" />
Building a world of
resilient communities.



Time for a Real Jubilee

I am not sure whether the coincidence of the next critical phase in the global credit crisis with the celebration of the Queen's jubilee is ironic or tragic, but it certainly gives me an opportunity to explore the real roots of the concept of jubilee, a concept whose real meaning could not be further from the spectacle of disempowered British citizens, burdened with the debts of their unaccountable elite, paying homage to the figurehead of the system of unequal power and property relations that oppresses them.

A jubilee is not an arbitrary celebration of any feature of civil society that has simply lasted a certain number of years, rather it is a distinct legal requirement introduced by the ancient Jewish community to ensure that the ownership of land and property did not become too concentrated. In the ancient world, as in ours, bad luck or bad character could mean that some fell into debt slavery, but the inherent spiritual offensiveness of such a status required the possibility of release, and this was realised in the jubilee that occurred every 7 x 7 years.

I am not an aficionado of the Jewish bible so I am relying on the interpretation of the German theologian Ulrich Duchrow whose book Property for People not Profit explores these writings as a prescription for a world of economic justice. His interpretation of the writings of prophets such as Isaiah and Micah was that they were critical of the devastating consequences for the Jewish people of social and economic injustice. The jubilee - the freeing of slaves, the returning of land to its original owners, and the cancellation of debts - was proposed to ensure the stable functioning of Jewish society:

'To sum up, according to the Book of the Covenant, in view of God's solidarity with all his creatures, the needs of real life, including freedom from oppression, write the economic rules.' (p. 18)

I had always assumed that Jesus, who was clearly either a communist or a hippy or some combination of the two, could be called in to support my opinions regarding economic emancipation, but now it seems that he was merely reviving ancient wisdom that had been lost in the decadence of the Roman world.

I have been posting for some time about the contemporary proposal for a debt jubilee, a process that begins with a campaign for a Citizens' Audit. I have now finished a full paper on this proposal, including detail about its origins in international law. You can find the paper on the Social Science Research Network, and I would be grateful if you could use the opportunity of the jubilee to share it with your friends.

So, enjoy your bank holiday. Although many radicals criticise the Windsors for being out of touch, I credit them with enough understanding of working people to know that giving us holidays from labour is a useful way to reach our hearts. It seems unlikely that the members of the elite we have bizarrely elected to run our country would have increased the number of days when we are allowed the freedom to do what we really enjoy: chatting, resting, and drinking. But wherever you are, please use the opportunity of the unusual occurrence of the word 'jubilee' in everyday speech to remind people of what it was really for. If we could resuscitate the concept of jubilee in everyday understanding we would no longer need to rely on the magnanimity of an unelected elite to enjoy a well earned rest from work.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Find out more about Community Resilience. See our COMMUNITIES page
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


This is a community site and the discussion is moderated. The rules in brief: no personal abuse and no climate denial. Complete Guidelines.


Chinese energy figures suggest much slower growth than advertised

Energy consumption statistics hint that China may have already begun its …

Food Stamps Are Worth Double at These Michigan Farmers Markets—Helping Families and Local Businesses

A program that helps low-income families and local farmers.

A Field Guide to Negative Progress

In an age of contraction and decline—or, shall we say, negative …

Greece’s Yanis Varoufakis: The Medicine of Austerity Is Not Working, We Need a New Treatment

With the debt clock ticking, Greece is fast running out of money

Raising Minimum Wage: We’re in This Together

On Wednesday, food workers and other low-wage earners around the country …

Obama’s Trade Agreements are a Gift to Corporations

On Thursday, legislation moved forward that would give President Obama …

Getting from Here to There

Business-as-usual is sure to deliver us a future that is both unsustainable …