PROVO!

Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt


By Richard Kempton
Autonomedia, 2007
ISBN 9781570271816
$14.95
160 pages

Provo staged political and cultural interventions into the symbolic and everyday spaces of Holland from 1962–1967. In this first book-length English-language study of their history, Richard Kempton narrates the rise and fall of Provo from early Dutch “happenings” staged in 1962 to the “Death of Provo” in 1967. He chronicles Robert Jasper Grootveld’s anarchist anti-cancer campaign, the riots against Princess Beatrix’s marriage to an ex-Nazi, and the famous White Bicycle program. He also comments on parallel contemporary and near-contemporary movements (including Dada and Situationism), Amsterdam’s previous anarchist traditions, the spread of Provo through Holland and the development of the Kabouter party, and ends by offering an existentialist critique of Provo and other anarchist movements of the 1960s.

What they’re saying about Provo:

“This book is more than welcome. It begins to remedy the striking paucity of reading matter in English on the Provo movement—a movement with so many lessons, both positive and negative, for radicals today.” — Donald Nicholson-Smith, translator of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle

“Thanks to Kempton’s engaging history, Amsterdam’s Provos will careen into your heart on their white bicycles, toss you a chicken, and renew an anarchism that both provoked authority and promised a free and communal civic space.” — Cindy Milstein, Institute for Anarchist Studies

“Absurd and artistic as well as effective and influential, today’s Left could learn a lot from the Provo’s spirited anarchy.” — Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy


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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

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