Friday, August 24, 2007

The Year of the Jackpot

The Jackpot

Back in the early 1950s the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote a story for Galaxy magazine called “The Year of the Jackpot”.

The protagonist is a statistician named Potiphar Breen, who consults as an actuary for various insurance companies. He deals with probability and statistical trends in his work, but his hobby is the study of various cycles in human behavior and natural phenomena.

To entertain himself he has plotted graphs of various cycles — the rise and fall of the hemlines of women’s skirts, the incidence of various diseases, climatic fluctuations, and so on. He has noticed that whenever several of the significant trendlines bottom out at the same time, a major human catastrophe inevitably occurs, such as the French Revolution or the Civil War, with the most recent being the Great Crash of 1929.

Breen, observing that all the trendlines are about to bottom out again, and to an extreme not seen before in human history, decides to retire to a cabin in the desert with provisions and ammo to wait out the coming troubles. The situation deteriorates, with earthquakes, contagion, insurrection, and anarchy, culminating in a mushroom cloud rising high over the city of Los Angeles.

But that’s not the real jackpot. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the story; you’ll have to read it for yourselves…

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Heinlein’s famous story came to mind yesterday when I read two back-to-back posts in the Brussels Journal. The first concerned a group that has applied for a permit to demonstrate in Brussels on 9-11. No, it’s not SIOE this time; this is an Arab group. AEL wants to protest about the Islamophobia exhibited by racist groups such as SIOE, and claims that its mission has nothing to do with religion.

Hmm… The first question that comes to mind is: Will Freddy allow this one to take place?

Here’s what Paul Belien has to say:

The Arab-European League (AEL), a pro-Hezbollah organization of Arab immigrants in Belgium and the Netherlands, is rallying its members to march in Brussels on 11 September “against Islamophobia and racism in Europe.” The AEL demonstration is a response to the request by the Danish-British-German organization Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) for permission to demonstrate on 9/11 in front of the European Union’s buildings in Brussels against the introduction of Sharia laws in Europe.

Two weeks ago the SIOE demonstration was banned by Freddy Thielemans, the mayor of Brussels. According to Mr Thielemans the SIOE demonstration is a criminal offence because it “incite[s] to discrimination and hatred, which we usually call racism and xenophobia. [This] is forbidden by a considerable number of international treaties and is punished by our penal laws and by the European legislation.”


Yesterday the Arab-European League issued a press release emphasizing that its own demonstration on 11 September, which so far has not received the mayor’s permission (Thielemans is waiting for the advice of the police), will not criticize any religion. “The AEL respects everyone’s religious convictions, culture and language […]. The demand for respect for every religious conviction is the central theme [of the demonstration].” The AEL says that freedom of expression is an absolute right, stressing that the organization did not ask for the SIOE demo to be forbidden. “However, the right to have one’s religious convictions, culture and language respected is an equally absolute right.”

The AEL was founded in Belgium in 2000. Its founder, Lebanese-born Hezbollah-member Dyab Abu Jahjah, has called the 9/11/2001 attacks “sweet revenge.” Following the Danish cartoon affair the AEL, advocating unrestricted freedom of speech, published anti-Semitic cartoons which deny the Holocaust. Though such denial is illegal in Belgium, the Belgian authorities failed to take any action. The AEL also demands that Arabic be recognized as an official language in Belgium.

Mr. Belien’s next post was about the deconstruction of Belgium. The little that I know about Belgium came from Paul Belien himself; his book A Throne in Brussels is highly recommended if you want to learn some Belgian history.
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The two major regions of Belgium are Flanders and Wallonia, speaking Dutch and French respectively. The Flemish-speakers of Belgium have been at odds with the Walloons in recent years, and the matter seems about to come to a head, with a push towards secession from some members of the Flemish parliament:

Belgium is rapidly unraveling. Following the June 10th Belgian general elections, won by Flemish-secessionist parties, the Belgian parties seem unable to form a government coalition.

Belgium is a multinational state, the model for the European Union’s efforts to turn Europe into a single multinational state. Belgium is made up of 60% Dutch-speaking, free-market oriented Flemings and 40% French-speaking, predominantly Socialist Walloons. The Belgian Constitution stipulates that the government should consist of 50% Flemings and 50% Walloons. Belgian governments always have to rely on a majority in both Flanders and Wallonia, since major decisions need the support of both parts of the country. In practice this means that 20% of the population (i.e. half of the Walloons) can veto every decision. This has made the Parti Socialiste (PS), the Walloon Socialist Party, the power broker in the country.

The refusal of the PS to reform the welfare state system has caused growing Flemish frustration, and turned what used to be a linguistic conflict into a dispute about economic and welfare policies. While Flanders pays most of Belgium’s taxes the bulk of the money flows to Wallonia. There a welfare-receiving electorate votes for parties which for over three decades have been blocking any attempts at reforming the collapsing welfare system.


Last week, Prof. Em. Robert Senelle, one of Belgium’s most prominent constitutionalists, a Flemish Socialist and formerly a teacher of the Belgian Crown Prince, advised the Flemings to annul the Belgian Constitution and solemnly declare Flemish sovereignty. Following this advice Filip Dewinter, the leader of the secessionist Vlaams Belang party, the largest party in the Flemish Regional Parliament, called upon the Flemish Parliament to convene and declare Flanders an independent country.

Yesterday another Flemish constitutionalist, Prof. Paul Van Orshoven said that “intelligent people” should consider a Flemish secession from Belgium. “Because the situation cannot go on where a minority denies the majority its legitimate and democratic aspirations.” Prof. Van Orshoven said that if Flanders secedes this obviously violates the Belgian Constitution, which requires that the Walloons approve of such a decision. He referred, however, to the historical precedent of the Tennis Court Oath. The Tennis Court Oath refers to 20 June 1789, when the representatives of France’s third estate [the bourgeoisie] declared themselves to be the true representatives of the nation. “In the spirit of the Tennis Court Oath it is permitted that, even if it violates the Belgian constitutional rules, a simple majority of the Dutch-speakers in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and the Senate declare to secede.”

Apart from the media in Belgium and the neighbouring Netherlands, the international papers and broadcasters have hardly reported about the disintegration of the EU’s host country. On Tuesday a survey of the Dutch [Netherlandish] television network RTL4 showed that 77% of the inhabitants of the Netherlands are in favour of the Netherlands and Flanders merging into one country.

As Mr. Belien points out, if Belgium fractures, the resulting seismic shock will spread far beyond Brabant and the Netherlands. If Flanders and Wallonia can no longer make a go of their relationship, what of the much larger polygamous marriage that is the European Union? Finland and Portugal have far less in common than do the two major components of Belgium.

Add to this the convergence of the Islamists and the anti-Islamists in the capital of Belgium on September 11th, and you can see the jackpot beginning to take shape. If more than a few disgruntled Counterjihadists show up in Brussels, the reaction of the mayor, the police, and the media will have a profound affect on Europe and the rest of the Western world.

And there are other trendlines forming as well. Look at the long curve of the Iranian nuclear program, heading towards its nadir. When will that be? No one knows, but it’s coming soon.

Or consider the arc of Pervez Musharraf’s career in Pakistan. When will his curve bottom out? What will happen to Pakistan’s nukes when the imams take power in Islamabad?

One could construct several curves, one for each European country with a large number of Muslim immigrants, each tracing the descent into sharia and dhimmitude. Britain and Sweden seem to be in a race for the bottom, with France and the Netherlands close behind.

And don’t forget the trajectory of Hillary Clinton’s political career. Whether its turning point will constitute a trough or a crest is a matter of personal opinion…

It’s easy to see the different curves converging. The jackpot is on its way.

Keep an eye out for that mushroom cloud.


John Rohan said...

Actually, this is perfect!

If Brussels will not allow the SIOE demonstration, then SIOE members can just go to the AEL demonstration instead.

Show the Arabs your support against tyrrany and fascism in your own way...

Unknown said...

9/11 is in two weaks.
Many things may happen till there.
I hope to see many flemish there, seizing the oportunity to show their frustration over belgium and islamization.
Having a demo as AEL in El bruss at the same time is a blessing of the skys. It just show how SIOE is right.
If the muslims fell offended and start rioting, that is the only thing they know to do, that would be wonderfull.
Some knuckled heads will be a fair price for what would be achieved so.

Dennis Mahon said...

Sounds as though Heinlein read up on Kondratiev Cycles--stands to reason, given his interests.

Civil War in Belgium. Wouldn't that be a nightmare.

eatyourbeans said...

The only thing worse than civil war would be not having one. But civil war is not the most accurate label here: civl war implies armed combat between a people who were once one, which is not the case.
A violent exspectoration would be closer.

X said...

A popular revolt against the incumbent government. Hm. Isn't that what the left always wanted?

Or does it only count when the popular revolt is demanding things they want?