[OPE] Dutch SP

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Thu Dec 03 2009 - 15:35:08 EST


In answer to your question, I am no longer a member of the SP branch, I
resigned of my own free will some time ago. I am not affiliated to any
political group or tendency, although I have friends who are so involved.
But I am not going to provide my reasoning on this list, nor am I going to
criticize the SP other than if they actively blocked me in what I want to do
in life, which is highly unlikely.

All I can tell you really is that the SP gave very thorough and highly
effective answers to three basic questions:

1) What does "our socialism" mean in real life?
2) What do we practically have to do, in order to be politically successful
and really have an effect?
3) As circumstances change, how do we ensure that we change with it and
anticipate things, organisationally and otherwise, rather than

Well, they looked at the "means" and the "ends" of political activity in a
practical, flexible and reasonable way, with an open mind, in terms of what
you can achieve the way the world really is, made basic decisions about
their orientation and what they wanted to develop, and then they just kept
working at it with a lot of dedication, hard work and commitment, learning
from what they did well and what they did wrong, talking to lots of people
in a way which closely reflects the reality of workers' lives as it is. They
attracted a bunch of highly motivated people who were prepared to put in a
lot of voluntary labour, and from there, the party just grew steadily across
the decades.

Once they gained official positions in local and central government, they
consolidated their financial position, since an SP member cannot make any
money out of party activity, and all remuneration from official functions
goes into party coffers. The party pays representatives in some official
functions (like parliamentarians) a modest wage, and refunds certain
political expenses, but that's about it. If you work for the SP you don't do
it for the money, but only because you believe in what they want to do, and
because you want yourself to work to implement party policies. As a result,
the SP is the best funded party in the Netherlands.

But as for the rest, I mean if you want to find out about the Dutch SP,
don't talk to me, talk to the SP. http://international.sp.nl/ They are quite
happy to share experiences with people in other countries, and really the
centrepiece of their political style is a constant dialogue with a great
diversity of people, and regular surveying of what people think. Without
dialogue, of course, democracy is a dead letter. I personally met and talked
with quite a few of the leading people in that way, they discuss with people
all over the country and travel a lot, they don't place themselves "above"
anybody else. The "parliamentary talkshop" is only one venue among many
others. At most you can say, that their time is practically limited, some
things have priority. How far you reach into the "mind" of the SP just
depends on how much effort you put into it, which is not unreasonable.
People tend to choose their own level of participation according to their
circumstances and inclination.

As regards your question about coalitions, factually the SP has made many
overtures to various other parties for joint work up to and including
government coalitions, but other parties have mostly rejected such proposals
of working with the SP. Consequently, the SP has remained an oppositional
party shut out from governmental power, with the proviso, that in some local
councils they obtained a majority, or at any rate sufficient political clout
to engage in joint work with other parties; and that, on particular
political issues or campaigns they were able to work together with other
parties. There are many ideas of what a socialist society would look like in
the SP, but it is not a primary concern - the primary concerns is what is
happening now and what will happen in the politically foreseeable future.
And what you can foresee there with any accuracy is obviously limited,
especially in an era when things change extremely fast, and it is difficult
even to stay on top of the political news.

As regards myself, well, there just isn't any political party around that I
can really agree with here, and since I cannot very well join or stay in a
political organisation that I don't really agree with (I don't believe in
"entryism", suivisme and that sort of thing, never have), I am not joining
any political party at all.

It is also possible of course that I will form a group or club again of my
own in the future, but it takes quite some work to track down people here
who think in a similar sort of way as I do, and can work with comfortably
for shared purposes. Usually, if something like that happens, it just
happens naturally in the course of what you are doing already. And really
there are other things that preoccupy me much more now, I am more interested
in research about basic questions and writing up some conclusions I never
got around to previously. I've been a member of about seven different
political parties and groups on the Left in my life since I was 19, and I
learnt a lot from it, I mean I don't regret any of it, but each time I
discovered after some years, no, this is not really what I want, I have to
learn more, and so on - or, the group simply dissolved, because it had
exhausted its possibilities, or, I moved to another place.

My training has been that you have to do these things with the appropriate
motivation, and consider that carefully. Also, circumstances change and then
you may exhaust the possibilities of what you can achieve with a certain
bunch of people. You always have to have you own idea, I mean, you can adapt
yourself flexibly in many ways to cooperate with others, but you always have
to retain your own idea and your own sense of who you are. If you find that
there is really no space for your own idea, you are in the wrong situation.
You can be lucky to find a team that you can work with longterm in a
constructive way, and commit yourself completely to that, but you may not be
so lucky for one reason or another. And obviously you can make good and bad
choices, or evaluations. In politics as in science, "proofs" and "rewards"
are often hard to get, never mind their general acceptance - the
vindications of your strivings may only come years later, or they may not
come at all. So you are never simply acting on rational criteria only, you
are a human being with hopes or faith, fears or worries, concerns and
foibles, like anybody else. That makes it especially important to know
clearly why you are doing what you are doing, what your own motivation is.

My general political outlook (basic beliefs and values) has never altered
since I was about 22 and had studied the world around me for myself. At that
point, a vast field of possibilities opened up for exploration. But, well,
people change, I change, you develop different sides of yourself, you gain
more knowledge and experience across time, and sometimes you have a need of
this, or you are better placed for that. That affects your political
participation also. As you grow older, your social intelligence is
sharpened much more through many trials, and you know much better "what's
for me" and what's not, what to join and what to stay away from, you
recognise much better what's really happening. You can have profound doubts,
or you can experiment and explore, but gradually you do discover the basic
modus operandi of all kinds political endeavours, and you simply know that
"this is for me" or "this isn't for me". People can say all they like, but
"you've gotta do what you've gotta do".

It's like anything else, if you want to achieve something, you have "to do
what it takes", and if for some reason you can't or don't want to, why
bother with it? The greatest tragedy in life is to get trapped in a
Kafkaesque situation where nobody really gets what they want out of it, and
then you have to find your way out of that. It doesn't disturb me at all, if
at some point I am pretty much on my own with my own idea, it is just a
phase of life, that is all. In the future things may be aligned in a
different way, where I see a space for my idea. I don't have to belong to a
political party or group to "feel good" or something like that, and I am not
easily pressured into things. Sometimes you help yourself and others best by
not doing things. It didn't occur so much to me in my younger days, I was
keen to act, but it's perfectly true.

"Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti."


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Received on Thu Dec 3 15:38:20 2009

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