We understand debt as a global problem; it is not a situation specific to the here and now, to austerity and the crisis. Throughout history, it has been an instrument of economic and political domination of the centre over the periphery, serving to impose decisions that are in the interests of the central powers, without needing to resort to more aggressive methods such as force.
Debt (the granting of credit, its renegotiation or settlement) is often used to oblige States to open their markets to the entry of foreign goods and services, privatise public services that could generate profit for private companies, allow the exploitation and extraction of natural resources by foreign companies, or even favour changes in government or buy their votes in international organisations.
From this global dimension, and understanding debt as a mechanism of the capitalist system, we want to emphasise how this mechanism not only poses a threat to monetary assets but also bases its growth on the abuse of the workforce, the use of nature, the violation of human rights, the conquest of “developing” nations and the relegation of ungratifying work to certain sectors, with gender discrimination.
The International Citizen debt Audit Network (ICAN), under the slogan “Don’t owe. Won’t pay.”, brings together movements and networks in different European countries that are fighting austerity measures through the implementation of Citizen Debt Audits.
There are 12 participating countries: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, England, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Scotland and Cyprus. They share the experiences of different participating social organisations, networks and movements, sharing the types of audits that are being implemented or promoted in each country, as well as the types of action and social mobilisation strategies that are taken up in each territory, with the common goal of forming a solid and united front against the dictatorship of debt.