Nieuws - 1 februari 2011

Demonstrator runs out of time

Joris Luyendijk shared his views on power dynamics in The Hague, explaining to a packed audience in LA13 last week why demonstrations always take place too late.

Just like in his latest book ('Don't mention my name, but..'), the writer talked about his findings after one month at the Dutch parliament in Binnenhof. A hundred and twenty students attended the Studium Generale to listen to him. Lobbyists and government officials are the ones who hold real power in the Dutch democracy, according to him. Politicians are puppets in a puppet show.
This point of view is not a radical one in itself. 'This has never been a secret, but the political system is able to resist analyses such as mine.' Things took an interesting turn when one of the students asked: 'If politicians have so little power, why then did we go to protest on Friday?' To this, Luyendijk offered an answer: 'Maybe the decision for the final form of the tuition fee system had already been made, but the state secretary stooped down later to show that he really wanted to listen to the citizens. All of you played your role.' That students had to take to the streets was a sign that the student lobby had failed. 'The new members of the student union came on board in September after the vacation, while the decision had been made in the summer. Those with experience are never there at the right time.'
About conflicts in the media, Luyendijk commented: 'Whenever you hear sustainability being reported in the news, it means that a lobby group has failed and is using the media to draw attention to its interests. The media willingly lets itself be used. The media moment last year was staring at a closed door for hours. That was very symbolic. When one medium is present, the rest can't afford to be left out. Real power dynamics are not as transparent as they're generally considered to be, because only the puppet theatre around the politicians remains in sight.'