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A Tiny Spot on the Earth

A Tiny Spot on the Earth: The Political Culture of the Netherlands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century

Piet de Rooy
Copyright Date: 2015
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  • Book Info
    A Tiny Spot on the Earth
    Book Description:

    In this survey of the Dutch political culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Piet de Rooij reveals that the "polder model" often used to describe economic and social policymaking based on consensus is a myth. Instead, modern political culture in the Dutch Low Countries began with a revolution and is rife with rivalries among political and ideological factions. He argues that because of its extremely open economy, the country is vulnerable to external political, cultural, and economic pressures, and Dutch politics is a balancing act between profiting from international developments and maintaining sovereignty. The sudden rise of populism and Euroscepticism at the turn of the millennium, then, indicated a loss of this balance. Shining new light on the political culture of the Netherlands, this book provides insights into the polder model and the principles of pillarization in Dutch society.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2415-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 7-16)

    In 1795 acoup d’état,supported by military assistance from the French revolutionary army, brought an end to the existence of the seven independent provinces, and led to the founding of the ‘one and indivisible’ Batavian Republic. From that moment, the Netherlands became a nation state with a ‘modern’ political culture. This fundamental transformation formed part of an ‘Atlantic Revolution’; the new state was carried on the waves of a global development, one that had become particularly manifest in the United States and France. At the same time, it became clear that the Netherlands was profoundly dependent upon power relationships...

  4. 1. Long Live the Republic! 1798: The Constitution
    (pp. 17-42)

    In the final quarter of the eighteenth century, against a background of protracted wars and the rising tax burden that went with them, a culture of rebellion developed in a number of countries. It was said that the misery was caused by corruption. The moral basis of theancien régimewas thereby eroded and the sovereignty of kings rapidly lost legitimacy. This heralded the start of a revolutionary era, one that was already seen by contemporaries as being of global historical significance. Whilst the revolutions in the United States and France are the best-known examples, this was a worldwide phenomenon.¹...

  5. 2. A New Society is Being Created Here 1813: The Nation State
    (pp. 43-72)

    In the summer of 1823, two students – Jacob van Lennep and Dirk van Hogendorp, aged 21 and 25, respectively – decided to make a long trek through the Netherlands. It was a kind of inspection tour of the country, which, since Napoleon had been driven out in 1813, had existed for a decade as the Kingdom of the Netherlands¹ They set out in the final week of May and arrived at the beginning of July at a number of simple settlements, located in the middle of an otherwise somewhat barren region of peat and moorland in the north-eastern Netherlands. These were...

  6. 3. Everything is a Motley 1848: Parliamentary Democracy
    (pp. 73-110)

    On 15 April 1853, twelve gentlemen solemnly presented a petition to King William III during his annual audience at the Royal Palace in Dam Square in Amsterdam. Several weeks earlier, Pope Pius IX had announced that the Dutch Catholics would no longer be governed as a mission area, but would have a regular system of church governance.¹ Within a few days of the news being announced, the country was in uproar. This, numerous pamphlets, leaflets and news-sheets asserted, was a conspiracy by Rome. The Netherlands was to be handed over to the Jesuits and the liberty for which they had...

  7. 4. Following the American Example 1879: The Political Party
    (pp. 111-146)

    On a pleasant evening in April 1869 a pastor from Utrecht, Abraham Kuyper, gave a lecture in the Odéon building on the Singel canal in Amsterdam entitledEenvormigheid, de vloek van het moderne leven (Uniformity, the curse of modern life). The title must have provoked amazement, because the idea that everything increasingly resembled everything else was by no means generally accepted. The prevailing view was one that until then had been elaborated in most detail by the English liberal philosopher, Spencer. Inspired by evolutionary theory, he had asserted that on the contrary, everything was becoming more varied over time.¹ The...

  8. 5. Justice and Love Fin de siècle: Ideology
    (pp. 147-184)

    On 1 July 1890 in Amsterdam, the centre of the socialist labour movement, an association building was opened in celebratory style by Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, the leader of the Social Democratic League of the Netherlands (Sociaaldemocratische Bond, SDB).¹ The necessary funds had been scraped together with great difficulty; in the end, the financing had only just been managed thanks to a hefty loan from the feminist Wilhelmina Drucker. At the opening, the building was christened Constantia (‘tenacity’).² It would become the focus of the SDB, which had been founded in 1881 and sported the proud letterhead: ‘Not ratified by Royal...

  9. 6. The Nation is Divided into Parties 1930: The Pillarized-Corporate Order
    (pp. 185-228)

    On Saturday 6 September 1930, an estimated 140,000 people gathered in The Hague in the largest demonstration that had ever been held in the Netherlands. This impressive demonstration was in protest at the government’s decision to allocate radio transmission time in accordance with thegeestesrichting, or philosophy of life, of the broadcaster. As a result, one broadcasting association, the General Association of Radio Programming (Algemeene Vereeniging Radio Omroep, AVRO), which wanted to present a programme that ‘could offend no one and could unite our People’, had to watch as its transmission time was halved in favour of the Catholics, the...

  10. 7. Fundamental Changes in Mentality 1966: The Cultural Revolution
    (pp. 229-264)

    ‘Hello chaps, I’m Marga’. With these words, Marga Klompé arrived at the first social event for ministers in the new cabinet, held at the Hotel des Indes in The Hague in October 1956. She was the first female minister in the Netherlands and caused a ‘revolution’ with this entrance according to her colleague, Veldkamp.¹ Until that time politics had been a male world in which men addressed each other by their surnames. Politicians would henceforth switch to first-name terms. A Catholic politician, Klompé had participated in the Dutch delegation to the United Nations shortly after the war (1947-1952), and was...

  11. 8. That’s Not Politics! 2002: Populism
    (pp. 265-288)

    On Saturday 9 February 2002 an interview appeared inde Volkskrantwith Pim Fortuyn, the leader of the new political party Liveable Netherlands (Leefbaar Nederland). In the interview he described Islam as a ‘backward culture’. If it were up to him, no more Muslims would enter the country: ‘It is a full country’. And if one were not allowed to say such things, then Article of the constitution should be amended: the right to freedom of speech was more important than combating discrimination.¹ That same evening, the party executive gathered to inform him that this was so much in conflict...

  12. 9. A Tiny Spot Political culture
    (pp. 289-298)

    Surveying the two centuries that have been described here, we can identify four phases in the development of a modern political culture. In 1813 William i had assumed sovereignty ‘under the guarantee of a wise constitution’; but he told his son that a constitution should be seen only as ‘a plaything in the hands of the crowd, as an illusion of liberty, while one adapts it to the circumstances’.¹ The king thought that this illusion would be sufficient to allow him to pursue an international dynastic politics whilst exercising patriarchal authority at the national level. But he thereby underestimated the...

  13. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 299-300)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 301-370)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 371-402)
  16. Index of persons
    (pp. 403-406)