The first Occupy moment was on the 17th of September, extending to the 18th. Later we came back on the 15th of October. I wasn't with the people in the beginning, preparing it all. But there was a group of people I know that was preparing for this action.
What has the reaction from the established parties been like?
Some of the established parties showed up the first day already (the ones that liked the protest). But the VVD (the conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), for example, was pretty much against it from the beginning. Occupy doesn't want to identify itself with any political party. The main goal of Occupy is to make people aware of the political processes and the way things are done in the financial world. Occupy doesn't have leaders. Anyone can start an Occupy whenever or wherever he or she wants.
How is the response in the press and among the public at large?
In the beginning most of the newspapers were very positive about Occupy. After some weeks they started to talk more about the problems around the camps than about the big issues we are facing. Unfortunately, we also attracted homeless people, junkies, and quit a few eastern European people who caused some problems, mainly because of alcohol and drug abuse. By now all the small tents have gone and now we can concentrate more on actions and demos but also on colleges and getting in contact with other Occupy groups, both in the Netherlands and abroad.
The Beursplein squatter camp in front of the Amsterdam stock exchange
The international Occupy movement has been calling 2012 "a year of resistance.” What activities is the Dutch organization planning?
That all depends on the broader international picture. The main goal is still creating awareness. For example, we joined in in a big action with Dutch public transport workers against proposed budget cuts. We also had a demo last weekend against ACTA. At this moment people from Occupy are collecting stories from Greek people on how the situation in their country affects their lives and society. We're thinking of setting up a blog where we will put all the materials we can collect on this subject, stressing that what is happening in Greece now can also become a Dutch reality. We're seeking contact with other Occupy groups in the Netherlands to coordinate actions together. There are also groups who are concentrating on alternative lifestyles (e.g. permaculture, transition towns, substitutes for money etc.)
How closely are you networked with other Occupy groups in Europe and the US?
We do have some contacts with other occupies, but I would like to have more contact.
I have visited Belgium and Berlin to make some more contacts around Europe. We already had several meetings with other Occupies in the Netherlands. So we are hoping to bundle our strengths.
I don't like - seen on an Amsterdam street.
Far-right populist movements, not least Geert Wilders's quasi-fascist "Freedom Party," have been popping up all across Europe. Neo-Nazis have also begun infiltrating the successful German Pirate Party. Since your movement is also concerned with grassroots issues, how do you keep these people out of Occupy?
We don't keep people out of Occupy because anyone can start an Occupy. What we do is try to show that movements like the Freedom Party are only interested in creating fear and hatred against foreign people living and working in the Netherlands.
But as you can guess, we haven't attracted many people from far-right populist movements, luckily enough.
People are confused about what Occupy really wants. How would you describe your organization's vision of an ideal society? Would it be left-wing, right-wing, or something altogether new?
First of all it's not an organization and there are many ideas about how an ideal society should look. As I said before, lots of alternatives are being studied. But again, our main goal is creating awareness.
*Full name withheld by request.