This article on Belgium left me both bewildered and amused. It reminded me, once again, that though the Left is good on war, they are still lacking a proper perspective on freedom and the state, and the ensuing knowledge that war is the health of the state.
It’s not easy being Belgian. The snooty Dutch look down on neighboring Flemish Belgians as country bumpkins who speak a corrupted dialect of haut Dutch. Flemish insist they speak perfectly good Dutch. Afrikaans, the language spoken by South Africa’s Boers, comes from Flemish, not Dutch, as most believe. Flemish have little love for their Dutch cousins, against whom they once battled.
At least historically rich Flanders is booming. The southern Francophone region of Wallonia is a rust belt suffering chronic high unemployment and crime. French never tire of insulting the poor French-speaking Belgians.
…Many French look down on Belgians in the same patronizing way they do on French-speaking Canadian Quebeckers – as backwards rustics with a debased though amusing patois. Walloons insist they speak perfectly good French, which they do.
Admittedly, my lineage is split: one side comes from West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen) and the other side (Laurencelle) from French-Canadian Quebec. I am intrigued by the Margolis article, however, I immediately take issue with his thesis and inability to recognize the core of human freedom. He refers to Belgium as an “accidental nation” due to the nation’s distinct parts being born of rebellion against foreign rule, along with the principles of decentralization and secession. The Flemish had rebelled against the Francofication of public life during the French occupation. They heroically resisted the suppression of their language and lifestyle, and eventually overcame and defeated the state’s attempt at ethnic cleansing, though it took over 100 years. There is nothing “accidental” about individuals fighting for their own freedom and against the oppressive decrees of an omnipotent state.As is typical, the Left’s response to secession is:
I have another solution to Belgium’s marital problems. Fire all of Belgium’s useless, feuding politicians. Sign a ten-year contract with the Swiss Federal Government to manage Belgium’s political and economic affairs. Switzerland, with 7.5 million citizens, has four official languages and two major religions.
There are no opposition parties in Switzerland. All parties must cooperate at the national level and produce leadership that acts for the good of the country.
Switzerland runs like…well…a Swiss watch. That’s what the fractious Belgians need. A stiff dose of common sense and discipline. Then they can go back to doing what they do best: manufacturing, operating seaports, and brewing beer.
So what he recommends is a brisk dose of state power – from the outside – to settle down these poor, rowdy people who don’t know what is best for them. State power is what the rebellious fools need!
Margolis often refers to “Belgians,” but what does that mean? It supports his notion that all peoples are part of a government-prescribed union wherein there is no cultural or local identification. This is typical of the “we’re all a great melting pot” Left, however. The problem with this is that is it leads to the non-recognition of distinct and independent people, or individuals, that cannot be ruled from faraway, centralized governments. The melting pot mentality is anti-individual, and instead, it collectively assembles individuals and considers them as being indistinct from one another. This is why modern state propaganda tends toward “diversity” – forced and state-managed diversity as opposed to voluntary, individual diversity.
The Flemish separatist movement is one that wishes to go beyond the principles of federalism to confederalism, or, decentralism (localism) and self-sufficiency in terms of governance. Belgium is comprised of the Dutch-speaking in the North, the French-speaking in Wallonia, the Germans along the German border, and the French-speaking people of Flemish origin. So what is a Belgian? I’d argue that the only thing “Belgian” is the state itself.
The Flemish are people that can no longer thrive under the oppressive rule of Brussels. Brussels is not capable of ruling the Flemish provinces any more than Washington DC is capable of ruling Spokane, WA or some small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Note Margolis’s use of “manage” in terms of “political affairs.” “Manage” is, in fact, coercive, freedom-suppressing rule, and “political affairs” really means individual lives. There are no collective “affairs” that can be “managed” by others unless a monopoly of power is granted to a group of individuals comprising a “state” or other government body.
Remember that the Belgian state has worked to suppress homeschooling in order to retain its collective grip on the brainwashing of children. On the Flemish seeking independence from a strangling, socialistic, coercive, and centralized political system, Margolis says, “But tribal linguistic, religious and cultural passions often pre-empt rational behavior, as we have too often seen.” If freedom and decentralization are equated with “irrational,” then the meaning of these words has become very confused.6:11 am on December 22, 2007 Email Karen De Coster