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Issue #017 Published: 22-03-2018 // Written by: Eoin O’Cunningham
Entertaining Mr Sloane, #metoo and heteronormativity
In 1967 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Sexual Offences Act – an act that decriminalised same sex relationships in England and Wales. This was later implemented in 1980 in Scotland and 1982 in Northern Ireland. In the Netherlands it was 1811, with protection against unfair dismissal coming here in 1994. Meet Sloane, Kath, Kemp and Ed. It’s East London. It’s 1964. Same-sex sexual relations are punishable by prison and murder by hanging. Homosexuality is considered a mental disease, curable via electric shock treatment, hallucinogenic drugs, brainwashing techniques and aversion therapy such as when victims are shown photos of same sex relations while being given vomit-inducing poison. In 1960’s Britain, sexual harassment against women is commonplace in work and domestic environments with no legal framework existing to protect against instances of unwanted sexual advances and touching of any kind. Rape was not criminalised until the 1956 Sexual Offences Act, the production and consumption of child pornography not being banned until the Protection of Children Act 1978, and it was 2003 when an explicit definition of ‘consent’ was legally operative. The question is: how do people cope when the forms of harassment and abuse that they are being exposed to do not exist in legislation or in public discourse? Or when the words to describe the forms of abuse cannot be accessed by the victim for historical or social reasons? How does this enable the behaviour of the abusers? How does it compound victims’ misery? And how do silently operating forms of sexual abuse manifest in what is understood to be ‘normal’ and ‘deviant’ behaviour? Recently, the #metoo movement has catapulted these questions into mainstream public discourse. With their production of Entertaining Mr Sloane, Mike’s Badhuistheater provide a time and a space in which questions around sexual control, intimidation and violence can be confronted and debated. After all it is the realm of acting and theatre that has provided the context for the #metoo movement. The Welsh cultural critic Raymond Williams developed a term to understand lived practical experiences of dominance and oppression. He called it a structure of feeling. It refers to the tension that victims of race/sex/gender/class/age-based violence experience socially. Williams argued that when the affected lack the vocabulary to describe and diagnose their oppression or when it is not available to them, they engage in practical and impulsive solutions to resist against it. US feminist Patricia Hill Collins suggests that the victims of racial, gendered and sexual structural-violence have a complex and nuanced understanding of their situations, the likes of which their oppressors will never be able to achieve. The perpetrators of oppression also enact a structure of feeling as they view their harmful behaviour as morally justified and normal. For example, the majority of White people in the US supported Jim Crow segregation (1). The majority of British people supported colonialism and the majority of Dutch people supported the enslavement of kidnapped Africans in the Caribbean. To contextualise this today, the #metoo movement is overwhelmingly constitutive of the disclosure of the victim’s experience of sexual violence, while the perpetrators are silent hiding behind the structures of permissible, plausible and natural “doe even normaal”-mentality. Entertaining Mr Sloane is a play that offers an insight into sexual control and the consequences of heteronormativity (2) in 1960’s Britain and how it contoured the behaviour of a working class family and their new lodger, Sloane. It reveals both the visceral and torturous mechanisms of control and discipline enforced by the State and the intricate forms of resistance and power wielded by those who seek to fulfil deviant and stigmatised pleasure seeking. Kath’s love affair with Sloane is an attempt at resisting the constraints imposed on her as a working- class woman, domesticated, maltreated and tyrannised by Ed and her father, Kemp. Ed’s sexual desire for Sloane must be concealed, his hegemonic masculinity, machoism and bravado always on show in order to conceal detection. The fate of course is incarceration, institutionalised abuse and psychological treatment, the same treatments that we assume have shaped Sloane’s madness as he navigates life parentless, pornographic, depraved and dishonest. Entertaining Mr Sloane is often read as a play about dysfunctionality, but how do the characters function inside a system that is designed to hinder their sexual fulfilment? They function on levels that are designed to avoid stigmatisation and the labelling of deviance. In this sense, it should instead be read as a critique of the functionality of heterosexuality. The impulsivity of the characters’ behaviour is done to avoid the tension, unease, stress and displacement created by heterosexual relations being favoured at every institutional juncture. The play provides an insightful example to consider how unarticulated lived tension manifested in 1960’s Britain and how it may be unfolding today differently for specific people in particular places.   1) Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. Enacted by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures in the late 19th century after the Reconstruction period, these laws continued to be enforced until 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities .... 2) Heteronormativity is the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (male and female) with natural roles in life. It assumes that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or only norm, and that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes. A “heteronormative” view therefore involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia. ----------------------------- Coming soon in the spring Mike’s Badhuistheater presents The Good Soldier Švejk by Hasek. Directed by Mike Manicardi. “The Good soldier Svejk” by Jaroslav Hasek (1883 – 1923) is a theatrical Adaption by Mike Manicardi performed by the Badhuistheater International. Set in 1914 in Czechoslovakia at the end of the Austro Hungarian Empire, and the beginning of the First World War 1914-1918. Jaroslav Hasek was a satirical genius in his attempts to achieve Cz independence, and also attention for Cz language. His long and episodic novel, “the good soldier Svejk” (the most translated Cz novel into 60 languages) follows the life and fortunes of Josef Svejk, a dog thief and lover of life, who is forced to join the Austro Hungarian Army for a 2nd time in their war against Russia. The Cz battalion travels across Hungary and into now Southern Ukraine and Poland, where Svejk manages to confuse and create chaos for all his betters. He also has papers that he is an official Idiot. Manicardi played the part of Svejk himself some years ago in a very successful production. He has rewritten his play, to get it even closer to the original novel, and produces it now for his company the Badhuistheater International. His company has had recently great success and sold out audiences, with Blackadder , ‘Allo ‘Allo, and the O’ Casey Dublin Trilogy of Plays. The performance is in English, with some Czech, German, Russian and Hungarian. Hasek was a Czech writer, humorist, satirist, journalist, bohemian and anarchist. He is best known for his novel The Good Soldier Švejk, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures. The novel has been translated into about 60 languages, making it the most translated novel in Czech literature. He is also known as the Obscure Czech Writer. Photo: Lulu Lightning
Issue #017 Published: 20-03-2018 // Written by: Geert Lovink
Let’s talk about social media
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Suess In early 2018, social media criticism has reached a new stage. In past months, voices from deep inside the IT industry have made themselves heard. The suspicion against Google and Facebook started with Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections and social media manipulations through ads and changes in algorithms. Then founding president Sean Parker admitted that Facebook purposely gave users a short trigger, outed as “addiction by design”. Parker: “It’s a social-validation feedback loop... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” Next to come out was Justin Rosenstein, inventor of the Facebook ‘like’ button, who compared Snapchat with heroin. And Leah Pearlman, a member of the same team, who admitted that she too had grown disaffected with the ‘like’ button and similar addictive feedback loops. And then there was Chamath Palihapitiya, another former FB executive, who claimed that “social media is tearing society apart,” recommending people to “take a hard break.”  These developments lead to the founding of the Center for Humane Technology, a creation of early employees at Facebook and Google, “alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.” (New York Times).  The centre plans an “anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.” In response Facebook itself announced a Community Leadership Programme. All this culminated in an unlikely place, not OT301 or Pakhuis de Zwijger, but the World Economic Forum in Davos, where billionaire-philanthropist George Soros attacked the “monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies.” According to Soros social media companies deceive their users “by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents.” Soros sees similarities between Internet platforms and gambling companies: “Casinos have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don’t have.” The most interesting prediction Soros made relates to the slow demise of the US tech giants from a global perspective: “Internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace. The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position. It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken.” None of the above directly or indirectly refers to the earlier social media critiques. Over the past years many have expressed concerns about the violations of privacy, the silly ‘friends’ category, the absence of the ‘dislike’ button and the take-over of news. The discontent varied from the Europe Against Facebook campaign, to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web who repeated warned against social media monopolies. The current uprising of former employees can also be related to the small library of critical voices, from Nicolas Carr (The Shallows), Evgeny Morozov (The Net Delusion), Andrew Keen (The Internet is not the Answer) or Shirley Turkle (Alone Together). Most academic research on social media seems to have virtually no impact on the overall sentiment. Why get upset about Silicon Valley geeks and investors displaying such arrogance, they are the cyber lords, after all? The engineering dissidents of today kept their mouth shut for years, and are still deeply involved in the business, together with new teams of investors and consultants. Why should we give precisely them credit to develop less harmful alternatives?  What should our next steps be? Are you still on Facebook? Would you consider taking part in a Facebook Farewell Party? So far, Western-European activists have shown not much interest in ‘platform capitalism’: they are tired because they are wired. Most NGOs and social movements no longer employ their own servers and infrastructure and have become completely dependent on cloud-based services and social media platforms. The independent infrastructure of bookstores, print shops, paper magazines and book publishers has all but disappeared. As a result we find dozens of Facebook-only websites of initiatives that fight racism, colonialism and gender inequality who remain silent about their own channel of distribution. It is mostly the under-20 age bracket that leave Facebook. We can analyse such inconsistencies in the autonomous worldview until we drop dead, the good news is that finally times are changing. It’s pointless to say: “We told you so.” The fear of committing ‘social suicide’ may be irrational but for some of us loneliness and social isolation are all too real. We need to take back our own responsibility to build and maintain networks, and not leave that task to centralized platforms. How can we scale up and democratize all the debates and proposals of the past 5-7 years of those that worked on alternative network architectures? Is the reasonable, noble and moral appeal, made by engineers, the only one on offer? Doing digital detox and going offline is in fact an option only elites can afford. Hipster-mindfulness and self-mastery suggested by the likes of Peter Sloterdijk is no more than a marginal reform effort from a hyper-individualistic neo-liberal perspective. If offline is the new luxury, as the VPRO Tegenlicht television documentary was called, how else can we politicize the ‘social media question’? What’s not yet explored are large-scale cool campaigns that give people an opportunity to delete Facebook accounts. This is in the end what Silicon Valley tries to prevent at all cost: mass resistance and mass exodus. The demand for working alternatives is being heard. The momentum is there. Migrate to Diaspora, create your own newsletters, let’s organize our networks and create concrete ways out—together. If you’d like to know more, please subscribe to the Unlike Us mailinglist:   
Issue #017 Published: 11-03-2018 // Written by: Fair City
“Amsterdam naar 2 miljoen inwoners?” Zef Hemel’s hipstertheorietjes leiden tot de dictatuur van het Kapitaal!
Afgelopen maand is er in de stad en in de media veel te doen over de explosief toegenomen drukte én over het feit dat de stad enorm moet groeien om deze problemen het hoofd te bieden. Heel groot moet het worden, om de druk beter te verdelen. Ook in de gemeenteraad horen we op verschillende momenten en bij alle partijen: Bouwen, bouwen, bouwen! Maar voor wie? Voor wie bouw je de stad? Wie komen er te wonen? En wat als je niet zo grootschalig tekeer gaat?  Adviseur van het huidige stadsbestuur en hoogleraar Zef Hemel komt afgelopen week op de gemeentewebsite met prachtige sociale verhalen om deze geprojecteerde groei te onderbouwen. Hij ziet zelfs een stad van 2 miljoen mensen ontstaan. “We moeten DROMEN en groot durven denken!”  Dit wordt vervolgens gelegitimeerd met een heel arsenaal aan modejargon: van de inclusieve stad; de open stad, een gastvrije stad voor iedereen; stad in balans; duurzame stad tot en met bestrijding van de eenzaamheid aan toe. “Hoe meer mensen, hoe minder eenzaamheid”. Ook de 17 miljoen toeristen per jaar die Amsterdam nu bezoeken zijn in deze analyse onderdeel van de oplossing: met meer inwoners komt de stad beter ‘in balans’. Hoogleraar Hemel was jarenlang als planoloog in dienst bij de gemeente. Hij zat maar liefst tien jaar in de directie van de dienst die de stad ontwikkelt. Die grote ambtelijke dienst is gaan dromen over de aantrekkelijke stad en is daarbij de realiteit helemaal uit het oog verloren. Het gaat ons niet om deze man, maar om wat hij representeert en met deze hipstertheorietjes ook legitimeert. Het uitgebrachte advies over groeien naar 2 miljoen inwoners is geen serieus alternatief voor Amsterdam maar een rookgordijn om een neoliberale stadplanning te rechtvaardigen. Planologie is blijkbaar geen wetenschap maar meer een soort verzameling van hipstertheorietjes ter ondersteuning van het heersende marktdenken.  Dat moet anders! Over welke stad hebben we het eigenlijk? Amsterdam is een metropool, wordt gesteld door dezelfde ruimtelijke planners en politici. Volgens Faircity zijn er inmiddels twee steden, een groeiende stad voor de rijken en een krimpende stad voor de lagere inkomens. Het stadscentrum heeft een grote aantrekkingskracht op internationaal kapitaal en investeerders. Dat ontstond niet vanzelf. Onder burgemeester Van der Laan is massief ingezet op het verbeteren van de positie van de stad ten opzichte van internationale competitie. Dit programma heette TOPSTAD. De stad werd een succesvol merk (I-amsterdam) met een citymarketingbudget van in totaal 100 miljoen euro. Om je vingers bij af te likken. Zo wordt de stad een consumptieartikel, lekker aangekleed met Zef Hemel’s hipstertheorietjes. Dat resulteert nu dus in een monocultuur van geld. Ook woningen zijn handelswaar geworden. De dominante functie in het straatbeeld is vertier en consumptie. “De grote vloek der saaiheid”, noemde stedenbouwkundig criticus Jane Jacobs dit. Wat voor stad willen we zijn... en groei, groei waarvan? Zuigt Amsterdam de rest van het land leeg? Deels wel; delen van Nederland krimpen terwijl een aantal steden, waaronder Amsterdam, groeien. Grotendeels ook niet, want de grote instroom van Amsterdam komt uit het (westerse) buitenland. Deze groep koopt al enkele jaren het merendeel van de woningen op, ook in de 19de eeuwse wijken. Op het grootste deel van de Amsterdamse woningmarkt heeft het grote geld nu vrij spel; zowel in de koopsector als in de particuliere huursector wint de hoogste bieder. Ondanks alle modieuze begrippen van de afgelopen jaren, zoals ‘de ongedeelde stad’, wordt de kloof tussen rijk en arm steeds groter en schrijnender. Dit is een groot gevaar voor de sociale samenhang in de wijken maar ook voor de stedelijkheid zelf. Wat kunnen we doen? Ingrijpen in de huidige woningmarkt is minstens zo belangrijk als het bouwen van meer huizen. Stop nou eindelijk (na meer dan 20 jaar!) met de verkoop van sociale huurwoningen (meer dan 32.000 zijn er inmiddels verkocht). Pas op de particuliere huursector weer de regels toe van huurhoogte en inkomen; maak er een beschermde sector voor middeninkomens van. Zonder deze ingrepen is nieuw bouwen dweilen met de kraan open: er verdwijnen meer betaalbare woningen dan je tegenop kunt bouwen. Stop met de verkoop van gemeentelijk vastgoed. Hiermee kunnen we een tegenkracht organiseren door op plekken in de stad te sturen op diversiteit en betaalbaarheid. Zo wordt de stad geen slachtoffer van haar eigen succes. Door het activeren van een tegenmacht gaan we de zelfvernietiging van diversiteit tegen. Als we dat niet doen, wat houden we over? Monocultuur!  Dat laten we niet gebeuren. Wil je in gesprek over jouw Amsterdam? Kom op 11 maart vanaf 15.00 uur naar ons lijsttrekkersdebat in de tuinzaal van de Tolhuistuin in Noord. Faircity en verenigde huurdersorganisaties organiseren op die dag een debat tussen burgers, politici en experts over hoe de stad weer van haar bewoners wordt. Waar welvaart en welzijn weer in balans komen, en we niet zelf op de vlucht hoeven voor het kapitaal. Die stad is van ons!
Issue #016 Published: 05-03-2018 // Written by: Jacqueline Schoemaker
Wie is ‘wij’?
Het zijn altijd mensen die een norm opleggen – politici, analisten in de main stream media – die zeggen dat ‘we’ iets niet of wel ‘moeten willen met z’n allen’. De persoon spreekt niet alleen zijn/haar eigen visie uit, maar verbindt daar in één adem aan dat iedereen (‘allen’) hetzelfde zou moeten vinden. ‘Allen’ wordt onderworpen aan de visie van die ene persoon, terwijl de boodschap van die persoon wordt verpakt als een collectieve uitdrukking. Een individueel iemand vindt iets, en spreekt in naam van mij, zonder mij te vragen wat ik er eigenlijk van vind, en wekt daarbij de indruk dat ik mij achter zijn/haar visie schaar. Er is volgens mij geen grotere dooddoener voor de diversiteit.  Een andere uitdrukking, die op hetzelfde neerkomt, is de door dezelfde mensen vaak uitgesproken opvatting dat iemand (of liefst een hele groep mensen) moet kunnen ‘meekomen in de maatschappij’. Wat betekent dit eigenlijk? Wanneer kom je ‘mee in de maatschappij’? Als je een baan hebt? Op vakantie kunt gaan? Er min of meer dezelfde denkbeelden op nahoudt als degene die deze uitspraak doet? Wie bepaalt voor mij dat ik moet meekomen? Waarmee? Het feit dat ik er ben, in deze maatschappij, betekent al dat ik er onderdeel van uitmaak. En meer valt er niet over te zeggen. Tenzij degene die vindt dat anderen ‘moeten meekomen in de maatschappij’ eigenlijk wil zeggen dat die anderen meer zouden moeten handelen zoals hij/zijzelf. De anderen moeten een lesje leren over normen en waarden, en degene die de uitspraak doet, voelt zich bevoegd dit lesje te geven. Het zijn altijd anderen die ‘moeten meekomen in de maatschappij’. Niemand zegt dit over zichzelf. Zo is ‘de boze burger’ ook altijd een ander. Of de mensen die ‘gekwetst worden door zwarte piet’. Of ‘groepen die onder de armoedegrens leven’. Iemand die onder de armoedegrens leeft, zal het nooit hebben over ‘groepen die onder de armoedegrens leven’. En ‘wij’? ‘Wij’ is genoeglijk ‘met z’n allen’. Of ‘het rijke Westen’. Of ‘normaal’ (de grootste dooddoener van allemaal). Maar ik (blank en hoog opgeleid) ben ook een boze burger. Ook ik word gekwetst door zwarte piet. Ik ben niet met z’n allen maar alleen, en in het beeld van het rijke westen herken ik mijn eigen ideologie maar half. Ik hoor bij de anderen. Je est un autre. Er spreekt niets dan uitsluiting uit deze woorden, deze labels. Ze zijn normatief, en het is duidelijk waar de norm ligt en wie hem bepaalt.  De ‘I’ in het ‘Iamsterdam’-logo is bijvoorbeeld bijzonder misleidend. De gemeente wil dat het logo het symbool van de stad en haar inwoners is, maar waartoe verhoudt ‘I’ zich hier? De metershoge letters staan permanent opgesteld voor het Rijksmuseum; soms bij bepaalde andere gebouwen, zoals het (koloniale) Tropenmuseum; en nooit op andere plekken, zoals een woonstraat waar geen vertier is. Deze hiërarchie laat duidelijk zien waar het stedelijk belang ligt. En de inwoners worden via ‘I’ gebruikt om een verhaal van identiteit te vertellen waar ze voor een groot deel zelf geen boodschap aan hebben. ‘Iamsterdam’ is selectief, strategisch en normatief, op geen enkele manier inclusief. Ik ben al heel lang niet meer in het Rijksmuseum geweest, zoals zoveel inwoners van de stad. ‘Iamsterdam’ is duidelijk het symbool van de Amsterdamse toeristenindustrie. Met de ‘I’ van inwoner heeft het bitter weinig te maken.   
Issue #016 Published: 01-03-2018 // Written by: Cody Hochstenbach
Uitsluiting door gentrificatie
Door de steeds grotere woningcrisis gentrificeren de grote Nederlandse steden in rap tempo. Dit proces neemt in Nederland echter andere vormen aan dan in Engeland of de VS. Waar in deze landen sprake is van directe verdringing op de woningmarkt zien we in Nederland eerder het tegenovergestelde: mensen met een sociale huurwoning verhuizen steeds minder omdat de alternatieven onbetaalbaar zijn. Medio 2017 kwamen de Amsterdamse woningprijzen voor het eerst boven de vier ton uit. Een toename van €120.000 in twee jaar tijd. Een nieuw record. De hoofdstad raakt steeds verder losgezongen van de rest van het land. Ook in andere grote en middelgrote steden stijgen de woningprijzen bovengemiddeld snel. De recente prijsstijgingen zijn een teken van de toenemende populariteit van de stad. Tegelijkertijd belichamen ze een nieuwe, steeds diepere wooncrisis – een crisis van onbetaalbaarheid en ontoegankelijkheid. Binnen steden zorgt deze hoge druk voor gentrificatie. Oude arbeiderswijken worden populair bij de middenklasse, woningen worden opgeknapt en tegen de hoofdprijs verkocht, en hippe horeca vestigt zich in de buurt. Voorheen was gentrificatie een kleinschalige tegenbeweging, maar inmiddels is de gentrificatie alomtegenwoordig. Stadsbesturen doen er alles aan de hoogopgeleide middenklasse aan zich te binden, en gentrificatie speelt hierbij een sleutelrol. Markt en staat zorgen er voor dat gentrificatie over de stad uitgesmeerd wordt. Gentrificatie: zelfde begrip andere uitwerking Ook de term gentrificatie zelf is inmiddels gangbaar geworden. Toch bestaat er nog veel verwarring over gentrificatie en haar gevolgen. Dit vloeit voort uit het feit dat we veel van onze kennis over gentrificatie geïmporteerd hebben uit Engeland en de Verenigde Staten – Londen en New York in het bijzonder. Meer dan in Nederland, deelt de markt daar de lakens uit. Ook qua wonen. In deze liberale Angelsaksische landen gaat gentrificatie hand in hand met harde, directe verdringing. Gierige huisbazen en speculerende vastgoedbonzen gooien de huren omhoog en verjagen zo de arme oude bewoners uit hun buurt. Omvangrijk corporatiebezit en huurbescherming zorgen er voor dat dit in Nederlandse steden gelukkig veel minder voorkomt. Oude bewoners kunnen blijven wonen waar ze wonen, ook wanneer de gentrificatie in hun buurt de overhand krijgt. Het is mooi dat we verdringing doorgaans weten te vermijden. Uitsluiting in plaats van verdringing Het gebrek aan grootschalige directe verdringing, zorgt al snel voor de conclusie dat gentrificatie positief uitpakt voor zowel rijke nieuwkomers, als arme oude bewoners. De buurt wordt namelijk opgeknapt en zittende bewoners hoeven niet te vertrekken. Deze redenering is echter te simpel. Verdringing door gentrificatie blijft dan wel beperkt in Nederlandse steden, uitsluiting door gentrificatie is aan de orde van de dag. Door gentrificatie worden woningen nadat ze vrijkomen vaak onbetaalbaar. Sociale huurhuizen worden verkocht aan de hoogste bieder of verhuurd tegen de hoge marktprijs. De toegankelijkheid van de betaalbare huursector gaat zienderogen achteruit. Zo nam in Amsterdam tussen 2007 en 2015 het aantal nieuwe toewijzingen van sociale corporatiewoningen met maar liefst 37% af: van 9.657 naar 6.050. Een gigantische afname in kort tijdsbestek. Daarnaast verdwijnen de meeste vrijkomende particuliere huurwoningen in de dure vrije sector. Dit is zeker niet alleen maar het gevolg van gentrificatie, maar het proces levert wel een directe en belangrijke bijdrage. Zolang je op dezelfde plek blijft wonen is gentrificatie geen probleem Voor zittende bewoners hoeft dit allemaal niet erg te zijn. Zo lang zij goed zitten, gaat de gentrificatie grotendeels aan hen voorbij: hun huur stijgt slechts geleidelijk en van mogelijk huisuitzetting is geen sprake. De buurt om hen heen verandert wel, en er zijn zowel oudgedienden die de veranderingen waarderen als hen die buurtverlies ervaren. Maar wanneer zij moeten of willen verhuizen, werpt gentrificatie steeds grotere barrières op. Gezinsuitbreiding, echtscheiding en baanverlies maken verhuizen noodzakelijk. De huidige woning wordt namelijk te klein, te groot, of simpelweg onbetaalbaar. Maar gentrificatie maakt het lastig of onmogelijk een andere, betaalbare woning te vinden. Ook voor nieuwkomers betekent gentrificatie minder woonkansen, en dus meer uitsluiting. Mensen blijven gedwongen op hun plek In plaats van meer (gedwongen) verhuizingen heeft gentrificatie in Nederlandse steden daarom het tegenovergestelde effect. Het aantal verhuizingen neemt er juist door af. Huishoudens met een laag inkomen komen steeds vaker klem te zitten in hun woning. Dit zien we duidelijk in Amsterdam: het aanbod van betaalbare woningen krimpt, en de verhuiscijfers onder sociale huurders kelderen. Een wrang neveneffect is dat hun blijvende aanwezigheid – uit noodzaak geboren, alternatieven zijn schaars – aangehaald wordt om de gevolgen van gentrificatie te bagatelliseren. Bevolkingsverandering in de buurt gaat er immers minder snel door, waardoor het allemaal wel mee lijkt te vallen. Verhuizen: betalen of de buitenwijk Voor huishoudens die toch verhuizen – zowel nieuwkomers als oude bewoners – zijn de gevolgen van uitsluiting divers. Een daarvan is de suburbanisatie van armoede: Deze lage inkomens vinden geen plek meer in de stad, maar wijken uit naar nabijgelegen kernen. Anderen blijven wel in de stad wonen, maar moeten daarvoor grotere offers maken. Ze moeten genoegen nemen met een te kleine woning, ze moeten de woning delen met anderen, of simpelweg hogere woonlasten accepteren. Waar Amsterdamse sociale huurders in 2009 nog 33% van hun inkomen kwijt waren aan huur, daar was dit in 2015 opgelopen tot 38%. Verdringing mag dan nog wel beperkt zijn in Nederland, uitsluiting door gentrificatie blijkt een geduchte vervanger. Nog wel. Het afbreken van huurbescherming en flexibilisering van de woningmarkt maken directe verdringing een steeds waarschijnlijker toekomstbeeld. Cody Hochstenbach is stadsgeograaf aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. In 2017 promoveerde hij cum laude op zijn proefschrift Inequality in the gentrifying European city. “Uitsluiting door gentrificatie” werd eerder gepubliceerd in Sociale Vraagstukken, 4 september 2017 Opgenomen met toestemming van Cody Hochstenbach en Sociale Vraagstukken.  
Issue #016 Published: 26-02-2018 // Written by: Denis McEvoy
The Brexit delusion and Amsterdam
This is how it tends to work: The government changes social laws and economic regulations supposedly improving life for all of us, particularly for those who are not super wealthy. Yet in reality, something else happens. At first, no one notices. Then life slowly becomes less livable . It becomes harder to buy a house. Finding decent work becomes more difficult. If one does find work, the monthly paycheck has to stretch further and further. Health insurance provides less and costs more. Meanwhile, benefiting from a range of incentives, companies move in from abroad bringing literally hundreds of well-paid, mostly foreign, workers with them. The logic goes that foreign investment is good for the economy. In a sense this is true, the economy benefits overall. But most ordinary people see their protections rolled back while deep-pocketed foreigners come in and drive up the cost of everything from housing to childcare.  People become frustrated. For aspiring politicians it’s tempting to work with frustrations because they seem to represent problems. But politicians must be careful to avoid simplistic Brexit-style analyses of complex problems. The Brexit delusion suggests that the decline in your quality of life is not because the neoliberal policies of economic deregulation and the dismantling of the welfare state but because of an influx of foreigners. So the proposed solutions to our problems become more and more simple: blame the foreigners. It’s far easier to run an election campaign blaming foreigners for every problem than it is to tackle difficult questions. It’s less interesting to campaign on the idea that complex social, political and economic forces have caused governments to shy away from policies that involve any form of wealth redistribution and favour economic deregulation instead. The trouble is that today’s political problems are more complex than ever while people’s appetite for easy answers has only increased. The late ‘90s — buoyed by the birth of new democracies around the world and an internet-driven economic surge — seemed like everything was going to be okay, helping to lull a lot of people into a political sleep. Now, spurred by problems at home and abroad, many have awoken and are all too ready to believe complex problems should have simple solutions. Brexit was born from a belief that complex problems should have simple solutions: things aren’t going well; there are problems with the EU; there are a lot of foreigners in the UK; politicians, rich people and media types typically ignore our concerns or call us racist, so let’s leave the EU... Amsterdam would do well to heed such muddled over simplifications. Housing appears as a major issue in the manifestoes of many of Amsterdam’s political parties. Affordable housing is drying up and moneyed expats are paying insane rents, driving the prices even higher. Many who can afford it are buying second properties and profiting from the squeeze by renting them out on airbnb or similar services. The Brexit-delusion offers a simple answer to this complex mess: there are too many expats and tourists in the city and if only we could go back to how things were 20 or more years ago, everything would be fine. Meanwhile in reality, Amsterdammers, foreign and native-born alike, need to stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens. We need more affordable housing. We need more incentives to help families stay in the city centre. We need to continue the great Dutch egalitarianism that sees rich and poor living in close enough proximity to understand each other, and put the brakes on the current forces that are creating a city centre of ‘haves’ and outskirts and satellite towns of ‘have less’. Honestly assessing who plays the biggest role in these problems is step one. Should we blame foreigners, many of whom have lived here for a long time and contributed hugely to their communities. Or should we look at the complex combination of ill-advised government policy and opportunistic housing corporations? Because while the ‘old’ foreigners may have contributed more and integrated better than many of their ‘new’ counterparts, their new counterparts are often being routinely screwed by housing corporations who care not one jot about their living conditions as long as the mammoth rent comes in every month. Well-paid foreigners aren’t more appealing as tenants simply because they have a lot of disposable income, they also rarely know their rights as well as the natives and many housing corporations understand this and prey on it. And, just like the Brexit delusion, the terrifying risk is contagion. Sure, expats don’t love being picked on as a problem but they still enjoy a certain privilege. Refugees and other vulnerable foreigners are also demonized when the Brexit delusion spreads.  Simplistic answers lead to simplistic answers. Just like Brexit, the frustration can be turned easily onto other people who have even less to do with the problem and are in even less a position to do anything about it. Some people actually believe refugees choose to flee their homes and everything they care about to go to a country they don’t know, where they don’t speak the language just so they can get discounted social housing. People already believe this and their numbers will only grow, with racism (if you prefer ‘bigotry’ or ‘prejudice’ that’s entirely on you) following close behind.   Amsterdam has been a magnet for people from all over the world throughout its long proud history. It has shaped and been shaped by its status as a truly diverse, open and cosmopolitan city. Celebrating Amsterdam’s spirit of internationalism, the Badhuistheater will bring tales from England and the Czech Republic to stage in the first half of 2018 – each a comment on the lives of ordinary people as history grinds on around them. We’ll keep bringing our Dutch neighbours and our international friends of all ages together to enjoy the rare beauty of live theater.  We hope to see you there.          
Issue #016 Published: 15-02-2018 // Written by:
De ‘nacht voor de nacht’ een platform voor de nachtcultuur van Amsterdam
Op 24 februari vindt de ‘Nacht voor de nacht’ plaats en wordt de nieuwe nachtburgemester gekozen. AA sprak met Ella Overkleeft over deze avond en de activiteiten van Stichting N8BM A’dam. De nacht voor de nacht wordt georganiseerd door de Stichting N8BM A’dam. Kun je kort uitleggen wat die stichting doet? Stichting N8BM A’dam is opgericht in 2014 en zet zich in voor een veilig, divers en creatief nachtleven. De onafhankelijke stichting is de schakel tussen de gemeente, ondernemers, bewoners en bezoekers van de stad. We geven gevraagd en ongevraagd advies. Wij signaleren trends en ontwikkelingen in het nachtleven en organiseren bijeenkomsten en evenementen ter stimulatie van de dialoog. Daarnaast zetten wij onderwerpen op de politieke agenda om echt verandering teweeg kunnen brengen. Mirik Milan is sinds 2012 nachtburgemeester van de stad en ik ben er in 2013 bij gekomen. In 2014 hebben we samen de stichting opgericht en sindsdien zitten we beide in het dagelijks bestuur. De stichting is opgericht om het nachtburgemeesterschap te professionaliseren en daadwerkelijk invloed uit te kunnen oefenen. De stichting bestaat uit een dagelijks bestuur, raad van toezicht en nachtraad. Daarbij hebben we ook een Club van 100 opgericht. Alle clubs die meedoen aan de ‘Nacht voor de Nacht’ zijn hier lid van, maar een ieder die affiniteit heeft met het nachtleven kan zich hiervoor aanmelden. Het is de backbone van stichting, financieel en qua netwerk.  Er wordt 24 februari een nieuwe nachtburgemeester gekozen. Hoe gaat dat in zijn werk? Ja klopt, die zullen plaatsvinden in de Marktkantine. Alles hierover staat op onze website, we zijn hier heel transparant over. Wat is de taak van de nachtburgemeester? Het gaat vooral om signaleren, verbinden en agenderen. Het nachtleven heeft vaak een slecht imago, men ziet alleen maar de risico’s en lasten. Met name vanuit de gemeente berust er vaak een stigma op de nacht. Gelukkig is er vooruitgang, mede door wijlen Van der Laan, die wel begreep hoe belangrijk de nacht voor een stad is. Als nachtburgemeester is het je taak om de positieve kanten en kansen van het nachtleven uit te lichten en te delen met mensen. Het nachtleven is meer dan alleen maar dansen en drinken, daarom spreken wij ook over ‘nachtcultuur’. In de nacht wordt gebroken met alledaagse conventies, denken mensen in mogelijkheden en daardoor is er ruimte voor creativiteit. Het nachtleven is vaak een voorloper, waar de dag nog veel van kan leren. De meeste van onze lezers zullen de nachtburgemeester associëren met het commerciële uitgaanscircuit en niet met de alternatieve non-profit plekken die bij Amsterdam Alternative zijn aangesloten, is dat terecht?  Nee dat vind ik niet. Het nachtleven van Amsterdam bestaat uit verschillende scenes en wij zijn er voor iedereen. Wij maken onderdeel uit van een Europees project genaamd ‘Enter The Void’ dat zich inzet voor het gebruik van urban space voor underground jongeren en subcultuur. Hiervoor zijn wij op grote schaal bezig met het gentrification vraagstuk dat in alle westerse steden speelt. In het buitenland leren wij over hoe andere steden omgaan met deze problematiek. Ook hebben we onlangs een event (in Sexyland) georganiseerd voor meer experiment in de stad. Er waren verschillende groepen jongeren en politici aanwezig om mee te praten.  Ook zat ik onlangs in een panel over het behoud van de NDSM, en heb ik binnenkort een afspraak met een projectontwikkelaar daar. Zo zijn we altijd bezig om te zien waar er mogelijkheden liggen in de stad en waar we invloed op kunnen uitoefenen. Wij vinden het heel erg belangrijk dat er laagdrempelige, vrije plekken blijven bestaan in de stad.  In hoeverre is de alternatieve scene gebaat bij een nachtburgemeester en de stichting N8BM?  Wij geloven dat elke scene gebaat is bij een nachtburgemeester. Maar de tijd is beperkt en er zijn honderden thema’s waar je je mee bezig zou kunnen houden. Daarom is het belangrijk dat mensen van zich laten horen, wat willen zij op de agenda zetten van de nachtburgemeester? Kijk naar de gewone burgemeester die houd ook rekening met de behoeften van de inwoners van de stad. Bottom-up citymaking is volgens ons erg belangrijk. Wij hebben inmiddels een groot netwerk opgebouwd en kunnen de stem versterken van een ieder die dat wil. Wat vinden jullie van de alternatieve scene in Amsterdam? Wij vinden dat deze best wat groter mag groeien. Amsterdam heeft de neiging om zich als monocultuur te ontwikkelen. Dit is niet per se alleen gaande in het nachtleven, het is onderdeel van een grotere sociaal-maatschappelijke ontwikkeling. Wij supporten alle DIY initiatieven. Deze initiatieven zijn belangrijk voor de stad en laten aan jongeren zien dat het ook anders kan. Wij zijn nauw betrokken bij de ontwikkeling van het nieuwe evenementenbeleid voor Amsterdam. Hier pleiten wij voor meer aanwas van onderaf. Biedt ruimte voor alternatieve projecten en niet alleen aan de grote reuzen.  Wat vinden jullie van het toenemende toerisme en gentrificatie in Amsterdam? Wat heeft dat op de langere termijn voor effect op de zogenaamde ‘creatieve’ stad? Wij geloven dat culturele diversiteit goed is voor sociale inclusiviteit. Ik maak me persoonlijk zorgen over het ontstaan van een monocultuur, waarin verdraagzaamheid richting anderen ver te zoeken is. Wat betreft het toerisme geloven wij dat sustainable tourisme, kwalitatief toerisme beter is voor een stad, geen consumentisme. Een gemeente zou zich hier op kunnen focussen door het beleid aan te scherpen. Meer geëngageerde bezoekers levert een ander soort dynamiek op tussen de inwoners en bezoekers van een stad. Met onze stichting focussen we daarom altijd op kwaliteit. Een club met eigen programmeur is bijvoorbeeld van meer waarde voor de stad dan een verhuurschuur. Dus waar geef je gezien de beperkte ruimte de voorkeur aan? Dat soort dingen moet je je als gemeente afvragen.  Wat heeft het gebrek aan vrijplaatsen en autonome zones voor effect op Amsterdam? We stonden ooit bekend om het liberale ruimdenkende karakter maar dat brokkelt steeds verder af. We worden steeds bureaucratischer en conservatiever. Diversiteit veranderd langzaam maar zeker in een saaie monocultuur. Is dat niet zorgelijk?  Ja dit is zorgelijk. Als nachtburgemeester (lees onafhankelijke stichting) heb je de mogelijkheid om de luis in de pels van de gemeente te zijn, tegen het beleid in te gaan en zaken als autonome zones op de kaart te zetten. Ik was laatst nog te gast op ADM dus de connecties zijn er zeker. Wij proberen met alle betrokkenen de dialoog aan te gaan. Volgens ons is een dialoog nodig om tot resultaten te komen. Wij verbinden partijen met elkaar, zodat men samen sterker kan zijn. Wat ik gemerkt heb is dat voorstanders van vrijplaatsen in de stad nogal gefragmenteerd zijn en los van elkaar actie voeren. Ik geloof dat dit sterker en georganiseerder kan. Fair city is bijvoorbeeld een mooi initiatief en volgens mij groeit die organisatie flink. Dat zegt dat het de mensen bezig houdt en zorgen baart. Daarom heb ik ook wel vertrouwen in een tegenbeweging. Het lijkt vaak alsof de politiek geen lange termijn visie heeft en vooral bezig is met het scoren op korte termijn. Doordat alles steeds duurder wordt en er straks geen plekken meer zijn waar jong talent zich kan ontwikkelen en kan experimenteren verdwijnt er steeds meer creativiteit en diversiteit uit de stad. Denken jullie hier ook over na? Zeker, en op verschillende vlakken zetten wij ons hier voor in. Wij zijn bijvoorbeeld bezig met een project voor etnische inclusiviteit tijdens uitgaan, want er wordt nog steeds gediscrimineerd. Het nachtleven is vaak niet anders dan de dag, maar er is gelukkig meer plek voor experiment en progressiviteit dus daar moeten we gebruik van maken om verandering teweeg te brengen. Er zouden wat ons betreft ook meer kleine clubs met 24 uurs vergunning moeten komen. Plekken die toegankelijk zijn en waar experiment mogelijk is. Zijn er dingen die jullie missen in het Amsterdamse uitgaansleven? Of dingen die radicaal anders zouden moeten? Ja, het nachtleven is teveel gesegregeerd. Inclusiviteit is een heel belangrijk thema. Dat willen wij ook doorgeven aan de nieuwe nachtburgemeester.  Een van de dingen die jullie doen is het organiseren van de ‘Nacht voor de Nacht’. Wat is dat voor avond en wat is het doel ervan? We willen vooral een platform bieden aan de nachtcultuur van Amsterdam. Met name het uitlichten van de nachtclubs die de foundation vormen van het nachtleven van een stad en dé plek zijn voor talentontwikkeling, creativiteit en subcultuur. Dit jaar zijn de thema’s van de ‘Nacht voor de Nacht’ vernieuwing en talentontwikkeling. Dat zijn mooie thema’s. In hoeverre is er nog vernieuwing? En wat gebeurd er tegenwoordig aan talentontwikkeling in de stad? Er is altijd vernieuwing, net zoals dat verandering de enige constante factor is in het leven. Er zijn heel veel jonge promotors met hun eigen concepten aan de weg aan het timmeren. Zij zorgen voor constante vernieuwing maar zijn ook altijd op zoek naar hun plek in de stad om hun achterban op te bouwen en zich verder te ontwikkelen. Mensen beseffen vaak niet wat voor belangrijke drive het nachtleven is voor de totale creatieve industrie, van fashion, tot aan reclame, het is allemaal verweven met het nachtleven. Vanuit een andere invalshoek is het nachtleven ook de plek voor nieuwe en onconventionele ideeën. Ik hoef denk ik niet uit te leggen dat bijna alle subculturen uit de nacht ontstaan zijn uit een vorm van activisme, het afzetten tegen de maatschappij waar in geleefd werd (house muziek, jazz etc.). Dit kan nog steeds! Ook al lijkt het soms alsof het allemaal 1 pot nat is. Ik bedoel, kijk naar jullie krant en alle activiteiten die in lijn met dit gedachtengoed worden georganiseerd. Neemt niet weg dat ik wel vind dat er in de huidige populaire cultuur meer ruimte mag zijn voor activisme. Maar als we dit ergens gaan vinden is het waarschijnlijk in de nacht. Van wie moet de vernieuwing in een stad komen? De gemeente, jullie stichting of van kleine initiatieven en mensen die durven te experimenteren? Natuurlijk van onderaf. Maar je hebt de top-down structure ook nodig om het te kunnen faciliteren. It works both ways. Daarom is die dialoog zo belangrijk. Je zult tijd en energie moeten steken in het aangaan van het gesprek en mensen inzicht proberen te geven in hetgeen jij belangrijk vindt. Tijdens de nacht voor de nacht zal er aandacht zijn voor het multidisciplinaire aspect van clubs. In hoeverre zijn clubs multidisciplinair? Wat zou er verbetert kunnen worden? Een club is alleen al multidisciplinair als je kijkt naar de organisatie: decor, lichtman/vrouw, dj/vj etc. Het is een podium waar je van alles kunt programmeren en uitproberen! Dat is toch helemaal geweldig. Met ‘Nacht voor de Nacht’ willen wij de clubs uitdagen om naast hun muziek programmering iets extra’s te doen, denk aan bijvoorbeeld een performance of een lichtinstallatie. Juist omdat er zoveel ruimte in de stad verdwijnt zijn clubs belangrijke plaatsen voor experiment. In clubs is vaak de ruimte voor jongeren/subculturen om zich te uiten en ontwikkelen. Wat voor andere projecten kunnen we verwachten van de stichting in 2018? Een project voor meer etnische inclusiviteit in het nachtleven (samen met het MDRA Meldpunt discriminatie Ams) Een project tegen het homogeweld. Een Nachtdebat, een aantal weken voor de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen van 21 maart. Nacht voor de Nacht 2019. Verder is het aan de nieuwe n8bm om zelf haar/zijn eigen projecten te ontwikkelen.  24 februari 2018: Nacht voor de Nacht Platform voor Amsterdamse nachtcultuur, met 1 kaartje naar meer dan 25 clubs. 24 februari 2018 Nachtburgemeester verkiezing Iedereen kan nog stemmen Voor meer info:
Issue #016 Published: 05-02-2018 // Written by: Driekus Goeileven
Circular Living. An ADMer’s Guide to Spiritual Survival in Amsterdam’s Political Wastelands.
The ADM, an old, abandoned shipyard in the industrial desert to the west of Amsterdam, is home to all kinds of birds, trees and other plant-and animal wildlife as well as a flourishing, self-organised community of artists, artisans and other such people as don’t fit the current economical paradigm.  A practical and well-functioning little ‘anarchist’ society if you will, though ‘anarchism’ has somewhat lost it’s meaning here for lack of it’s opposite. Now, obviously, the existence of such a place does not sit well with proponents of the idea that the world should be first and foremost a profitable place. Prolonged existence of ADM may well induce some to re-evaluate their profit-seeking values. Which is not generally a profitable thing to do. Killing the forest and evicting its inhabitants generally is. Unsurprisingly, the ‘profiteers’ as we shall call them here, whilst essentially subscribing to the same world-view, do not necessarily agree on whom the world should be profitable to. From this rather inevitable discord politics and banking, religion and other forms of violence sprang forth, as did the current-day battle over ADM. Towards the end of the year 2017 some of us found ourselves attending a public hearing at the Amsterdam City Hall, the stated goal of which was to provide clarity on the meaning of a single clause in the original contract of purchase of the ADM-terrain.**  It was the peculiarly insincere behaviour observed in some of the city Councillors during this hearing that inspired the author of this piece to try to find some reasonable, preferably widely-applicable explanation for said type of behaviour, and to share his findings in the essay below. May it serve to enlighten those who, like the author, are oftentimes baffled by the intricacies of the profit-seeking mind. The first question was... why Seeing, from up-close, these so-called politicians, lying flat out, blind and deaf (or even violent) to anything that doesn’t suit their intended results, or hearing them accuse others of doing what they themselves were in that very moment extremely guilty of, both surprised and saddened me. As a human being, I was expecting other human beings, no matter their faults, to possess or at least to portray some semblance of decency, dignity, or honesty. I was mistaken. How could this be? Are they not human? Where is their spirit? Love? Why do they not care? The answer to these questions was, at first, equally surprising. Then I remembered what i had previously learned about modern day economics. Introduction to the circular ‘economy’ To the result-oriented mind, life is simple. What do I want? I want to feel great! The quickest and therefore best way to meet this target is of course cocaine. Readily available, in quantities large and small, it is a reliable source of ‘feeling great’. However, as always, there is a catch. Money. In order to obtain coke, one needs cash, dough, dollar or some such substance. Money, for the sake of this article, was invented to make sure everyone, that is, everyone who is or wants to be a Someone, will receive his or her fair share of cocaine, provided they are willing to do whatever it is that will make those who produce money, or have lots of it, willing to part with some of it. Since cocaine is an expensive commodity, we can rule out ‘an honest day’s work’ to be an efficient way of providing sufficient funds to keep on ‘feeling great’. We need to up our game a bit.  History and the world around us teach the observant and the subservient alike  that services such as lying, cheating, banking, and lawyering are highly valued by those who are in a position to allocate funds. It may seem funny that it should be this way, but keep in mind that this system has been going for a while, and those doling out the credits are more than likely liars, bankers and lawyers themselves. They are simply trying to re-create the world in their own image. A very human thing to do. Now, for those who have learned to lie, cheat or even kill when told to do so, the future is very likely to have lots of ‘feeling great’ in it. In disregard of the outside consequences they will do as they are told in order to receive credits, which they will then hand back to what is in essence the same organisation, in exchange for more ‘feeling great’. They have met their target, they will do so again the next day.*** Analysis What we have here is a nice example of a ‘Circular Economy’. It is, alas, also a fair description of a large and extremely wasteful part of the ‘economy’ as we know it today. Be not fooled, ye who wish to learn and and acquire knowledge, into thinking that in order to understand our modern human ‘economy’ we need to learn about swaps, shorts, futures, mortgages,  theories of money and interest or any such contrivances. There is only human behaviour. Human behaviour is easily influenced. Many ways of influencing or ‘controlling’ human behaviour were invented over the years. Religion, blackmail, facebook, indoctrination, intimidation, government, taxes, centralisation of control over resources, schooling, newspapers, media in general, on and on, blahdiblah. As it happens, the most effective way to steer human behaviour so far has been the creation of the concept of money. Whether it actually exists or not, it (or the promise of it) does have a profound influence on an individual’s perception of the world, in a way very similar to the effects of cocaine. Such is its power that many  will give up much of what makes them human just to get it. Like cocaine, it will silence the conscience. Like cocaine, its ‘positive’ effects are temporary and individual. It’s less pleasant, negative effects however are more lasting and always shared. Conclusion Big money and cocaine today are pretty much synonymous. Together they  pretty much form a closed system: once you enter, no way out. These people then, no longer have room for logic, or sympathy, let alone empathy. No room for admitting they were wrong either. Why would they even want to? After all, they ‘feel great’. What now It’s no use debating an addict, nor a parrot taught but one word. This would seem to become especially problematic when these parrots are placed in ‘positions of power’. But, and this really is the bright side to this story, only for as long as we believe that ‘positions of power’ actually exist.  I’ve certainly never seen one. The closer you get, the less solid they appear. Like a mirage. Denying or fighting the existance of such ‘positions of power’ will not, of course, make them disappear. Acknowledging the fact that the basis for their existence lies within our own minds, on the other hand, may well be a logical first step in the direction of a less convoluted world. In the meantime, I say fuck this circular ‘economy’, it’s circular LIVING that matters and I will do so as best I can, with my neighbours here on ADM! Driekus is a long-time inhabitant of ADM. Mostly voluntary. His favorite saying is ‘Language speaks for itsself, no need to say anything’, though that changes by the day. To contact Driekus  you can call him, but he does not answer to anyone. **This clause, allowing only for the establishment of a large-scale shipyard,  represents a value in today’s currency of many tens of millions. Were this clause to be lifted (as has been tried), forgotten or distorted (as seems to be the current strategy), these millions would quickly flow to the owner/profiteers. If left intact, the profiteers will have no choice but to hand the ownership back to the city of Amsterdam, meaning they will have to settle for a much smaller profit of perhaps ten million or thereabout.  *** Disclaimer: Driekus is not advocating the use of money, drugs or politics to anyone. They are dangerous substances, especially so in the hands of professionals. Do NOT mix. Use extreme caution when handeling.
Issue #016 Published: 25-01-2018 // Written by: Clara Davies
Minds of Amsterdam
Minds of Amsterdam is a new AA column in which Clara Davies lets us meet a different artist working in Amsterdam each time. This might be someone she’s randomly encountered, someone who has triggered her curiosity or has somehow impressed her. It could be a painter, designer, musician or photographers – it doesn’t matter as long as she or he is a soul whose creative work adds a touch of magic to this world. The purpose? Using AA as a platform where people and art can meet. Enjoy! Deniss Mitjusevs and the Kinetics of Painting  I met Deniss over coffee, and a whiskey or two, somewhere in between the Monday blues, and the wee hours of Friday night. Perhaps both. Originally from Latvia, he moved to Amsterdam over a year ago with the intention of finding that je ne sais quoi I tend to believe the artistic minds feed on. Amongst writing and currently finishing off a screen play, he paints the concrete and the abstract. Shapes, forms and lines that make you feel as if you were walking through the inner depths of a man’s soul. Fascinated by the numerous canvas he’s stacked in his room, I decided to interview him. His work is original and charismatic, different, just like him. In art as in life, I guess ones creation is inevitably linked with the thoughts that travel through the webs in the mind.  Who are you? I don’t know. The first waking second of every morning decides who I am. The breeze that comes in from the sea, the laughter over a few whiskeys, the drive for some form of success and recognition – they all decide and morph the individual that is writing this.  What is an artist made of? An artist is made of a relentless drive to test the boundaries of an individuals’ existence. Artistry in any form, in my opinion, is the manifestation of ones’ individuality, a certain aspect of human existence that most of us pay attention to and value. Both the freedom and burden of being seen apart from the rest, and the way such burden is carried is the force that holds an artist together. Why do you paint and what do you feel when you do so? Painting is the most kinetic form of creation. Dance can rival the pure physical expression, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert, at least not when I am sober. There is no thinking in painting, there isn’t any time nor space. Painting is doing. It is letting your body speak. Letting your mind go of any restriction. It is free. Romeo or Juliet? Romeo. To go such lengths for an idea of love, and to die for it requires a certain bravery and idiocy that I wholesomely respect. Would you like to make a living out of painting? Not a painter. Apart from the realistic considerations of our time, painting, although it is free, has its limitations. If you see yourself as a storyteller, if you think you have something to say, painting might not be the best choice of medium to impart the public with your ideas. Making a living off of selling your art also involves the kind of gallery public that I grew to dislike quite severely. Name the first piece you created. When I was about four or five, my mother gave me a set of markers. It might not have been the best idea, since I proceeded to draw all over the fresh wallpaper of my small room. But once my first act of vandalism was over, I turned to paper. After a few haphazard attempts at drawing cartoon characters that I frequently saw on the television, I drew a geometric pattern that resembled a city. I think I have used every color in the set. From then on, the art that I produced was inspired by and followed the same style. Maybe admitting the fact that my painting skills haven’t progressed far from a four year olds isn’t exactly a good thing, but the inspiration and childlike wonder that I experienced while drawing that first true “piece” is still within me. What gets in the way your inspiration? I have been told numerous times that only boring people are bored. I tend to disagree. Boredom infects everyone, and from my knowledge, creative people of all strides tend to get bored rather quickly. An overactive mind, a search and inability to get inspired, a restlessness, it is all boredom, and boredom is the poison of inspiration. It is the conscious decision to do nothing, and doing nothing about it. Best meal ever? Florence. April. Copious amounts of olive oil and pastry. The smell of coffee and fresh apricot. What were you doing 5 years ago today? 2012. I was just beginning to write my first ever screenplay. Lots of books and an unknown, with foresight that I have now, sweet restlessness. The conquest of needed literature. The learning. Blurred colors. Sleepless nights. It was a good year. A year of change, necessary change. The movement and speed were striking. The drive that I had was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Had something to do with seven of cups of coffee I’d regularly down a day. What are you afraid of? Every creator, at heart, is most afraid of being mediocre. Is afraid that his own individuality is nothing unusual or deserving of attention. Is afraid that the work that he or she puts everything into is worthless. That is my fear. Who gives you the strength to keep going? Sometimes you come across people in your life that give you a certain spark that keeps a withering spirit of creation aflame. An artist, in any form, needs appreciation. It is the most basic dynamic behind any creative endeavor – the creation and its appreciation. So whenever you do stumble upon such a soul, it is unlike anything you can experience. I am fortunate to have had such luck. Morning or night? Night. Nothing can beat the silence of 2AM. What fuels you? Movement. Physical, spiritual, travel, conversation. Exhilarating, fast change of scenery and mood. The speed at which thoughts travel. Life does not usually follow the same pace, on the contrary, it is usually slow, in the viscous textures of routine and simplicity, but whenever, by circumstance or choice, it throttles at breakneck speed into the unknown of the distant and not so distant future, I feel truly alive, and that is what fuels me. Deniss Mitjusevs ///
Issue #016 Published: 20-01-2018 // Written by: Chris Kok
AltR - A short story by Chris Kok
‘Tell me what you see.’ ‘I see you.’ ‘Yeah, but… What do I look like?’ ‘You look like you.’ ‘Me old? Young? Skinnier? Blonde? You always liked blondes.’ ‘I always liked you.’ ‘You’re sweet, Richard. But seriously. I can look like whatever you want, you know that, right?’ ‘You look like you are. Like my wife.’ ‘Okay, fine. Not very ambitious, but kind of nice. How about everything else? The bar? The patrons? Anything different?’ ‘I’d have to turn it off and on again, to be sure.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘Let’s see…’ ‘Any difference?’ ‘It’s lonely. Apart from that, just the music.’ ‘What about it?’ ‘When it’s off, it’s some kind of electronic chaos. When I turn it on, it’s Nick Drake.’ ‘Lovely.’ ‘It’s nice to see you smile.’ ‘It’s nice to be smiling.’ ‘You want another drink?’ ‘I’m okay, thanks. But go ahead.’ ‘Bartender? Another, please. Just for me, the lady’s fine.’ ‘It’s really nice of Malcolm to give you that thing. It must have been expensive, even with his employee discount.’ ‘I suppose. Although to be honest, I don’t really see the point of it.’ ‘You don’t?’ ‘Well. Maybe it’s just that it’s a little freaky. Don’t you think? I mean, this thing reads my mind.’ ‘Only so it can give you exactly what you want.’ ‘Yeah but, still…’ ‘Did it hurt at all?’ ‘No, it comes with a local anesthetic. Then you just slide it up your nose.’ ‘That is a bit creepy.’ ‘Ah, it was alright, really.  Malcolm helped me set it up. Took all of five minutes.’ ‘So how is it?’ ‘It’s… nice. I guess. I haven’t had it off longer than a few minutes, so it must be doing something right. Mostly, I like the little things. Now, when I walk past those dumpsters from the Chinese place on the corner, I don’t smell them anymore.’ ‘What do you you smell?’ ‘Nothing. Just normal outside smell, I guess. Oh, and I haven’t heard the new neighbors’ baby crying lately. That must be this thing’s doing, too.’ ‘What else?’ ‘No more trash in the street. The house is always spotless. TV’s a lot better. Whenever I turn it on, there’s something I want to watch. And it’s always just starting. Food is amazing. I haven’t had a single bad bite since I started using this thing. Even though, as you well know, I can’t cook worth a shit. Oh, and it’s always sunny now.’ ‘You always hated the rain.’ ‘I mean, it still rains. I still get wet. I just don’t feel it anymore. The weirdest thing though, is driving. There’s never any traffic now, but the car still inches along, same as always.’ ‘Well, it gives you time to finish your crossword. Otherwise you’d never get it done.’ ‘Not without your help, anyway. God, I’ve really missed you, Julie.’ ‘I’ve missed you too.’ ‘That’s… It’s nice to hear.’ ‘You seem tired. Are you tired?’ ‘I am. How long have we been sitting here?’ ‘Two hours and forty-two minutes.’ ‘Aw jeez. We’d better get home. I have work in the morning.’ ‘Whatever you want, sweetie.’ ‘Barkeep, I’d like to settle the score. There you are, keep the change. Honey, you’d better wrap that scarf tight. It may feel like summer to me, but it’s freezing out there and it’s a bit of a walk to the car. The streets seem empty, but it still parked itself two blocks away.’ ‘I’ll be alright, I think.’ ‘Of course.’ ‘But you’re sweet to say it.’ ‘Julie?’ ‘Yes, sweetheart?’ ‘Would you kiss me?’ ‘I thought you’d never ask.’ Richard takes her home, through peaceful city streets. He doesn’t see the beat up cars, the beat up men that sleep in doorways. He doesn’t see the lightning in the distance, announcing the coming thunderstorm. He doesn’t hear the sirens or the worrisome steady clunk and scrape of the engine. He stares at his wife beside him as the car drives itself, then parks. They walk the final blocks in silence. He doesn’t smell the dumpsters on the corner. He holds open the door for her, then follows her inside. He doesn’t see the stacks of mail, piled up in the hallway. He doesn’t see or smell the dirty dishes, cups and glasses that cover every surface of the living room. He flicks a switch and he sees the lights go on. He doesn’t feel the cold. He washes his face and feels the water on his skin. He crawls into bed with Julie. ‘You know,’ he says, ‘maybe I’ll stay home tomorrow. We can have a nice day together.’ ‘That sounds lovely,’ she replies. ‘Goodnight, sweetheart.’ ‘Sweet dreams, dear.’  
Issue #016 Published: 11-01-2018 // Written by: Zygmunt Vroid
Absolutely No Reason to Feel Fine
The period between Christmas and New Year is traditionally the moment to look back and reflect on the remarkable events of the past year. This time, one of the fun facts of 2017 was provided by The Guardian. According to the British newspaper, the world’s 500 richest people have increased their wealth by 1Trillion US$ over the past twelve months. In case you were wondering how many zeros are in this figure, here you go:  The incredible (and pretty incomprehensible) increase in the fortunes of the super-rich comes as billions of poor and middle class people across the world have seen their fortunes decline. The gap between the very rich and the rest of us, The Guardian reports, has widened in 2017 to the biggest in a century so that advisers to the super-rich are warning them of a “strike back” from the squeezed majority.  And isn’t it indeed quite surprising that the out-of-control inequality the world is seeing again since the 1990s hasn’t already lead to such a “strike back”? Why are we accepting these levels of income inequality that are not only socially brutal but also economically totally dysfunctional? Why do we allow our governments to turn back the social clock to pre-modern times? Still mulling over this question I opened the Dutch newspaper NRC. And wasn’t I surprised to find, on the very same day The Guardian dropped its 1Trillion US$ bombshell, an article on the economic situation in The Netherlands entitled “We are absolutely fine but don’t believe it yet”. According to the “top-economist” interviewed for the article, the country is doing better than ever. The only thing keeping the Dutch population from ecstatically dancing in the streets, the article argues, is that people don’t quite trust the amazing “economy recovery” yet. The reason for such collective holding back, our economist muses, is that the Dutch are sufferin  g from post-crisis shock syndrome which makes them unable to realise how fantastically they are doing.  What the economist somehow forgot to mention is the fact that decades of neoliberal policy making have disconnected economy and society to the effect that a booming economy no longer means social progress or anything close to being “absolutely fine” for the majority of the population. As any self-respecting economic historian will tell you, the positive relation between economic growth and social prosperity was one of the great achievements of the post-war welfare state. Neoliberal politics has successfully destroyed this relation over the course of last few decades. The idea that “we” as society are “absolutely fine” because the economy is recovering is thus a remnant from a historical period that simply doesn’t exist anymore. Applying it to our current situation is academically frivolous and journalistically shady. At the end of the day, this is the true meaning of neoliberalism: the only welfare that matters is the welfare of business (during the financial crisis we could literally observe the state turning into a welfare state for the banks).  The problem is that people and their economic troubles don’t disappear because the dominant political ideology doesn’t recognise them. And this is where good old propaganda comes in, or, as British filmmaker Adam Curtis calls it, “perception management.” Our NRC-economist gives us a great lesson in one of today’s most perfidious forms of perception management: psychologisation. What this means is the strategy to turn the real economic and social problems we are experiencing collectively on a daily basis into psycho-pathological symptoms for which only the individual itself is responsible. In the case of the NRC-article this entails the declaration that the economic distress of a growing part of the population is simply unreal: “We are absolutely fine but don’t believe it yet”. The factual troubles of the lower and middle classes are “scientifically” transformed into imaginary problems caused by the brain’s insufficiency to properly process the high-paced economic recovery. Luckily for us, there are economists who can tell us how we ought to feel (i.e., absolutely fine) which implies that those who don’t should probably go and see their GP or psychiatrist to get some Xanax or Prozac or find out whatever went wrong during their childhood.  So take your pills and feel fabulous already. Happy 2018!   
Issue #015 Published: 04-01-2018 // Written by: Jacqueline Schoemaker
Peeing in Amsterdam
I’ve always considered the phenomenon of the urinal in Amsterdam as an obvious sign that gender equality has not been achieved in this town. While the local government provides ample places to pee for men, hardly any public toilets are available for women. Strictly speaking, this gesture, which facilitates only half the population while the other half is explicitly, blatantly, excluded, cannot be called a public service. In fact, with all the current debates going on and decisions being taken by the national government and several major companies about gender neutrality, it is clear that the city of Amsterdam, which even fails to grasp the older concept of gender equality, is lagging behind. Whenever I come across one of those green ornamental iron ‘curls’ as they are called, I’m made acutely aware that I’m ignored and shut out on the basis of my gender, whether I actually need to pee at that moment or not. What is the municipality’s reasoning behind this misogynist half-service? We all know that peeing is a necessity, for both men and women. So why are women and girls constantly told on the street that they don’t need to pee, or, that, if they do, they can go do it somewhere else, that, in any case, their local government is not going to solve their problem while it does solve the problem for men? The subliminal message that women are given, in the public space of the city where they live, is that they simply, literally and quite physically, don’t count. Recently a young woman was tried and fined for peeing in public near the Leidseplein. In itself, this was not a remarkable fact since it is illegal for both men and women to pee in public. The discussion the woman successfully raised was about the lack of an alternative space for her to urinate. She had urgently needed to pee late at night, all the bars and restaurants had been closed and there had been simply no place for her to relieve herself. Interestingly, the (male) judge suggested that with a little imagination she could have made use of a urinal. In other words, she should have tried to fit the male standard that is obviously not equipped to facilitate her bodily needs and habits.(Squatting in a shady corner in public is a lot easier for a woman that trying to pee standing up in a urinal). Most interesting about the judge’s response to the woman’s dilemma of where to pee, was his argument that there are less public toilets for women than for men – ‘less’ being an obvious euphemism: 35 toilets for men as opposed to 3 for women in the centre – because men are much more often found guilty of urinating in public. So, men committing the offence of peeing in public are rewarded with a municipal service, while women committing the same offence pay the fine and subsequently hold their water. The man’s words were a precise reiteration of the phenomenon of the urinal itself. What they, the words of a judge, expressed to the young woman was: you don’t count.  With 35 urinals in the town centre and only 3 toilets, it really can no longer be the case that men urinate more often in public than women. I sincerely hope it isn’t. For me, I know the pleasure of squatting and peeing behind a wall, a disused building or in the bushes at the edge of a park, knowing that by doing so I don’t only relieve myself but also mark my territory like a dog: this is my city too you fuckers! I practise it regularly, and will keep doing so as long as I need to.   
Issue #015 Published: 20-12-2017 // Written by: Nicholas Burman
Telling Stories at Mezrab
Primarily a home to oral storytelling, Mezrab has become one of Amsterdam’s most diverse venues, both in terms audience and programming. Situated at Veemkade 576, on the bank of the IJ, the venue also hosts comedy nights, theatre performances, underground music and more. On a typical night Mezrab is a hive of buzzing curiosity. Founder Sahand Sahebdivani estimates that 50-60% of the audience on any given night are return visitors. You can really sense that when you’re there, the events feel like large family-and-friend occasions you happen to have found your way into. It’s just that this family congregates around performers who love to tell stories. This passion comes from Sahebdivani, who is Iranian born though has lived in Amsterdam since he was three. He explains: “In my family there is this huge love for literature. I even remember teachers at school jokingly apologising to me that their lessons were getting in the way of my reading.”  Once upon a time… The renaissance of storytelling in Amsterdam began over fourteen years ago, in his literature-loving home, where informal evenings with friends were arranged so that they could share poetry and stories, as well as Sahand’s mum’s cooking (this is a practice that has survived the years, her homely food is a fixture at Mezrab). Even with an absent marketing plan, the evenings became so popular that a transfer to a small cafe in the Jordaan was necessary, followed by a move to an art gallery. The ‘space’ finally settled into its current location at the start of 2015. Since then, it has grown from a one man organisation into a mixture of employees and volunteers, totalling thirty people.    Although known for promoting a very traditional form of artistry, Sahand is quick to point out that he’s not a luddite; he loves Netflix, he bonds with his brother over video games (he describes these as “contemporary forms of storytelling”). However, with most of these digital activities being undertaken in isolation, he thinks that the physical relationship between the audience and the performer, and between the audience members themselves, is what has made Mezrab so popular. “That’s something very valuable that people really miss.” Indeed, “connecting with the audience” is a vital element that storytellers must achieve in order to be reinvited to the platform. Mezrab also hosts music events, mainly international acts that would find it hard to get booked elsewhere in the city. It’s also helping encourage budding storytellers, offering them guidance through the storytelling school Sahand started with his close friend Raphael Rodan. The Rodan-Sahebdivani partnership has also resulted in theatre shows, including ‘My Father Held A Gun’, the Gold Award winner at 2017’s Amsterdam Fringe festival.   Multicultural Idealism All but one of the monthly storytelling nights are in English, and the tellers tend to be an international bunch. In one night I attended, India, Australia and the Netherlands were all represented. This is a central component to the collective vision around Mezrab. Sahand’s own story is transnational in nature. His father was member of the resistance in Iran, before arriving in Amsterdam as a refugee with his family in the 80s. The family’s worry that they would be “relegated to some obscure corner of society” in the Netherlands, as Sahand says it was, has thankfully proved to be unfounded. However, there are still relatively few spaces in Amsterdam dedicated of multicultural explorations. “Amsterdam has so many different nationalities, yet doesn’t manage to open spaces that really bring all the different nationalities together,” he says, “as someone who grew up in Amsterdam feeling very much connected to all these different groups, it was the most natural thing in the world to connect these people.” He also cites his family’s revolutionary politic as an inspiration. “My father feels this pride, because in a way all of that knowledge and the wishes of the generations before him, through me, found their way to Amsterdam. There is a lot of idealism in this place.” That idealism has lead to some conscious business decisions, such as serving only vegetarian food, and to remove the cigarette vending machine. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet found a popular replacement for Coca-Cola.  Promoting Radical Spaces      While Amsterdam in 2017 can evidently be a home to experimental and welcoming spaces such as Mezrab, Sahand laments the decline of the city’s underground scenes, both artistic and political, during the previous two decades, during which time there’s been a conscious political effort to ‘clean up’ the city (often, this has resulted in gentrification). He has childhood memories of heroin addicts loitering at the door to his home, nevertheless: “When we came here it felt like everything was possible. There was no money but everyone was doing something. There were so many cultural initiatives, it felt very vibrant and alive. I do feel that at the moment we’re more well off, but that we’ve funneled all of that well offness into the latest hip coffee bar... nothing against them, but I had a dream that life would give me more than just a good coffee bar.”  ‘Mezrab’ means ‘guitar pick’ in Persian, the tool used to help soundwaves ring out. From its intimate beginnings in an Amsterdam living room, Mezrab’s influence is certainly crescendoing. Storytellers that started on its floor-level stage have founded their own storytelling nights, such as at the Volkshotel. Even when on holiday, Sahand can’t escape its impact. “I was in Lithuania, and I was sitting having an ice cream and three young women, around twenty years old, came up to me and they said: ‘thank you for opening the Mezrab.’ On the other side of the fucking continent!”   Photo: Karl Giesriegl