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 Dutch elections

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regmelocco



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1PostSubject: Dutch elections   Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:02 pm

We are all waiting for the results of the Dutch elections over here in Europe with our breath withheld...
But reading tons of comments by Dutch people as well as non-Dutch living there on the pages of the Guardian, they come across as very sensible overall. I also read some comments on the parliamentary system - no matter what happens, it is not a winner-take-all system.

Wilders' popularity is just around 20% and whether he comes ahead of the liberal centrist Rutte or not, he will have to come to a consensus with others if he wants to participate in governing. It is not likely that we would have an anti-EU sentiment or exiting the Euro - the Dutch are generally far more pragmatic than that.
Comments also show a few funny cultural items I did not know though I worked with a few Dutch expats in the 90's and studied with a Dutch hypnotherapist. Their dislike of Germans, due to the traumatic World War 2 experience, has been softened in recent years - younger Dutch people no longer feel all that mechanical resentment. A funny fact is that in earlier decades Germans were so exposed to collective bias so much that on occasion, German tourists in Holland were given false information deliberately when they were asking for directions...

and a child of German origin recounted that he was frequently beaten up at school for no reason at all (decades ago). No longer.

The Turkish affair deserves a few question marks though. Generally speaking, I heard good narratives about integration in Dutch society - so much so that they developed a method for school integration that foreign countries adopted including Hungary for a while with indigenous Roma who speak a different language.
I did not know that Turks as well as Moroccans were employed there in masses as guest workers similar to the German Turkish experience. The mayor of Rotterdam is an Arab gentleman.
Turks were fired up by Erdogan though, and Erdogan simply called the Dutch "fascists" and referred to Srebenica where mainly Dutch peacekeepers failed to stop the genocidal massacre of some 8,000 mainly Muslim men (Bosniaks). Which is a trauma still alive with the Dutch but surely everyone is going to feel negative for this diplomatic gaffe. Erdogan comes across as a raging buffoon - the only danger is that he heads a dictatorship next door, just ordered more Russian weapons and he can force millions of Syrian refugees to leave if he is in a bad mood. Which happens a lot lately.

Erdogan threw a hysterical fit merely because his government was not allowed to hold a campaign rally in the Netherlands using Dutch Turks who can vote for an extension of his powers to a president for life.
Moreover, his Family Minister Fatma Something - a woman with a religious headgear - was caught openly lying to the Dutch authorities - she formally denied she would go to the Turkish consulate, where hundreds of people were already waiting for her, and naturally that was the first thing she tried - thus the Dutch sent her back to the airport. Whatever diplomatic immunity says, a minister visiting a foreign country should not lie so openly. Or at the least, it does not sit well with Dutch requirements for honesty. (Some people joked that surely the Minister wanted to visit a head shop to have some space cake or mushrooms, that was why she was so desperate to get to Holland.)

Many angry Turks twittered about French president Hollande, mixing him up with the Dutch.

The pictures of the protest stuck a nail in my head though - several hundreds of large Turkish flags, perhaps thousands. My question is, where did all these flags appear so suddenly in a few hours?
Was Turkey exporting them just in case, and people rushed to the shops when they learned of the diplomatic conflict? Or does every guest worker family keep giant flags at their homes to whip out if needed? Plus they were all the same size...

The scandal does not appear to benefit the far right because Mark Rutte sent the tough message to Erdogan and naturally not Wilders as his party isn't yet in a governing position. Wilders party, everyone agrees, does not really have any political or social platform apart from mere racism - "cleansing" Islamic symbols and public behavior. What is more, for most Dutch people, immigration or Islam are simply not hot questions - their concerns appear more around "de zorge" which means a health care system similar to the British NHS (but you always have to pay the first few hundred Euros yourself). It is considered too expensive.

The few commentators who agreed with the single point raised by the Freedom Party - that Islam is problematic in Europe - raised questions rather than answer them. It is funny but true that the Moroccan mayor of Rotterdam (elected in 2009) should defend Dutch traditions against radical Turks mostly organized by their home dictator... and it is heartening that the demonstration attracted only a few hundred nationalists out of a population estimated to number about eight hundred thousand.
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2PostSubject: Re: Dutch elections   Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:55 am

reg, #1:

reg: We are all waiting for the results of the Dutch elections over here in Europe with our breath withheld... But reading tons of comments by Dutch people as well as non-Dutch living there on the pages of the Guardian, they come across as very sensible overall. I also read some comments on the parliamentary system - no matter what happens, it is not a winner-take-all system. Wilders' popularity is just around 20% and whether he comes ahead of the liberal centrist Rutte or not, he will have to come to a consensus with others if he wants to participate in governing. It is not likely that we would have an anti-EU sentiment or exiting the Euro - the Dutch are generally far more pragmatic than that.

RR: I just saw on CNN that the Dutch voters had sense enough to reject Wilders, as you predicted they would.

reg: Comments also show a few funny cultural items I did not know though I worked with a few Dutch expats in the 90's and studied with a Dutch hypnotherapist. Their dislike of Germans, due to the traumatic World War 2 experience, has been softened in recent years - younger Dutch people no longer feel all that mechanical resentment. A funny fact is that in earlier decades Germans were so exposed to collective bias so much that on occasion, German tourists in Holland were given false information deliberately when they were asking for directions... and a child of German origin recounted that he was frequently beaten up at school for no reason at all (decades ago). No longer.

RR: From what I've heard, since the EU came into being, speakers of the multitude of Germanic dialects have started returning to the kind of interactions they've had for many centuries, meaning that economic and religious factors have again become more important than linguistic demographics.

reg: The Turkish affair deserves a few question marks though. Generally speaking, I heard good narratives about integration in Dutch society - so much so that they developed a method for school integration that foreign countries adopted including Hungary for a while with indigenous Roma who speak a different language. I did not know that Turks as well as Moroccans were employed there in masses as guest workers similar to the German Turkish experience. The mayor of Rotterdam is an Arab gentleman.

RR: This information has been visible for quite a number of years to people capable of reading between the lines of media news reports. It's important to realize that the Dutch created a major colonial empire during the Age of Discovery which still exists today on the economic level, with non-Germanic guest workers doing a lot of the basic production and the "ethnic Dutch" collecting more than their share of the total compensation.

reg: Turks were fired up by Erdogan though, and Erdogan simply called the Dutch "fascists" and referred to Srebenica where mainly Dutch peacekeepers failed to stop the genocidal massacre of some 8,000 mainly Muslim men (Bosniaks). Which is a trauma still alive with the Dutch but surely everyone is going to feel negative for this diplomatic gaffe. Erdogan comes across as a raging buffoon - the only danger is that he heads a dictatorship next door, just ordered more Russian weapons and he can force millions of Syrian refugees to leave if he is in a bad mood. Which happens a lot lately. Erdogan threw a hysterical fit merely because his government was not allowed to hold a campaign rally in the Netherlands using Dutch Turks who can vote for an extension of his powers to a president for life. Moreover, his Family Minister Fatma Something - a woman with a religious headgear - was caught openly lying to the Dutch authorities - she formally denied she would go to the Turkish consulate, where hundreds of people were already waiting for her, and naturally that was the first thing she tried - thus the Dutch sent her back to the airport. Whatever diplomatic immunity says, a minister visiting a foreign country should not lie so openly. Or at the least, it does not sit well with Dutch requirements for honesty. (Some people joked that surely the Minister wanted to visit a head shop to have some space cake or mushrooms, that was why she was so desperate to get to Holland.) Many angry Turks twittered about French president Hollande, mixing him up with the Dutch.

RR: I get the impression that economic factors within Turkey are going to exert more influence over what happens next in this part of the world than either religious or political factors. What is now being produced in Turkey and where are the potential markets for it? IMO, the Turks are going to have reach West into the EU to keep their economy viable, simply because the Islamic world gets more straped for cash income every year as oil prices remain low.

reg: The pictures of the protest stuck a nail in my head though - several hundreds of large Turkish flags, perhaps thousands. My question is, where did all these flags appear so suddenly in a few hours? Was Turkey exporting them just in case, and people rushed to the shops when they learned of the diplomatic conflict? Or does every guest worker family keep giant flags at their homes to whip out if needed? Plus they were all the same size...

RR: IMO, it was easy for propaganda professionals to foresee the impact such flags would have on protests and have bales of them printed up in advance.

reg: The scandal does not appear to benefit the far right because Mark Rutte sent the tough message to Erdogan and naturally not Wilders as his party isn't yet in a governing position. Wilders party, everyone agrees, does not really have any political or social platform apart from mere racism - "cleansing" Islamic symbols and public behavior. What is more, for most Dutch people, immigration or Islam are simply not hot questions - their concerns appear more around "de zorge" which means a health care system similar to the British NHS (but you always have to pay the first few hundred Euros yourself). It is considered too expensive. The few commentators who agreed with the single point raised by the Freedom Party - that Islam is problematic in Europe - raised questions rather than answer them. It is funny but true that the Moroccan mayor of Rotterdam (elected in 2009) should defend Dutch traditions against radical Turks mostly organized by their home dictator... and it is heartening that the demonstration attracted only a few hundred nationalists out of a population estimated to number about eight hundred thousand.

RR: As I mentioned above, the Dutch imperial mentality is still alive and well just under the surface of the present society and pops up spontaneously when triggered by real time events. And as you pointed out, economic factors like the cost of health care tend to have more impact on how the Dutch actually behave than cultural factors related to religion, ethnic identity, etc.
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3PostSubject: Re: Dutch elections   Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:30 pm

I am glad you point out the past and present colonial character of the Dutch - now that I think about it, my experience of the people here in Hungary is like that too. About halfway - some of the individuals I knew were very playful and humane and generous - though at the Dutch company, it was taken for granted that they make several times the salary of local Hungarians performing similar work. Others I knew later were so stingy and exploitative that in retrospect they must have looked upon us like the new natives after Indonesia...

I am slightly more alarmed at the Turkish question though. The June coup looks like a local Reichstag operation, and the aftermath is that hundreds of thousands of people were sacked, placed under surveillance, thousands were be beaten, tortured, and people that used to visit their homeand are already afraid to travel back so their passports wouldn't be seized by authorities. True, Erdogan is not the same brand as Daesh but clearly a monomaniac authoritarian ruler and guess what, he just bought some more arms from... Russia. Well. Journalists arrested, contrary opinions quashed.
My friend who loves Turkish culture, learned some Turkish (which is rather similar to Hungarian from a scientific linguist's point of view) and hangs out with Turkish hippies a lot told me how TV gradually changed there to more and more religion. Looks like there is a connection between strong Islamism and authoritarianism (though fundamentalist Christians are still perhaps the world's number one Theocratic danger).
People also told me that the economy wasn't too bad under Erdogan's rule but I am taking that experience with a pinch of salt as usually authoritarianism wins easier when people are pushed out of the middle classes. But not only then. Historical Marxism takes that angle but many left-wing critics here - like the Hungarian philosopher Tamas Gaspar I often quoted here - look at all sorts of prejudices and historical beliefs too. Beliefs - especially fanatical ones - clearly deserve their own slate. True, the Turkish people achieved something rare after their brutal empire fell apart in the first world war - they did not end up being a Western protectorate. But they are really paranoid about Kurds and I see no reason why. Accepting the Kurdish nationality would simply defuse tensions and many Kurds would be happy to live on that side of the border once they are not exposed to nationalist frenzy. But it would be all too easy... and Erdogan isn't one to take advices. People who understand some Turkish tell me that he has clearly grown mad and hysterical lately. I can only hear the tone of his speech but... It is not a simple war that we should be afraid of - there are thousands of steps of thought and spirit before that happens at the level of - one should use such terms very carefully - the nation's psyche. Quite frankly I feel that just like in Hungary, most Turks who prefer an open society and urban values left already in masses and are living in Europe now. And the ones left behind are easy game for mad ideologies.

Interestingly, the same minister who wasn't allowed to hold a political rally in Holland was allowed to do one in France...
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4PostSubject: Re: Dutch elections   Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:12 pm

reg: I am glad you point out the past and present colonial character of the Dutch - now that I think about it, my experience of the people here in Hungary is like that too. About halfway - some of the individuals I knew were very playful and humane and generous - though at the Dutch company, it was taken for granted that they make several times the salary of local Hungarians performing similar work. Others I knew later were so stingy and exploitative that in retrospect they must have looked upon us like the new natives after Indonesia...

RR: I've always been impressed by the Dutch for having the chutzpah to plant their colony of New Amsterdam smack in the middle of the English New York colony. And local history clrealy reports that the interactions between Dutch and English colonists on Manhattan Island in the early days were very much like the ones you just described.

reg: I am slightly more alarmed at the Turkish question though. The June coup looks like a local Reichstag operation, and the aftermath is that hundreds of thousands of people were sacked, placed under surveillance, thousands were be beaten, tortured, and people that used to visit their homeand are already afraid to travel back so their passports wouldn't be seized by authorities. True, Erdogan is not the same brand as Daesh but clearly a monomaniac authoritarian ruler and guess what, he just bought some more arms from... Russia. Well. Journalists arrested, contrary opinions quashed.

RR: I'm assuming that Erdogan himself isn't a rabid Islamic fundamentalist like the leaders of Daesh, but is just using theocratic religion as a self-empowerment tool.

reg: My friend who loves Turkish culture, learned some Turkish (which is rather similar to Hungarian from a scientific linguist's point of view) and hangs out with Turkish hippies a lot told me how TV gradually changed there to more and more religion. Looks like there is a connection between strong Islamism and authoritarianism (though fundamentalist Christians are still perhaps the world's number one Theocratic danger).

RR: IMO, Islamic theocracy is more dangerous at the root than either Chatholic or Protestant Christian theocracy because the authoritarianism in the Qu'ran is a lot simpler and more direct than that in either the Old or New Testament. Jewish leaders from Abraham to Moses and his successors were primarily law-givers, whereas the early Islamic Cailiphs concentrated on rule through force of arms. And Christians have always characterized Jesus as simultaneously "Christ the King" and "the Prince of Peace".

reg: People also told me that the economy wasn't too bad under Erdogan's rule but I am taking that experience with a pinch of salt as usually authoritarianism wins easier when people are pushed out of the middle classes. But not only then. Historical Marxism takes that angle but many left-wing critics here - like the Hungarian philosopher Tamas Gaspar I often quoted here - look at all sorts of prejudices and historical beliefs too. Beliefs - especially fanatical ones - clearly deserve their own slate. True, the Turkish people achieved something rare after their brutal empire fell apart in the first world war - they did not end up being a Western protectorate.

RR It looks to me like Ataturk's fanatical secularism was primarily aimed at keeping Turkey from becoming a Western protectorate, and only secondarily at building a modern nation-state to replace the Ottoman Empire, as his actual political platform claimed it was.

reg: But they are really paranoid about Kurds and I see no reason why. Accepting the Kurdish nationality would simply defuse tensions and many Kurds would be happy to live on that side of the border once they are not exposed to nationalist frenzy. But it would be all too easy... and Erdogan isn't one to take advices. People who understand some Turkish tell me that he has clearly grown mad and hysterical lately. I can only hear the tone of his speech but... It is not a simple war that we should be afraid of - there are thousands of steps of thought and spirit before that happens at the level of - one should use such terms very carefully - the nation's psyche. Quite frankly I feel that just like in Hungary, most Turks who prefer an open society and urban values left already in masses and are living in Europe now. And the ones left behind are easy game for mad ideologies.

RR: I agree. And Westernized Turks have actually settled all over the world, not just in Europe. There are lots of them in Canada, the USA, and all the way down the two American continents.

reg: Interestingly, the same minister who wasn't allowed to hold a political rally in Holland was allowed to do one in France...

RR: Actually, the French were already doing this under the Bourbons and haven't changed under all the regimes since. IMO, it dates back to the Middle Agles when the term "Lingua Franca" was invented to describe the concept of diplomats from all over the Western World negotiating with one another in French instead of Latin (which was "owned" by the Roman Catholic Church) or Italian (which was widely used as the language of trade).

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5PostSubject: Re: Dutch elections   Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:19 pm

Yes to many points...
"RR: IMO, Islamic theocracy is more dangerous at the root than either Chatholic or Protestant Christian theocracy because the authoritarianism in the Qu'ran is a lot simpler and more direct than that in either the Old or New Testament. Jewish leaders from Abraham to Moses and his successors were primarily law-givers, whereas the early Islamic Cailiphs concentrated on rule through force of arms. And Christians have always characterized Jesus as simultaneously "Christ the King" and "the Prince of Peace".

It is important feedback because in today's liberal and left ad centrist media - to which I am naturally closer - Islam appears as just another religion, and we associate screening and prejudices with racism - one's origins or genetic or even social class should not determine everything, or at least society should even up. Seems to me that among the three major Abrahamic religions, everything was retained in Islam that is really theocratic and forceful and not much of the transcendence through love and working with the shadow energy in a different way suggested by the teachings of Jesus. While I agree that many people coming from Islamic cultures living in the West are cool and very bright, and some are indispensable, Islam as an ideology is very problematic. I had a Persian friend in the US, presenting an excellent image of a difference, with some important neat things from his home culture. He was like my own example - I hope - of Hungarians saying an emphatic no to all the Theocratic elements of his country.

Turks are different in a way, which we have established on these boards. They are usually nationalistic within Islam. And you may be right that Ataturk's prime goal was to avoid being a Western colony - and this culture managed to make it just like the Japanese did in the Far East. My guess is that there is a possible alliance forming in the background against jihadism, with the US and the West teaming up with Russia and Turkey as "the lesser of the two evils," though everything seems to show the opposite today with the Turkish state soldifying its grip. Seems to me that extra-Theocratic forces of nationalists are in cahoots with each other generally, though this may have been decided when Brexit and Trump happened. They will have a war on Islamic extremes instead of nationalists.

Another thing I did not realize is how much the Daesh is dependent on drugs, just as many Nazis were. I read the firsthand personal accounts of some women who escaped, and they told the assistance organization typically of rapes lasting for hours because "the guys were on the pill." That must be some form of amphetamine or advanced speed. One difficulty is that Arab society - perhaps some areas are different such as Cairo, but this is darkest Iraq - generally does not tolerate stories of rape. These women could, with material help from psychologists, tell about their experiences but many pointed out that their families never ask, they could even be killed for shame if found out. Yazidis, Christians and non-Arabs fare worse with Daesh, but during their macabre death party, they also rape Arab Islamic women "just to be on the safe side."

In contrast, Turkey has quite a bit of industry, trade and what matters especially, literacy (modified Latin alphabet) is very high - over 96%. Turkey basic facts
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6PostSubject: Re: Dutch elections   Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:32 pm

reg: #5:

reg: It is important feedback because in today's liberal and left ad centrist media - to which I am naturally closer - Islam appears as just another religion, and we associate screening and prejudices with racism - one's origins or genetic or even social class should not determine everything, or at least society should even up. Seems to me that among the three major Abrahamic religions, everything was retained in Islam that is really theocratic and forceful and not much of the transcendence through love and working with the shadow energy in a different way suggested by the teachings of Jesus. While I agree that many people coming from Islamic cultures living in the West are cool and very bright, and some are indispensable, Islam as an ideology is very problematic. I had a Persian friend in the US, presenting an excellent image of a difference, with some important neat things from his home culture. He was like my own example - I hope - of Hungarians saying an emphatic no to all the Theocratic elements of his country.

RR: IMO, it's easier to understand Islamic cultures and individual Muslims by applying political standards rather than the religious standards that are customarily applied to Judaism and Christianity. Both of the latter religions have always been primarily based on rules regulating family relationships and religious worship, but Islam has usually stressed the relationship between individuals and the community or state. Notice that "working with the shadow energy" through mysticism and magic has always been more common among both Jews and Christians than among Muslims. (For example, the Suffis have generally been a persecuted minority).

reg: Turks are different in a way, which we have established on these boards. They are usually nationalistic within Islam. And you may be right that Ataturk's prime goal was to avoid being a Western colony - and this culture managed to make it just like the Japanese did in the Far East. My guess is that there is a possible alliance forming in the background against jihadism, with the US and the West teaming up with Russia and Turkey as "the lesser of the two evils," though everything seems to show the opposite today with the Turkish state soldifying its grip. Seems to me that extra-Theocratic forces of nationalists are in cahoots with each other generally, though this may have been decided when Brexit and Trump happened. They will have a war on Islamic extremes instead of nationalists.

RR: I agree with all of your speculations above. The main difference between the Turks and the Japanese has been that the former started out as imperialistic invaders who later lost their power, whereas the latter spent many centuries avoiding domination by a constantly changing set of imperialistic regimes in China and in the process developed a very sophisticated civilization of their own that was even able to absorb and make use of Western technology and cultural elements in modern times without losing its integrity. It looks to me like "extra-theocratic forces of nationalists" have existed all over the world throughout history, always trying to get control of the culture they lived in and making use of both native and foreign religious belief systems to gain converts to what was essentially a political movement. My guess right now is that the "European culture" represented by the present EU actually has more going for it than either modern Islam or the culutural base of either modern Russia or modern China. After all, it survived the Roman Empire, the Catholic Empire of the Middle Ages, the world-wide imperialism of the Age of Discovery, the German Nazis, and the Soviet Empire.

Reg: Another thing I did not realize is how much the Daesh is dependent on drugs, just as many Nazis were. I read the firsthand personal accounts of some women who escaped, and they told the assistance organization typically of rapes lasting for hours because "the guys were on the pill." That must be some form of amphetamine or advanced speed. One difficulty is that Arab society - perhaps some areas are different such as Cairo, but this is darkest Iraq - generally does not tolerate stories of rape. These women could, with material help from psychologists, tell about their experiences but many pointed out that their families never ask, they could even be killed for shame if found out. Yazidis, Christians and non-Arabs fare worse with Daesh, but during their macabre death party, they also rape Arab Islamic women "just to be on the safe side."

RR: This is something I'd never thought about much until you pointed it out, but both the opiates and herbal medications containing amphetamine have been in wide use within what is now the Islamic culture for thousands of years. So have many different forms of sexual slavery and institutionalized rape. These have been part of the underlying cultural base in that part of the world since ancient times, and it's not surprising to see them pop up in new social and religious systems as they form.

Reg: In contrast, Turkey has quite a bit of industry, trade and what matters especially, literacy (modified Latin alphabet) is very high - over 96%.

RR: From the quotations I've seen of Ataturk's own writings, this was at the very core of his plan for maintaining Turkish political and cultural integrity after the First World War. However, I suspect he didn't expect the resurgence of theocratic Islam that swept North Africa and the Middle East in the second half of the Twentieth century or the ideological power of the Soviet style socialism that arose after WW2.
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