Thousands of French protesters have taken up the former Man United footballer's call for a mass cash withdrawal
- The Observer, Sunday 21 November 2010
- Article history
Eric Cantona is calling on protesters against cutbacks and pension reforms in France to start a real revolution by mass bank withdrawals. Photograph: MCP / Rex Features
As students and public sector workers across Europe prepare for a winter of protests, they have been offered advice from the archetypal football rebel Eric Cantona.
Cantona was once a famous exponent of direct action against adversaries on and off the pitch. In 1995 he was given a nine-month ban after launching a karate kick at a Crystal Palace fan who shouted racist abuse at the former Manchester United star after he was sent off. But while sympathising with the predicament of the protesters in France, the now retired Cantona is urging a more sophisticated approach to dissent.
The 44-year-old former footballer recommended a run on the cash reserves of the world's banks during a newspaper interview that was also filmed. The interview has become a YouTube hit and has spawned a new political movement.
The regional newspaper Presse Océan in Nantes had asked Cantona about his work with the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which campaigns for housing for the destitute and for which he produced a book of photographs last year. But the discussion soon moved on to other issues, including the demonstrations in France and elsewhere against government cutbacks in the new era of austerity.
Cantona, wearing a bright red jumper, dismissed protesters who take to the streets with placards and banners as passé. Instead, he said, they should create a social and economic revolution by taking their money out of their bank.
He said: "I don't think we can be entirely happy seeing such misery around us. Unless you live in a pod. But then there is a chance... there is something to do. Nowadays what does it mean to be on the streets? To demonstrate? You swindle yourself. Anyway, that's not the way any more.
"We don't pick up weapons to kill people to start the revolution. The revolution is really easy to do these days. What's the system? The system is built on the power of the banks. So it must be destroyed through the banks.
"This means that the three million people with their placards on the streets, they go to the bank and they withdraw their money and the banks collapse. Three million, 10 million people, and the banks collapse and there is no real threat. A real revolution.
"We must go to the bank. In this case there would be a real revolution. It's not complicated; instead of going on the streets and driving kilometres by car you simply go to the bank in your country and withdraw your money, and if there are a lot of people withdrawing their money the system collapses. No weapons, no blood, or anything like that."
He concludes: "It's not complicated and in this case they will listen to us in a different way. Trade unions? Sometimes we should propose ideas to them."
Cantona's call appeared to touch a popular chord and generated an instant response. Nearly 40,000 people have clicked on the YouTube clip, and a French-based movement – StopBanque – has taken up the campaign for a massive coordinated withdrawal of money from banks on 7 December. It is claimed that more than 14,000 people are already committed to removing deposits. The movement is also gaining increasing attention in Britain.
The trio of French Facebook users now leading the campaign have appealed to people across Europe to provoke a bank crash. "It is we who control the banks, not vice versa," they write.
In a fuller statement on the website Bankrun2010.com, the organisers write: "Our call has been more successful than we dared think. Our action is a people's movement... we're not seeking to destroy anyone in particular, it's the corrupt, criminal and moribund system that we have decided to oppose using what means we can, with determination and within the law." The statement is signed by Géraldine Feuillien, 41, a Belgian filmmaker, and Yann Sarfati, 24, an actor and director from France.
Sarfati said he and his friends had simply wanted to pass on Cantona's video clip, but had found themselves caught up in a global "citizens' movement".
"We were surprised by the interest and the buzz it created on the internet. It has really spread; there are now Facebook events in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and even Korea," Sarfati said.
"We're not anarchists, nor linked to any political party or trade union; we're not even an organisation. We just thought this was another way of protesting."
He added: "In between doing publicity campaigns for L'Oréal, Cantona has this revolutionary side. He earns a good living, but obviously he has a social conscience and I think he is sincere."
Valérie Ohannesian, of the French Banking Federation, said she thought that the appeal was "stupid in every sense" and a charter for thieves and money-launderers.
"My first reaction is to laugh. It is totally idiotic," she told the Observer. "One of the main roles of a bank is to keep money safe. This appeal will give great pleasure to thieves, I would have thought."
She also doubted the practicalities of the suggestion. "If Mr Cantona wants to take his money out of the bank, I imagine that he'll need quite a few suitcases," she said.
ERIC'S DIRECT ACTION
1987 Fined by Auxerre for punching his team's goalkeeper, Bruno Martini.
1989 Kicks ball into the crowd and hurls shirt at the referee on being substituted in a charity match, then throws his jersey at Marseille coach Gerard Gili. Playing for Montpellier, he hits team-mate Jean-Claude Lemoult with his boot.
1991 Now playing for Nîmes, he throws the ball at the referee and storms off. Later attacks an opponent.
1993 Spits at a Leeds fan in his first season for Manchester United.
1995 Kicks out at a Crystal Palace defender and is sent off. As Cantona leaves the pitch, Palace fan Matthew Simmons screams abuse at him and Cantona launches his now infamous kung-fu kick at Simmons.
Spirit Of Squatters Collective
We come up with similar idea about one month ago
here You can listen audio:
Are You pissed off with governments funding banks at the cost of social cuts ? Do You disagree with the fact that your money is being invested in the Weapons Industry, Wars, Pornography and a whole list of other destructive enterprises.
There is one very simple way to change this ! Deflate the balloon by sticking in a hard steel needle and take the power from banks. This can be done by withdrawing all your cash, yes it's really that simple. Why give your 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week hard earned spondoolies (cash) to those greedy bastards anyway. What, so that they can give themselves a nice extra bonus. I say take your cash and shove it under your mattress.
The action of putting your life savings under the mattress will not give You any extra percentage, maybe even less security, but come on what benefits did you get from having your hard earned cash being submitted to the bank every month anyway??? Banks are getting your future cash, these gits are getting your pension by making you work longer and die before you get the chance to enjoy your retirement.
If You need to use banks there is an alternative. Use ethical banks like Triodos bank which invests in sustainable projects and not destructive projects. Come on people let us all work together and support ethical banks. Don't be part of destruction by supporting bad business. We have the power, it's so simple, it's not even about belief, fuck that. We do have the power we just have to take action and transfer!!
Take the power back ! Rekening Retour Do It Yourself ! Or together would be even more fun ! If more people would do it they would have to "dance to our music not we to theirs"!
Get clued up and change your present situation, don't moan about it just do something about it!!