History of the Free Association

The Free Association (Vrije Bond) was set up in the late 1980s by anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists and people from the social movement from that time, such as the squatters movement, the movement against nuclear arms/energy, feminist movement, etc.

The core of the people that set up the Free Association at first were members of a union called O.V.B. (Onafhankelijk Verbond van Bedrijfsorganisaties, Independent Network of Company organizations). This was a revolutionary syndicalist organization, which was set up in the 1950s, and consisted of anarchists, Marxists and Trotskyists, but the anarchist faction tried to horizontalize/democratize the structure by the end of the ’80s and all got expelled from the OVB. It were these people and some other anarchists that were not in the OVB, that set up the Free Association.

The activities in the ’90ties were focused on self management, cooperatives, libertarian economics and environmental issues. Also the publication of the magazine ‘Buiten de Orde’ (Outside the Order) was set up and is being published four times. It still exists till today and is the main platform of its members and others that are interested in anarchism. Unfortunately the Free Association didn’t manage to get involved in labour conflicts in the 90ties, except for some minor strike activities of which a taxi drivers strike was the most important one. It did play a role in the struggle against forced labour for people on dole money, but overall it was low on activities. Also there was a presence of post anarchist ideas from people like Bob Black, Hakim Bey and the like.

In 2003 people from the Anarchist Group Amsterdam (AGA) and Ithaka (an anarchist group form Utrecht) became members of the Free Association and tried to reactivate the structure of the it. Because the AGA had a practice of workplace conflict and had several successful cases, the struggle around labour got more interest in anarchist circles in the Netherlands. Another focus of people in the Free Association (especially the group from Utrecht called Anarchistische Anti-deportatie Groep Utrecht (Anarchist Anti-Deportation Group, AAGU) was the struggle against racist government policies towards immigrants, like locking immigrants up in huge immigration prisons, new government regulations to repress immigrants, a wide range of actions and solidarity work took place, which later developed into the Dutch No Border network.

In 2010 the Free Association got fully involved in a few nationwide strikes like the cleaners strike, and the post workers strike. In both strikes a few workers were member of the Free Association, but we had a lot of other possibilities/entrances to intervene in these strikes. Also there were a few conflicts that were started from groups by the Free Association, the Zaanse Anarchistische Groep (an anarchist group from Zaandam) started actions together with a few polish immigrant workers who got exploited by a temp agency called Otto Workforce. Months of actions, meetings, research and coordination took place when finally the boss paid all the back wages back to the workers. In 2011 the Anarchistische Groep Nijmegen and Anarchistische Kollectief Utrecht joined the Free Association.

In 2011 the Anarchistisch Kollectief Gent joined the Free Association, and because of this the Free Association became active in Belgium and individuals spread over Belgium became members of the Free Association, which resulted in a network of class struggle anarchists in Belgium. They coordinate info meetings all over Belgium, were active on the general strike in Belgium in January 2012 and together with some Dutch comrades joined the picketlines at the strike of the Ford workers in Genk. They’re also involved in a lot of local struggles as individual members, which is how a lot of Dutch members are active as well. For Dutch speaking anarchists in these two countries this is a very unique situation, because as far as we know there has never been one anarchist organization with members and active groups in The Netherlands and Belgium.

Some short facts of the Free Association
The Free Association has more than 350 members, in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The Free Association has no paid officials.
The Free Association doesn’t have any government funding, the only money comes from members contributions/dues, benefits and donations.
All decisions are made in consensus on the bi-monthly general assembly of the Free Association.
Al members have to pay their contribution/dues for the strike fund, but a small part is also used to keep up the organization, such as rent for spaces, propaganda, internet, telephone bills, PO Box, etc.
The Free Association prints/distributes the anarchist magazine ‘Buiten de Orde’, which is a platform for its members and the anarchist movement in general.
Most members of the Free Association are individual members, and are not organized in local groups.
The groups that are at this moment affiliated/organized in the Free Association are:
Anarchistische Groep Amsterdam
Leuvense Anarchistische Groep
Anarchistisch Collectief Antwerpen
Vrije Bond Amsterdam
Vrije Bond Noord-Brabant
Vrije Bond Ommeland
Vrije Bond Utrecht
Vrije Bond West-Friesland
The Free Association is not affiliated with the International Anarcho Syndicalist AIT/IWA, but has worked together with the ZSP/AIT in Poland, the FAU in Germany and the CNT/AIT in Spain.
The Free Association has a good relation with the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World).
The Free Association is not affiliated with the International of Anarchist Federations IFA, but is sympathetic to their affiliated organizations.
Although there has been a discussion within the Free Association about whether to join the IFA or not, we have decided not to join. We are a very pragmatic anarchist organization and want to work together with all kinds of anarchists who are up to something that we agree with.
The Free Association is a kind of anarchist federation with a anarcho syndicalist union in its structure. (This sounds a bit strange but that’s the best description.)
Free Association
Postbus 16521
1001 RA Amsterdam
The Netherlands
E: secretariaat@vrijebond.nl
I: www.free-association.nl
T: 0858778958

Vrije Bond België