Are American College Students The Coal Miners Of Today?

Via Counterpunch, Darwin Bond-Graham argues that students are positioned at a “choke point” in the debt economy:

Now that we know the debt situation is untenable for an entire generation, what are we going to do about it? UC Santa Cruz professor Bob Meister is advocating the university and the plight of the student as a starting point for a wider movement against debt. Historically students have been galvanizers, taking direct action at seemingly impossible moments. Will they do it now?

Meister compared the students of today to the coal miners of early industrial capitalism. Under that regime of production, coal miners had the power to shut down the economy because they labored away at the site of a singular choke point of value extraction upon which all the spinning looms and colonial plantations depended. Students now occupy a choke point, according to Meister. Student loans are assets in the books of banks and the personal fortunes of the wealthy 1%, used to leverage up debts throughout all other sectors of the economy, debts that penetrate into the social collective and reinforce financial servitude for the masses.

“In financial capitalism our debt is a raw material for the production of new financial products,” said Meister. Think about all the bizarre derivatives, complex loans and credit mechanisms, the profusion of financial claims that multiplies leverage across households, corporations, sovereign nations, all in a dangerous and systemic manner. Remember that student loans are the single biggest source of consumer debt now. “Our debt is someone else’s collateral,” observed Meister.

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  • Xenkenito

    Debt is fake. This comparison is total retardation.

    • Haystack

      Fake debt is the basis for our fake money system.

  • InfvoCuernos

    I have often felt that one of the main reasons that healthcare in the US is so screwed up is the massive debt incurred by med students. Its pretty diabolical that academia feels totally justified in charging so high for knowledge of how to do good things for people. It would be a different world if universities had to take a Hypocratic Oath for the billing of healthcare knowledge.

  • Godozo

    To take the comparison further: Coal miners were at a choke point, and they were kept in their place by company towns set up to tie them down to their mines; Students are at a choke point and they are kept in their place by a debt system that not only ties them down but ties everyone who tries to help them out.

    Also, in the nineteen twenties the elites of the nation felt it necessary enough to keep the miners stuck on the mine that they used the army, state guards and courts to bust the miners down to slave status. One wonders if there develops a movement amongst the students and their allies to get rid of the debts – will we decide to remake our prisons into our own Gulag Archipelago – complete with the rapists and killers as the “trustees” – to break the students and their allies?

  • BuzzCoastin

    anyone living in the age of the internet
    who borrows money for edumacation
    is merely looking for a job voucher and not an education
    and they will certainly need a job voucher to pay-off the irrevocable debt

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