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Piet van der Lende: 'resistance will return'

5 April 2008 - Social activism is in decline, but there will be a new counter movement, says Piet van der Lende (60). Mug magazine has an interview with the legendary leader of the Bijstandsbond, an organisation of social assistance recipients.

"You'd just spend an afternoon distributing pamphlets at the Albert Cuyp market, and three days later you'd have a hall full of people" he describes the social climate in the late 1980s, when he started working for the Bijstandsbond.

Actions were tougher then. When a state secretary wanted to abolish social assistance for people under 21, a poster was made with his photo and the text 'public execution at Dam Square'. Van der Lende: "Try doing that now! The anti terror squad will be storming in".

In addition to his work for the Bijstandsbond, Van der Lende was a volunteer for the Moroccan workers' organisation KMAN and was involved in the Anti Fascist Front Amsterdam. He is convinced that the anti-racist movement of the time is the reason why the extreme right never made headway in Amsterdam.

Van der Lende grew up in a liberal Protestant environment in the Frisian Stellingwerf and studied sociology at the Free University. His father was involved in co-ops founded by farmers in order to remain independent of big business. "We are not Unilever's milk servants", his father used to say.

Interview (in Dutch). Photo: Ingrid de Groot / Mug


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