Let’s take the initiative and embrace the spontaneous! - On the recent demonstrations in Leiden and Amsterdam

Opinie, gepost door: nn op 18/03/2022 03:04:14

Let’s take the initiative and embrace the spontaneous! - On the recent demonstrations in Leiden and Amsterdam

Spontaneity is hard to cope with. It can be unforeseeable, chaotic and wild, like a fast flowing river. Perhaps a demonstration is the happening where spontaneity is least appreciated and is hardest to accept. But it is precisely in a demonstration, a collective gathering in the streets, where we should embrace the wild current of the spontaneous.

On Sunday the 13th of February a truly spontaneous demo rushed its way through the streets of Leiden after yet another passive “housingprotest”. When the official protest ended and people gathered in front of a new squat comrades took the initiative to take to the streets once again. Without a permit, police guidance or announcement. Around 70 people ended up walking through the centre of Leiden with only a few cops following them, not knowing what to do. Baffled by the spontaneous success of a 2nd demonstration, this time unpermitted, the demo ended abruptly after half an hour next to Leiden central station when riot cops kettled around 30 people in a supermarket and took them into custody for the night.

A recent anti-repression demo in Amsterdam on the 25th of February brought more spontaneity. Around 70 people gathered on Leidseplein, this time after a public call-out. A lone police van with 4 cops watched at a distance. The demonstration started walking with almost all participants wearing black and being masked. The tone was set when dumpsters were placed in the middle of the street to block the following cops and fireworks started being hurled in their direction. Along the route dumpsters and other street-garbage was pulled on the road, successfully delaying the cops in the narrower streets. The demo dispersed in the city centre with no arrests being made.

Both these demonstrations show an element of initiative which is spontaneous and unplanned – at least by a larger entity. In both situations we find ourselves trapped in the shock of a spontaneous success, in the fact that we are one step ahead of the cops, in the fact that we can move how we wish. It is now a question to seize these spontaneous moments, and not suppress them as some always try to do. The spontaneity of the demo’s in Leiden and Amsterdam give us a set-up to act in; where we can attack cops or state and capitalist property. By now we should have realised that the passive and reformist demonstrations which now only count a couple of 100 people (compared to the 1000’s last year) do not offer us any space to move in.

A wild and unexpected march by 70 people or the sudden erecting of barricades provide fertile ground for further confrontation and direct action, even (or especially) when this march or barricading is unpredicted. What the demonstrations in Leiden and Amsterdam have proven is that we are capable of creating these spontaneous moments and that a couple of dozen people are more dangerous than a couple of thousand.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in the frenzy of the social movements around us and follow suite, repeating the mistakes of the past. Especially when we see now that the movement around housing (and other subjects such as climate) has been directed to the ballot box - from the very beginning, with even the neo-liberal and far-right parties jumping on its populist bandwagon. So let’s evade this theatrical field and abandon protest by turning towards struggle. Those among us who endlessly worry about quantity and are always counting heads and are obsessed with “attracting new people into the movement” should not despair. It’s only through struggle and our anarchist projects that our numbers could grow, and also in a qualitative way. In struggle and social conflict we can move and create, in protest we are just a black flag next to a red one, a green one, a blue one, etc. etc.

Of course we should think ahead and not leave everything to a spontaneous happening, waiting around for something to happen like we too often do. The danger of spontaneity is that the tide of repression can turn extremely fast and swallow us there and then, as the moment is unplanned and we may not be prepared. So imagine if we were…

Imagine if we planned, imagine if we organised, imagine if we took the initiative. Imagine if we attacked!

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