Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The State of Malcontent VI

Relativism and nihilism, like visitors of brothels, come in suede shoes with crepe soles. You don't know it's coming until it's in all capillaries of the system. It has also resulted in run-away secularism, emptying most churches and the institutions that rely on them.

For most people atheism is ultimately not satisfactory, as they feel vaguely, that somewhere, there must be something of a First Cause, somehow (in Holland this goes by the name of Ietsisme (see elsewhere in this blog)). So they think up their own individual belief system, picking and choosing from a warehouse of the existing religions and faiths, whatever suits them (this form of spiritual plagiarism is also known as New Age). The devil and his mates don't suit them, so he's out. The same goes for God, too male and too authoritative; so unless he grows a few sizes smaller and gender bends, he's scrapped too. Angels are okay, but they must be of the safe sort, those little rosy buttocked cherubs with wind instruments and lyres; not the towering vengeful types as the archangel Gabriel with his fiery sword! As no God is involved in Buddhism this might have been a particularly attractive lifestyle option, were it not for the demands it exerts on mind and body: no, too much trouble and not quite instant enough. And so a hotchpotch is created of whatever offers the least resistance and promises something undetermined beyond the realm of pain or pleasure.

All this virtual living, secure under nanny's cheese-dome, also isn't satisfactory in the long run in other respects. It lacks challenges and risks. When the last government put in place a much needed austerity package, this resulted in a sheer endless litany of complaints against the inequities of poverty, which was now rife in our poor country, against the terrible school system (they have a point, but the wrong diagnosis) and the lousy medical services (which suffer the most under the mental bankruptcy). The proposed remedies were respectively more welfare money, a bigger educational budget and higher medical spending. Hardly credible in a country which transcends all levels of material affluence.

And then there was the totally debilitating discussion under the term "norms and values", a pet project of the Prime Minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende (JPB). All the wrong policies, culture clashes and social/sexual revolutions over the past forty years combined, have resulted in behavior of mindless vandalism and the basic lack of respect for others and their property (here Muslims have a valid point). Added to that the lack of simple civility and lately what are termed acts of "useless violence" (Ed. random violence), sometimes soccer or binge-drink related, usually both. But good manners and propriety were just deliberately done away with, together with moralizing, vicars and pulpits, as deemed too bourgeois or to too calvinist for words! The Prime Minister's analysis and definition of the concept don't go much further than superficial small-talk and doesn't go beyond the level of primary school (somebody in the public information business once concluded that the eduction level of the average Dutch is elemental school plus a few years lower secondary and since that time that is how we are spoken to). Basis glasses and hairdo JPB may be referred to as a political Harry Potter, but he's certainly no great intellectual, let alone a spiritual leader. But some magic skills he cannot be denied, as he has managed to transform the subject into a discussion about the integration of emigrants, which is of another essence altogether!

Asked the other day about his relationship with God, the Premier could, like his counterpart Tony Blair across the pond - despite his calvinist background and christian-democrat roots - only mutter: "I don't do God (with the press, it's something between us"). I bet you get the same answer in each and every European capital. It is the result of P.C.-ness, in full accordance with the Brussels' line of Best Practice: keep God out of the public discourse lest the Muslims assert more demands! This comes under the guise of separation of Church and State, secularism or laity (or laicite), depending on the country. Thus the public discourse remains limited to the area of politics and the solutions therefore material in kind, while the actual sources of discontent are of a spiritual, cultural and intellectual nature, an area untouched, ignored and confined to the private realm.

The politicians stand staring into this gaping, unfillable hole, still discussing budgets and spending. That is, once they have determined if their image can sustain the wearing of a neck-tie or not. They are egged on by the population that is as discontent as ever, despite the evenly distributed riches and privileges.
Once there used to be a top layer of intellectuals: writers, thinkers, scientists. Those that remain are Leftist and followers of Liberalism (not necessarily identical in the Dutch context) and in full agreement with everybody else. The others, wherever they are, are inaudible.

After these instalments we can safely conclude that the Restoration is a long way off. We haven't even begun to be aware of the problem, let alone define and analyse it. In the present state of malcontent the leading role is for Messrs Denial and Clueless.
To be continued.

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