A reflection on ‘Onderwijs is een recht’ (Education is a right) demonstration on the 25th of March, The Hague, Netherlands. Halfway the largest student demonstration since decades in the Netherlands on 21st of January in The Hague, with its spectacular high stage, I climbed up its scaffolds to film from as high as possible. And exactly in this clumsy position while hanging next to the stage, which was only offered to politicians and a tasteless, popular DJ, who made the students jump to cheesy music in a park, I, and I guess many of us, realized that the story of the hijacked student movement by opposition political parties isn’t a conspiracy. It was a fact unfolding itself in front of our eyes staring at the brutally colored, branded and mass produced posters and flyers which, beside political propaganda, were a clear abuse of the fragile position of students towards the government and opposition parties. While wiping off our wet and tingling eyes we asked outselves what needs to be done.
Since the occupations at a few universities a month or two after the demonstration, a network of enthusiastic students based on self-organization during demonstrations and direct actions by and for students began to emerge. Our main focus was set on organizing another demonstration on the 25th of March. ‘Education is a Right’ was communicated to the national student union, Social Party Youth (Rood) and others whom we thought of as our allies, which unfortunately very soon was proved to be otherwise. They stated that they don’t recognize us and don’t want to be associated with our aims and the network, while they spread rumours, warning others of an anarchist group behind the 25th of March demonstration.
15,000 flyers were distributed in most of the universities in the Netherlands, emails flooded, facebook and twitter updates burning with a hope to mobilize as many students as possible. Critical questions like how to express our frustration, how to perform our action differently than on 21st January, guaranteed to make the demonstration a unique happening. However, one might say that our action was a failure because no more than 200 students were present at the demonstration. Whereupon the depressive grey weekend after the demonstration made me think of why we shouldn’t or should follow the youtube mentality?
Well yes, the youtube mentality is the mentality of stacking up numbers! Those fucking numbers seem to be our cultural value and measure of success recently and precisely that is one of the greatest problems of the demonstration as a format! I think with the exact same amount of committed protesters we had, the great amount of fantastic noises by experimental conservatory musicians, anthology of frustrations, chants and above all our photogenic superiority, we can really do something of incredible quality if we once and for all get rid of this youtube mentality and think about formats other than old fashioned demonstration and over-criticizing ourselves by emails on the next days!
Now I want to think about a master minded direct action before the parliament debate on April 12th! Who is in?
By Ehsancritique.com– 31 March 2011 Amsterdam