We thought the Netherlands was finished. A welfare state, with a lot of equality and happiness. Tolerant, open-minded, and a lot of fun. Pleasant. Maybe we even got a little too sluggish.
Well, there seems to be little of it left, folks. We are doing well individually. But not as a society. What a whinge. complain. And fuss. Sometimes rightly so. Dossier Groningen, for example, what the unwillingness and incompetence of our government. Surcharge affair, same story. How a government destroys citizens and refuses to take responsibility.
But often it is also boring fuss. Irrelevant opinions-derrie. Seventeen million opinions. If everyone just shouts, there will be no one left to listen. Yes, perhaps in their own bubble, which only confirms extreme opinions, which only leads to further radicalization.
At first that was funny. You could tease such people a bit. Hold up a mirror with a joke. With some perspective and humor you often get the sting out of it. And otherwise they would get angry at their own reflection, which is also beautiful.
But those times seem to be over. You have to be careful what you say or write. This is rather ironic, because people who say they are very tolerant are at the forefront of pigeonholing, condemning, canceling and forbidding. This limits people in their spontaneity, in creativity. You can’t be yourself. It even leads to false accusations, character assassination and social exclusion.
More space has been created for on the far right radical ideas. Hate towards dissenters and minorities. Fear of other religions and cultures. Racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance. The FvD seemed to become very big for a while, but is succumbing to unsavory ideas of unsavory and paranoid types, and a leader who seems ripe for the psychiatrist with his conspiracy theories.
The left of the Netherlands may be radicalizing even more violently. GroenLinks, Bij1 and even D66 embrace narrowly undemocratic ideas, limit the economy, limit freedoms, and silence people if there is an opinion they do not like. Kaag, our deputy prime minister, by the way, now surrounds himself with woke people who look paranoid,extremevery intolerant ideas hold and cancel opponents, dismissed as mysogenic and racist. These are really not moderate, intellectual liberal D66ers who value science and facts. This is actually many times scarier than Baudet, who has little power and no deep tentacles in society like D66.
Both poles, with their intolerance, utopian and totalitarian ideas and hatred of dissenters, are much more alike than they will ever dare to admit. In the meantime, the polarization is derailing to such an extent that the moderate middle class is being accused of racism by the noisy woke people, just because they don’t speak out explicitly about it.
Fortunately, there is the moderate middle. The vast majority of the Netherlands. That is reasonably tolerant, social and liberal. Who tolerates and does not want to ban even the above extreme people, parties and their positions in our society. A large group that does not want to get involved in these polarized debates. And don’t be tempted. You are not a racist if you are not woke. You’re not woke if you’re not an anti-vaccer. People do not feel addressed by those polarizing frames.
Kaag advocates being able to ban parties with extreme views. But where do you draw the line, if moderate, tolerant citizens are already dismissed as extreme? It’s a dangerous position. Incidentally, Kaag must be careful what she wishes, because the moderate center could very quickly speak out against Kaag’s own D66 and the polarization that is going on there. She gets a lot of negative attention herself by getting involved with woke ideas and scary types.
It would be good for the moderate middle to keep taking a stand. Not only against the extreme right, but also against the extreme left. Against polarization. Against those hating ‘wappies’. To those hating ‘wokies’. Make it clear that they are both a screaming minority. Giving little attention, also from the press. At most, refute their ‘alternative truths’ with facts. With sobriety. With debate. And with some lightness please. Humour. Satire. Rather ridicule than radicalize. This undermines their (attempts at) power. This also applies to the press: do not feed the extremes with attention, at most describe it, do not be tempted to make a fuss and continue to fight polarization, incompetence and unreliability with facts, debate and humour.
VVD, CDA and PvdA have created the breeding ground for polarization and new parties themselves. The moderate middle has missed major political opportunities. The political polarization is a result of incompetence and unreliability. People have little feeling for what is going on in society, and live in their own political bubble where image is more important than helping this country move forward. The attempts to manipulate the image, incidentally, have the opposite effect: the only image that is formed is of incompetent, cheating politics. This behavior and the political polarization even leads to anti-government extremism. It is a pity that the debate is about all this nonsense, instead of the real problems. With such an opposition, it is very easy to keep a bad cabinet running.
D66 is perhaps the smartest and most dangerous party. It’s an empty marketing shell selling what people want to hear. They play on sentiments and thus attract voters. Voters who then abandon them, because power and positions have now been nicely arranged. Cynical? Yes, but the hard truth. And so it is possible that Kaag radicalises and engages in scary, democracy-undermining, polarizingintolerant types who are no better than them themselves scary FVDers what they warn about. D66 is a threat to this country. Don’t ban, we’re above that. Kick this party out of the cabinet today.
In the opposition they are just as irrelevant as PVV and FVD. Perhaps FVD and D66 can merge, because in many ways they are equals. That would be a nice joke. FVD66. Retteketet, Kaag in bed with Baudet. That rhymes. Ridiculous? Rather than radical.