Yes, humans are capable of creating a happy and successful liberal society: The Netherlands


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/17/yes-humans-are-capable-of-cre.html


Every country's tourism slogan
#2

It’s also a profoundly racist society, a fact that you don’t mention. Happy for some, liberal for some, but afflicted by endemic anti-Blackness and police violence against non-white minorities. While none of the structural facts you mention are incorrect, presenting an unbiased look at a country and society means evaluating how life is for its most vulnerable.


#4

We’re also capable of destroying it: at this moment the PVV (Party for Freedom) a right wing populist party is polling to be the biggest party after the next election.

Also, some public debates about Zwarte Piet (Black Pete, the black faced Dutch helper of Sants Claus) proved that while claiming to be publicly tolerant, a lot of racism is there beneath the surface.

(Don’t get me started on the increasing power of lobbyists, the art of helping global corporations pay no tax at all, and the privatization wave of the 90s and 00s).

Am I happy to live here? Hell yeah. Is this the progressive paradise people in the rest of the world seem to think it is? Hell no.


#5

“Holland” is a specific area of the Netherlands, even though outsiders use the words interchangeably.


#6

Also home to Geert Wilders, a man who once said he was “very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups” - you know, as opposed to the good fascist groups. Also has been vocal of reuniting the Belgian region Flanders with the rest of Holland.

Never visited, I’m sure the Netherlands are great. But what happened in the US could happen anywhere. That is a sobering thought.


#7

I went there as a child many years ago and remember it as a nice friendly place. But yeah, even though they’ve managed to get a lot right, people remain people no matter where you are.


#8

It does seem that way on the surface no? By all accounts people in the Netherlands have a very high quality of life. Hell, just being there makes one feel good. And that is not even after stopping by a hash bar or two!. But, they are heavily taxed to make all the beautiful things happen.

And remember that the Netherlands is 237 times smaller than the US.


#10

Just wondering… Where did you get the “police violence against non-white minorities” fact from? Do you have any numbers to back up that claim?

I’ll give you the “racist” thing, but I would like to say that, though it’s something that can improve, the Netherlands is not more racist than any other European or North-American country.


#11

Not for American humans. We just gave the steering wheel, gas, and brakes to the drunk uncles who spent the last eight years shrieking that Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamic Marxist.


#12

All protestant countries have remarkably progressive, prosperous, just, egalitarian societies…

…except where contact with other races and cultures exposes their vigorous, endemic racism and xenophobia.

This highlights why the idea of nations is so corrosively poisonous. If we didn’t think of particular social features as being “owned” by arbitrary chunks of land, and somehow tied to the other features of the same chunk of land, then maybe we could do what works everywhere, and stop doing the horrible shit everywhere, without feeling like we’re somehow hurting the feelings of the chunk of land where we happened to start out.

Wherever you live, there’s no reason you can’t have the entrepreneurial culture of the US and the civic society of the Netherlands or Scandinavia and the racial tolerance of… um… [to be filled in later], and the built environment of Switzerland and the educational standards of Singapore and the family life of Spain. Star Trek has the right of this: national pride fucks us all.


#13

This is a bit of an odd thing in the Netherlands and cannot be properly explained to people from other countries. Thing is, there’s a discussion about this practice going on in the Netherlands since the eighties and that discussion best matches the US discussion about the confederate flag. Some find the practice racist, others don’t but see it as a heritage thing.

It is changing, though… Change is slow, but it is happening. More and more the character of Zwarte Piet is shown without the blackface.


#14

Good run down of the differences.

As for the article, I agree with most of the things on the list. A few of them are impractical, at least with current technology, for stuff like the car thing, as traveling distances by car are generally much longer.

Also, you know, don’t frame it as “liberal”. It is too divisive. I know that sounds stupid, but it is a flower that will attract angry butterflies who will destroy it and discredit it only because you used that word. The political tribalism is fucking insane right now, and if you want to get people to give this information a shot at making it past the title, you need entice them.


#15

Netherlands will not last long in its current iteration without serious changes. Otherwise, Geert Wilders populism will sweep it away. They’ve had a couple of near-misses already.


#16

I agree. The Netherlands used to be way more progressive than it currently is. The PVV is looking to do pretty much combine Brexit and Trumpism to remove most of the things that make the Netherlands “progressive”.

People enjoy the progressive country created in the 80s and 90s, but don’t see that they’re actively tearing that country down by giving in to far-right populism.


#17

I didn’t read all the linked articles, but it’s worth pointing out that the Dutch Republic (if I’m using the term correctly) benefited greatly from the acceptance of large numbers of refugees from the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries


#18

The Netherlands is a country with a population somewhere between Florida and Illinois and a per capita GPD of Iowa. It has a largely homogeneous population in race, culture, language, and religion. This is a much more manageable population which benefits from a sameness you will not find in the U.S… Culturally similar people will have similar ideals and goals making this sort of thing possible in a small nation like the Netherlands.


#19

We get a lot in return for those taxes in the sense of social securities, health-care, etc. Tax is a dirty word in the US, but many countries around the world view it slightly differently.

Also, in population size, we’re only 19 times smaller than the US.


#20

Nowhere did I say it was more racist than any other European country - it simply IS racist, which the original post ignored.

Here’s one source, but there are many more online to find:


#21

I’ve recently been able to personally compare and I found that I and the people around me didn’t feel the taxes because they were balanced against cost of living improvements.


#22

I’ll definitely add the Netherlands to my list as I shift into my semi-nomadic lifestyle. I see it constantly on “best countries” lists in a wide range of publications, although their own right-wing populists may ruin that.

Really, though, the work for Americans is not to take refreshing trips to civilised social-democratic countries but to make our own country better. 46% of Americans don’t have a passport that allows travel to the EU, and the majority of those can’t just pick up and chuck it all for an expat existence for the next 4-8 years.

TANSTAAFL: a very American phrase that Americans have extreme difficulty applying to their own government (mostly because it was popularised by libertarians).