In what may be the most subversive reaction yet to global outrage over the financial crisis, a European soccer star has inspired an international “bank run” protest aiming to collapse the global financial system.
The organizers of “Bank Run 2010” have chosen December 7 as the day when protesters are meant to withdraw their money from the banks, which they hope will cause a run on the banks that could collapse financial institutions.
But critics of the move say it’s futile: If the protest is successful, they say, it will only result in another taxpayer bailout of the banks.
But that hasn’t stopped the protest’s organizers from dreaming of a bloodless revolution that puts to an end the Western financial system that many say has been transformed into a “casino” benefiting only the financial institutions themselves.
“We’re not anarchists, nor linked to any political party or trade union,” Yann Safarti, a French actor and one of the founders of the Bank Run 2010 protest, told the Guardian. “We’re not even an organization. We just thought this was another way of protesting.”
“We do not seek to harm anyone in particular,” the Bank Run 2010 Web site states. “It is this corrupt, criminal and deadly system that we are opposing to the best of our ability and determination, and within the bounds of the law.”
The move was inspired by an interview given to French TV by Eric Cantona, a retired soccer star who played for numerous teams in France and the UK before ending his career with a stint at Manchester United.
In an interview with Presse Ocean, Cantona argued against the protests over government cuts that crippled France this fall, saying they achieve little. Instead, he suggested that people withdraw their money from banks all at once, forcing the banks to shut their doors for lack of reserve funds.
“We don’t pick up weapons to kill people to start the revolution. A revolution is really easy to do these days. What is the system? The system is built on the power of the banks. So it must be destroyed through the banks,” he said.
“Three million, 10 million people, and the banks collapse,” he continued. “It’s not complicated; instead of going on the streets and driving kilometers 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.”
The group has reportedly claimed that 14,000 people have already committed to participating in the protest. Numerous Facebook groups have been set up to promote the event, and organizers say the protest has spread to 24 countries, including the United States.
But critics of the protest say it’s bound to fail, partly because tellers and bank machines would run out of cash long before the banks were forced to close, and partly because even if the bank run was successful, the banks would end up being bailed out again by governments, meaning taxpayers would end up footing the bill.
Andrew Clark at the Guardian writes:
Cantona’s campaign will probably flop. Let’s hope so, because it’s not very wise. There are plenty of reasons to be angry at the way in which banks are run: they took reckless risks in the run-up to the financial crisis, developed ever more opaque derivatives, and senior executives paid themselves far too much. The people of Ireland went on the march yesterday to protest at an economic crisis sparked, to a large extent, by banks feasting on an unsustainable property binge.
But destroying these institutions in one fell swoop would serve nobody. It’s impossible for everybody to withdraw their savings on the same day, because bank branches and cash machines would quickly run out of cash and close. Even if such a campaign were to succeed, it would simply prompt governments to spend billions more bailing out the banks, forcing them to implement even tighter austerity measures. If they didn’t, then anybody who hadn’t heeded Cantona’s call to withdraw their savings would lose all their money.
The following video was broadcast by Presse Ocean.