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Columnists

Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills

dixe.jpg'All right then, what do we know about Eric Cantona?1 He played football. He wore his collar up. He kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan. He said that thing about the seagulls and the trawler. He's almost an actor. And he brought the global banking system to its knees.

Or at least he might have brought the global banking system to its knees. You have the advantage over me on that one because I'm writing this before  December 7 and you're reading it in the eerie glow of the post-bankaggedon world (or alternatively the rather less eerie glow of another ordinary day-just-before-Christmas2).

In the interests of shortwindedness, I'm going to assume that all the banks (except the Co-op, who are nice and whose valued client I happen to be) have been rupted by the Gallic polymath. How did he manage it? Well, in keeping with his cool, he merely lit the fire with a few casual words and the interweb fanned the flames into a conflagration so devastating it even knocked the royal wedding off the front page of the Daily Express for a day.

For those who missed out on the interview Eric did with French newspaper Presse Océan - ostensibly about his work with a homeless chariddy - he went off at something of a tangent, questioning the effectiveness of the usual methods of protest against government cuts. Instead he called for, 'A real revolution. It's not complicated: instead of going on the streets … you simply go to the bank 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.' Yep, he's advocating a good old-fashioned run on the banks.
The video of the interview became a youtube hit and his cry was taken up by Belgian film-maker Géraldine Feuillien and French actor Yann Sarfati. A date for the bloodless revolution (December 7) was chosen, and StopBanque (bankrun2010.com) was born. What I expect none of the organisers imagined was how quickly the movement would spread - 14 European countries and Mexico already sport campaigns.

And in case you were wondering what was going to happen after the collapse of all the retail banks (money-grubbing investment banks will presumably be unaffected), StopBanque is calling for the setting up of a citizens' bank to end 'speculative fever' and lend money responsibly at 0% interest, which should appeal to those whose religion forbids usury.

Meanwhile, Valérie Ohannesian of the French Banking Federation told the Observer, 'My first reaction is to laugh. One of the main roles of a bank is to keep money safe.'

The French may indeed have a word for 'entrepreneur' but it seems at least one banker has misplaced their word for irony.

1  It's all right, if you know nothing about Eric Cantona you can just lip-sync the words of the next few sentences in a John-Redwood-meets-the-Welsh-national-anthem-stylee.
2  Don't worry about buying me anything this year - just send a cheque.