DOWN WITH ANY ELITE
is Joost van Steenis?
was born in 1938 in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands. I
hardly remember anything from the Second World War and I am in no
way obsessed by this war. It was a horrendous event in which various
elites fought against each other for the ultimate power in the
world. Nearly all victims were however masspeople. I have nothing
to do with such events.
My first political reminiscences came from the Korean War (1951-1953). Then I thought that the Korean people attacked a Western super power. As a boy of hardly fifteen years old I did not foresee that after this war a new elite should again subordinate the Korean masses. But at a very early age mistrust of any activity of the highest elite of the world - the Western elite - came bubbling up.
In university (I studied chemistry, physics and mathematics) I became member of the Democratic Socialist Student Organisation Politeia. Later I was one of the co-founders of the Socialist Youth. It is remarkable that some of the former leaders of this extreme-left organisation ascended to prominent positions in society. They penetrated into circles where income is high and wealth self-evident and there they showed only in words some compassion with the masses.
Around 1963 I worked some time in Africa and hitchhiked from Nigeria to Kenya. The subordinate position of masspeople is in that continent much more evident than in the Netherlands that belongs to the elite countries. Not only humans, also countries are divided into elite and mass. This impression was strengthened by later extensive journeys through Latin-America, Asia and Europe.
Back in Holland I was co-founder of the Red Youth (Rode Jeugd), which was sympathetic to the ideas of the Chinese Revolution. I liked the ideas of Mao Tse Tung, especially his effort to involve masspeople actively in the development of the country. This was in contradiction to what had happened in the Soviet-Union. There the masses were silenced by the new leading class (the communist elite) that came forward after the Russian Revolution. The Dutch Communist Party that was subordinate to the Russian Party did never attract me. The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution horrified the Western elite, but in my eyes it is still a laudable effort to activate masspeople to improve their own existence and to fight against the rise of a new (party) elite.
I was also attracted to the idea of a People’s War but my ideas were not yet so far developed that I understood that the strict leadership of a Communist Party in such a war was one of the reasons that a new Chinese elite could come into being. But I liked Lin Piao's idea that the struggle of the people in the Third World could be helped by an independent struggle against the top elite in elite countries. This was later one of the reasons for a conflict with the German Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion) about the political line that had to be followed.
The Red Youth agreed with the RAF that it was permitted to use violence in a world in which elitist violence is abundant. Action methods can not be rejected because the establishment disagrees. I never had any sympathy for the many groups which limit themselves to peaceful actions, to asking, praying or begging the elite to make society better. These actions will never change the existing power relations.The Italian Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse) strengthened my idea about the importance of attacks on prominent persons. The Red Brigades however disappeared also because their organisation was too centralised. Centralisation will always lead to the rise of a new elite. In 1975 I published in a pamphlet the idea of the use of Small Violence (Now I should say Creative Disturbance) against private persons but that idea did not get much approval. Most activists preferred to be member of an organisation that was built around a leading body instead of being part of a vague organisation that put individuality in tfirst place. I refuse to believe that people are by nature subordinate.
In the sixties I participated more or less in the Provo Movement and in the beginning of the eighties I was active in the Squatter Movement and the Movement against Nuclear Power. In connection with the last two movements the attack on persons had some result. But most activities were directed against the police and not against leaders.
With my friend Tom de Booij I investigated in the meantime the Dutch financial and economic elite. The results were published in our magazine "Power & Elite" that was published around the year 1978. In 1980 I recorded the final result in my first book "The Power of the Family Capital and What to Do About It". (this book is only published in Dutch).
In 1982 I published my second book, "The Power of the Autonomous Human" with the sub-title: "Theory and Practice of Attacks on Persons". It is a review of many real actions against powerful persons. I participated in some of these actions.
Around the year 1984 I sent thirteen issues of my "Letters of an Autonomous Person" to a fairly small circle of Dutch people. In these letters I developed new political ideas about our society.
In 1989 The Wall fell in Germany and the world changed because the artificial contradiction between capitalism and communism disappeared. Or better said, the capitalist and the communist elite had become to such a degree comparable that the communist system became superfluous. It was an important reason why leftist social movements vanished. Now, twenty years later, leftist movements are still languishing.Nonetheless I published in 1990 my third book "About Violence and Democracy", which carried as sub-title: "Is There Anything Better than Democracy?" Because I had not foreseen the Fall of the Wall my third book failed to get any attention. All political interest was absorbed by events elsewhere. Moreover all Dutch social movements had virtually disappeared.
My book against democracy was not very good.
It was too much directed against democracy, while the theory of
evolution which propagates a gradual development over a jumpy
one is more fundamental for the further development of our
social organisation than democratic theories (Darwin lived indeed a
century later than Montesquieu). My first two books, "The Power
of the Family Capital" and "The Power of the Autonomous
Human", contained in contradiction to this third book more
positive ideas. In a certain sense my third book failed to give an
idea of the real power relations in our world and reflected still
the outlived political contradiction between left and right.
In my first book I already stated that I did not belong to the Left or to the Right. I am an Autonomous Being. Only in my fourth book, "The Scarists", I made autonomy of human beings a focus point. And indeed, the Fall of the Wall has shown the bankruptcy of leftist ideas to reach another society. Something completely different has to happen to get a future that is not even more beautiful than the present one but in which also human relationships will be completely different.
During some years after the Fall of the Wall I suspended my political activities. In Southern America I saw that the Third World hardly had changed since my journey through Africa. I read some mathematical and scientific books and I used some of these renewed insights in The Scarists. Above all I was horrified by the emergence of old primitive thoughts. Narrow nationalist and racist ideas were not limited to Rwanda or Yugoslavia. It became clear that hardly anybody had learned anything from the events of the Second World War. In the whole world masspeople were again locked up in a corner they were not allowed to leave. Origin became again more important than being human, ancestors reigned again over the offspring, the past dominated again the future. It was denied that humans are unique, creative and autonomous, once again it was tried to change humans in dependent herd-animals. But in our society you can not expect another policy: The elite sees itself as a group that is elevated above other people. For the elite it is quite normal to categorise people in small groups."The Scarists" is my fourth book and it is only published on this site. Of my other three books a limited number of copies were printed (in Dutch) but I do not expect that any reader will know them.
My general idea of how we can get another society will be clear when the ideas in "The Scarists" are digested. People ought to be considered as autonomous individuals and ought to act according to this idea.
The other central idea is the fact that much was, is and remains wrong in our world and that the top leaders of the world act incorrectly. I distrust all what is brought forward by elitepersons and I distrust all their activities. The most important purpose of their activities is the promotion of the well-being of the own group. I blame the masses that they are too passive, that they do too little to escape from their subordinate position. It is your choice to side with the elite or with the masses.
It is important to develop a mistrust of the elite and to dismiss all their activities. But that is not enough. It is only the start of the realisation that something is fundamentally wrong in our society. It can be the start of a different idea how to become active against something that influences your life.
You also have to develop positive
thoughts based on the idea that everyone has the right to have
power. Masspeople have the human right - and in my eyes even the human
obligation - to use this power to achieve a world in which power is
more equally distributed. The two characters in
Scarists", Hakima and John, talked about these subjects and
also about the way to achieve a new world.
In 2010 I started a new
kind of action under the slogan "Spending 200.000 euro in one
year should be the LIMIT!".
When the reason and the
possibility to spend so much money is made impossible, the
dominating paradigm that all is determined by money will be replaced
by the new paradigm that puts people first, that considers that all
people have the same status. The method is of course Creative
Disturbance of the life of the elite as described in Chapter
19 of my book About Violence and
Otherwise the world will never change.
Through the years I have become convinced that
I have to think and act as an autonomous individual and that I must
not lose myself in the warm surroundings of a group. Also because of
the possibilities of Internet I have decided to bring some of my
ideas into the open.
Joost van Steenis, Amsterdam, September 2010
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