The Politics of Panic: the Kedichem case - Arjen Mulder and Geert Lovink

Cosmopolite hotel destroyed by fire during meeting of far right parties

Critcal reflection on the militant anti-fascist disruption of a 1986 meeting of far right parties in the Netherlands, which resulted in a hotel being destroyed by fire, the amputation of the leg of one of the attendees and 72 anti-fascists being arrested.

From Here & Now magazine issue 10.

Mass action has often escaped criticism in radical circles. In this story Arjen Mulder and Geert Lovink show how, despite the anti-authoritarian make-up of the participants, manipulation and passivity emerged in a crowd engaged upon an anti-fascist action.

Quote:
“Immer mehr bin ich davon uberzeugt, dass
Gesinnungen aus Massenerlebnissen entstehen.
Aber sind Menschen an ihren Massenerlebnissen
schuld? Geraten sie nicht vollig ungeschutzt in sie
hinein? Wie muss einer beschaffen sein um sich
gegen sie wehren zu konnen?

Muss man imstande sein, eigene Massen zu bilden,
um gegen andere gefeit zu sein?”

Elias Canetti, Das Geheimherz der Uhr.

Quote:
“More and more I am convinced that mentalities
spring from mass experiences. But are people
responsible for their mass experiences. Don ’t they
end up in them without any protection? With what
should one be equipped, to be able to protect oneself
against them?

Should one be able to form one’s own crowds to be
immune against others?”

Elias Canetti, The Secret Heart of the Clock.

During ten years of experience in organizing mass actions in the Netherlands practical knowledge has been acquired about the planning of panic, both among those against whom the action is directed and among the activists themselves. But to be able to use this panic effectively in the street, in politics and in the media there has to be a taboo about its actual existence among the activists. No matter how much panic arises during an action, people will always deny that they have been in a panic and later on only the effect of the action will be discussed openly, but never the role of panic during the action. The only situations in which it is discussed are squat-bars, chaotic action-meetings and once in a while the underground media. They will look for two things there:

1) the people who instigated the panic and
2) how it can be avoided in the future.

There will be an increasing desire for an organization of mass actions which could preclude panic. But the authoritarian consequences of this will, at least in the Netherlands, never be accepted by the activists who enjoy these actions as long as they are spontaneous, chaotic and without a rigid organisation. Such actions can lead, in the activists’ own myth about what the old mass actions were like, to the most bizarre burglaries and attacks without lapsing into terrorism.

A classic example of planned panic is the so-called Kedichem-case. On March 29th, 1986 300 anti-fascist activists disturbed a secret meeting at Kedichem, a village in the middle of Holland, where two ultra-right splinter parties made an attempt at reconciliation. The hotel where they met was destroyed by fire, a number of party members were seriously injured and 72 activists arrested. Since 1982 the ‘Centrumparty’ (CP) had held one seat in the Dutch Lower House on a programme which declared itself to be anti-fascist and anti-racist, but which made out a case for the ‘protection of the Dutch cultural values’, a modem form of racism which particularly blames foreign workers in the Netherlands for housing problems, unemployment, pollution and overcrowded roads. Since that time increasingly firm measures were being taken by activists against public assemblies of this party, while at the same time a broad anti-fascist movement developed which was internally strongly divided on the question of banning the CP and measures that should be taken against it. This movement is grounded in the anti-fascist attitude and resistance in World War II. It can be seen as the way in which a new generation reshapes the memory of the horrors of fascism, which is still at the forefront in Dutch education, media and literature. Therefore everyone in Holland is concerned in the new movement, everyone is a ‘natural’ anti-fascist.

Ten days before ‘Kedichem’ a ‘fascist’ was elected as a municipal councillor for the first time since the war in Amsterdam. The swearing in of the new councillor would take place on April 29th and discussions about its prevention were in full swing. Aside from that, on the 26th of May parliamentary elections would be held and it was of vital importance for the CP that the internal disputes, which existed since 1982, should be settled. To this end the meeting in Kedichem was summoned. The violent disturbing of the reconciliation meeting prevented the formation of a reunited ultra-right party and led to the loss of their seat in the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament.

For a considerable time there has been a tradition of research into the wheeling and dealing of ultra-right and fascist individuals and groups in Holland. In this way it was found out that the secret negotiations would be on the 29th of March, but the place was kept secret, even in CP-circles. Two days before, a meeting was held between activists in Amsterdam where it was explained to about 1 50 people the crucial importance of not only disturbing the CP-meeting, but also how to disturb it. A small group of experienced activists assumed the responsibility for the organization. There was no discussion at all about the plan of action, apart from a vague reference to the ‘Boekel-model’.

Two years before, the last convention of the CP took place in Boekel, a small town in the South of Holland. Activists from all over the country had entered into a physical confrontation with the 300 party members who were present. The ‘Boekel-model’ consisted of surrounding the conference room, demanding the fascists leave and, if they ignored this demand, ‘smoking out’ the conference room with tear gas or smoke bombs. In real terms however, there had been a great difference between on the one hand the non-violent ‘demonstrators’ who wanted to press charges against the CP in order to mobilize public opinion, and on the other hand the ‘heavy’ faction who were out for a direct confrontation and actually prepared themselves for this by taking along helmets, leather coats, clubs and smoke bombs.

Because the latter faction was the first to arrive at the secret conference room, their strategy was directly put into action: windows were smashed, tear gas was thrown in and outside there was heavy fighting between the fascist thugs, the ‘heavies’ and the newly arrived ‘demonstrators’. Afterwards there was a serious disagreement among the activists, but shortly before Kedichem this all seemed to be forgotten: it was assumed that everybody knew what the ‘Boekel-model meant, it was time to take action now, quarrels were put off until later, a typical feature in Dutch action tradition: act first, talk later.

On Saturday morning the 29th of March about 300 activists gathered at 9.00 a.m. in an old squatted hospital in Utrecht, a city in the centre of Holland. Because it was unknown where the CP-meeting would take place, this seemed to be the best location. It was known that a number of CP members would gather at the soccer stadium of Utrecht. These members were secretly followed by people on motor-bikes who regularly called up the meeting-point to pass on how many fascists were on their way and where they were going. Not until 2.30p.m. did it become clear that the fascists had gathered in the ‘Cosmopolite’ hotel in Kedichem.

During the long hours of waiting in Utrecht there hadn’t been one joint discussion about what exactly was going to happen. Only the almost magical phrase ‘the Boekel-model’ flitted through the place. “In the ocean of time and the relatively cosy atmosphere in Utrecht it was explained insufficiently and too hastily what exactly was going to happen” Marlie concludes afterwards in the autonomous weekly Bluff!

Quote:
“Was it fear of confronting opinions within the group and heated discussions right before the action? Was everyone already occupied with their own fear of violence and the heavy odds of fascists we expected to meet there? Afterwards I could have kicked myself because I too only dozed around there, while in the back of my mind I had the hazy feeling that a lot of things were not completely right”. [/i]Caspar, asked about it: “In the rumours in Utrecht the fascists became more and more. And we went for more and more beer and drank it, because it all took a very long time. Our nerves went to pieces. For three hours all those people were waiting, drinking and smoking dope. And then we finally got on our way."

Among the waiting crowd in Utrecht there was already a clear distinction between those who were sublimating their fear into a worthy demonstration and the ‘heavies’ who were cultivating their anger into a frenzy for attack. The fact that the crowd didn’t interfere at all with the organization was because it appeared to be very professional. [i]“The organization had a mafa-like, secret-service style”, says Caspar. “They were driving motor-bikes throughout the country, people were tailing the fascists, everything was running smoothly, it all looked like a well-oiled machine. Everything was taken care of, you could hand it to them.” It was a comforting feeling that the power was delegated: in a subculture which doesn’t recognise an organization, the people in charge are those who take up the practical organization beforehand. In case of trouble afterwards the guilt will be pushed across to them: the crowd will always be innocent, for the crowd only the fascination of being with so many counts. Ronald: “When I went for something to eat I saw that the centre of Utrecht was swarming with people in leather jackets. It was really insane.” The certainty of belonging to a crowd gives individuals a possibility to concentrate exclusively on their own emotions.

At 2.30 p.m. it became clear that the fascists had gathered in the Cosmopolite hotel in Kedichem. Because this is a very small hotel, the motor-cyclists thought that the fascists would first gather at this place. Therefore it was decided that the activists would first meet at the station of Leerdam, a town near Kedichem. Finally the waiting crowd was allowed to move:

Quote:
“We burst into a cheer when we heard the word Kedichem. I’m dancing with joy. To the vans. People are shouting. We still have to make some arrangements. Who is the mouth-piece here? Several people appoint themselves. One of them wins. He organizes a car which will drive ahead to check out the situation. He says that a couple of things are still to be arranged, such as 'entering the scanner-frequencies’. No one asks what this means. Neither do I, but I think it will be alright. Then comes a message that there are only 18 CP-members in the hotel. But we don’t really listen to this. The message isn’t very clear anyway. We’ll see when we are in Leerdam.”

At this point almost 100 vans and cars left Utrecht. In Leerdam the procession posted itself before the small station. In front was the ‘commanding-van’ of the leaders which was crammed with scanners to bug the police-radio. Around it the vans of the ‘heavies’ drew up so that they wouldn’t miss a thing. When a police car came along and the scanners indicated that more police were on their way and when a message came from Kedichem that Cosmopolite was indeed the meeting place of the CP, the cars in the front decided to leave immediately.

There had hardly been any contact between the separate vans and the geographical situation in Kedichem was unknown to everyone. Geert Burgomaster, who wrote the most controversial criticism in Bluff! (from which we also quoted the above passage): “Suddenly we had to leave. Who gave the starting signal ? That is not clear. We’ll see in Kedichem.” In the waiting crowd in Utrecht something like an anxiety for command had formed: the forced apathy of the people could only be broken by the signal that they had to leave, the command of the leaders was felt as a relief.

The road from Leerdam to Kedichem is five miles long. The touristic experience brings about the ‘we-sensation’ which belongs to such an outing of ‘the Movement’. Ronald:

Quote:
“A long row of vans left for Kedichem, we made a mess of the traffic, ignored traffic lights and began to drive through the polder-landscape, a kind of caterpillar on those dykes. It was an incredibly nice route. You drove on a very narrow dyke along the river Linge, where no oncoming traffic could pass. Halfway we came across a police car which was parked on a parking lot and in which two frightened policemen were prattling in their radio-telephone. The road on which we drove wasn’t straight but winding, so that you saw the procession ahead of you and behind you all the time”.

Betsy: “It was a real caravan, a convoy”.

Coming from Leerdam the Cosmopolite hotel is situated upon the left side of the dyke, with the village of Kedichem on the right hand side. From the dyke there is a road which leads down into Kedichem. The vans in front were of course the first to arrive at the hotel, they examined the situation and parked their cars so that they would be able to leave quickly in another direction than where they came from. When they got out of their cars the vans at the back were still about a mile from the hotel. When these arrived the long procession parked along the road on the dyke and the people began to walk from there in the direction of the hotel.

The proceedings in front of the hotel took place at a terrific speed. Caspar was part of the group up front who had decided for a direct confrontation with the CP-members: “When we got out we put up our balaclavas. We saw that a lot of cars hadn't arrived yet. We all had sticks and clubs and quite a lot of adrenalin and everyone rushed towards the hotel. We waited for each other so that we would be many. We were about 40. There was a police car in front of the hotel”. Ronald: “The police car said that we had to clear the area or ’violence would be used'. We all were in laughing fits, of course: 3-400 people with clubs and helmets and only one police car.” The conservative newspaper De Telegraaf quoted a party-member:

Quote:
“We hadn’t been in hotel Cosmopolite for 10 minutes when two policemen came in. 'We have some nasty information for you ’, they said, ‘about 200 thugs are on their way and we can do nothing to protect you’. The policemen left immediately and at the same moment the first bricks came in through the windows”.

Caspar:

Quote:
"We started to shout: 'Fascists, fuck off and ‘Fascist pigs!’. Then the hotel-owner showed up and the police said: 'Let’s keep quiet ’. The owner said that they were not fascists and that we should leave them in peace, he only wanted to make some easy money. But people started to throw stones toward the owner and shouted at him that he was a fascist-collaborator and that he should piss off. The windows were smashed and all kinds of things were thrown in. The police had gone away by then, up the dyke because they couldn ’t control the situation. More and more people showed up and windows kept on rattling and there was beating with clubs on the windows. From the cafe downstairs ashtrays were thrown at us. We also heard a lot of screaming inside, those people were really frightened.”

Ronald: [i]“You couldn’t see who was inside, the curtains were drawn and the light was switched off. You only saw shadows. Then the smoke bombs went in”.

“More and more smoke came out of the front”, Caspar continues. “We didn’t have a strategy, onlv to smoke them out. So we thought let’s throw in some smoke-bombs, let me do it; but almost everyone wanted to throw in his own bomb. I think there was too much ammunition. And too much adrenalin, because we had had to wait so long, the bottled up aggression. Then one smoke bomb got stuck in the curtains, I saw that too.’’

Ronald: “If there is throwing during a riot everyone does one’s bit. The pavement went to pieces at once and also the parking lot on the side of the hotel with those handy cobble stones. One smoke bomb got stuck in the curtains. It probably was an old one which had got wet and which combusts with a flash. Suddenly the white smoke got a little darker and the flames shot out of the building.”

“When we saw that the hotel was burning we went to the back. I said to my buddy: 'Let’s look if they can get away, it’s getting quite dangerous ’. Then we saw that nobody got out, but also that it was impossible to get in, for we still wanted to beat up some fascists. We got scared when we saw that they couldn’t leave the hotel. I thought: there is water behind the hotel, they can jump in there of course, but yet . . . Later it turned out that there was another exit. I was really worried. Then I went to the other side of the hotel to see if they got away there. First I only thought: if they get away we can really give them a thrashing. But when we saw those flames coming from the first floor we thought: this isn’t going to work, those people are all going to die in there”, says Caspar.

Geert Burgomaster saw it like this:

Quote:
“All the windows are smashed out. The room is full of smoke, I look inside and can only see some shadows walking in the back. But the throwing of smoke bombs doesn't stop. Enormous whoppers are thrown in. In the panic - or is it enthusiasm ? -everyone wants to get rid of his stuff. I think: this has been enough. But you are part of the stream, you have no say anymore. Your shouting fades away. And then: white smoke turns into black smoke. Suddenly there is the crackling of fire. I tear my helmet off my head, throw away my club and start to run: I don’t want to have anything to do with this.’’

Panic is always fear of murder: the murder that can be committed against you or the murder you commit yourself. The assailants behaved like a classical baiting-crowd. Canetti says about it:

Quote:
“The baiting-crowd forms with reference to a quickly attainable goal. The goal is known and clearly marked, and is also near. The crowd is out for killing and it knows what it wants to kill. One important reason for the rapid growth of the baiting-crowd is that there is no risk involved. There is no risk because the crowd has immense superiority on its side”.

The waiting crowd of Utrecht was not out for killing but was preparing itself for a confrontation with shadows. How many, how strong, unknown. But when the front ranks formed themselves on the Lingedyke, they had one goal: “In the van we talked all the time about fascist thugs, whom we expected to meet there. We were all really fucked up and we wanted to hit fascists. Everyone was ‘in the mood for killing’. But there was nobody to fight with, nobody showed up" (Caspar). When they came near the hotel (and parked their cars as close to it as possible) and found out that they had a large superiority there was no restraint to prevent the group turning into a baiting-crowd. The people had concentrated on their individual fears of being beaten and on their desire to beat, but not on the collective experience which awaited them. They had protected their bodies with leather coats and helmets, but they were not protected against their own crowd. For the crowd there was no danger, it was definitely superior to its opposition. The real danger lurked in the crowd itself: as individuals they suddenly recoiled from the act which the crowd committed.

First the crowd was innocent: a white crowd. When the smoke turned black this changed: guilt spread itself among the crowd, it turned black. That guilt was the panic. The sense of being responsible for murder turned the crowd into a group of individuals whose only interest was to get away from the scene of the crime. And they succeeded in getting away, because their cars were free and within reach.

Consequently they all escaped, as individuals. Caspar:

Quote:
“We wanted to save our skins, threw away our gloves and balaclavas and went back to the van, without bothering to look back at the other people. We heard a lot of sirens and the police car came again and tried to drive right into us, but then we threw bricks at the vehicle. In the car we took off our black clothes because they would attract too much attention and we switched on the radio. In this way we dashed home. Every time we came to another junction I felt more relieved, because we were incredibly anxious, at least I was, about what might have happened to those people in the building. I thought of babies who would be sleeping on the first floor of the hotel.”

And Ronald:

Quote:
“Some of us were really panicking to get back to the cars, they left their clubs and helmets behind in the roadside. The dyke was strewn with them when the greater part of us had gone. We were quite relaxed when we drove back through the polder. But afterwards you had this feeling, was this alright, or was it a stupid action by a bunch of stupid people? We were convinced of the fact though, that we could have thrown in less smoke bombs.”

For the group that came behind the assailants, the demonstrators, it was all very different. Oliver:

Quote:
“We had lost our way. When we arrived in Kedichem we parked the van in town and began to walk up the dyke. I was walking in the direction of the hotel. It started to smoke more and more. The nearer you came, the more smoke you saw. From a distance it was a great spectacle. But I had no idea about what was going on there. I thought it would be a kind of siege, that we would go inside and expose those CP-members. In fact we arrived too late for the action. When the flames came from all sides of the building we heard: ‘Back to the cars!’. I was still coming closer when the others were already retreating. ‘Take it easy, take it easy!’, people shouted.”

Betsy:

Quote:
“I was halfway along the procession of cars. I had the idea that it was a demo. After a while we stopped and walked towards the hotel. Then I heard the shattering of windows and I saw smoke. But I never reached the building. Suddenly everyone began to run back: clear off! I saw a cop car driving criss-cross through it all, he didn’t know what he was doing either. When we were back at the car we first waited for the others to come. The car turned round on the small dyke, it was all very chaotic. All cars were jumbled up, you couldn’t get away. It was quite heavy, further away you saw all those clouds of smoke, quite a spectacle. I thought: you will never get away from this dyke, there were no side-roads. I found it stupid to go back, better to go straight on, but almost everybody turned their cars”.

The demonstrators who had been waiting all day were initially strongly attracted towards the fire from which the assailants were fleeing. They had not yet, as a crowd, come to a ‘discharge’: they had not yet reached that stage when each individual who belongs to the crowd feels equal to all others. When they learned that for them the party had come to an untimely end, they had to turn back, but they formed, against all common sense, into a flight-crowd for which by definition the danger comes from behind. Only as a flight-crowd could they come to that desired discharge, to experience that attractive common equality. But forming a flight-crowd was for them the only possibility to avert the panic which they were part of, but which they didn’t understand. And they had to deal with that panic (although they didn’t know anything about the possible murder):

Quote:
“The incoming wave which threatened to crush the building suddenly turns back. On top of the dyke there is a jumble of vans which try to turn around. People are gesticulating wildly and shouting. Two vans bump into each other. An empty van tells two escapees to find their own van: you don't belong here. Meanwhile some of the townsfolk stop being just onlookers: they head towards us. Some of us get heavy blows but no one does anything: it is every man for himself now"

(Geert Burgomaster).

Not only panic determined the behaviour of the fleeing demonstrators, but also their sense of not being guilty. Oliver: “Our car didn’t start, on top of it all. We tried to push start it. Meanwhile we were harassed by locals who were holding their lighters near our gas tanks. They said: ‘What have you done! You set the place on fire!' When actually we were the last to arrive there. It was only a wild guess on their part that we did it.” The fact that the flight-crowd didn’t feel responsible for the fire for which they fled, proved to be fatal: it resulted in the return of the apathy which characterised the waiting crowd of Utrecht.

After the chaotic reversing the procession drove back to Leerdam. But: “After a while a cop car came which posted itself right across the road, we all had to stop. Nobody knew what was happening. There were a lot of cars ahead of us. Then we got out of the cars. We were standing there for more than an hour, we were shut in at the front and the back. If you wanted you could still get away through the grassland, but I thought: we are in the middle of nowhere anyway." (Betsy).

All people from the cars were arrested and transported to Leerdam in a police wagon. There was no resistance. One person who hid himself in the reeds along the river until 9.00 p.m. managed to escape by joining a group of Turkish boys who were playing soccer on the dyke. All the others who managed to reach the Leerdam station were arrested on the directions of the locals from Kedichem. Oliver was already arrested in Kedichem itself: “We were running behind the car we were pushing. At the moment that the cops were two metres behind us the engine started. We got busted and another one of us was caught by the locals who couldn't keep out of it. It was funny: the car drove away and we were the first to be caught.” The police car in which the three handcuffed detainees were kept blocked the road when the fire department came. The car had to be pushed to the roadside which delayed the fire engine for a couple of minutes. When they arrived at the hotel.it was already in a blaze. Over the police radio the detainees heard that the leg of a woman had to be amputated. They didn’t hear who the woman was.

The CP-Member of Parliament Janmaat, who arranged the meeting, told De Telegraaf about the leg:

Quote:
“I fled with my secretary, Mrs Corselius-Schuurman, and some other people upstairs. From the window we could see the flames and the other people getting out 5 metres below us. Within three minutes everything was on fire, including the stairs. We tied sheets together. I was the first to climb down, to test it out. The sheets were too short, I had to jump. My secretary came after me. But hanging on those sheets she swung right through a big window and she crashed to the ground. She was bleeding terribly, I tried to help her, but later her leg had to be amputated. Horrible, a disaster. In this same suit, which is full of bloodstains, I will ask questions in the Lower Chamber: why were our people not protected against this rabble?”

For those who were arrested, of whom the majority would be detained for 4 days and eventually only a few would be sentenced to three months imprisonment, it was impossible to keep their clothes: after they had thrown away their helmets and caps, the police in Leerdam took all their other clothes for laboratory investigation into gasoline-traces. Oliver wouldn’t even get his clothes back, ten days later he ended up in the street in his underpants.

The group of assailants returned unharmed to their home base: “We drove back with the group to a squat-bar. We didn ’t see any cops and we ran out of beer too. Back in the bar we learned that no one had been killed, that one woman was injured and we had a good laugh about it. We also heard about the 72 arrests and we found that really shitty.” (Caspar). The assailants soon got over their panic when they were home: the murder had not been committed against people, but against a leg. They expressed their relief in a wave of laughter. Ronald, who went back to another bar: “We watched the 6 o’clock news and only then heard about the arrests and some seriously injured people. This really chilled the party. Anyway, you can talk about if this was or was not a very clever action, but it really is a kick to see a hotel burn down”.

At the same time a press release came from the organizers who called themselves ‘Radical Anti-Fascists’ (RAF) for the occasion. The phrase in this press release that “The events in Kedichem could be repeated" was immediately connected by everyone to ‘The Leg’. The interpretation was that they would not shrink back from making new serious casualties in their fight against fascism. The shocking implication of this statement was that the organizers did not shrink back from admitting ‘murder’ and thus indicated that the panic was planned and that when the majority of the activists, once they were at home, exerted themselves to eliminate the panic of the action in themselves by discussing the effect and the strategy. Ronald went directly into politics: first by organizing lawyers for the people who had been arrested, and one day later in a press group which was formed “Because nobody liked the sound of the RAF press release. After that release we didn’t see anyone of the leading organizers again. We tried to make the most of a hopeless situation”.

The first goal of the press group was to distract attention from The Leg, which was leading its own life in the media.

Quote:
“A news programme on T. V. had an interview with the bitch, lying in bed, without her leg. And that hotel
owner also behaved like a madman. Our aim was to explain that it hadn’t been our intention that a leg had to be amputated. Besides we wanted to bring forth our own arguments why we did it and subtly incorporate our criticism of how things went.”

They also made a press release, signed with “The activists of March the 29th” which said: “We literally smoked out the fascists. That the Cosmopolite hotel went up in flames was not our intention. We regret if any non-fascists were injured”. In this way the kick and the panic was written out of the Kedichem story. While the story for the big media was stripped of panic, the underground media explicitly pointed out the culprit of the panic. It was quickly found because the RAF itself had already claimed that they had included the panic in their planning beforehand.

In Bluff! Geert Burgomaster wrote about the spokesman of the RAF: “I think he is an incredible bastard. But I don ’t think he’s the only one who is guilty. After all we are all responsible”. And he goes on about the RAF: “It is a very small group of people who decide that Holland is ready for terrorist actions, but they are too spineless to do it themselves”. And he concludes: “We have much more important things to think about. We shall have to learn to discuss and organize things together, otherwise the future movement will be ruled by ingenious madmen once again”.

In the analysis Geert B. makes about the relation between the individual and the crowd, the individual is not to be blamed for the actions of the crowd. He sees the crowds of Utrecht and Kedichem as victims of those who know how crowds react and how to direct them. In order to exclude these evil leaders he suggests to form an ‘own’, ‘good’ crowd which will be able, through discussion and democracy, to withstand the devious leaders. The fear of violent anti-fascist actions and the suppression of panic is a result of the fact that an anti-fascist mass movement in Holland basically includes the whole Dutch population. Even the CP admits this. Their comment on Kedichem was: “They didn’t serve the anti-fascist committees well, for there are a lot of good people in these committees”.

Anyway, Geert B’s characterisation “ingenious madmen” also, shows respect for these leaders. But he doesn’t ask the question why the crowd of Utrecht delegated power to them. Why did they let themselves be enticed into apathy ? And why did the group of assailants let themselves be worked up to such an extent that they were prepared to kill ? Geert B. circumvents this question by talking directly about “the perspective of the movement”, since he is not able to conjure up his ‘own’ crowd in other than vague terms, he doesn’t do anything else but to make the panic a taboo once again.

The very fact that the activists in Kedichem got into panic, proves that they were no fascist horde themselves. There is no panic in fascism. Fascist thugs or bureaucrats never shrink back from murder. The planning of the panic by the leaders was prompted by the assessment that it would enable them to get away quickly. This could gain them the reproach that they have a terrorist tendency, something Geert B. actually reproaches them for. But terrorists do not need a crowd to be able to operate. The only thing the organizers can be reproached for is that they had knowledge about what crowds actually are and how they function, and that they knew how to use this knowledge. All those who, with or without secret amusement, disassociated themselves from the RAF and by doing so stuck to their own myth of mass actions as a spontaneous and chaotic event within an unorganized structure, denied themselves access to this knowledge. They will end up “without any protection” in the next mass experience.

With what should one be equipped, to be able to protect oneself against mass experiences and to cope with them? The refusal of Dutch activists to think about their own mass experiences and the tabooing of panic makes it impossible to find an answer to this question.

Knowledge of books with cunning theories is not necessary, only a thorough digestion of the experiences of the dozens of actions a la Kedichem would be enough.

Afterwards the sons of the owner of hotel Cosmopolite said to a newspaper:

Quote:
"Two years ago we also had a fire in our home furnishing shop in Leerdam. By now it has almost been rebuilt. We have almost finished the job. We thought we could quieten down a little. But now we have this fire in Kedichem again. It was an unexpected blow. For me and my brother it only means a material damage of about a hundred thousand dollars. But for our father it goes much deeper. He feels it as an attack on his life”.

This attack happened during Easter weekend, on the 29th of March 1986, but the movement in the Kedichem case came to a standstill two months later:

Quote:
“The 62 year old owner Mr. In den Eng bought, according to the police, a second-hand mechanical shovel to take up the demolition of the hotel Cosmopolite himself. Earlier the facade of the building was pulled down by the local authorities for fear that it would collapse. On this Saturday the owner wanted to remove the remains of his hotel on his own. Because the shovel didn't want to start he had placed a battery on a pair of steps between the right front and rear wheels. He had to connect the battery with wires to the starter inside the machine. As soon as the connection was made the heavy machine unexpectedly set itself in motion. Mr. In den Eng, whose way out was blocked by the pair of steps, couldn 't get away and was run over in full length. He died on the spot. The machine crossed the dyke, sweeping away a crush barrier, piercing an iron bar through a window at the other side of the dyke, and, thanks to a security system in the shovel, came to a standstill”.

Posted By

Fozzie
Jul 25 2020 16:01

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  • The only thing the organisers can be reproached for is that they had knowledge about what crowds actually are and how they function, and that they knew how to use this knowledge.

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