Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Desperate Dutch Finding Tolerance Intolerable

Can a society liberalise itself to the brink of destruction then recover? Perhaps:

The Dutch are rethinking their famously liberal polices on legalised brothels, prostitution and soft drugs, such as magic mushrooms and cannabis, amid fears of growing crime and social decline.

"The nation's ideals are being tested by the reality they brought," said sociologist Dick Houtman of Rotterdam's Erasmus University.

"The Netherlands went further in allowing all sorts of liberties than many other countries. The test is severe. There is a feeling that our tolerance is the principal cause of many of the problems we experience now. The debate is about where liberty and tolerance should end and where order should begin."

...The murder of the anti-Islam film-maker Theo Van Gogh and the rise of populist anti-Muslim politicians such as Geert Wilders have led to strong perceptions that liberal immigration policy has damaged secular and egalitarian values in one of Europe's most crowded countries.

"The change started out as a rightist phenomenon, but is now becoming more of a mainstream feeling. It is gaining legitimacy and credibility among the working classes," said Mr Houtman.
It's a hopeful suggestion that one of Europe's most troubled regions may yet regain its senses but the road ahead is rocky.

Potential risks are that the movement back towards conservative values may be strangled at birth by intractable leftist elites controlling government thinking or that it may lurch too far right in a reactionary manner and throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Another risk is that it may be too little, too late to save Europe from societal suicide.

-- Nick

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