Category Archives: Belgium

To be right before the time is right to be right — unforgivable!

The well-known (except in Flanders) sinologue Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) was, writes Dalrymple,

proud to be Belgian, though he spent more than half his life in Australia.

French universities

despised Leys because of his consistent, but early, anti-Maoism.

Dalrymple comments:

There is no greater sin in academia than to be right before the time is right to be right.

Nella casa dei Fiamminghi

Dalrymple enjoys Simenon’s 1932 novel Chez les Flamands

Why Dalrymple voted for Brexit

Dalrymple spends part of every year in his house in Shropshire

Despite the fact that the European Union is far from being the cause of all the country’s problems, the outcome of the 2016 UK EU membership referendum steers Britain away from a potential monster, Dalrymple tells an interviewer.

Although no sensible person would liken it to the Third Reich or the Soviet Union, the EU nevertheless bears the seeds of an unfree state. It wants to force different peoples together in an artificial union. Dalrymple notes that Belgium is such a union: it holds together, more or less, but to do such a thing on a larger scale is to court major problems.

And the argument that the EU is the only way for Europe to play a role on the world stage can be swept aside. The EU has shown only weakness.

The European project, says Dalrymple, is little but misplaced megalomania.

 

The giant error that is the European Union

Dalrymple notes that proponents of the unitary European state

always talk about the European project. But they never tell you what it is.

In fact the European oligarchs are building

a new Yugoslavia,

or, if we are very lucky, a new Belgium,

a dysfunctional country that somehow functions.

But Dalrymple points out that

it is much harder when you have 27 countries.

The Eurocrats, he notes, are

determined to keep it together, because it is their jobs and their power that are in danger.

Plus,

nobody likes to admit that they have made a mistake.

In the halls of Eurocracy

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 08.41.15Being a member of the European political class, writes Dalrymple,

means never having to say you’re wrong.

As a member of this self-perpetuating magic circle,

you don’t have to learn from experience, consider the evidence, apply logic, or worry about the consequences. There are always expenses at the end of the tunnel.

Like the white man who speaks with forked tongue,

or the Muslim permitted to use taqiyyah to mislead the infidel, the Eurocrat never quite means what he says or says what he means. What he says is compatible with almost anything, and this quality of emptying meaning from grammatically formed sentences full of polysyllables has been a characteristic from the inception of the European Union.

Dalrymple cites one of its founders, Jean Monnet, who said:

We want the Community to be a gradual process of change. Attempting to predict the form it will finally take is therefore a contradiction in terms. Anticipating the outcome kills invention. It is only as we push forwards and upwards that we will discover new horizons.

It would be wrong, says Dalrymple,

to conclude from this mixture of mystical exaltation and interdepartmental memo that Monnet did not know what he was about. He wanted a federal state of Europe, but knew that public opinion would not stand for it anywhere if it were spelt out in so many words (which is why he used so many words). Centralisation by stealth was what was needed.

Take Herman Van Rompuy. His electoral record, Dalrymple notes,

makes Stalin’s shine. Stalin received too many votes, Van Rompuy none at all.

Van Rompuy,

Monnet’s spiritual heir, grey of face, grey of suit, grey of speech, and grey of thought, declared national sovereignty in Europe dead. His position was that of a murderer who stands over his victim’s corpse muttering, ‘He’s gone, he’s gone!’

Dalrymple points to Belgium.

After 180 years of cohabitation, the Walloons and the Flemings cannot agree on common interests deep or wide enough to make a central government acceptable to them both.

One might have thought

that the failure of a country small enough to drive across in two hours to unite after nearly 200 years of experience of trying to forge a workable political identity would give the Eurocrats pause. One would be wrong.

The Eurocrat is

highly imaginative, if an ability not to draw the most obvious conclusions from the most obvious facts, but to draw quite opposite conclusions, counts as imagination.

About Belgium the Eurocrat would say

that the problem is the existence of Belgium, that if only the Flemings and the Walloons could be united administratively with the Lithuanians and the Greeks, the Belgian problem would be solved. Likewise Yugoslavia: If only it had been Euroslavia. The linguistic difficulties entailed are of no account, for everyone — everyone in le tout Bruxelles sense — speaks Engleurish, a kind of Esperanto with the beauties of the latter removed.

To the Eurocrat,

the Finns are really Portuguese, who are really Austrians.

All news is good news to the Eurocrat,

because whatever problem arises leads to the same conclusion: ever closer union.

One might have supposed, for example, that

the slight difficulties over the Greek debt would give intelligent and thoughtful people, and even unintelligent and thoughtless people, reason to wonder whether the single currency had been such a good idea. One would be wrong. In the halls of Eurocracy, they are like the Aztecs who thought that they needed yet more human sacrifices to defeat the Spaniards.

The work of supposedly necessary unification is being carried out by the European Commission,

a body with about as many checks and balances on its exercise of power as the Committees of Public Safety.

It is

carrying out a revolution, though strictly one from above.

Is it not obvious, asks Dalrymple,

that there was a connection between the vaunted unified banking market and the Greek swindle-cum-débâcle? How else would the Greeks have been able to borrow so much for so long on the same terms as the Germans, and reward their grotesquely inflated public sector so magnificently?

To the Eurocrat,

reality is what Nature was to the Marxists, an enemy to be wrestled to the ground, subdued, defeated, in order to yield what Man wanted.

Why, asks Dalrymple, does the Eurocrat

have this impossible dream?

Why does he

treat reality the way Dominique Strauss-Kahn is said to treat women?

The answer is that he is a

frustrated megalomaniac, resentful at the tiny scale of the national stage upon which he would have strutted if national sovereignty still existed.

In the old days, Van Rompuy, for instance,

could have been sent out as governor of an area of Africa 20 times the size of Belgium, impossible to drive across in two months, let alone two hours. Such a position would have been consonant with his estimate of his own talents: likewise with all the other Eurocrats. And this is another way in which the empire strikes back.

Het Molenbeekprobleem

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.58.41Dalrymple schrijft:

We zaten op onze vlucht naar Parijs te wachten toen de annulatie van de volgende vlucht naar Brussel werd omgeroepen. Geruchten deden snel de ronde, maar de werkelijkheid bleek erger te zijn dan iemand verwachtte. Enkele uren later reden we in een taxi weg van de luchthaven Charles De Gaulle. Een radiozender wist te vertellen dat er twintig doden waren, een andere beweerde vierendertig. Eén van de zenders kondigde aan dat die avond de Eifeltoren in de Belgische kleuren zou worden verlicht. Wellicht zal er een tijdje een moratorium liggen op de Belgenmoppen in Frankrijk. Het gevoel van solidariteit is oprecht. Het is dan ook nog maar vijf maanden sinds de gruwelijkheden in Parijs.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.59.33Onze chauffeur was een moslim van Noord-Afrikaanse origine. Hij was duidelijk een integere man, welwillend en eerlijk. De chauffeur was woedend op Uber, dat zijn inkomen halveerde. Wat de abstracte economische argumenten ook zijn in deze zaak, het was moeilijk om geen sympathie op te brengen voor deze man. Maar het waren de terroristen die hem meer bezighielden. ‘Het zijn allemaal criminelen’, zei hij. ‘Ze hebben allemaal in de gevangenis gezeten.’ Hij sprak geëmotioneerd. ‘Het zijn mensensmokkelaars, bandieten.’ Ik wilde er nog aan toevoegen dat het allemaal liefhebbers zijn van rapmuziek, maar ik zweeg, ook al speelde er tussen de nieuwsberichten door barokmuziek op zijn radio. ‘Dit heeft niets vandoen met religie’, sprak hij. ‘Ze gaan meteen van de misdaad naar het terrorisme.’

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.21Het leek me het beste – opdat ik de man waar ik sympathie voor koesterde niet zou ontstemmen – om te zeggen dat dit maar ten dele juist was. De islam is niet de hele oorzaak, zeker, maar kan er ook niet los van gezien worden. Uiteindelijk blazen de talrijke verarmde christelijke Congolezen in België zichzelf niet op in een metro of de luchthaven. ‘We oogsten wat we hebben gezaaid’, ging hij verder, ‘met al die bemoeienissen in Libië en Mali’. Opnieuw zag ik slechts een vaag verband, en als er al één was, dan vond ik dat niet echt flatterend voor de moslimmigranten. ‘En hoe hebben ze Molenbeek zo laten evolueren dat het een plaats werd waar het extremisme kon bloeien?’

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.58.59Inderdaad, hoe? En wat te doen nu het er is? Tijdens mijn bezoek aan die Brusselse wijk enkele jaren terug kon ik de gevaren al duidelijk vaststellen. Een man zoals Salah Abdeslam, de gearresteerde terrorist, zal zich daar als een vis in het water hebben gevoeld, om met Mao te spreken. Het was een perfecte schuilplaats daar, tussen de sympathisanten en de rest van de gemeenschap die men tot stilte kon intimideren. Deze sociale wereld was ondoordringbaar voor de staatsdiensten. Een kennis vertelde me dat de Belgische overheid er niet in slaagt daar belastingen te innen, hoewel het er wel lukt om de sociale gelden uit te keren uit de staatskas.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.06Hoe houd je de vorming van getto’s zoals Molenbeek tegen en wat doe je eraan eens ze er zijn? Het antwoord van de taxichauffeur was eenvoudig: dwing ze om ergens anders te wonen. Een simpel plan, maar in de praktijk heel moeilijk. Het Europese Hof van de Mensenrechten veroordeelde onlangs Duitsland, omdat het die exacte plannen koesterde. Nadat een miljoen Syrische vluchtelingen en migranten in het land werden opgevangen, wilde de Duitse overheid de vorming van islamitische getto’s voorkomen door de immigranten te spreiden over het hele land. Het Hof oordeelde dat dit tegen de fundamentele mensenrechten van deze migranten inging, en dus verwerven ze het recht om enkele — of vele — Molenbeeks te vormen.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.37 Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.48

Another episode of tic douloureux

John Fothergill gave a still useful description of trigeminal neuralgia in 1773

John Fothergill gave a useful description
of trigeminal neuralgia in 1773

Dalrymple likens the periodic anguish, convulsions and agitation caused by Islamist terrorist attacks to Fothergill’s disease or prosopalgia. He writes:

Every incident is now like an episode of tic douloureux: a condition very difficult to treat.

One not insignificant feature of the problem, he points out, is that their religion, for certain Muslims, is

the continuation of delinquency by other means.

Nicolas André coined the term tic douloureux in his Observations pratiques sur les maladies de l'urètre et sur plusieurs faits convulsifs (1756)

Nicolas André coined the term tic douloureux in his Observations pratiques sur les maladies de l’urètre et sur plusieurs faits convulsifs (1756)

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 16.27.19

Molenbeek: hoofddoeken en moslimextremisten

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.45.15Dalrymple schrijft over Molenbeek, de wijk waar terrorist Salah Abdeslam zich waarschijnlijk ruim vier maanden heeft schuilgehouden:

  • Alle vrouwen dragen een hoofddoek
  • Jonge mannen kleden zich als Amerikaanse rapmuziek-fans
  • De politie vertoont zich zelden in de wijk en maakt zich meer zorgen om islamitische gevoeligheden te vermijden — bijvoorbeeld door niet in het openbaar te eten tijdens de ramadan — dan om boeven op te sporen en te vangen die de wijk tot een gevaarlijk crimineel terrein maken
  • Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.40.47Bedrijven betalen geen belastingen, maar worden niet onderzocht op belastingontduiking
  • Prediking en samenzwering door moslim extremisten is schering en inslag, maar er wordt niets gedaan om het te stoppen. Men probeert aldus de gespannen en de broze vrede zo lang mogelijk in stand te houden
  • Sympathie voor terrorisme is de norm — of liever gezegd niemand durft openlijk zijn stem daartegen te verheffen

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.49.59Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.51.27

Monotony and feebleness of Eurofederalist argumentation

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.34.53The best hope for the European Union, writes Dalrymple,

would be for it to eventually evolve into an enormous Belgium. More likely, it will evolve into an enormous Yugoslavia circa 1990.

The European political class and its intellectual cheerleaders

appear determined to produce one or the other. Whenever I listen to the defenders of the European Union I am astonished at the thinness of their argumentation and the ruthlessness of their determination.

Here are just three of the feeble and sketchy arguments:

1. European civilisation is superior to all others, for it is the only one that has ever accorded adult status to individuals. From now until 2020, 130m children will enter forced marriages. Without the indispensable infrastructure that is the European Union, Europe will be swept away by ill winds that blow from all directions.

Dalrymple:

Preposterous and cowardly. European civilisation predated the European Union by some years. The malign trend does not reach Europe from all directions—not from North or South America, for example, or Russia. The words are directed against Muslims, though there is not the courage to say so. There is no danger or prospect of forced marriage becoming general in Europe, nor is there any reason to suppose that a Europewide state would be better at preventing or prohibiting it among Muslim minorities than the present nation states are.

2. The only way of combating the kind of nationalism that led to catastrophic European wars is European federalism.

Dalrymple:

Absurd. There is no reason to believe that, but for the European Union, Portugal would attack Estonia, Ireland Luxembourg, or Greece Denmark. The only plausible candidates for a serious military conflict on the continent are France and Germany. What is really being said is that the European Union is necessary to contain Germany. This is to subscribe to the view of the Germans as eternal militarists, the inevitable enemy of France. I do not believe that but for the European Union, Germany would attack France.

3. The countries of Europe must unite politically in order to compete in the world. Large countries such as China, India, and the USA have clout; there is no place for small countries. In order to be of any account, European nations must forgo sovereignty and become part of a heftier entity.

Dalrymple:

This ignores

  • the political difficulties of union
  • the impossibility of making a functioning democracy of so many different nations
  • the inevitable clashes of national interest that federalisation would entail

It also ignores the evidence that many of the most successful countries in the world are small. There is no reason why countries cannot cooperate, including militarily, without pooling sovereignty; such pooling as has occurred in Europe has held its prosperity back. The currency union without any kind of fiscal union has proved disastrous for several countries, and is economically deleterious for all. But the further step of fiscal union could only be imposed by an unelected, authoritarian bureaucracy upon countries unwilling to comply, and whose interests might not be served by compliance. Sooner or later, a federation would lead to war, or at least to revolution.

The arguments of the federalists

are trotted out with monotonous regularity, like the stories of someone with Alzheimer’s, and anyone who raises objections, however obvious and unanswerable, is immediately compared to a rabid nationalist, as if to be attached to a national identity were a symptom of hating everyone else. There are such rabid nationalists, to be sure. Forced federation is the best way of ensuring their increase in numbers and influence.

The badness of an idea

does nothing to halt its progress. Europe is sleepwalking (yet again) to cataclysm.

La peine européenne forte et dure

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.53.20Dalrymple writes:

‘Europe’—in the Soviet-style usage of the word now so common—does not mean peace, but conflict, if not war. We are building in Europe not a United States but a Yugoslavia. We shall be lucky to escape violence when it breaks apart.

  • Europe is, so far, the consequence of peace, not its cause
  • multilateral agreements have always been possible without the erection of giant and corrupt bureaucratic apparatuses that weigh like a peine forte et dure on Western European economies
  • the maintenance of peace does not require or depend upon regulating the size of bananas sold
  • the notion that were it not for the European Union, there would be war, is inherently Germanophobic—no one believes, for instance, that Estonia would otherwise attack Slovenia, or Portugal Slovakia.

Take Belgium. The country is composed of two main national communities—the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemings.

The division between the two is sharper than at any previous time, to such an extent that the country recently had no government for more than 500 days. No one in Belgium explains, or even asks, why what has not proved possible for 189 years—full national integration of just two groups sharing so much historical experience and a tiny fragment of territory—should be achievable on a vastly larger scale with innumerable national groups, many of which have deeply ingrained and derogatory stereotypes of one another.

‘Europe’

lacks almost all political legitimacy, which will make it impossible to resolve real and growing differences.