How to fight fascism in 7 days
The beginning of my journey to make a difference started with the election of Donald Trump. It made me anxious and desperate; the phrase “we have to do something!” was constantly running through my head, and the tension in my body couldn’t find a way out. At that time, I was studying at a film school in the middle of a Danish forest. My frustration reached a peak when I noticed that the Dutch PVV, an extreme-right, populist, anti-immigration and anti-EU party, was heading the polls for the national elections. I simply couldn’t fathom how yet another fear-mongering leader could amass so many votes – and my home country, no less! I could not sit still and do nothing, and although I didn’t have any idea how, I was determined to fight this new fascism (which, in a great display of my cluelessness, didn’t even turn out to be the right word!).
I decided to make a documentary about the subject. The idea was to travel to The Netherlands during election week and figure out how to fight ‘fascism’ by trying things out myself. I joined protests, went campaigning and sprayed political graffiti tags. I had also arranged to meet a number of protesters who were already fighting in the streets, all of them in their own way. This young filmmaker’s desperate quest would be my final film for my year at the European Film College. With passion and determination, I convinced the school to commission and finance the film and after two weeks of intense preparations, videographer Maja and I traveled back to the Netherlands to spend the 7 days leading up to the elections fighting the PVV.
What followed was a week full of disappointment, hope and insights. I almost got arrested by the police for protesting in public (I didn’t know it was illegal), I roamed the streets at night and had conversations with my ‘enemies’ (PVV voters) who turned out to be really nice, but quite… single-minded people. By a complete stroke of luck I met Wim, who had started his own sticker campaign against the PVV. He assured me that an individual can, and should, make a difference:
Later on, when it turned out the PVV hadn’t won, but did become the second biggest party in The Netherlands, I met up with Ewout van der Berg. He is one of the leaders of the Internationalist Socialists in The Netherlands, always fighting for more equality. Just before one of his protests – which I would be joining – he made some time for me to tell me that the reach of theindividual is limited: to make a lasting change you have to organise in bigger structures.
In the end I discovered that it’s very difficult to make a difference in the political field. Some people are fighting on the streets, others in parliament. What unites them all is a strong motivation to make a difference. They don’t accept their frustration; they all go out and do something, they pick up a protest sign, join a political party or design some stickers. It might seem like an obvious thing to do. But then again, most of us are raging in front of the television, feeling powerless. That’s only because we are not actually trying to get into a position of power. The moment you decide to go out there, allies will automatically find you. Before you know it (it may take just 7 days!), you’ll be taking your first steps towards making a difference in your political arena. It’s quite a hard fight, and it won’t be won in 7 days, but it is a fight that’s totally worth fighting.
How To Fight Fascism in 7 Days is currently on a festival tour. Find more information on screenings and prizes @ www.svenpeetoom.com