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Demonstratie 1978 Steenwijk

An anarchist vision

Long, long ago, in my adolescence, I discovered the early writers of the anarchist ideal: Michael Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Max Stirner, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Emma Goldman and many others. They propose a society without rulers and domination, without authority. It is the set of ways of thinking that can be reduced to the idea that an individual does not recognise in any way a subordination to or from something or someone. And that idea appealed to me enormously. After that I was a member of various anarchist groups, which were mainly involved in my local political situation. Like the 'Aktieraad', which was mainly active in the squatting movement in Zaanstad. We also ran our own shop in the squatted premises of a former restaurant, which we called 'Utopia'. In my philosophy studies too, I was involved with anarchist ideas and with radical forms of postmodernism (Foucault, Deleuze, Irigaray).

Anyway, at a certain point I became frustrated with political action and participating in demonstrations. It didn't make much difference in my opinion. During the riots on 30 April 1980 in Amsterdam ('no house, no coronation') I saw that I was essentially no different from the policeman on horseback who was violently beating around the bush with his matrak, while we were throwing stones...

Once I had immersed myself in the search for 'Enlightenment', I completely lost interest in political stuff. I also completely lost interest in any kind of ideology. My interest focused on myself. Who am I, what makes me tick, what keeps me from experiencing unity? My world became one of meditation and therapy and my example became Rajneesh, an Indian guru, who called himself 'Bhagwan' then and later 'Osho'. The man shook up my whole life and everything I had believed in. There was nothing left for me but to surrender to the Master, embrace His vision and take 'sannyas'. In fact, I became the opposite of what I had always stood for, namely an independent thinking individual. Instead, I made myself dependent on people who I thought knew better, knew better than me who I am and what is good for me. But on the other hand, in the left-political scene I missed a dimension of openness, ecstasy and connection, a religious dimension in fact, which I did find in my experience as a 'sannyasin'. Through the meditations and therapies I got more and more 'out of my head' and got to know other layers of my being, such as feelings, gratitude and spontaneity.

Rajneesh died in 1990 and that gave me the freedom to go in new directions. I discovered other people with a vision of life that appealed to me. And these people were much more accessible than Rajneesh. Still I thought then that they knew better. After all, they were 'enlightened', whatever that meant. And yet I noticed that I was becoming more and more detached from all these spiritual teachers, especially because I could see that they were also ordinary people and far from 'perfect'.

Gradually I learned to think independently again and I could also leave depending on these people behind me. And recently, I have seen the idea of anarchism coming back into my experience. Not as a political vision, but as an attitude towards life itself: not (any longer) uncritically accepting what others claim to know about who and what I am and what this life is. I can see and think for myself. Nobody can do this for me. Others see what they see. Fine. There is no such thing as The Ultimate Truth and there is certainly no one who would know The Truth, let alone pass it on to me.