Category Archives: Wallonia

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.

Belgian diagnosis

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.12.36Flemings, Walloons and a failed European project

In the course of a discussion of the implosion of the European Union, Dalrymple cites Belgium, stating a fact that is obvious to all but the West’s political and intellectual leaders:

What has not worked in two centuries in a small area with only two populations will not work in a few years in a much larger area with a multitude of populations.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.44.36Belgium has existed since it was cobbled together in 1830.

In all that time, it has not been able to create a durable national identity.

The country is divided into populations with incompatible politics: Wallonia and Flanders. Belgium is officially bilingual, yet you will not see a word of Flemish in Wallonia or of French in Flanders.

Not pretty

But it’s not pretty

The division could not be starker if barbed wire separated the two provinces. Only in the capital, Brussels, does one find any concession to bilingualism.

Wallonia,

though it contained a minority of Belgium’s population, long dominated its culture and economy.

Even upper-class Flemings spoke French at home, while Flemish was the language of the peasantry; until recently, Belgian schools forbade children from speaking Flemish in class.

With the decline of Wallonia’s coal and steel industries and the economic rise of Flanders, the pattern of dominance changed. Flanders

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.54.21went from being the poor relation to being the rich one, albeit with something of an inferiority complex. It started to make large transfer payments to Wallonia, which suffered from comparatively high unemployment.

Such payments

rarely promote goodwill between groups. Resentment is common among both the donors, who harbour suspicions that the recipients are exploiting them, and the recipients, who indulge in mental contortions to explain their dependency away.

The largest political parties in Flanders

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 08.01.59are either nationalist or free-market; both philosophies lead to reducing or stopping the transfer payments.

The largest political party in Wallonia

is socialist and wants the payments to continue or increase. The Wallonian socialist party’s patronage powers in its territory are almost feudal in nature and extent; the last thing that the party of social change wants is actual change.

Binding the Flemings and Walloons together

Binding the Flemings and Walloons together

The Walloons

want higher taxes to maintain the current arrangements.

The Flemings

want lower taxes and reduced spending to promote long-term growth.

A masterpiece.

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