Anarchy 66/Day trip to Amsterdam
Day trip to
Immigration officials eye long hair suspiciously: they want to check my ticket to ensure that I will fly out again tonight. They tell me I must be on the 10 o’clock flight, as booked. Unfortunately I have no choice anyway.
Everyone talks ofand riots. The airport is dull and provincial and it is difficult to believe anything can ever really have happened here. I take a coach into the city centre—curiously all the notices in the coach are in English. The city is flat but beautiful, fanning out from the centre with “islands” of houses and narrow streets, linked across the framework of narrow canals by narrow bridges. The houses are old, beautiful and somehow airy. (I am already affected by romanticism.)
The recent riots add a curiously ambiguous touch toI walk into a bookshop selling English paperbacks, ’s essentially placid, patient nature. The town seems full of kids, police and promenaders. To a everything seems to move at half-speed; people have time to walk and talk in the streets. It is a city still small enough for people to live within the centre: the provos talk of urban crisis, smoke control, depopulation of the city centre. They are entirely right, of course, but they obviously have acute environmental consciousness. (In London we have already tolerated the almost total depopulation of the city centre, the construction of giant, community-destroying highways into the city centre and an air of breathtaking poisonous filthiness, without apparently even noticing. If the very nature of Amsterdam, built on water and with only very narrow streets, prohibits the grotesque irresponsibility which has marked London and secured for London its place among the truly inhuman structures of the world, it is nevertheless absolutely right that the provos should worry about such problems now, before it is too late. Even if they have nothing else to tell the world the saving of Amsterdam would be enough to justify them.) -friendship literature, pamphlets on , books on and a few
In the street outside a kid, dressed predominantly in white, came up to me after seeing my London pin and asked whether I was an English provo? Rather than confuse the issue I said yes. He asked a lot of questions about the anarchists, , the . I told him the anarchists, as such, were largely irrelevant, CND absorbed into all that is wrong and the Committee of 100 without the money to bury itself. I asked him about the provos and, in particular, their public dissociation from last week’s rioting. (This worried me a great deal when I read about it in the English press, seeming to be a classic example of “intellectuals” behaving irresponsibly, isolating themselves from the physical consequences of their effective intelligence and, in this case, incitement of youth.) He thought that perhaps the issue was too simple for the provos—“the real provos were in the riots”. It was simply a case of Amsterdam’s youth against authority. The provos disapproved because they did not want violence which made authority stronger. I said I considered that many of the provos’ statements had violent overtones and violent implications. He agreed but said the provos were not very consistent. Were the provos who demonstrated with building workers on Monday “official” or “Unofficial”? He said they were “official” but that their actions were the direct inspiration of the later “unofficial” youth riots. Was the provotariat disillusioned with the provos? He did not think so; most of the provotariat acted with limited understanding of the provos’ actual position.