By Anna Ziya Geerling
It is late in the evening when my fellow world-changer-to-be and I find our way through sketchy alleyways in The Hague. “It should be somewhere here…” We are following arrows attached to walls, or secured below empty beer bottles on coffee tables in dodgy courtyards that are supposed to lead us to the opening of the festival ‘2.Dh5’. The name stems from a brave, but often fatal, chess move. A good metaphor, because that is what this festival, organised every year since 2006, is about: bringing together an accumulation of brave DIY initiators of change. It provides them with a place and time to exchange ideas and tactics, discuss current political issues, and make new connections.
Activism might have a negative undertone for some, but what it means to the people behind 2.Dh5 (and to me) is to be actively engaged in society, to think critically about the system you live in, to demand your own voice and to be an aware participant in the protection of your own and others’ rights.
The theme this year was ‘Tomorrow: future as perspective for movement’. A nice follow-up from last year’s theme “history as perspective for movement”, when a group of friends from UCR and I joined this festival for the first time. Back then we were already surprised to find a UCR professor present, but this year there was an even more impressive delegation of UCR students and alumni. UCR’s aim to educate students into ‘global citizens’ through teaching them how to think critically and attain a global awareness seems to prove its worth.
Located in the PIP, a cultural centre in The Hague, we spent the weekend discussing ways of ‘Organising and politicising the commons’ in the Netherlands against the backdrop of the racing trend of privatisation and enclosure of public services. We learned about conspiracy theories and joined an interesting presentation about ‘resource scarcity, and its relation to food production and violence’. Then we witnessed an insightful presentation on ‘The heroic struggle of the people of Kobanê’ from a Professor of Wageningen University and a Historian from Germany who just returned from a month of field research in Rojava. They informed us about the democratic system the people in Kobanê have created for themselves and the incredible self-empowerment of Kurdish women that we in the West can definitely learn from. ‘Greece: Challenges for the left government and movements’, addressed the many challenges the new left SYRIZA-government in Greece has to face. Half of the people that are now in government used to be the activists attacked with teargas during demonstrations by the people that form the other half of government. The second day we attend the pivotal workshop on ‘International Trade Treaties TTIP (EU-VS), CETA (EU-Canada), and TISA (EU-VS concerning trade in services) and strategies against them’. These secret trade agreements will affect all of our lives yet nobody seems to know about them. To my shock even the scarce collection of activists that accumulate in the old hall that Sunday morning seem to be slightly uninformed. Last but not least we take part in an interactive discussion on Intentional Community Living organised by Mandril, a squat community in Maastricht where some 8 girls and one guy share one bedroom (and no, they do not have orgies in there). A lot of practical advice was given that many of your filthy Bagijnhof-kitchens could have profited from!
As is obvious, there were and are many things to think and write about, much critical engagement left to do, and many protests to be held. For more information on the contents of the festival and coming editions check out http://www.2dh5.nl or their Facebook-page. Activists, global citizens, or people generally interested in social movements, good discussions and critical analyses of political situations and global issues should definitely consider joining. Interactive learning and the prospect of being a participating global citizen should be enough of a motivation for you to go as a UCR student. Do not just get informed, get involved!
P.S. If you happen to be a right-winged student you might reconsider going, though you will definitely stir up some nice discussions.
Anna Ziya Geerling, class of 2016, is an Anthropology and Law major from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.