Dutch farmers are revolting. At least that’s what the Dutch ruling class and the World Economic Forum seem to think.
Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan provides this peek behind the curtain of the current political theater in The Netherlands. Money quote: “Trying to abolish agriculture at the beginning of the biggest food crisis in two centuries is not exactly a smart move.”
The Third Boer War
by H. Numan
Most of you are familiar with the Boer War. Strictly speaking, that was the Second Boer War. There was a First Boer War, otherwise there couldn’t have been a Second Boer War. In that war, the Boers gained limited independence for Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Right now It looks very much like a Third Boer War is starting. Only this time not in South Africa, but in The Netherlands. The word boer means farmer. They are all up in (figuratively speaking) arms right now. Why?
The answer is, as it almost always is, greed. Greed combined with woeful economic ignorance. Yes, it’s socialism rearing its nasty face. In this case, greedy environmentalists smelling an opportunity. They want to close down agriculture altogether, and use that precious land for something else. Why farm, if you can build houses, industrial estates and asylum centers? Just get rid of the farmers first. Farmers are stupid, smelly and don’t vote for D66 (Democrats 66) anyway. The best part of it is that the taxpayer pays for everything.
The excuses is nitrogen excess. Not the gas itself, but related chemicals, such as ammonia. In other words, manure. The Netherlands developed one of the best agricultural industries in the world. One of those industries is the dairy industry. Gouda cheese, anyone? Those cows produce not only milk, but also too much ammonia in their feces. We have to do something about that, and fast. That’s the stick to beat the cow to death with.
Which brings us to D66 or Democrats (19)66. The party split off from the conservative party. They moved quickly to the left and focus on a much more highly-educated electorate. It is not a communist party, though they copied just about everything that is bad in communism. Nepotism, corruption, extreme abortion/end of life points of view, that sort of thing. It’s the party for Young Urban Professionals, with a penchant for freelancers, judiciary and higher civil servants. Their political points of view can be found in the polls. Whatever is current today, that’s what they go for. Every ‘crown jewel’ has been given away in exchange for power. Raw unmitigated pure power. They are as far removed from democracy nowadays as your Democrats are.
I have plenty of experience with D66 here in Bangkok. It’s the most popular party among Dutch expats. Imagine a rich second-hand car salesman from Alabama pretending to be a world citizen. That is your average D66 voter/member. In other words, a yokel with pretensions. When Pim Fortuyn was murdered and later Geert Wilders was tried, they firmly believed justice was done by the courts. Needless to say, I don’t get along with most of them.
The nice thing about politics is that you can make other people do what you want. Even better: you can make them pay for the privilege. That’s the reason why people go into politics. D66 developed this into an art, with their masterpiece our current cabinet. There is a proviso: you must be utterly ruthless and lack any kind of moral compass.
That brings us back to the Boer War, version 3.0. D66 is the party that made this cabinet possible. Without its consent, there wouldn’t be a Rutte IV cabinet. Our prime minister wanted the distinction of being the longest-serving prime minister ever. For that privilege he gave up everything. Sigrid Al Qaq — she normally uses her maiden name Kaag — simply refused to give in on anything. Nor did she have to. If she said during the negotiations ‘we won’t accept that’, the issue was off the table immediately. Current government policy is written in its entirety by D66, to benefit themselves.
Mrs. Al Qaq is vice premier, but behind the scenes she controls policy. Mark Rutte is there to catch the blame, together with the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Christian Union (CU). So far, that sort of works. The current unrest reflects very badly on the cabinet, but most of the blame goes to CDA and VVD, not to the real perpetrator, D66. For D66 it’s a win-win situation. Normally some kind of a compromise would come out of it. In such a compromise the boers would have to compromise, D66 not a thing.
However, the boers have had enough. This isn’t the first time they’ve been handed the smelly end of the stick. Each and every time they worked to meet demands put on them. And it is never enough. Every time something new comes up. Always to their disadvantage. In the end they had to grow from small local farmers into agro-industrial businesses with huge investments. What the government wants is to shut down the farming business forever. They want to buy them out. The only option on the table is ‘how quickly can you shut down your business’. And that is not something farmers want to negotiate. With very good reasons.
What are they doing? That’s difficult to say, because all the media are under control of the government. What I read in the papers is not what is happening on the streets. According to the media farmers are blocking some roads. That’s it. Nothing more, and that is weird. Blockades lasting multiple days always have consequences. Farmers are targeting intersections — apart from traffic jams that’s relatively harmless — and also agro-distribution centers. That’s a different story. I expected to see headlines in the papers vilifying the farmers for causing food shortages. Nothing of the sort.
Yes, farmers are vilified in the papers. Only that backfired. Instead of everybody hating the farmers, it did the opposite. The general public roundly supports the farmers. You may know that the Dutch flag is red, white and blue. Red on top. What you see now is the flag flying reversed, blue, white and red. Blue on top. Flying the flag upside down is an old signal of distress. Lots of people, without any encouragement, fly the Dutch flag upside down, in support of the farmers. Someone did it, and it caught on. Not only Dutch farmers are getting upset. They get support across the borders from German and Belgian farmers. So far, our farmers have behaved in an exemplary fashion.
It has also backfired in a major way on the police. A year ago, the police did exactly what the farmers are doing now: roadblocks, and intentionally causing traffic jams. In their case, to get a higher salary. Now they use heavy force to disperse the farmers. People haven’t forgotten that. During one of the protests, a farmer’s son, Jouke Hospes (16) was fired upon when he drove his tractor. The shot missed him by mere centimeters. The boy was arrested, but released the following day without charges (and no apology). The police have suspended the officer, who is now in hiding. The DA is investigating the case, but highly unusual: he is not supporting the police in this case. It’s clear the officer was overreacting.
Of course this whole affair will have massive consequences. The VVD is not doing well. They lost a few seats. Far less than the situation warrants. So far, it seems D66 is getting away with it. They still hope to get all that beautiful real estate for free. The Christian Democrats are paying the price, together with the Christian Union. Their ratings have been slashed. The CDA barely exists in the polls.
There is a brand-new party, BBB (Boeren Burger Beweging = Farmers Citizens movement) that firmly supports the farmers. They are now the second-largest party in the polls, right after the VVD conservatives. I have very bad news for anyone focusing their hopes on Caroline van der Plas, the very popular leader of BBB. This party is a one-issue party, led by a lady who knows what her audience wants. Yes, she supports the farmers. Of course. But she also supports the EU. A few days ago, she voted for more asylum seekers. In other words, her electorate are farmers only. Everything else is window dressing. That automatically disqualifies this party in the long run.
How this crisis will work out, I have no idea. To quote Pink Floyd: it’s another brick in the wall. There is way too much happening at the same time. The Russo-Ukrainian war, for starters. Geert Wilders may say ‘it’s not our war’, but I disagree. It very much is. The transfer union between rich and poor EU states. You haven’t heard a lot about that, but will. As long as interest rates could be kept at zero, that problem could be managed. Now the inflation genie is out of the bottle. We will have second oil crisis, much worse than the 1973 oil crisis. Not just oil, but also gas and fertilizer. Next year will be a very lean year, with mass starvation in many countries.
Most of that is not under control of The Netherlands, but it will have a huge impact on it. I doubt very much if Rutte 4 can survive any of those crises. He’s slippery enough to try. For now, the farmer crisis will take everything he has to survive. Trying to abolish agriculture at the beginning of the biggest food crisis in two centuries is not exactly a smart move.
— H. Numan
Key to Dutch parties:
|FvD||Forum for Democracy|
|Forum voor Democratie|
|Conservative, populist, Euroskeptic
|VVD||People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy|
|Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie|
|Partij van de Arbeid|
|PVV||Party for Freedom|
|Partij voor de Vrijheid|
|Classical liberal, Islam-critical
|Left-wing populists, former Maoists, to the left of communists
|CDA||Christian Democratic Appeal|
|Christian democrats, center-right
|Politieke Partij Democraten 66|
|Centrist social liberals
|Christian Democrats, left-wing, only “conservative” in being ostensibly religious
|Environmentalism plus hard left
|SGP||Reformed Political Party|
|Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij|
|Christian right, advocates a Christian theocracy
|PvdD||Party for Animals|
|Partij voor de Dieren|
|For The Netherlands|
|Classical liberal party
|PPNL||Pirate Party of the Netherlands|
|Anti-copyright, transparent governance
|JA21||Right Answer 21|
|Juiste Antwoord 21|