Thought Experiment: Democratic Socialists Think Really Different About Foreclosure

What has become known as the “mortgage crisis” is among the top issues for working people in the US. In very simple terms, many lenders loosened finance regulations to provide high interest rate loans to a broader population of prospective home owners. Over time as interest rates increased, high mortgage rates proved unsustainable and thousands of home owners have lost their houses back to the lenders or banks. We have to ask ourselves, is this the future that we want to inherit?

While politicians on both sides of the aisle have it out over divergent policy solutions it is important for class struggle organizers to consider non-policy solutions. The basic premise for this type of organizing work is that eviction is only one possible outcome of foreclosure, in fact, a really bad outcome, and that collective power could enable alternative outcomes to become a reality. Historically, tenants have initiated rent strikes to force bad landlords to respond to demands such as safer housing. While foreclosure is different than lead piping, I don’t think it is impossible to imagine some sort of collective action in the form of a fighting defaulted homeowners union.

Let’s just forget for a minute the class contradictions of a fighting union of defaulted property owners in order to recognize that the mortgage crisis is one of the central economic concerns of workers in the US—though, to be clear, I am not certainly not claiming that a union on behalf of property rights is politically unproblematic. This union would be defined simply as an organization that seeks to alter the balance of power between defaulted homeowners and lending institutions by direct action against the latter. The idea is not all that new and is currently being circulated by some class struggle anarchists in the northeast (who will remain anonymous for the time being).

There are, of course, many different forms of direct action…none of which, I would add, necessarily add up to violence or outright illegality. For example, a tactic could be to deploy actions that withdraw efficiency from the bureaucratic machines that are contemporary international banks. But hey, this is a thought experiment, use your imagination!

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