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A throne in Brussels

Upon approaching its 175th anniversary, Belgium was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the image of a normal liberal democratic nation-state, governed by consent of the people. At the heart of its hybrid, unrepresentative and largely unaccountable regime is a democracy deficit that is there for the whole world to see. The Belgian politicians do not seem to care, however. Despite its failings, the authorities in Brussels continue to propagate the "Belgian federal model," which, according to Crown Prince Philippe, "can be an inspiration for the European Union." The heir to the Belgian throne perceived the striking parallels between Belgium and Europe as an artificial state in the making. Like him, many members of the Belgian political class feel perfectly at home in the EU institutions.

In his book "Belgium, country of uncertainty", professor Roger Lallemand described Belgium as follows.
The discontinuity of the Belgian system is perpetuating itself in a permanent state of constitutional reform.
Belgians function better than anyone else in a scenario that is constantly changing, like the European Union of the moment, as Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said in an interview.
There are all kinds of interesting parallels between Belgium and Europe. Belgium is the laboratory of European unification. Foreign politicians watch our country with particular interest because it can teach them something about the feasibility of the European project.
Like ‘Europe,’ that other gravy train in Brussels, Belgium has never been based on a sense of national unity. It has been held together by a political class prepared to subvert democracy to its own ends. The Belgian regime, because it could not be based on a real nation, could never tolerate a democratic form of governance. Ironically, in the early 21st century, the Belgian model, the ideal of the 20th century welfare state corporatists, came to fascinate an entirely new group of intellectuals and artists. These so-called ‘neo-Belgicists’ began to sing the praises of Belgium as the world’s first post-modern or post-national nation, unaware that they were actually applauding a post-democratic model.

In 1985, in his book "The absent majority", the Belgian philosopher Lode Claes had pointed out that Belgium is characterised by an ‘identity of non-identity.’ This was repulsive to Claes, who argued that without identity and a sense of genuine nationhood, there can also be no democracy and no morality. The neo-Belgicists, however, regard the absence of identity as the supreme morality. On 6 March 1998, they published the Open Letter "Let’s put an end to nationalistic foolishness" in which they stated that they do not believe in the existence of ‘national identity’ and are not prepared to march behind any national flag, except the Belgian flag ‘because the latter does not represent anything.’ An identity is nothing to be proud of, their message read, but Belgium is something to be proud of exactly because it is nothing. As Belgium does not stand for an identity, it is ‘an antidote against nationalism.’

Moreover, because it stands for nothing, Belgium can easily be replaced by a larger ‘non-identity concept’ such as Europe. In the early 1940s, Hendrik De Man had already said that one had to proceed beyond nationalism. De Man’s ideal was echoed by the neo-Belgicist intellectuals and artists. In a speech in Antwerp on 20 April 1941 (Hitler’s birthday), De Man told his followers the following.
It is necessary to transform Belgium, not abandon it, through an Anschluss to Europe. What is needed, is as much federalism and as little separatism as possible, so that Belgium, exactly because it is not based on a unique national sentiment, can become the vanguard of the European Revolution; the principle on which the new European Order hinges.
Even though, or perhaps exactly because it stands for nothing, Belgium needs a tangible symbol. Without the civic glue that binds countries with a genuine national identity, Belgium, as we have seen, could not have survived for already six generations if it had not been for two basic elements: its corporatist social welfare system that has corrupted a substantial section of the electorate, and its royal family that has given it an element of mystique and a semblance of unity.

As the Socialist Party leader Louis Tobback stated in an interview.
The monarchy is the only way to keep an artificial country such as Belgium together. In a homogeneous country, I would be a republican, but not in Belgium.
According to the Walloon Socialist Claude Eerdekens:
The King is the last bulwark against the continuing advance of Flemish imperialism.
Perhaps Europe, in order to become a viable Federal European State, needs an institution no Europhile has yet considered: a common dynasty. This may even be more fundamental than a common social policy, a common currency, a constitution, a flag and an army. Would the Belgian Saxe-Coburgs not be the most likely candidates to become the monarchs of such a ‘post-national, non-identity’ state, precisely because they are nothing: not British, not French, not German, not Italian, not Danish, not Spanish, not even Flemish or Walloon? Being nothing, they are the only ‘true’ Belgians, the only ‘true’ Europeans.

This would imply, however, that all European citizens would have to become Belgians. And that is a nightmare which these citizens, if they watch Belgium as carefully as Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt says their politicians do, will want to avoid. The history of Belgium confirms that without a sense of national identity, democracy and public morality wither away. The Flemings and the Walloons have had to pay a heavy price for the artificial, ‘non-identity’ State that the international powers bestowed on them in 1830. The reader must ponder the question whether all that has happened in Belgium could also have happened in any other country. Or is the ‘Belgian disease’ unique to Belgium because Belgium itself is unique? If so, how long will it continue to be unique? Will the ‘Belgian disease’ soon become the ‘European disease?’ Will Europe, like Belgium, become a Federal State which fails in the basic duty of a state: to guarantee law and order, provide a fair judicial system, and protect its citizens and their children?

In a few decades from now, will Europeans, like Belgians today, be obliged to say of their pan-European – supra-national, or rather post-national and post-democratic – State the exact same words as written in the Holy Bible?
Thou feedest us with the bread of tears? (Psalm 80:5)
The future of the EU depends to a large extent on the reader and on the decisions he allows his politicians to take. It is not inevitable that all Europeans will be Belgians, with the British in the position that the Flemings have occupied for the past 175 years. Perhaps – and what an irony that would be – the people of Flanders, citizens of a nation designed to deny nationality, will become the forerunners of the counter- movement, bringing down the Belgian construct and thereby proving that EU as federal superstate is a non-starter – the non-starter that Belgium, but for the Saxe-Coburgs on their gravy throne, would have been.

Dit extract uit "A throne in Brussels" van Dr. Paul Beliën verscheen tevens in The Brussels Journal en op een aantal weblogs.

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3 Reacties:

At 15:31 Joris Verdonk said...

Ik heb het boek in zijn recente Nederlandse versie gelezen, net als zijn essay "A nation under construction" dat eigenlijk een beknopte samenvatting is van zijn boek "Een troon in Brussel". Ik ben niet echt een zéér grote fan van Dhr. Beliën, maar dat neemt niet weg dat ik zijn schrijfsels best wel kan smaken. Voor vrijdenkende burgers met een pro-Amerikaanse aversie jegens de monsterstaat, de welvaartstaat en de Europastaat, is er in Vlaanderen maar weinig alternatief. Dhr. Beliën heeft op die ideologie een patent verworven. Hij is een zeer gedegen en uiterst goed gedocumenteerd schrijver. Alleen blijft het jammer dat er tussen zijn anti-EU-teksten, vaak échte pareltjes, zoveel rommel zit. Ik ben niet geïnteresseerd in de angstkreten voor "Eurabië" of voor de immigratiegolven. Ik ben niet geïnteresseerd in zijn internationale verheerlijking van het Blok, want laat ons eerlijk zijn: hoe kan een partij als het Blok ooit "economisch liberaal" zijn, als ze pionnen als vakbondsradicaal Guy d'Haeseleer naar voren schuiven, of als ze jaarlijks een heuse 1-mei-viering op poten zetten. In tegenstelling tot wat Dhr. Beliën internationaal rondstrooit, is het Blok in wezen "socialistisch" of zelfs "nationaal-socialistisch". Mensen als Dhr. Beliën horen bij Lijst Dedecker, N-VA, VLOTT of zelfs de VLD thuis, en niet bij het Blok.

At 10:23 Evelyne said...

Joris, je hebt ergens wel een punt, maar ik vind toch wel dat Paul Beliën een enorme meerwaarde betekent voor de "objectiviteit" van de beeldvorming en berichtgeving van België en de Europese Unie naar een angelsaksisch publiek toe. The Brussels Journal is één van de 2000 meest bekeken online-weblogs/webzines ter wereld. Qua credential kan zoiets toch wel tellen vind ik.

En daarbij vind ik geen enkele aanwijzing op TBJ dat de website gelinkt kan worden aan het VB, in tegenstelling tot de Blokkrant "The Flemish Republic". Natuurlijk ben ik het ook niet altijd eens met de standpunten van TBJ, zoals de razende anti-moslimteksten van "Fjordman" of de citaten uit allerlei schimmige weblogs en magazines ter staving van het Eurabië-concept, maar grosso modo genomen wegen de voordelen van TBJ nog steeds op tegen de eventuele nadelen ervan.

At 11:47 Kristof said...

Ik denk dat Paul Beliën toch veel minder zwart-wit is dan Blokwatch en consorten willen doen uitschijnen. Hij stond ook niet voor niets mee aan de wieg van de liberale VLD toen deze opgericht werd. Los van een aantal trekjes die eigen zijn aan het beestje, is hij toch wel een behoorlijk genuanceerde kerel. Je hoeft het uiteraard niet altijd per definitie over alles met hem eens te zijn, maar zijn teksten stemmen toch vaak tot nadenken.

En de Brussels Journal is een schitterend initiatief - net als Blokwatch trouwens - omdat je veel informatie daarop inderdaad niet in de mainstream pers terugvindt en de het de geest toch duidelijk kan verruimen en verrijken.


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