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Dear Bruno (The Rebel ’s reply)

domingo 10 de fevereiro de 2008, por ,

Jérôme Ollier’s reply to the President of the Brussels
Stockmarket, Bruno Colmant, published by Le Soir on page 19 of its 7 February issue with a
trailer on its front page

Dear Bruno,

I quite agree with you: we did live a unique moment together. I also have a
clear memory of our meeting. In the lift I said: You (meaning "the
capitalist class") lost quite a lot earlier this week, didn’t you ? and you
answered with something of a smile Yes... 40 billions, under the puzzled
stare of the policemen around, surprised as they were by our friendly tone.
So you, the president of the Stockmarket, felt disturbed by this act...

You write that you were flabbergasted by coincidences: a global stockmarket
krach at the beginning of the week, the World Economic Forum at Davos in its
wake, that yearly celebration of capitalism that brings together the most
’powerful’ decision-makers on a global scale. This is in no way a
coincidence: the stockmarket krach had been looming for months and the World
Social Forum has been held every year since 2001 at the same time as the
Davos WEF to try and build a counter-power and show that another world is
possible. I was not an isolated individual: on that Saturday 26 January over 900 actions took place in over 100 countries all over the globe. Beyond reminding you of your adolescence the banner Make Capitalism History was my
own modest contribution to this week of global action.

But let us come to the essential part of your message. You write The
Stockmarket has an indispensable economic function: it establishes values
and underlies the call for risk capital.

I will reproduce here a response I received after your oped, which I find
quite relevant. It was written by Eric Toussaint, the author, among other
books, of Banque du Sud et nouvelle crise internationale,[4] which I
strongly advise you should read: “Come on, Monsieur Colmant, the
Stockmarket’s main function today is financial speculation. Merger and
purchase operations without any industrial project as well as speculation on
securities prevail. The sheep-like behaviour of financial markets and the
cycles of capitalist economy recurringly entail large-scale stockmarket
crises that have deeply detrimental effects on the lives of citizens. In
order to ensure that a few who are already very rich acquire even more
profit the future of the vast majority of others is put at stake as in a
casino. The real estate speculation that recently hit the United States led
to the subprime crisis. In 2007 two million US families were evicted from
their homes because they could not pay their mortgage. The financial
companies that had granted loans at variable rates to already indebted
households sold their debt securities to large banks, which found themselves
with loads of virtually valueless securities. When they announced losses,
stockmarkets plummetted. A large number of citizens could see their life
savings jeopardised because of the risky operations of some stockmarket
operators. Indeed part of their savings is invested as shares."

Along the same line, you claim that capitalism is the natural order of human
societies, and consequently cannot be gainsaid. This is wrong. In its
current form capitalism has been around for scarcely three centuries.
Civilisations had thrived on all continents for millenia before without any
notion of capitalism. Humankind can set up organisations that have nothing
to do with capitalism. For instance, if we do not set individual profit as
the ultimate goal of human behaviour (and please please do not answer that
striving towards individual profit is part of the natural order of things
for several anthropologists have proved the opposite) and if accumulating
capital is not perceived as the heart of economic activities. But capitalism
will not disappear on its own, this is for sure, unless our planet can’t
take it any more.

There are other forms of domination too: men’s oppression of women, racism,
religious discrimination..., all of them must be done away with. We have to
set up genuine alternatives. And these have nothing in common with
capitalism, or for this matter with the Stalinian totalitarian regimes of
the Soviet era, of Pol Pot or the current Chinese dictatorship.

My climbing onto the roof of the Stockmarket building is not a crime, it is
part of the right citizens have to rise up against oppression and express
their opinion. Today in my eyes the natural order of human societies would
rather be the determination to act so that fundamental human rights be at
last guaranteed to all... While there is no cut and dried solution for
socialism in the 21th century, this should not prevent us from attempting to
build one.

Jérôme Ollier

Activist of the Revolutionary Communist League Belgium,
Belgian section of the fourth International
(jerome@cadtm.org)

Read the opinion piece by the President of the Brussels Stockmarket addressed to Jerome Ollier in the wake of his action on 26 January 2008 in the context of the global action day. The Belgian daily paper Le Soir published his text on 5 February 2008 with a trailer on its front page.

If you go to the newspaper’s website, you will find other
responses after the President of the Stockmarket’s text.
Le SOIR 1 <http://www.lesoir.be/forum/cartes_b...>
Le SOIR 2 <http://www.lesoir.be/forum/cartes_b...>

If you wish to see a photo reportage of Jérôme Ollier’s action, you can
click here <http://www.indymedia.be/fr/node/25720>
http://www.indymedia.be/fr/node/25720

On Sunday 10 February 2008 around 12 noon, Jérôme O. was one of the
guests in a public debate on the Belgian French speaking television channel
RTB-F. Among other guests we find the President of the Stockmarket and
Arnaud Zacharie. All these infos are also available on www.cadtm.org <http://www.cadtm.org/>