Category Archives: History

Downfall of Netherlands (Country of naive fools)

In Douglas Murray’s Strange Death Of Europe an apocalyptic novel from 1973 was mentioned, The Camp of the Saints or Le Camp des Saints, the original French title. The subject of the novel dealt with an apocalyptical vision of an uncontrollable immigration that would leave Europe to a major  dilemma for the politicians (letting the masses in would destroy the Europeans, refusing to let them in would destroy the refugees). The novel at the time of publication was slaughtered by the critics and handled as a racist piece. Put in perspective to the same ineptness that European leaders demonstrated in recent years with regard to immigration, the novel had “an uncomfortable habit of bobbing back to the surface” as Murray puts it.

It made me think back of an apocalyptic publication that appeared in 1990 in the Netherlands: Downfall of Netherlands (Country of naive fools) or De ondergang van Nederland  (Land der naiëve dwazen) as the original Dutch title. Like The Camp of Saints the publication was in the Netherlands surrounded with the same kind of animosity as its precursor in 1973. Ultimately the book became banned and the supposed author went on a  trial and was convicted to pay a fee. I do not know if Downfall was unknown to Murray or he deliberately left it out, but it would have presented an interesting addition to be mentioned in Strange Death. It deals with most aspects that Murray writes about concerning the incompatibility and unavoidable confrontation between immigrants with islamic belief and the secular, indigenous Europeans as well as its hateful reception by media and the elite.

Contrary to Camp of the Saints the origins of the author of Downfall are vague and partiallu unknown. The name of the author in the book (Mohammed Rasoel) was a pseudonym and Dutch journalists (later even scientists) went to great lengths to uncover the true identity of the author. Many names popped up, but until today there is no conclusive answer to the origins of the author. The book was published just after the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and it is made clear in the preface the author wishes to remain anonymous to “avoid the mistakes of Rushdie”.

The style of writing shows that the author has a perfect grasp of the Dutch language and uses very specific Dutch words and expressions, something that would be almost impossible to expect from an immigrant that by the time of writing stayed in the Netherlands for some 10 to 15 years. On the other hand the situations described from the homeland of the immigrant as well as the description of the culture and traditions show an insight that goes beyond of someone who has lived his life in Western Europe. So it seems most likely that the book is the result of a cooperation between a Dutch writer and the immigrant with his roots in the Middle East.The preface mentions the aim of the book “to warn the Dutch that their optimism, naivety and guilt are misplaced when being confronted with Islam” and that “if the course of their actions is not changed drastically they will destroy and give away their own culture and ultimately their country”.

Except for the short preface, the book is described from the perspective of the immigrant/ author who tells about his origins and education. It is a concatenation of deceit, harsh upbringing and corruption. A climate where there is no place for self reflection or self critique, things that would be interpreted as weakness. His contacts with tourists from Europa make him aware that there may be another world outside the one he grew up in. For some vague reasoning, he decided time had come to leave his homeland in the Middle East behind.

After arriving in Greece and travelling around Europe, he ends up in the Netherlands and has big issues to adapt to the mentality of the Dutch. The Dutch seemed full of self-criticism and guilt, characteristics unknown to him until then. A relationship with a Dutch woman fails because of his distrust to the woman and the attempts of the woman to change him approaching him with a typical Dutch mentality. The Dutch, in his opinion, make the mistake to project their own feelings on immigrants, who can not relate to intentions of self-recflection or admitting short-comings.

These cultural differences form the largest part of the story and the general trend is that the author describe the Dutch as naive, civilized and with a complex system of do’s and don’ts. These characteristics are non-understandable for muslims especially the fanatic ones, in the authors view the majority. The author leads its reader though a number of uncomfortable thought provoking situations and positions that caused the banning of the book and the author’s trial.

In the last part of the book the author shifts attention to what will happen in the nearby future summing up how and what will change in The Netherlands seeing landmarks in 2010, 2020 and 2050. The author describes there will be laws supporting the views of muslims, like prohibition of nudeness in window shops. A few, brave Dutch will protest these laws, but will be condemned as racists by the public. He expects the Muslims to have organised their own networks that are being controlled by foreign countries like Iran. The muslims will set up a limitless influx of migrants through their political influence. In 2020 the first part of the downfall will have taken place: the Dutch culture has been lost and the Dutch will live without a soul, regretting because of all that has been lost what had been built up for centuries. Around 2050 the downfall is complete. There is a state of civil war and many Dutch people have escaped to other European countries. The Netherlands itself will be split between an old-Netherlands, where the muslims will be deported to and a new-Netherlands where the indigenous Dutch will build a new society.

If we look at the current situation in the Netherlands, most Dutch have doubts about what is happening in their country: the level of immigration has been extremely high over the past 20 years. The population grew from 15 to 17 million people and the immigration of muslims was the most important factor responsible for that growth. The origin of people with an Islamic background however is very diverse and they operate within their own communities, there is not one islamic front. Their political influence is still relatively small and hardly sufficient to suspect preoccupied policies to favour Islam.

Downfall is almost 30 years after its initial publication a readable and interesting document. Although back in the day condemned as a racist pamflet, it still has a  relevant and actual message. It serves as an uncomfortable reminder what happens when you put two rather opposite cultures together while the receiving culture does not set a clear set of instructions how they expect the coming culture to behave and operate.

Downfall is available in the Dutch language and can be downloaded or read online (curiously enough from a regular government site that protects and preserves Dutch literature). An English unauthorised translation can be purchased. In 2003 a Dutch professor (Teun A. van Dijk) published a lenghty essay in which he tried to demonstrate that the author of Downfall was  famous Dutch author (Gerrit Komrij), who always categorically denied having anything to do with the publication. This essay has interesting background information about the history of the publication and the commotion it caused in 1990. In 2013 a TV documentary by Dutch State Broadcasting (NTR) was released with a focus on the background of the author.

More about the question of authorship

In general I did not like the above mentioned TV documentary, because it is too eager to point the authorship in the direction of an artist with a Pakistan background (Zoka F.), who would later be trialed more than once on matters like rape and pedophilia, besides his conviction for publishing Downfall. Some interesting points were made in the TV documentary however, that also were recognised by van Dijk (but totally ignored in the TV documentary for further investigation) :

  • Downfall was supposed to originally written in English pieces by Zoka F.  who delivered pieces of the document to a translator (Rene Kurpershoek) who then pieced together the Dutch text
  • Before the publication of Downfall, there were some columns (pre-publications) in an established Dutch newspaper (NRC Handelsblad) that are identical to the content of the book. Was Kurpershoek also involved in those columns?

Van Dijk in my opinion rightfully concludes that the story about the translation was a masquerade to distract attention to a Dutch author (whomever that might have been). In that scenario the problem remains that the book contains a lot of information about Middle East muslim culture, which makes it to me impossible that a Dutch author would have been responsible for the whole text. Therefor I still believe that Downfall was a cooperation between a Dutch author and an muslim immigrant.

What about this ‘Brexit’?

In the past days many things already have been said and emotions have been running high about the result of the United Kingdom’s referendum where the population could express their willingness to stay within the European Union or opt to leave it. In this short analysis I will try to analyse how we got to the point that there was a necessity for a referendum and a quick inventory of what the possible consequences can be.

As a consequence of the Second World War large parts of Europe were in shambles and this war caused an extremely high number of casualties. Among them were millions of innocent civilians killed in bombardments of the European cities or in concentration camps. After the war there was a sentiment that a repetition of such events should be prevented at all cost. The most obvious way to prevent these events should be accomplished by an intensive collaboration between the countries of Europe, so the urge to go to war to settle conflicts would faint. This was actually easier said then done, because right after the war Europe became divided into two large spheres of influences: the capitalist Western-Europe with countries liberated by the Allied forces (mostly Americans, Canadians and English) and a communist Eastern-Europe with countries liberated by the Soviet-Union (nowadays Russia). In this image you can see which countries belonged to which side. Germany and its capital Berlin were split in two: one side controlled by the Allied forces and one side by the Soviet-Union.

Unit11_map_Cold_War_Europe_1

Europe divided between East and West after World War II Source: fasttrackingteaching.com

This divide meant that in the West and East separate initiatives were taken to come to a more intensive collaboration. In the 1950s Western-Europe made progress with collaboration on economical matters like abolishing import duties between its member states. The group of collaborating countries was gradually expanded and among those new countries was the United Kingdom joining in 1973. The collaboration between the United Kingdom and the other members would however always remain stressful, mainly because the United Kingdom objected the height of their contribution to the collaborative efforts.

In the 1990s important events happened for the collaborative efforts of the European countries. One was among the collaborating countries from Western-Europe itself. Besides the economic aspect there was an urge to pursue a tighter social and political integration between the countries. The collaborative effort would now take place within the European Union (EU), the official name since 1992. Border controls would be largely removed (the Schengen treaty) and political institutions like the parliament that already had been established since the 1970s would become more influential. The European Union would design its own laws on a number of subjects and these laws would prevail over national laws of the individual member countries. Brussels would become the center were the main political institutions of the European Union were established. This centralization of power led to a sharp increase of people who would be working for the European Union. For many politicians from the individual member states a career in Brussels would become the highest fulfilment of their political ambitions and lucrative from a financial perspective (high salary and many other benefits).

Another important development in Europe was the implosion of the Soviet-Union. This implosion would lead to the disappearance of the Eastern sphere of influence. The reunification of Germany and independence for a big number of countries that previously had been occupied by the Soviet-Union came out as a result of these developments. Many of these countries would eventually join the European Union. By 2016 the European Union already consisted of 28 countries as can be seen in this image.

EU Map

The 28 members of the European Union. Source: BBC

Without any doubt one of the biggest achievement of the European collaboration was the introduction of the Euro in 2002. This would mean that participating countries would give up their national currencies (for example Germany its Mark, Netherlands its gulden, Frankrijk its franc, Italy its lire). You could now use the same Euro currency in large parts of Europe. The United Kingdom did not join the Euro project and kept its own currency, the pound sterling.

Despite these great advancements and achievements over time it became obvious that the European Union also had its darker side. The expansion with so many new countries led to an imbalance within the European Union. In the Northern part there were countries like Germany and Netherlands with an abundant economical growth that paid ever increasing contributions to the Union and in the Southern and Eastern part of the EU there were countries that would become heavily relying on the contribution of their wealthy neighbors but did not achieve the same kind of economic growth and prospect.

The most striking example of the financial trouble developed in Greece. The Greeks joined the EU and the Euro on base of manipulated figures considering their economic position and prospects. A big disadvantage of one currency for members with economies of different strengths now became apparent. In the past a nation could devaluate their currency to give its local economy a push, but now there was no other way than the rich countries handing over large amounts of money to support a weaker member nation. This would ultimately lead to disproportional financial support from the Northern countries, almost bringing the Euro currency to its knees. It would lead to a very negative impact on the public opinion within the northern EU countries (‘Why do we pay so much and will we ever benefit from these payments?’ many citizens started to ask). In this image you see how the money flows within the European Union and which countries are net contributors or net receivers.

Net contributors versus net receivers. Source: BBC

The situation in Greece spiralled almost out of control and the term Grexit was circulating: the Greeks could be forced to leave the European Union and be expelled from the Euro currency. This Grexit however until today never became a reality. The Greek government complied to a package of severe economic measures from the European Union (and other sponsors like the IMF).

Another development for the European Union was that the public opinion became very negative because of many reports in the press about the undemocratic, uncontrollable and incompetent way that many of the institutions worked. Where should the EU project stop? Would ultimately the individuality of nations disappear and would a United States of Europe (like the USA) become the result of the collaborative efforts?
Stories in the media started to appear about ongoing financial fraud and money waisting. A famous example of money waisting  is a deal between Germany and France implicating that the parliament is some days in the month residing in Strasbourg and on other days in Brussels. This means that an enormous transport of people, documents and belongings is taking place a few times per month.

If these developments were not bad enough already in the 2010s it became clear that the European Union was confronted with a new and immense problem to which it never could develop a clear and united answer. A wave of mass immigration started, first people travelling from Africa to Italy and Spain by boat, but in 2015 a new route started to cause even bigger challenges to the EU member states. Through Turkey immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and as far as Pakistan and Eritrea travelled from Turkey to Greece (only a small boat trip) and from there travelled further, mainly to the richer countries in the European Union. These events led to big irritation and quarrelling between the EU members on how to cope with handling these migrants and refugees.

In the United Kingdom it was president David Cameron who promised its citizens that they could express their opinion through a referendum if the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or it should opt for an independent course and leave the EU. We all know since June 23th that the people from the United Kingdom have opted to leave the European Union. As soon as the result of the referendum became clear the impact was widely felt. A period of uncertainties is now starting: how will the leave of the United Kingdom take place? What are the economic implications? Will this mean the European Union might collapse because other member states also want to leave?

These uncertainties are already reflected in the economical developments: the stock markets worldwide collapsed after the result of the referendum and there is doubt if the United Kingdom can be the same strong economy outside of the EU as within the EU. London is one of the most important financial markets and there is a fear that many institutions might relocate to cities like Frankfurt and Amsterdam. There is some awareness arising within the European Union that its institutions should be reformed in order to give a solid impression to the populations of the member states or there could be a real risk other countries leave the EU.
And if big other net contributors like France or the Netherlands would leave the whole system could collapse, just like the Soviet Union did in the late 1980s. Because the European Union is such a bureaucratic and inert system it remains to be seen that it can adequately and timely react to the events that are taking place now. Looking at the inability to respond to the immigrant crisis the chances for swift and affirmative action to keep the current EU stay afloat do not stem too hopeful.

What will happen to the United Kingdom and London needs to be seen. There are countries in Europe that never joined the EU, like Switzerland and still have a strong economy and its citizens living prosperous lives. So in the long run the United Kingdom and London could be fine and find a new and reinvented place within Europe and the world. The real issue for the EU becomes to reform and show that it has serious and beneficial future perspective for all its members. If not then other countries might follow the example of the United Kingdom.

-Den Haag, June 25th 2016-