond that.

[00:47:41] I think that is about like, I mean, it’s about, yes, like, you know, organizing, it’s about narrative building. It’s also just about horizon building and defining, right? I don’t see a world. Where we win the struggle for debt that doesn’t also involve, you know, labor winning in its [00:48:00] struggles for, for, you know, in the, in the workplace, that doesn’t involve, you know, tenant organizing, it doesn’t, it doesn’t involve like a general also, I should say, or add, a general sort of, uh, an abolitionist sort of, um, set of demands, right, around carcerality, um, what have you.

[00:48:19] And so for me, I think the problem becomes, and I think this is where a lot of people get hung up about this stuff, is in thinking that, you know, in, in making, Defining, uh, arguing for the importance of this contradiction within capital, the debt relation within capital, that we’re saying this is as being in some way, shape or form, mutually exclusive of other sort of sectoral battles and or that the one that this is going to be the primary contradiction that we must address.

[00:48:48] Sort of, you know, get past to be able to then, you know, get to the world beyond. And I, I don’t think that’s not how this is going to work, right? Ultimately, if we’re going to move to another kind of world, if we’re going to [00:49:00] actually be able to win a world where people’s basic needs are met for them, right, it’s going to involve all of these other sorts of things happening too.

[00:49:09] Right. And so to me, I think, I think I just have a problem with the premise because I don’t necessarily think that that’s the way right way of understanding it. I see debtor organizing as one of the kind of found foundational elements of a broader sort of struggle for liberation, right? What we often, what we in the debt collective oftentimes call like a struggle for abolition, but really abolition.

[00:49:31] Abolish the abolition of the, of the, of the forces that, that keep basically people, um, under the thumb of capital, but that, you know, in so kind of confronting, we then build or can start to build, can dream of having this world, uh, beyond capital. These different sorts of oppressions, right? And exploitations, right?

[00:49:50] So I think that’s the, the, the first bit of the question. I have to admit that I’ve kind of lost, lost being able to answer that. Let’s 

[00:49:57] William Lawrence: keep going there. Let’s keep going there. So, so, [00:50:00] um, what, uh, what kinds of, um, Uh, what kinds of movements or political infrastructure do we need in order to do that weaving of the campaigns for the better rental conditions and the better terms of debt and the, you know, more dignity and rights in the workplace and our various other abolitionists?

[00:50:20] And other social movement struggles, like what, what do you see as necessary from where we are now to, uh, continue doing the weaving that’s already happening and then take it to another level of, of cohesion and, and shared consciousness 

[00:50:35] Rene Moya: before we, before I get to that, kind of that practical question of like how we build a movement, I will also say there’s a, another, I think, element to add here, which is to say, The reason why, like, the kind of the debtor framework and or the tenant framework, like the worker framework, actually has something very palpable, very usable here that is, I think, it redounds upon to a positive sense to, like, labor organizing for tenant organizing, what have you, is the simple [00:51:00] fact that none of these, none of the victories that we’re gonna, that we want to achieve, is They cannot be based or founded on this idea that we’re simply trying to reform the system, right?

[00:51:12] A broad scale cancellation of debt towards, for example, making universities, um, free at the point of, you know, education, or making healthcare free at the point of, of service, is really to make a permanent and lasting shift away from the power, the constraint, the profitability of capital. In a particular sector, right?

[00:51:34] And the more of these victories that we win that we can achieve, the more we are contributing to the collective chipping away of capitalist power, capitalist social relations for the whole. And so I think that is something I also just want to, like, very much emphasize. Us being able to, for example, as tenant organizers, chip away the power of corporate control over housing and forget it, just the, the, the entire system of the [00:52:00] financing development and provision of housing is a means through which we get to chip away at the collective sort of, um, system or the, the broad sort of totalizing system of capital that will have, Positive and long lasting effects for for folks in the labor movement who are organizing to abolish the wage wage labor relationship, right?

[00:52:21] And in the same way that labor organizing against private equity bosses who are exploiting people at the workplace will redound positively upon tenant organizers who are also fighting the same people. So I think to me, Okay. It’s not a question of either or. It’s very simply a fact that if we’re able to actually, you know, get our ducks lined up in a row properly, we are able to fight the same enemy as a whole.

[00:52:45] We’re just doing it from different angles. Now, in terms of the practical, you know, how do we build the ecosystem as a way I’d look at it, right, of, of those connections? Like any organizing, organizing ultimately comes down to talking to people. That’s all it is. It’s it. We use a [00:53:00] sexy word, sexy language and sexy framework to really talk about something as basic as talking to other people.

[00:53:06] Uh, it’s talking to other people with a purpose, right? We’re talking to them to try to get them to, to see how the, the issues that they are confronting that they’re facing on an atomized individualized level are Unique to them alone there might be unique factors or or elements of it But the broad strokes of the issues that they are facing are Issues that other people in their neighborhood in their country across the world are facing That these are things that they can only address through collective struggle And so really your job that you’re trying to talk to people about is getting them to join that struggle right to join that struggle Once they’ve joined that struggle to politicize to educate You You know, to do popular education, political education, so that we can learn, collectively learn together, how we, you know, deepen that struggle, how the struggle that we’re facing is connected, uh, or [00:54:00] imbricated with all of these other struggles and other areas of life, health, and other parts of the world, uh, and, therefore, to, to learn through this different process, the process of education, to organizing, to advance our own idea Of what we want the world beyond to look like, right?

[00:54:15] So that is what organizing is, right? In a nutshell. So what does that mean in practice for us? Like if we’re kind of having these discussions across sectors, it means, you know, having conversations on a continuous basis with labor, right? As debtor organizing. We’ve done that. We have been doing that, you know, for the student debt cancellation fight.

[00:54:34] It would not have been possible to get to the point that we are at now, as grim as it might look right now in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, we, we wouldn’t have got to that point had we not, uh, had very strong labor advocates. AFL CIO, you know, was one of the big sort of like voices basically pushing behind the scenes to get this cancellation to move forward.

[00:54:52] You know, we’ve worked hand in glove with the Chicago Teachers Union for, for years, you know, have very good relationships with them. This would not have happened. [00:55:00] Our fight, our demand around debt cancellation would not have happened without that, right? In, in Los Angeles and across California, there are deepening sort of relationships between tenant, um, you know, non profits and the, the labor movement to make sort of, you know, concessions around tenant protections of the state.

[00:55:18] Yes, to do it or to start off with initially, at least, um, you know, the bosses there, your individual firm level kind of fights, but to use that as an, as an attempt, as an, as an, an element of a broader sort of bargaining for the common good framework. In other words. And using labor organizing to make broader social demands that go beyond the workplace and not to do it just because, you know, it’s a sexy thing to do, but because ultimately these other issues impact us to write.

[00:55:47] If you are a worker and you just gained a 10 percent increase in your wage on a one year basis from your, you know, your teacher’s union, well, that. It sucks if that 10 percent then is going to be gobbled up immediately by your landlord. If it’s going to [00:56:00] be gobbled up by the fact that university tuition, um, is increasing at a much higher clip than inflation on a day to day basis, it’s going to suck when that money is being, you know, uh, taken up by all these other kind of rentiers, all this other, all these other kind of segments of life that we deal with on a day to day basis.

[00:56:16] Again, looking at these other kind of contradictions of capital that people confront on a day to day basis, right? And so really, it’s about staying in conversation with these different elements, these different movements, the deck collective, we consider ourselves as part of like the kind of the abolition, the struggle for abolition on on carcerality, we consider ourselves as like, obviously, allies in the struggle around tenant issues, staying in conversation with them, but it also means strategizing together, right?

[00:56:43] It does mean it. Making arguments and having political thought battles, having an element of like kind of cross pollination of education across sectors. So we can understand how these things are connected, right? I might know who my private equity, the private [00:57:00] equity firm that, you know, my neighbors that own the housing next door to me.

[00:57:03] I might know who they are. I might not know everything else that they’re getting up to. Like, for example, um, you know, they’re currently being sued, maybe potentially, um, for, um, you know, child labor, which is a thing that we’ve seen actually recently with some of these big corporate landlords, these private equity firms, actually, um, That are on the one hand kind of screwing over tenants in our inner cities, uh, screwing over tenants, increasingly on mobile home parks, screwing over tenants in smaller cities and suburbs across the country that didn’t used to have, you know, this kind of corporate, these corporate actors gobbling up housing at the same time, that same money is, uh, you know, paying for, um, you know, firms in, uh, I don’t know, in, in the.

[00:57:43] You know, in middle America that are hiring children to work in like chicken coops or what have you. I mean, these are real things that are happening literally right now There is a growing problem of child labor in this country It happens to be a problem that is being funded by the same people who are [00:58:00] squeezing You know hundreds of thousands millions of tenants, uh for their rent It also happens to be the same sort of investors that, uh, are also, you know, paying for, or actually to use a more kind of a more direct sort of example.

[00:58:14] It looks like, you know, the UAW fighting for better wages, better conditions, increasing the number of, of workers who are covered by, you know, union contracts at, you know, different plants that are currently un unionized or not unionized in different parts of the country. Those same firms are also being, have been involved, have been caught, or, or, or seem to be involved in, Processes of like child labor, child exploitation, right?

[00:58:37] So these, these things are not unlinked. They, they are absolutely linked. They are happening on a day to day basis. These are struggles that we just have to make be more intentional and going out of our way to connect. This is where I think kind of organizations that see themselves as like, you know, broadly anti capitalist or political outfits.

[00:58:55] It is part of the task of these kinds of organizations to make these linkages [00:59:00] across sectors where oftentimes those of us who have our head You know, uh, we’re down in the trenches kind of fighting a particular bit of sectoral work. It behooves us constantly to be pulling back and asking the question of, well, who is doing what to whom here?

[00:59:15] And to whom else are they doing other things that are bad that we would consider horrible? And how can we bring them into this conversation? And the last thing I’ll say here before, uh, you know, we move on maybe to another question, or if you want to ask like a follow through question or follow up question is, As an example, if we’re going to try to tackle go after a corporate landlord at the national scale, even an international scale, suppose that we’re going to plan to do that, who are the people funding them?

[00:59:39] Who are the people who’s financial who will be financially impacted by us going after these different organizations? And who and who else are they funding? What other kinds of things are they are they funding? And here abroad. Are they funding, you know, I don’t know, um, horrible mining practices and, and, you know, Central [01:00:00] Africa, are they funding factories in the occupied, you know, uh, Palestinian territories, what have you, these are things that become possible the moment we are, we, we take, We make the conscious effort to step back and, and make these links and then talk to the people who are involved.

[01:00:15] We, the Debt Collective, are part and parcel of that ongoing conversations and many of these different struggles. And I think that is something that we actually have to get a little bit better at, right? It also means joining more kind of cross organizational entities, you know. We recently joined the Progressive International, for example, um, to deepen our kind of international work.

[01:00:34] Because again, these things are linked. Our struggle is the struggle of others. The struggle of others are our struggle, too. 

[01:00:41] William Lawrence: It feels like we’re moving in that direction. Overall, it does still feel that there’s a gap between the people who are the most skilled practitioners of organizing and who are really in the trenches with poor and working class people and the people who are the sort of chief theoreticians who are enlightening us to all of the interconnections and sharpening and updating [01:01:00] our theories about how capitalism works.

[01:01:01] But like it does feel that We are getting closer to that destination you’re describing. And a lot of those relationships, um, are being built. Uh, maybe I’ll just ask a, uh, one more kind of theoretical follow up question on that, which is like specifically in the realm of finance, you know, there’s been an outpouring of scholarships since 2008.

[01:01:21] I think a lot of people who are. More or less our age who are, it got very interested from an academic angle, uh, on after the financial crisis and, uh, are really seeking to understand the whole structure of the global financial system and, you know, especially the federal reserve, which is the biggest bank in the world, the source of most dollars, the lender of last resort, you know, so you’ve got the modern monetary theory crowd.

[01:01:45] You’ve got a lot of other scholarship, you know, they’ve got the critics, you’ve got the critical macro finance people. Um, I’m going to do a bunch of more episodes on this next year, which I’m really looking forward to, to kind of let the, let the, the academic hair down a little bit, but, um, I don’t think it’s an [01:02:00] accident that there’s so much energy here because clearly we’re trying to understand how finance shapes our world.

[01:02:05] And that might’ve been gone a little understudied for a while, um, uh, up until 2008. So I’m curious how much you. Individually or the debt collective institutionally is like investing in those conversations, um, paying attention to that academic research on the character of the financial system, you know, and and how then that has bearing on the actual, um, practical work of organizing.

[01:02:34] Rene Moya: I mean, this is foundational to the Debt Collective, you know, we recently, um, oh, in the last, like, few years, actually, submitted, for example, we contributed to, to a paper, um, looking at, for example, the very question of, like, sovereign debt, specifically, in the past, in the, in, you know, in times past, we looked at municipal debt, actually, as a possible kind of, like, area of struggle, which really municipal debt is connected to these broader sort of systems or, or, or, [01:03:00] um, you know, circuits of debt that kind of impact us all, right?

[01:03:04] Personally, I’m going to take a little bit of a step back and just, you know, think through this like when I was kind of initially sort of like politicizing radicalizing what have you many, many years ago, to me, the story of what happened in Greece was so instructive, you know, with the with the Greek bailouts, the austerity, all of that was so instructive of how All of these things, there’s, it’s just like a chain of, of debt and also therefore a chain of exploitation all the way through, right?

[01:03:33] What the average Greek worker or poor person was facing was austerity. That broke the back of the economy. It still has, you know, uh, you know, the purchasing power of the average Greek person today is still lower than it was prior to the, to the Greek recession, uh, or rather to the, to the Greek austerity packages and the whatever, all that, that the, the IMF bailouts, the European union bailouts, the average Greek worker had their lives immiserated [01:04:00] because their government.

[01:04:01] Was in hock to, you know, to the, to the debt markets to all of these different creditors, those creditors, including the, you know, banks in Germany, and then the creditor core in France, you know, BNP Paribas, you know, Deutsche Bank, you know, whatever you you name it. All of these Societe Generale, they were, they were in hock to all of these different sort of like banking lenders.

[01:04:23] Those lenders were connected through relationships of debt to other sort of lenders in places like Germany, for example, uh, smaller regional banks, the Landesbank, for example, who then, uh, were, had, had basically gambled, uh, with the savings of their local sort of populations in their small little towns and In Germany, where workers from Mittelstand, you know, factories were kind of storing away their money that was then being used to gamble on real estate in the United States being funneled through these kind of bigger sort of like banks in the United States to be able to push, you know, ultra low temporary ultra [01:05:00] low, you know, interest rates on poor black and brown homeowners would be mortgage holders who then use that money again to be able to buy their houses temporarily and then promptly lose them the Great Recession.

[01:05:10] That’s a, that is, that is a global, the global circuits of capitalism spelt out in ways that had very real, you know, links, connections, both in terms of the process and or the cause of all this immiseration, but also in the possibility of struggle on the other end. And so what that looked like to me, like, if I’m going to really kind of like.

[01:05:38] Use an evocative sort of image here to me, the image of a black and brown or white working class homeowner in the United States, who was foreclosed upon by their bank in the, at the height of the, of the housing crisis in 2000, you know, a 2009, who was pouring cement into the pipes of their homes as a way of like, basically using this as a way of Of, of saying, [01:06:00] you know, to hell with you to, to the bank right of, of sabotage really to these people who were repossessing their homes so they could sell it on again later on to, to kind of reignite the process of accumulation later down the line.

[01:06:13] That person saying F you to their banks by pouring that cement into the pipes to make the, those pipes unusable to, you know, destroy the walls of their home. And the Greek workers who are coming together into col, you know, collectivities and communes to be able to. basically ensure that people were being well fed, so they could be, you know, make sure that because of the loss of their jobs, they could still eat at the end of the day.

[01:06:34] To me, these are two people, you know, the former Latino homeowner in Victorville, California, and the, the, the workers in Athens trying to create farmers markets where they can, or, you know, whatever, uh, collectives so that they can actually, you know, feed themselves at the end of the day. These two people are Intimately connected by the same circuits of of capital that immiserate both of them that destroyed their lives Really within the span of five [01:07:00] years, you know, like this is happening to both of these sets of people, right?

[01:07:03] And so to me, I think making drawing out these connections is very very much the work that we in the debt collective do We have talked a lot about sovereign debt in the past We’ve it has been part of like a lot of the academic work that we’ve done It is actually something that I have a personal interest in pursuing a little bit more in the coming years You Through our relationships in the progressive international, the progressive international, of course, have been drawing attention, for example, to to IMF conditionality for for quite a while, they have a campaign around sovereign debt as a whole.

[01:07:33] And this is something that I have a personal interest in the debt collective kind of pursuing. But this is something again, that we’ve been writing about for years is something we’ve been kind of like doing a lot of like narrative shift work around for many, many years, ultimately, sovereign debt is It’s really in a lot of ways, I’d argue is the closest that you get to kind of the broad sort of, uh, to tackling the broad sort of system of debt as a whole in the way that, for example, we joke about this all the time.

[01:07:59] It’s [01:08:00] like when we talk about going after the very biggest corporate landlords were like, well, you might as well be targeting capitalism itself by going after like one of these very, very, very big players to me, like the question of sovereign debt. And the politicization around things like sovereign debt are a way basically of going after the very, very, very biggest money.

[01:08:17] But at the same time, that is not to say that the things that are happening on a day to day basis to you, the individual person at the worm’s eye level, that these that you are not also part of these processes in the way that I just laid out, right? You, but the person who lost your home in 2009, are intimately linked are intimately tied to them.

[01:08:38] Workers in Italy who were immiserate have been and continuously seen their lives immiserated by ongoing, um, order liberal austerity in Europe, in the creation, in the wake of the creation of the Euro. You, uh, who are doing tenant struggles in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida, uh, you know, Louisiana, you are intimately linked to the same people who are doing [01:09:00] this kind of work that These struggles against evictions and dispossession in places like spain who have been fighting blackstone Literally the same landlord as many of the people who are listening to this, you know podcast hopefully um today You are also intimately connected people connected to people who are being likewise dispossessed Off their land in places like brazil.

[01:09:19] So so that is important. It’s not it’s not just me saying it To paint a cute, pretty picture to like motivate people to have a different politics. It is a literal material reality that the things that are happening to you by these bigger sort of capitalist forces are the same capitalist forces that are miserating people, exploiting people in other parts of the world and in different ways oftentimes.

[01:09:43] William Lawrence: In that image of the cement being poured into the pipes, I wonder how we can extend that to imagine, um, cutting off the circuits of a debt repayment on which the whole thing actually depends. So second to last question, um, uh, what would you say [01:10:00] are the main barriers or bottlenecks that are preventing more and more successful debtor organizing and are there any negative or counterproductive tendencies that need to be gotten over?

[01:10:13] Rene Moya: On the bottlenecks. I think that what we’ve seen with the student debt fight right now is an example of, you know, not all creditors are the same creditors, right? Ultimately, the provocation of a debtor’s union is to say we have leverage over our creditors, right? And with student debt, there’s almost an element of like, of chutzpah here that, that the Debt Collective had in going after the biggest one of them all, right?

[01:10:41] Going after the state as a whole, the state that, that issues this debt, that it doesn’t even need to collect upon, right? Doesn’t even need to collect, like, it’s not gonna, if, if not a single cent of student debt is paid back ever again, it’s not gonna affect the federal government. In the slightest, which [01:11:00] therefore kind of changes the calculus of what kind of leverage we actually have over the federal government here, right?

[01:11:04] The collect, the collective leverage that we have over the federal government is in our political ability to sway these politicians who are short termist and care about getting elected again, right? It is that being able to put the fear of God into them, um, to some extent, and we’re seeing it now, you know, you know, Joe Biden’s Popular his his his opinion poll ratings are falling through the floor.

[01:11:25] They’re falling through the floor floor right now Yes, because of what we’re seeing, um in in palestine at the moment with the with with joe biden’s kind of bear hug of Um of netanyahu and all that but really what was the big sort of thing that we’ve been hearing consistently over the last year We’ve been hearing from people in opinion polling and the like We’ve been hearing folks say, you promised to cancel student debt and you have not done so, right?

[01:11:49] So the leverage there is, is different. It’s a political leverage, a directly political leverage, and not one of what direct financial leverage then becomes political, right? So that’s been, [01:12:00] I don’t know if that’s a roadblock. It is, I think, something for us to think about as we approach other kind of, uh, creditors and other kind of sectors, um, of the economy, right?

[01:12:10] If if we start building, for example, something like a medical debtors union or multiple medical debtors union, we have to think a little bit long and hard about who are the creditors against whom we are leveraging, you know, these these pressure points, right, or we’re kind of squeezing these pressure points against whom we’re leveraging all of our debts.

[01:12:26] Is it the insurance companies? Is it, uh, you know, is it hospital groups, right? Like the actual hospital owners. These are, these are questions, live questions that it raises for our organizing and for our organizers as we kind of move through the process of organizing, thinking about building campaigns in these kind of spaces.

[01:12:48] It’s the same thing, by the way, that we’re kind of thinking about with the tenant organizing. We have been undergoing a process of thinking through What building a national campaign around renter issues looks like [01:13:00] part of the conversation has been how big do we want to go? Who are the quote unquote creditors and or the landlords we’re going to try to go after?

[01:13:08] And why? Right? And and in choosing these landlords, how does that affect the kind of campaign that we can build? Who are the constituents? The subjectivities that we have to, you know, that we have, that we have to get a form or shape on the ground through our organizing. And what does that look like? And to give you an example, organizing a working class or poor Latino tenant living in South Central Los Angeles is a different kettle of fish to be organizing a Well, I don’t know how much money you make.

[01:13:36] I don’t know anything about your personal finances, but you are a white person who is very well educated. Organizing you is a different task than organizing someone like my mother, right? And being aware of that is very important to any organizing effort, but it very much Is a kind of a, an, an a, a strategic choice that we have to make in deciding which actors to go after and which [01:14:00] not to go after as the debt collective.

[01:14:02] And so that, that I think is one of the, I, I wouldn’t say a roadblock, but definitely a challenge. The organizing that we’re doing, there are obviously like roadblocks at the moment around, you know, student debt, right? The, the roadblocks being obviously the courts at the moment. I expect that any successful campaigns that we do around housing, medical debt, you have, you know, what have you, is getting, end up having the same sort of structural, uh, limitations that we have at the moment because ultimately we live in a, uh, a capitalist society, red in tooth and claw, uh, a, we are presided over by a, uh, you know, a political class, so craven, so beholden to their, you know, funders.

[01:14:42] And more importantly, not just their funders, the people who are going to hire them after they leave office, right, because of the revolving door when they go to join their consultancies, when they go join as a member of the board at the Carlyle Group. You have that issue. And then, of course, you have a deeply ideologically committed [01:15:00] Supreme Court that probably is not going to get any better over the coming years, if God forbid Donald Trump were to win in 2024.

[01:15:08] You know, all bets are off, right? And then, of course, you have the kind of a lingering sort of, you know, political problems with, you know, if the Republicans were to advance and get enough, uh, capture enough state legislatures, the, the horrible possibility of a, you know, of a national constitutional convention or what have you to amend the constitution.

[01:15:24] I mean, these are real political sort of roadblocks that we could, that we face that are very big. We do get to, like, to, to, you know, Think through these problems. We have to think through these problems knowing full well in my view. I’m very Optimistic about this. I’m pessimistic about the the political system as a whole.

[01:15:41] I’m optimistic about the fact that actually on on a On a day to day basis, most people are, are genuinely good people who just want to live their lives, who want to, you know, do well, they want to send their kids to, to get educated, they want to keep a roof over their heads, they want to buy a few nice things here and there, and those folks are winnable, we can, we can bring them into our movement, [01:16:00] and while they might have all the money, and they might have the political system as it’s built right We have the people and that’s, that’s what matters more.

[01:16:06] Right. Uh, I can’t remember the second leg of that question, but I know the one about the obstacles. That was the one. 

[01:16:11] William Lawrence: Yeah. The, it was about negative tendencies, like, like wrong ways of doing debtor organizing that need to be rooted out. Um, I don’t know if you’d add anything about that. 

[01:16:22] Rene Moya: The 

[01:16:22] William Lawrence: debt 

[01:16:22] Rene Moya: collective, the strength of the debt collective, but sometimes kind of a little bit of a, something that holds us back a little bit.

[01:16:28] Is it, you know, we’re a bunch of nerds. The Deck Collective probably has the highest concentration of extremely intelligent people that I’ve ever worked with, ever. Like, honestly, it’s just, I’m constantly shocked, I’m gobsmacked by just the, the, the, the level, the tenor of conversation, debates, you know, whatever, that take place in that space.

[01:16:48] I mean, I, always, I’m just like, who? Who are these people? Right? At the same time, that could be, that could be something as a challenge or people want to think through everything and they want everything to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. So [01:17:00] for all of my colleagues who are listening into this, love you guys, but stop overthinking everything.

[01:17:04] Um, and then in general, when it comes to like debtor organizing justice as a whole, it’s always kind of falling into the trap that, and you know, folks like Astrid Taylor and Hannah Powell will say this, some of our co founders, Jason Wozniak, you know, They, they will say like, look, we’ve tried a lot of things and we’ve failed a lot of times, right?

[01:17:20] And it’s because oftentimes we, we look at the next big sexy thing that we know is a real problem, but we don’t think about how to organize in, in, um, in the wake of that, or how to organize into the breach, right? Uh, The, the, the red wedge needs to be able to find the proper space. Right. And so as an example of that, you know, I’ve, I’ve been saying this to maybe it’s less about the debt collective or debtors union organizing, but more about general issues with like problems that we confront right now that we have to kind of tackle through organizing climate change.

[01:17:56] Talk about being a little bit controversial. Uh, you know, I, I, [01:18:00] I sometimes think that the issue with climate change as, as we organize around it, and this is more like a, a challenge and a conversation I’ve been having actually with more people who do climate work in the last six months. The problem with climate change is that it is, because it is, That because the constituency for it is quite literally all of humanity, it quickly becomes no one’s constituency, right?

[01:18:26] It is so big, and it affects everyone. There is not a that the single biggest crisis facing humanity is climate change. But because of that, Building a subjectivity around you as a human, being able to live within the fabric of life, right? Like, literally, wider life. Being able to live within the web of life, being you, you as a human being existing in the web of life, that is, that is what makes your, that is the foundation for your political subjectivity around the climate.

[01:18:56] That is a very, very difficult, if not impossible, but [01:19:00] extremely difficult thing to organize around. Right? And why I’m more convinced more than ever before that the way that we organ that we must organize around the climate is to, you know, because it is something that affects all of humanity, is to bring out all of the ways in which climate change is going to impact us in different elements of our life.

[01:19:21] It looks like it through green financing it or, or not. It looks like things like Uh, the kind of workplaces that we’re going to work in, you know, how do you organize auto workers knowing full well that this is an industry that is one of the biggest sort of contributors to, you know, greenhouse gas emission emissions, how do we organize industrial life generally as a worker, whatever, um, when these are things that we have to worry about as a tenant, you know, like, how are we going to be able to, are the processes that are meant to, you know, improve our cities so they become greener through more public transit, through more Through, you know, kind of denser housing or have you, is that going to be at the [01:20:00] cost of green gentrification, right, where people poor people are going to get pushed further and further out to actually the places that will become uninhabitable with time out into the deserts of California, for example, so that wealthier, whiter folks can can live in the inner core and enjoy all of the amenities of, you know, of this green life, that is a real problem that I think we’re not talking about.

[01:20:23] being, I think, realistic about, but it’s why it takes, if you will, to use a language, an intersectional approach to these issues. And that I think is how we’re going to tackle climate change. And so to me, using climate change as an example, it’s that kind of danger of not always being very clear about where can we intervene?

[01:20:42] How can we intervene in the deck? Like that? We have a lot of lessons that are older. You know, our founders, our older members can, can talk about, right? Like just really about where we kind of went wrong. We tried something, it didn’t work out. The good thing is you can always learn from your mistakes. And so that, uh, you know, a failure is also a moment of [01:21:00] opportunity for me.

[01:21:02] William Lawrence: Um, well, I’d love to talk more about, you know, I was a climate organizer for 15 years and then now I’ve been moving more into ha into housing because again, it was like made my attempt. Successes and failures of, uh, having a intervention on the federal level around the issue of quote unquote climate. And then it’s like, uh, it’s come to a place of like, okay, we need a little bit of a more digestible angle from which you approach this.

[01:21:27] And when we think about housing, it’s like, And the place where I live, it’s literally like, where am I going to live? Where are my friends going to live? Where are the people in my block going to live? Are we going to die of exposure in the next heat wave? Or are we going to have secure housing for the next 50 years that we can count on?

[01:21:43] And are we going to be displaced in the midst of the next climate disaster or the next wave of gentrification or economic redevelopment? Or are we going to again, have the housing security to get to, uh, uh, Claim this place and, uh, you know, build a, [01:22:00] uh, a beautiful life here. Oh, well, how old is your building?

[01:22:02] How old is the housing that you live in? Uh, this building is around a hundred years old. Okay. 

[01:22:08] Rene Moya: I live in a house that’s a hundred years old. Look, in the lack of insulation, the lack of double glazed or triple glazed windows, the, you know, the, in a lot of older housing, the lack of air conditioning, the lack of heating.

[01:22:20] I mean, I can go on and the, you know, leaking, uh, pipes in a, in a state like California that is prone to drought, that’s going to. Become worse and worse with time. These are real, real challenges. This is, this is the climate seen through the eyes of the housing crisis. And, and where it becomes the housing crisis in this, in this chain is, if you were a landlord or a developer, you’re like, well, to be able to pay for Uh, you know, the new pipes and the double glazed windows and the electrification of your home and the new central heating and air conditioning that’s going to be necessary when, when it gets to 120 degrees increasingly on a, on a more regular basis in your part of the world, you’re going to have to pay for it.

[01:22:58] Right? And if you don’t, you’re [01:23:00] going to get evicted. This is, to me, that is, that is the climate crisis, that is the housing crisis, and this is where they meet. And, you know, that twain is meeting all the, all the damn time. It’s going to get worse and worse with time. We talk about, in L. A., For example, L. A.,

[01:23:16] this is both a point of pride, but also a point of, of, of, you know, concern for me, L. A. is the biggest, is the, is the city with, undergoing at the moment, the biggest transformation on its public transit site. Anywhere in the country like it is we have been we’re spending billions of dollars to build a metro system out of nothing You know while the new york metro system is crumbling and other kind of cities are kind of trying to figure out how to like You know do this we’re we’re doing it, right?

[01:23:44] It’s exciting that we’re doing it The problem of course is that just like in the same way that the creation of public transit in This very city when we had good public transit a hundred years ago Was considered To be an investment opportunity for [01:24:00] realtors, for developers, for land speculators, I mean, quite literally the red lines, the people who own the red cars, the quote unquote public transit system in L.

[01:24:08] A. at the time, they were also real estate speculators, and so what they would do is they’d build their own New red car lines out into the suburbs because they own the land around it. And they knew that the extension of public infrastructure like transit would increase the cost of land, the value of the land that they owned.

[01:24:25] It was a real estate speculation, you know, scheme just as much as anything else. And in fact, the vast majority of capitalism today seems like a little bit of a real estate scam. You know, I don’t know. Universities are landlords with a little bit of an educational institution attached to it. You know, hospital groups are landlords with a little bit of hospital services kind of connected to them.

[01:24:45] Everything like the is like real estate speculation all the way to the, you know, all the way to the bottom. And so to me, it’s like that threat is a real one right now where yes, we’re building all this public transit that hopefully the more and more people use it will get people out of their cars, which should be [01:25:00] beneficial on that side.

[01:25:02] But the problem is if the people in, in creating the conditions for real estate speculation in these communities, in black and brown areas where you’re suddenly putting a subway stop, what does that do? It jacks up the cost of land, the value of the land, because suddenly landlords are able to say with their realtor buddies, like, oh, wait a minute, this, this can, we can now build a more, you know, bigger units on this, uh, on these lines because of transit oriented development, you know, policies, we can do this.

[01:25:29] But what is it like resulting in? It’s resulting in, yes, the construction of new housing on transit lines. That housing is deeply unaffordable to the people who rely on public transit. What’s the point of building a 4, 000 unit next to an Expo Line train in Los Angeles if the person who, you know, lives in that unit is going to be driving, you know, a BMW 5 Series?

[01:25:52] What have, you know, what have you? I just think it’s these kind of, you know, Links are, cannot be lost on us as we’re doing, [01:26:00] we’re trying to build an alternative to quite literally an extinction level event. 

[01:26:06] William Lawrence: Okay. So, um, uh, barring an extinction level event, uh, in the immediate future, um, uh, uh, which I am wishing for, I’m just kidding.

[01:26:19] Um, uh, give us a, um, uh, uh, come on meteor, um, give us an optimistic account. Of, um, how, um, debtor, but also tenant organizing, um, might progress over the remainder of this decade. What debtor 

[01:26:35] Rene Moya: organizing here is going to look like over the next decade, it’s going to be rent debtors, if you will, tenants, you know, essentially winning the argument for the decommodification of land, it’s going to look like, you know, us essentially pointing to, you know, The fact that shelter is a basic human need that must be met by wider society, right?

[01:26:58] That we as a [01:27:00] species need shelter to live. And so what that, the optimistic case is we make the demands and we win the battle for the decommodification of land. It looks like in the next decade, Us taking on some of these kind of bigger kind of, you know, uh, corporate landlord entities, but also The the the real estate capital right real estate money as a whole That is essentially ginning up these kind of processes to begin with it means like us along the way fighting with the The landlord lobbies, the realtor lobbies, all the banking associations, the chamber of commerce, all of these kind of political outfits that are basically that are, you know, hook, line, and sinker.

[01:27:36] In fact, they are all on a, on a, a drug addiction, right? If you will, with real estate speculation, it means being able to confront that and, and basically Put a a halt bring to a halt the profitability of real estate as a whole That is ultimately what we need if we’re going to get to a point where decommodification is even possible It looks like in the next decade us directly [01:28:00] confronting, you know, uh insurance companies It looks like confronting hospital associations.

[01:28:04] It looks like confronting, uh, you know the the lobbies in this country that make it so that I like confronting the pharmaceutical industry, all of these institutions who benefit from the fact that Americans have to go into absurd levels of debt to pay for absurdly expensive medications, to pay for absurdly prohibitively expensive, um, you know, medical services, such as having a child or, you know, just fixing a, a, a broken bone or what have you.

[01:28:34] To say nothing of things like cancer and, you know, serious long term or fatal, you know, illnesses, um, or conditions, it means like us basically change, uh, basically turning the tables, the power dynamic around, organizing around the basic sort of demands that people make around their inability to pay, right?

[01:28:53] It looks like us organizing against these institutions that benefit, that profit handsomely from the fact that [01:29:00] healthcare in this country is Above and beyond every other country in the world, the most expensive sort of medical system in the entire world, mind you, for very terrible, you know, results, right?

[01:29:09] Like, yes, a lot of people get really great health care if they are very well insured or if they have, you know, deep pockets. Um, but, you know, In fact, you need both these days, the very good, very good insurance can tell you no, right? They can say, I’m not going to pay for x. This is an experience that a lot of people encounter.

[01:29:26] And so unless you have these deep pockets, you constantly find yourself making choices that are, you know, very bad for your health. It means us basically putting a stop to that process to it doesn’t mean it. I hate to say it. It doesn’t mean winning. It doesn’t mean 10 years we’re going to win full decommodification.

[01:29:42] It doesn’t mean uphousing, medical. It doesn’t mean that the full, it means, you know, not just the cancellation of student debt, but also, um, you know, creating, um, fully public universities, universal public education for all. It doesn’t mean winning these battles necessarily in the next decade, but I think it [01:30:00] means making a decisive set of steps in that, in that direction.

[01:30:05] We don’t have that much time, right? We don’t have it for our own individual lives, we don’t have it for, again, the broader sort of species even at this point. But I do think that we have some time still to be able to make some changes, you know, yet to come. 

[01:30:21] William Lawrence: Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen. Rene, this is fascinating.

[01:30:25] Really excellent conversation. Thank you so much for your time. 

[01:30:28] Rene Moya: Absolutely. And thank you. Thank you so much for having me,

[01:30:35] William Lawrence: folks. That’s going to be our last episode for the year. We’re taking a several week break and we’ll be back in mid January. Make sure to set your podcast app to push you notifications when we have new episodes. And we’ll be back, I think in the third week or so of January, but you’ll get that push notification.

[01:30:52] No worries. If you’re still doing your end of year giving, please support Convergence on Patreon to allow us to produce more [01:31:00] audio content here on the Hegemonicon and on Convergence’s other shows. I hope you all have a wonderful winter holiday season and a happy new year. I’ll see you in 2024. Thank you.

[01:31:12] This podcast is written and hosted by me, William Lawrence. Our producer is Josh and it is published by Convergence, a magazine for radical insights.

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