Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Netherlands - sad

This article by Paul Belien of The Brussels Journal begins with one those anniversary notes with accompanying historical parallel that can so sway a mind clutching for certainties. Of course, that is not to say that the lesson drawn in not always pertinent.

553 years ago today, on 29 May 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire had been in decline for decades and the fall was inevitable. Some had tried to turn the tide. In 1374, when the Ottomans were only a nascent power, Prince Manuel, governor of Salonica and a son of the Byzantine Emperor, had tried to rally the inhabitants of his city against the Turks. But the Salonicans did not want to bear the high costs of defending their city and promptly threw him out. Out of fear of the Turks his father, Emperor John V, refused Manuel shelter within the walls of Constantinople and so did all the other Byzantine cities. Consequently the prince was forced to seek refuge with... the Ottomans, whom he served until 1394, when he became Emperor himself.
He also gives us a rather depressing statistic.
Last year a record number of 121,000 people emigrated from the Netherlands, the largest number ever, while only 92,000 immigrated in... The numbers are rising. In the first quarter of this year 29,000 people left the Netherlands – 5,000 more than in the same period last year.
(67% of 2004 figure were European; 43% were Dutch. Figures from here.)

Emigration has been rising steadily since 1985, but in the last five years has soared. The Netherlands is now the only country in Western Europe where emigrants outnumber immigrants. (Poland and Lithuania are also in the red, but that is clearly an economic issue; hardly the case in Holland.) The majority are in their twenties and thirties. There is surely something significant going on here. Of course I am only speculating, but could this not also be a consequence of multi-culturalism?

Even though the Netherlands has the highest proportion of immigrants of any country in Europe, I don't think it is the number that is important. The US has absorbed far greater proportions, but the US has always maintained its specific identity - if you live there, you know what country you 'belong to', and you know that its laws apply to you exactly as they apply to a 5th generation yankee. Is this the case in the Netherlands? Ayaan Hirsi Ali would say not. It may well be that the identity of the country itself has been compromised, the sense of belonging strained, the links that bind loosened. Belien quotes Ataturk
Nations who do not know their national identity will become the prey of other nations.
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Ian said...

Or could you just be grasping at straws? You seem determined to blame "Multiculturalism" for every little thing. Life's more complex than that.

NoolaBeulah said...

It certainly is, Ian. I should say that, when I use the term 'multi-culturalism', I have in mind a particular ideology: a relativism of values applied to all cultures but the home one. This last is seen as oppressive and/or imperialist and is therefore denigrated in the eyes of both home-grown and new residents. This has become very dangerous since there are groups of people too willing to take on the much-vaunted status of victims thus weakening whatever ties they have to the country and, in a few cases, excusing whatever act of vindication they might commit. Another consequence is the alienation of those who by birth should be emotionally bound to the country. I suspect, though I admit it is mere speculation, that there is something of this in the exodus from the Netherlands, the country which was the jewel in the crown of multiculturalism.

Anonymous said...

I believe a particular number of Dutch emigrants are Dutch Turks, who are leaving the country because of the rise of racism and islamafobia. I have some anecdotal evidence for this..