I share an apartment with a kangaroo. The kangaroo is a huge Nirvana fan and a fucking freeloader and used to be in the Vietcong. Just for context. Let's get to it.
"I've been thinking," says the kangaroo.
"Wow, look at you!" I say.
"Do you believe in debt?"
"...what? Are you asking if debt exists? Of course. Everyone has debts, my 'belief' in debt is totally inconsequential."
"Oh ho, au contraire!" says the kangaroo. "It's in-credibly consequential! Debt isn't anything concrete, like a house or a piece of cheese, it's just an agreement, it's just in your head, get it?"
"Look," says the kangaroo. "I still owe you $4.95."
"For the water gun that makes sci-fi noises?"
"Yes, for the water gun that makes sci-fi noises."
"Pew! Pew! Pew!" I say, as I shoot finger guns around the room.
"And now let's both pretend that I don't owe you anything," says the kangaroo, "and—pew! pew! pew!—now I don't owe you anything! Debt is like god, no reason to fear it as long as you don't believe in it."
"One more time, for the record: you're claiming that you don't owe me $4.95 after all?"
"Precisely," says the kangaroo. "And if, for example, everyone decided to pretend that the US has no national debt, then the US wouldn't have any debts anymore!"
"Okay," I say, "but why would the true believers agree to that?"
"That's the fun part!" says the kangaroo. "It's enough if just the debtors do. If they can all agree—that'd be, y'know, 99% of the world population— then the true believers could show up and say 'Hey, you owe us money,' and we'd just play dumb and say 'Dunno what you're talking about...'"
"Hm," I say.
"And now imagine if everyone would just pretend that nobody was in debt. Then nobody would be in debt anymore! That's insane! People starve to death, people freeze to death, not because we don't have enough houses or enough cheese, but because of debt, a figment of our imagination!"
"Yeah, but if we seriously implemented your idea," I say, "the entire world economic system would come crashing down."
"Even better," says the kangaroo. "Ain't worth shit anyway."