Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Complete Dissolution of the Belgian State

Belgium is a multi-ethnic state, divided into Dutch-, French- and German-speaking areas. The ethnic German section of Belgium is relatively small; the main division of the country is between French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders.

Map of Flanders

The country is an artificial construct. Superficially it resembles Switzerland, in that it is a federated state of different ethnicities. Unlike Switzerland, however, Belgium was not federated consensually; it was established after the revolution of 1830 under military pressure from France.

Since the creation of Belgium the Flemish have felt themselves discriminated against by the Walloons, and have been treated as second-class citizens even when in the majority. Especially since the advent of the modern welfare state — in which the wealth of Flanders has been siphoned off to pay for benefits awarded to the less productive Walloons — the Flemish have resented the French-speaking minority. The massive influx of unwanted Third World immigrants over the last decade has only intensified that resentment.

Flanders has long aspired to independence, and the popular separatist political party Vlaams Belang is the latest expression of that aspiration.

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One of my Flemish contacts discovered a recent official document that lays a proposal for the independence of Flanders before the Belgian House of Representatives. With the help of ProFlandria he has supplied us with the following translated excerpts along with an introduction and a summary:

This pdf document is posted on the official website for the Belgian (federal) House of Representatives, and is dated November 6th, 2007. The title page explains that the document is a proposed resolution “for the complete dissolution of the Belgian state with a view to granting independence to the sovereign Flemish and Walloon peoples”. The proposal was addressed to the Belgian House of Representatives and submitted by Bart Laeremans, Gerolf Annemans, Filip De Man, and Linda Vissers.

Pages 3-35 provide an overview of Belgian history and from the perspective of Flemish-Walloon relations.

The document starts with the historical background to the creation of Belgium. Specifically, it rejects as myth the accepted narrative that Belgium was created in an act of revolt against Dutch oppression, and instead charges that the revolt was organized by Walloons and French agitators, and necessitated not only armed conflict with Dutch troops, but also with Flemish towns who had to be forcefully “convinced” (sometimes with French troops) to join the revolt. That section is actually entitled “The Conquest of Flanders by Belgium” (Professional historians don’t dispute this perspective, but it is not taught in school). In this manner, the document then charts the history of the two communities’ interaction through current times. It is largely a chronicle of the Flemish struggle to achieve equal treatment with their Walloon counterparts.
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This narrative provides the grounds for the actual proposed resolution:

Proposal of Resolution

The [Belgian Federal] Chamber of People’s Representatives [House of Representatives],

A. Considering that the Belgian revolution was a tragic event that put a premature end to the 1815 restoration of the union of the Netherlands under the house of Oranje-Nassau [the Netherlands’s union referred to ended in 1579, when territory which is now Belgium was conquered by Spain during the end of the Eighty Years’ War 1568-1648];
 
B. Considering that Flanders never intended to separate from the Northern Netherlands, and that the Belgian revolution was mainly a revolt of Walloons and French-speaking foreigners;
 
C. Considering that Belgian administration inaugurated a period of linguistic and cultural suppression as well as economic decline and that this period lasted more than one hundred years;
 
D. Considering there exists neither a Belgian people nor a Belgian nation, but that the territory Belgium is inhabited by the Flemish and Walloon peoples, as well as a portion of the German people;
 
E. Considering that Flanders and Wallonia are two completely different societies with different sensitivities, opinions, and preferences, and that interaction between these societies is ever diminishing;
 
F. Considering that the Belgian fact lead to the change of Brussels [historically Flemish] into a majority French-speaking city and that Flanders and Brussels are drifting ever farther apart;
 
G. Considering that Belgium is no longer a democratic state because the Walloon minority has the same power as the Flemish majority;
 
H. Considering that Belgian federalism has provided the Flemish with only the appearance of autonomy and that the Belgian-Francophone establishment uses federalism as a weapon to neutralize the Flemish majority;
 
I. Considering that Flanders has had time and again to pay a price for acquiring more autonomy, which is a breach of the principle of self- determination of peoples;
 
J. Considering that Flanders doesn’t have any interest in the continued existence of the Belgian state and that its continued existence means a annual financial drain for the Flemish;
 
K. Considering that there is no general Belgian common interest, because of which Belgium can not be a democracy;
 
L. Considering that Belgium is an artificial state and the moment has arrived to grant the Flemish and Walloon people each their independence;

Ask the Federal government:

Without hesitation to prepare the complete dissolution of the Belgian state, so that the three communities — Flemish, Walloon and German — may go their separate ways.

As far as I know this is the first time a document proposing the dissolution of Belgium has ever been submitted for consideration by the legislature. Considering the visibility of the impasse the Belgian government finds itself in, I would have thought this document would have caught someone’s attention. However, a quick scan across headlines for De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws, Nieuwsblad, Le Soir, and La Libre Belgique comes up blank.

It’s tempting to consider the resolution a mere political placeholder, but submitting this to a forum that is half Walloon is not as crazy (or useless) as it sounds. Representatives from the major Walloon party PS (Parti Socialiste) such as Philippe Moureaux, Maria Arena and Jose Happart have recently made statements that indicate they see Flemish-Walloon separation as a real possibility. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that the resolution could be formalized without changes. As the proposal is written, it squarely puts the blame for its necessity with the Belgian government and (various representatives of) the Walloon community. Accepting this position by ratifying the resolution as it stands would severely cripple the Walloon community’s ability to negotiate a favorable separation; it would be tantamount to one spouse admitting to abusing the other, and then trying to walk away with the bank account.

In the meantime there’s some media analysis going on regarding the King’s involvement in the negotiation process. Stay tuned…

The significance of an independent Flanders extends far beyond the borders of Belgium, even beyond France and the Netherlands. The Flemings are demanding a just sovereignty over their own affairs, just as other nations in Europe have achieved sovereignty. If Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo deserve independence, why not Flanders? The argument is compelling.

Given the Flemish antipathy towards the EU, and the status of Brussels as the capital of the European Union, a successful bid for Flemish independence will shake the monstrous and tyrannical hybrid known as “Europe” to its very foundations.

It’s all but certain that the EU will resist such an event by any available means. Pay attention to the unfolding events in Belgium: for the next few years we’ll be in for an interesting ride.


Note: the above translation has been corrected slightly , as specified by Luc Van Braekel in a comment below.

45 comments:

The Thinker said...

This has as much chance of happening as ___________(fill in the metaphor).

No way will the Walloons in the South allow the North to only look after themselves, when heretofore, they have been looked after by the Flemish. What's in it for the Walloons to agree to this? This is why civil wars start. One side wants independence, the other side says, "Hell no, you won't go!" So you have to fight for it.

Simon de Montfort said...

The Walloons have no place to go except France. The French tend to think that the Walloons are "country people" / hillbillies / rednecks , and might not want them

An independent Walloonia would be a Sorry State; it's national symbol would be a lay-about with a glass of beer in one hand and a GIRO in the other

Plus, too many Flemmish people won't be willing to risk life & limb.......

White Elefant said...

There was actually a poll published a few days ago:
leJDD
According to the Ifop poll, 54% of the French are favorable to attach Wallonia to France in case of a split of Belgium. Around 41% of the polled are opposed, and 5% have no opinion. The poll was conducted on a representative sample of 958 persons, between 8 and 9th of Nov.

DP111 said...

The bigger picture in all this is the Islamisation of Europe, aided and abetted by the EU. The EU prevents any limitation of immigration from the Arab world, or any policy that seeks to protect the host culture.

If Belgium breaks up, then hopefully the EU will become untenable. That will bring back all the powers that had been ceded to the EU, back to the nation states. The mainstream parties will then have to answer to the voting public, rather then to covertly subvert the democratic process to conform to EU directives.

As in the kerfuffle about VB and SD, it is the Islamisation of Europe that is the real threat. VB and SD can be changed or kicked out of government once they have served their purpose. Besides neither VB or SD have ever considered the dissolution of the culture of Europe or the West- which is quite different from the threat posed by Islam. Once Islamisation of Europe happens there is no turning back.

Will VB and SD be useful, or will their presence in the CounterJihad movement destroy the credibility of the movement - that is the question.

Henrik R Clausen said...

"it was established after the revolution of 1830 under military pressure from France."

Having read Paul Belien's book on the subject, I think this is a mistake. The pressure was from Britain. France, fresh out of the Napolenic wars, didn't want another round of senseless killing.

Also from Britain came the first Belgian king Leopold I.

eatyourbeans said...

This is reminding me a little of our (American) Civil War. And I wonder if the offensive "Neo-Nazi" banners and symbols these parties display can be compared to the Rebel flag, which is a common sight in the Southern and Western states of the USA.

An outsider or a fanatic might assume that the people who fly the "stars and bars" want to bring back slavery and leave the Union. But nothing of the kind. The flag means, at least to those who display it, the willingness to defend one's home, one's kith & kin, one's native region and its manners and customs against meddlesome outsiders. The threat here is not intended towards blacks or any minorities in particular, but usually toward our big, bureaucratic, grasping, arrogant Federal Government. ( Unlike your EU, we can be loyal to our Government even as we fear and mistrust it. )

Now the attitude of the Union, the winning side, is interesting. In Southern graveyards you can see both the American and Confederate Flags marking the same grave. At West Point, where our Army officers are trained, Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are honored as some our greatest generals. The same wise forgiveness was at work in the old British Army, which encouraged the Highland Regiments to keep their warlike ways.

What to make of all this? Over time, and more by usage than by explicit agreement, we've come to accept that very good men can fight and die for a very bad cause. In America we have rejected the second but honor the first.

I don't know whether to what extent this applies to the VB and like, but we Americans should recall the ambiguities in our own history, and not make hasty judgements.

Croat555 said...

You Flems have to go out and take your freedom. Nobody will give it to you. True, everybody will oppose, but your freedom has no price! Get out, no matter what - be bad MFs, kick b.tt and take what is yours to take. You can do it, there is no doubt about that.

And one thing more - adopt a saying: we are the best, those who disagree have our consent to suffer!

davidhamilton said...

Simon de Montfort: If your nickname refers to the 5th Earl of Leicester (died 1218), he does not sound like an admirable person to me in the Wikipedia account. Why did you pick this name to label your writing?

Henrik R Clausen said...

eatyourbeans, noone in their right minds would fly a neo-Nazi flag in Europe.

Yes, a some crackheads from Germany and Czech Republic did have a street brawl recently. They are a fringe group with no influence or connections to real politics.

Fortunately. That kind of people nearly destroyed Europe some decades ago...

SorenK said...

dchamil,

You've got the wrong Simon De Montford. Go back and try again.

Besides, since when did Wrongapedia become a valid source?

eatyourbeans said...

henrik,

I had thought flying neo nazi flags was one of the accusations made against the VB, and by extension, to the conference. Untrue?

Henrik R Clausen said...

"I had thought flying neo nazi flags was one of the accusations made against the VB."

True. Just like Stalin accused a bunch of people of being 'class enemies', purged them, and went on to accuse anyone associating with them. If you buy into the mentality of assuming in advance any such accusation to be true, you're in trouble. Either you'll start doing some pretty nasty things, or you will lose your credibility. The latter is preferable, of course.

The rally in question sported a variant of the Flemish flag which is different from the one used by VB. The rally was held by some fringe group, not by the Vlaams Belang, who has no connection to it.

I posted quite a bit over at JihadWatch about the Nazi slurs and their non-relevance to Vlaams Belang.

If you're interested in neo-Fascism and anti-Semitism in Europe today, check in with the extreme left-wing groups, not with the nationalists. Those guys are helping Hamas and Hezbollah delegitimize Israel and are holding violent street rallies, at least here in Denmark. They are not associated with any anti-Jihad activities.

Personally, I'm non-Jewish. But in any case of discrimination or boycotts against Jews, please consider me a Jew for that purpose.

Christine posted tons of details about the Vlaams Belang at CVF. You'll find links to that in my comments at JihadWatch.

Now back to our regular agenda. I'm a bit weary of having to deny neo-Nazi allegations. Not that they've been made against me, but quite a lot of them went against my friends at the Vlaams Belang, in an effort to discredit the CounterJihad summit.

Finally, I'm really sick of the Charles Johnson mentality to demand absolute purity of each and every person and organisation involved in countering fundamentalist Islam. Not only that, Charles will openly slander and attack anyone who does not live up to *his* definition of purity.

Recognize the mechanism? It ain't pretty.

Now, Charles is not even European and can't be expected to understand European history or politics.

I hope we can appreciate our differences here in Europe. They are a richness, not a problem.

. said...

My comments:

1. The split of Belgium between Flanders and Wallonia will go peacefully IF the Flemish accept that Brussels must become it's own mini-state, or perhaps "federal district" like the American District of Columbia or Australian Canberra. If the Flemings accept this, the split will not be bloody. If they don't it will, because a million French speakers will not want to be under the yoke of people like the Vlaams Blok, who hate French-speakers almost as much as they do Muslims.

2. You vastly underestimate the antipathy of the Flemish for their Dutch neighbors. This has strong historical and religious roots - while the Netherlands has always had a Catholic minority population, it was born of the reformation, and the Flemish remain staunchly Catholic. The situation is a much less bloody version of the enmity between Serbs and Croatians, with a common language but religious and historical divides - with the result that the common language actually makes things worse, because the two sides can understand the insults hurled at each other.

3. The split of Flanders and Wallonia will actually make the EU stronger, not weaker. Smaller countries are the ones that have tended to support the EU the most, because it provides them protection against the bigger ones (formerly in war, now mainly economically). The countries that can effectively KO the EU are not Flanders and Wallonia, but Germany, France, and Great Britain.

Henrik R Clausen said...

"The split of Belgium between Flanders and Wallonia will go peacefully IF the Flemish accept that Brussels must become it's own mini-state."

That makes sense. EU could sponsor that (well, in a sense it does already). It's not a Flemish city like it used to be. And honestly, it ain't pretty, either...

davidhamilton said...

Sorenk: In spite of the fact that it is fashionable to belittle Wikipedia, I find that it is quite good except on matters that are politically controversial. Best of all, it is quick, convenient, and free.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Wikipedia is useful in its own way, not least to get an overview of a certain issue. The best resourceis often the collection of original sources at the bottom.

It can also be hopelessly biased, and with an army of nerds online to protect the bias. I tried that with the pages related to Turkish accession to the EU - impossible to edit to get it right...

On non-controversial matters, I like to use Wikipedia as a source. It does require special handling in some cases, though.

. said...

The WORST thing that can happen to Vlaams Belang would be the peaceful breakup of Belgium. Its primary raison d'etre would be gone. Perhaps that's why it has joined the anti-Jihad bandwagon, or at minimum it is a positive side-benefit of advocating its "Flemish only" principles. Without the Walloons to vilify, Vlaams Belang would be a more marginal party like the German and British Nationalist parties.

Vlad Z. said...

Eatyourbeans:

Nice response.

Over time, and more by usage than by explicit agreement, we've come to accept that very good men can fight and die for a very bad cause. In America we have rejected the second but honor the first.

Just so! I will continue to honor the Northern war dead for their bravery and service, even though it was, as you say, in the service of a very bad cause.

Formerly Arch said...

The split of Flanders and Wallonia will actually make the EU stronger, not weaker. Smaller countries are the ones that have tended to support the EU the most, because it provides them protection against the bigger ones

Now, this is where I disagree. Splitting Belgium would challenge the concept of the European Union to its very core, as Belgium is in many senses EU-lite. It has tried to enforce a single "nationality" on disparate cultural groups that don't even share a language and has tried to suppress expression of those nationalities in favour of the supra-national government. Breaking up Belgium challenges the belief that a single national identity can be forged from disparate nations, and that belief is one of the foundations of the EU. If that belief is challenged, the entire edifice comes crashing down.

Nor do I think it's true that the small countries support the EU most. It's large countries that support it most: France and Germany are the drivers of the entire project because it gives them an immense amount of power over their smaller neighbours and pprovides a protectionist barrier for them against the rest of the world. Europe is a guaranteed market for German manufacturing and French agricultural produce, both of which are heavily subsidised; on top of that those heavy subsidies allow France to dump huge amounts of produce on the world market whilst preventing that same world market from breaking in to the EU market. The big countries dominate every aspect of the EU. Look at the way they acted toward the new east European accession countries when they voiced support for the US invasion of Iraq. Small countries within the EU are being submerged under protectionist legislation inspired by the large countries and slowly wiped off the map as their borders are reduced to meaningless lines by euro migration and immigration.

Given VB's stance on the size and role of the government I certainly don't believe they would be even remotely favourable to the EU, nor would any other Flemish parties in a post-secession Flanders. They have far too much to lose in gaining independence from one artificial political construct only to subsume themselves in a much larger artificial political construct.

Stephen Gash said...

Islam is not mentioned once in this post.

Why not start another blog about Belgium?

Vlad Z. said...

PFKA Gordon wrote:

1. The split of Belgium between Flanders and Wallonia will go peacefully IF the Flemish accept that Brussels must become it's own mini-state, or perhaps "federal district" like the American District of Columbia or Australian Canberra. If the Flemings accept this, the split will not be bloody. If they don't it will, because a million French speakers will not want to be under the yoke of people like the Vlaams Blok, who hate French-speakers almost as much as they do Muslims.

What an interesting analogy. DC is pretty much a nasty brutish city once you leave the Imperial Mall area. It has one of the highest crime rates, highest murder rates and highest unemployment of any city in the USA.

It's a costly expense to maintain the place, but the cost is shared out over the other 50 states, so no one is bearing too much of the burden.

Also residents are not represented in the House or Senate, and only fairly recently did they get to vote for President.

So the E.U. bureaucrats have succeeded in turning what was a vibrant center of the state in which it sits into a DC like hell-hole, complete with high crime, a angry unassimilated minority population and permanant welfare rolls to make LBJ blink.

Turning it over to the EU might be the easy way out, but it seems less than optimum in terms of restoring Flemish autonomy. Unlike D.C., which borders on two states, Maryland and Virginia, Brussels is wholely contained within Flanders.

I imagine at least some would like to return the city to control of the Flemmish, whereby the city could be fixed.

It seems unlikely many Flemish would be satisfied with having a socialist enclave, run by fascists who sent their police to beat up Flemish politicians a month or so ago in their midst.

But assuming that it has to go that way: who would pay the bills for Brussels? If it's the rest of the EU perhaps it could work.

ProFlandria said...

Henrik,

In the interest of strict accuracy, Belgium was indeed not "established" under French pressure - but French agitators who fomented the revolution did try to attach the conquered territory to France. It was at that point that Britain stepped in to help create a neutral buffer state.

Leopold I of Saxen Coburg, the first belgian King, was German. His niece Victoria becaome Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, his nephew Ferdinand became King of Portugal (Ferdinand II), and Ferdinand's identically named nephew became King of Bulgaria (Ferdinand I). It's quite a tangle of connections...

ProFlandria said...

Stephen Gash,

I know, it's starting to feel that way... But the Belgian situation is important because the EU (and predecessor EC) were expressly modeled after the Belgian construct. I can safely predict that the EU will soon become the biggest obstacle to anti-islamisation, and if the "model" can be broken then maybe the perceived inevitability of an "ever closer Union" will no longer seem so... inevitable. If Belgium, however erroneously, was at one time considered to be the perfect model for a European Union, then maybe a successful independence for Flanders might be a model for true "nations" to start reclaiming some of their lost sovereignty back from the EU. I'm working on a post along these lines, but it may take a few days yet...

ProFlandria said...

Poster Formerly Known As gordon,

I can't really agree with your position. Whereas the Flemish Movement adopted Flemish iindependence as its ultimate goal up to roughly WW2, Vlaams Belang is the second generation of a new type of Flemish nationalism. While independence is its most important goal, it is merely a means to an end: self-government.

The type of government they propose is more limited, republican, and re-centered towards the individual citizen. The platform with which they have gone to successive elections covers (among others) immigration, economy, social security, and employment, education, environment, you name it.

Independence would revitalize the party and allow it to redirect its energy towards repairing a damaged society.

ProFlandria said...

Archonix,

Your assessment of VB's sentiment towards the EU is borne out by the following, taken from their basic Principles:

"3. Europe

The mutual cooperation between the European peoples within a civilizational and cultural community represents a histiroc opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity. The party is, however, very wary and critical of the European Union, with her bureaucracy and intrusion in matters where the sovereignty of the people should take precedence. The party is also of the opinion that the territory of the European Union must not expand beyond Europe's borders." That last sentence possibly accepts expansion to the Urals (geographhic eastern border), but I think the statement is much more important wrt Turkey!

. said...

Zeke: Brussels is nothing like D.C. The EU has not "ruined" it. It was a primarily French city many decades before the EU came into existence. As a prosperous city, Brussels would not be a big drain on the EU, Flanders, or anyone else.

It's certainly no worse than any other large European city, and none of the others have large EU bureaucracies. There is no correlation.

If the Flemish are willing to send Brussels on its merry way the split will be easy. If not, then the split will either never occur, or will be acrimonious and probably blood-stained.

ProFlandria said...

Zeke,

You make an interesting point about Brussels. While it is historically a Flemish city, almost two hundred years of French-speaking imperialism (and counting) is changing that. It may be reversible, maybe not - but if Brussels would fall under Flemish jurisdiction it would not have to be a disaster.

Frankly, I can think of two reasons why (currently bilingual)Brussels belongs in Flanders: First, Flanders' cultural and legal position on language rules would mean that Brussels would be bilingual in reality, and not just on paper (currently Flemish patients in Brussels emergency rooms are addressed only in French and treated with attitudes ranging from indifference to contempt).
Second, an independent Flanders can easily carry the burden of supporting Brussels. You see, taxes are paid to Belgium which redistributes to the Regions. The way this is done results in an annual transfer of 10-12 billion Euros from Flanders to Wallonia; I would rather hope this would rapidly cycle down to 0 after independence. Free money, so to speak.

As a final remark, I agree that Brussels is an islamo-socialist trainwreck, and getting worse. But if that is a reason for abandoning a mere city, why should we try to reverse the process in an entire continent?

. said...

By the way, I appreciate the thoughtful responses to the arguments in my post, even if they disagree with me. It's quite a contrast to a certain American blog, where voices that don't echo the party line get belittled instead of countered, and now banned.

ProFlandria said...

Poster Formerly Known as Gordon,

I wholeheartedly agree. I used to be a lurker and very occsional poster, but these last few months I have really enjoyed sharpening my wits in the honorable jousting that goes on in this "list". The quality of discourse here is enjoyable even (and sometimes, especially) in disagreement. No gratuitous insults, no language that would make a sailor blush (it's possible!), and demonstrations of graciousness in victory as well as defeat - who said the internet was the abode of basement-dwelling social outcasts?

hank_F_M said...

Inquiring minds want to know.

Will Belgian Luxembourg be returned to the Grand Duchy of same?

Will the German speaking fringes be returned to Germany?

Will the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limbroug be reunited? (Maybe that much cheese would raise a stink?)

Will Flanders and the Netherlands reunite?

If so will they apply to be the 17th Lander of the Federal Republic?
(While I was studying in Paris in the 70’s, when our Dutch friend was a little to down on the US we would make a comment about the Netherlands being the 11th Lander, he shut up quickly.)


===================

It’s amazing that the patchwork quilt held together as long as it has. Actually any alternative would have been worse in the mind of the citizens than two virtually autonomous regions. But since they will now be no matter what just another EU region the benefit is gone.

CarnackiUK said...

@proflandria

(currently Flemish patients in Brussels emergency rooms are addressed only in French and treated with attitudes ranging from indifference to contempt).

Depends where you go. For the reverse side of the coin, I would not advise speaking French if you find yourself in the otherwise excellent A-Z(aka U-Z) Hospital. I've learnt to only speak English there, as did my parents.

ProFlandria said...

eatyourbeans,

This is why I should take the time to read every comment:

"An outsider or a fanatic might assume that the people who fly the "stars and bars" want to bring back slavery and leave the Union. But nothing of the kind. The flag means, at least to those who display it, the willingness to defend one's home, one's kith & kin, one's native region and its manners and customs against meddlesome outsiders."

That's as good a comparison as I've seen. I have tried not to wade too deeply into this discussion because I'm still coming to terms with my own experiences in that regard. But let me throw caution to the wind...

As a teenager I joined the Sea Cadets in my hometown, Oostende. We started up our chapter with one officer and four pimply friends, if memory serves. One of my friends invited his girlfriend's brother to join, and he brought his friends. We soon realized that at a stroke, half of our chapter were "those" people - like the ones we saw on TV (late 70's - early 80's) roaming the streets of Flemish "border" municipalities to prevent their Walloon counterparts from taking over.

My "new" friends were fond of crewcuts, boots, and all things military. I learned to like crewcuts too, but my friends also had an open admiration for German martial prowess which bordered on the infuriating. Considering my family history, that didn't sit so well. They were also members of organizations which espoused (mix and match to taste): idolizing WW1 Flemish veterans (great), memorializing "martyrs" to the cause of Flemish equality (uh...), supporting amnesty for Flemish WW2 SS veterans (hmmm...), and musing over the glories of Germanic/Nordic history and myth (cool, but what's with all the runes?).

My initial reaction was one of caution - the guys seemed okay, but are they serious!? Inevitably we would have our discussions, and over time my friends' stance on many things softened, or disappeared - I think the Wehrmacht idolatry was the first to dim (they did swap it for a healthy appreciation of Israeli military prowess). On the other hand, I also learned. At age twelve I knew superficially about the unequal treatment we had received as a people, but I wasn’t worried about it. Later it dawned on me that Walloons were not only contemptuous of my "uncultured" language for its own sake, but because it was mine. They would come to my hometown on vacation (it’s a beach), rent an apartment from my grandparents, and be quite affable. But every now and then the mask would slip. The most memorable occasion was when a little boy ran up to me on the sidewalk when I was about fourteen and yelled: "Sale Boche!" [dirty Kraut]. I don't remember exactly what happened, but when the red left my eyes I saw myself backing the boy's dad up to a wall and hitting him over and over. I quickly walked away and left him stunned, and I have tried to rationalize that event ever since - "I must have realized the boy was too little to know what he was saying, I wouldn't have hit the mother anyway, so that just left the other parent who had taught the kid to say that..." No matter, it definitely wasn't my finest hour because I don't actually remember thinking any of that when it happened. The whole thing could easily have gone very, very wrong. So I decided to learn all I could about my "environment" - not from my friends' propaganda leaflets, but from the library. Most sources I found would airily admit that there might have been problems in the past, but that was mostly over.

I joined the Navy at 18. It was pretty much inevitable: my dad and uncle were both Navy men, and during WW2 their dad had crewed on a fishing boat out of Swansea (Wales) doing his part for the war effort. By that time I was an ardent royalist, I kid you not. Two reasons: the near-mythological stature of King Albert who defied the Kaiser's Army in the Big One, and a book on Leopold III's Shakespearean tribulations during WW2. For anyone familiar with the pomp and pageantry of military ritual, once you ad that in the mix you actually get guys who tear up when they're in a parade (mea culpa...). Slowly, however, my symbols started to tarnish. For one, the obvious over-representation of Walloons among officers was impossible to ignore. I found out that Albert’s treatment of his mostly Flemish enlisted personnel was less than edifying. I think the last straw was finding out about the Royal House's decidedly "swastikarian" tendencies - especially with respect to Jews. I forget the name of the book, but I remember the shock at having one of my icons, whose latest scion was now my Commander-In-Chief, brought so low. As an object lesson in the danger of symbol worship, this one can count. Basically, if you want to find real-life Nazis in Belgium go to the Palace at Laeken.

By that time, however, I was stationed in the US on "temporary assignment" - for seven years. Things happen, you marry, you build a house... then they send a replacement. And a funny thing happened: I didn't want to return home. Lots of practical reasons, but they were excuses – I could feel a different resistance, as well. I didn't realize until several years later that my country could no longer stand a comparison to the one I now lived in. True, we had all the artifacts of civilizational greatness - but this country had the practice of it. Imperfectly, to be sure, but also passionately. Discovering how this new country came to be was a revelation. Things I had known to be true suddenly proved flawed, or false. And without conciously looking, I had found my new symbols. If you've recited the pledge, you know what they are.

The last time I looked, my old friends are still culturally Flemish, but also Belgian soldiers. I haven't spoken with any of them in over fourteen years, so I don't know how they feel about current developments. It’s too risky to ask - the (Walloon Socialist) Minister of Defense deputized selected personnel to "evaluate" the troop's possibly subversive sentiments.

My point, if I can even find it in all these ramblings, is this: as you said, symbols mean different things to different people. Changing your allegiance to them after having their validity challenged is a very long, and sometimes painful process. It is the kind of growth that leaves scars, but good ones. If certain people in Vlaams Belang are traveling this road – and I’m reasonably confident they are – they have my respect, and I’ll say no more about it.

Papa Whiskey said...

"I will continue to honor the Northern war dead for their bravery and service, even though it was, as you say, in the service of a very bad cause."

-- Zeke

Had the outcome of the War of Southern Sedition been different, we would not read today of the 1861-65 conflict as the Civil War but as "Civil War I." Civil wars II, III, IV, ad nauseam would have lugubriously followed, perhaps down to the present day -- and in due course the North would likely have armed, trained and equipped your chattel population for a hellish insurrection instead of serving as a haven for those who wished to get out from under the odious caste system you were allowed to set up after the 1876 election compromise. With the Union thus sundered and distracted, the Pacific would today be a Japanese lake and Europe would lie supine under the Teutonic jackboot.

You can thank my great-great grandfather, who among so many others gave the "last full measure of devotion" to the "last best hope of earth," that America and the world -- and you -- were spared such a fate.

openplaza said...

A Belgium breakup will most likely fuel separatism all over Europe. Scotland could be next, and with it, the end of GB.
And what makes some posts here think, that the end of Belgium would help in bringing down the EU? Actually many folks in the EU would like to see a Bruxelles-ministate, a federal EU capital, like Brasilia, Canberra or Washington DC.

DP111 said...

In as much as it would be convenient in the broad scheme of things that Flanders broke away from Belgium, I do not see that happening without serious opposition from the EU. EU apparatchiks are well aware that any nation breaking away from the EU will have a disastrous effect on the EU. It is also aware that the whole EU project does not have the support of the vast majority of citizens. It is for this reason that it will not allow the citizens of European nations to have any say on the Constitutional treaty/ reform treaty.

Another recent incident bears out the nature of the EU. There is great anger among ordinary Italians, that following the entry of Romania to the EU - their country had been overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of Romanians. This immigrant population is now responsible for some 75% of all crime in Rome. Despite many protests by the citizens of Rome, the Italian government did nothing. Romanian citizens were allowed to move freely in the EU, as EU directives required. In the aftermath of a recent gruesome murder, Italians then took the law into their hands. Panic then set in, and the socialist Prodi, a former EU colleague, and the communist mayor, passed drastic laws for the expulsion of Romanians, even on the merest suspicion by the police, and with no legal appeal against the decision.

This law is totally against EU directives. It is illegal as illegal can get as far as the EU is concerned. However, EU apparatchiks, in a funk that pointing this out would make the Italians turn against the EU, declared that the said laws were not in conflict with EU regulations.

For Flanders to get independence, it would have to turn nasty, as the Italians did. Even then it may not succeed, as the EU will offer all kinds of financial incentives, even taking the burden of Flanders contributions to Belgium coffers, in conjunction with blackmail on trade. Flanders is small, quite unlike Germany, France, Britain or Italy, and is not capable of withstanding such pressure.

Zerosumgame said...

A bit of advice for the Flanderians, especially those in VB, if they wish to shake off the extremist label:

If and when Flanders becomes independent, here are some things that should be in its constitution:

a) The very first thing in its consitution should be America's First Amendment about Freedom of Speech, Religion and Assembly -- translated as excactly from the English as can be done.

Then if people object to Flanders' inependence, you can accuse them of opposing the First Amendement, of opposing freedom of speech (which Europe doesn't really have anymore, if it ever did).

b) The second thing in it should be something like America's second Amendment, about the right to own guns. This is not completely alien to Europe, since I think the Swiss have it.

c) Include free-market economic principles in the constitution, and maybe a flat tax.

Flanders' constitution should be set up to reflect "classical" liberal principles (which today are considered conservative or libertarian), in stark contrast to the left-liberal principles of the EU bureaucratic dictatorship.

Zerosumgame said...

Two questions to the Europeans:

If Flanders decides to unilaterally declare independence, who is going to stop them militarily? I would think nobody?

And which countries in Europe would quickly recognize it?

Luc Van Braekel said...

There's a small error in the translation. "The federal government asks" should be "ask the federal government".

Baron Bodissey said...

Luc,

Thanks for the close reading -- I've made the correction you suggested. :)

Henrik R Clausen said...

"The WORST thing that can happen to Vlaams Belang would be the peaceful breakup of Belgium."

A independent Flanders would crown decades of work with what they set out to achieve. That ain't bad - actually, it's very, very good, better than most European political parties manage. I believe that to VB, this is a more important goal than that of securing their own party in the longer term.

That said, I think VB would be fine afterwards. They will have respect for their work and their integrity, and they will have their hands full defending the newborn state from an EU and a political mentality opposed to the nation-state as such. I predict them many good years ahead.

Brussels and Washington DC - quite similar indeed, for good and for bad. It has been marred with the legacy of the Belgian kings, not least Leopold II, and shaped by blood money from Belgian Congo. If I were Flemish, I'd opt for Antwerp as capital instead. That would also be a clear signal that dilligence and real work are more important than EU bureaucracy.

Stephen, I suggest you to move on to the next thread. People in this one are deeply interested in the machinations regarding nationality, Belgium, EU etc., as it all relates to anti-Jihad issues and has consequences for the work. There are other fine threads dealing more directly with Islam.

As for the size of Flanders - well, it's larger than Denmark, population-wise, perfectly viable. There will be some surprise about it, of course, and I expect the US government to be completely confused about what to do.

As for who'd recognize Flanders? Well, while I don't actually know the attitude of the DK government, it's a candidate.

Probably the best way to prepare for it would be to send the Belien book to key people (foreign policy spokespersons) in your respective governments, along with a polite letter inviting to understand the background and history of Belgium. That just might help key people understand and respect what goes on.

Stephen Gash said...

In my opinion the "Belgium is a model for the EU" argument is at worst spurious and at best a distraction.

The logical conclusion is that sites such as G of V will fill with cases for independence, such as Basque and Corsica because "the EU will become the biggest obstacle to anti-islamisation".

We KNOW the EU is the biggest obstacle to anti-Islamisation. In fact most of us blame the EU FOR the Islamisation of Europe.

SIOE, and I personally, received alot of stick for some comments we made post-Brussels 9/11. The reason we made those comments was because we feared exactly what has happened to the anti-Islamism movement would happen, if domestic politics were allowed to get into peoples' thoughts and actions.

I am an English nationalist who wants independence for England and with all due respect to Belgium, the model was tried first in the British Isles.

However, my personal views on nationalism have nothing to do with stopping Islamisation of Europe. Or at least they take a back seat when I'm promoting anti-Islamism.

SIOE will support Vlaams Belang in its efforts to stop Islamisation. However, SIOE will also support other parties (not necessarily all) in their same efforts.

My own personal point of view is that Islamisation with its imposition of sharia law is the most pressing matter facing us all and we should concentrate on this.

We are all guilty of pride, but we have to bury it as best we can.

Maybe somebody should devise a slogan for anti-Islamism along the lines of

"We agree to disagree on many things, but we agree that Sharia is disagreeable"

Lame maybe, but I hope you get the point.

Henrik R Clausen said...

"My own personal point of view is that Islamisation with its imposition of sharia law is the most pressing matter facing us all and we should concentrate on this."

The point with classical European nationalism is that it's a great antidote to this. One of the lesser-noticed details of the Muhammad crisis was that the Imams, after losing court case & appeal, went to a Mufti to obtain a fatwa on the problem. Why is this important? Because what they are effectively attempting is to establish a parallel legal system that trancends borders.

Reasserting that all citizens of my country respects the secular law and nothing else is an important antidote to Sharia.

As is the identification with a nation instead of with a religion.

We have an honest disagreement over this. It's fine.

Formerly Arch said...

Stephen, the model here in the UK at least had the advantage of tacit support from the population at large, and it was based on a protracted period of economic equalisation prior to any political unity. Even under the Stuarts, the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland were still politically separate, and to this day the kingdoms of Great Britain still retain their national identities. Hell, Scotland still has three national banks and it's own legal system that has never been tampered with by Parliament. We english only have one. Of course it does seem likely that we'll split apart again soon largely because of that, but it's going to be an amicable split.

The Belgian and EU models were predicated in the idea of creating political unity and suppressing national identity in order to force economic unity, which is a complete reversal of how these things work in practice.

I do agree that conflating the nationalism debate with the fight against Islam is risky but the goal of nationalism, that being national self determination, is a necessary part of preventing an islamic europe. Breaking the EU is the only viable way to start reversing the islamisation. Trying to operate within EU structures will simply bog everyone down in red tape and accusations of islamophobia.

Our slogan could be simply "A free people will never submit to gods and men."

Conservative Swede said...

Zerosumgame,

Second amendment to shake off the extremist label??? This yet another example of how little Americans and Europeans understand each other worlds, and of how our elites manipulate us.

If, in your scenario, VB would introduce the right the wear guns, this is considered VERY extreme in Europe, and VB is surer than ever to be seen as a fascist party. This blackening fascist image will then be carried across the Atlantic and the Americans will now be completely convinced that VB is fascist.

But that couldn't happen, you'd say, since objectively it's about the second amendment, and a majority of the Americans are in favour of that.

Sorry, but since when did facts matter? The only thing that matters is how the self-appointed witch hunters on each side of the Atlantic spin it.

Let me give you an example: Sweden has an abortion policy, of which there is a 90+ percent general consensus, that in the extreme American theater would be seen as an anti-abortion/pro-life policy, since abortion rights are limited and completely free only the first 3 months. Swedes have never heard of partial-birth abortions, but if you told them about it, they would sound just like Ann Coulter and say that it's indeed killing babies.

This is the objective situation. But as so often the theater is all the other way around. So one of the main reasons Swedes hate Bush is for his anti-abortion/pro-life stand. Swedes identify with Democrats and pro-choice, and vice versa.

With gun rights, as with all other things, the self-appointed witch hunters (i.e. the all-encompassing Left) on each side of the Atlantic will listen to how their friends on the other side spin it, and this becomes the truth, because if you tell a lie over and over and over, well then it becomes the truth.

And finally, I think there are quite a few Americans, unfortunately, that do not feel comfortable about Europeans defending themselves and wearing arms, even if they are all for gun rights for themselves.

Formerly Arch said...

Well I think we can agree that the a provision with the same wording as the first amendment should definitely be there.