France’s footballer/philosoper, Eric Cantona, has issued a call for revolution in a video which has gone viral urging people to withdraw cash out from their banks on Dec 7 as part of a a coordinated protest against the status quo.
“If 20 million people take their cash out, the system collapses. No arms, no blood, nothing, a la Spaggiari…. Not complicated. Then they will start paying attention.” Albert Spaggiari was a French bank robber, who, in 1976 made off with millions of francs after tunnelling his way into a branch of the Societe Generale.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde responded to his call tartly during a press conference last week, saying: “Some people play football magnificently, whereas I wouldn’t dare try. I think that people should stick to their areas of expertise”.
Cantona’s call for a peaceful revolution has been heard outside of France, notably in Belgium, where a website called Bankrun2010 has been set up by a screenwriter called Geraldine Feuillien where the petition is available in 8 languages. According to an article in Le Figaro last month, Belgian banks are already concerned about the impact of coordinated action on their fragile banking sector, and Feuillien forecasts that 15,000 Belgian citizens will withdraw all their cash on that date.
This is their ‘ask’:
“We, the citizens of the 21st century, heirs of generations who have sacrificed so that we may live free and dignified, demand the creation of a CITIZENS BANK- serving citizens, a bank that would put our money away from speculative fever, free of all financial bubbles designed to burst one day, free of operations that transform our loans & assets and use our debt to buy other assets.
“We want banks that lend only the wealth they have. Banks that help small and medium enterprises to relocate jobs, & bank lending at zero rate. Banks that support projects that benefit citizens rather than the “market”. Banks where we can deposit our money, which will then create a peaceful conscience within ourselves. Banks we will not have to be worry about. Banks whose success will sound the death knell of the merchants of death, disease and slavery. On the ruins of the old system, we want to build a banking system that will no longer sacrifice more human dignity on the altar of profit.
“We, the people have finally been awakened by poverty and despair afflicting the most vulnerable among us – pensioners, welfare recipients or working poor – and is now threatening what remains of the middle class & entrepreneurs. Even these are exploited as milking cows, and we now simply want the cancellation of the public debts generated by the sick system that we no longer want. We do not want our taxes, our efforts, our resources to continue to feed this bottomless pit. We want to regain the power to coin money and free ourselves from the guidelines imposed on us by the European Union, which was built against the consent of the majority of people consulted by referendum, not to mention those whose country of origin have no organized popular consultation.”
And finally: “We thank the footballer Eric Cantona for having instilled the idea that we have taken literally. The die is cast. Time will tell whether we were right.”
My personal opinion? Cantona is cool. In the film “Looking For Eric” in which he makes a cameo appearance, playing a virtual version of himself, he has a classic line: “I am not a man, I am Cantona.”