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Photo: Andreas Rueda/Flikr
by Olga Vukovic
As recent developments within Europe indicate, the new era of the financial crisis and economic insecurity are far from over. The responses of national governments with measures of austerity have been extremely unpopular and it seems that continued protests throughout Europe have been unsuccessful in making any relevant impact on policy. However, potential inspiration for a new form of protest has been found for some from an unexpected source; former Manchester United star, Eric Cantona.
Although better known for his antics on the football field, in an interview with Presse Ocèan newspaper in Nantes, Cantona addresses the frustrations of the demonstrator, suggesting that “the real revolution is easy to do these days [...] the three million people with their placards on the streets, they go to the bank and they withdraw their money and the banks collapse”. This interview generated tens of thousands of hits on YouTube and has set off what appears to be a transnational citizen’s movement. Initially the interview inspired Belgian filmmaker, Géraldine Feuillien, and French actor and director Yann Sarfati to organize a bank run in France to be held on December 7 with the goal of opposing “a corrupt, criminal and deadly system”. Their initiative (bankrun2010.com) has received a surprising amount of support and has since then spread to 25 countries, unofficially making December 7th the Pan-European bank run day.
Although this initiative has not received much attention from the mainstream media, it has been massively popular with alternative media, making it possible to spread to a European and global level. The initiative itself has not been debated much by public officials, but the British Banker’s Association has admitted that if such an event were to take place on a mass scale, it could cause a financial crisis, while spokeswoman of the French Banking Federation has called the idea “stupid”.
Regardless, Facebook groups indicate that over 7,000 people are planning to attend the event in Italy, close to 8,000 in England, over 27,000 in France and thousands more in other countries. Whether or not one agrees with Cantona’s call to action, or indeed thinks it is advisable, and whether or not December 7th will indeed see a mass transnational bank run is yet to be seen. What is important however, is that such a form of political activism which has gained such massive support from European citizens has taken the form of a truly a transnational citizen movement.