Belgium as an epistemological problem
Belgium’s death throws last to long. They are as surrealistic as the country itself. Flemings and Walloons don’t have to at all live in the same country. The national, based on the ethnic (but not on ethnic decent), precedes the state. Otherwise you feed racism or ethnic chauvinism or even ethnic imperialism.
It is not very smart to call the government “negotiators” dumb. It goes without saying that we all know (intellectually) that Belgium has expired. North and South have opposing conclusions. The majority of the Flemings wants to get rid of Belgium, while the South prefers to keep Belgium. It has to deal with the fear of abandonment, which also infects some Flemings. These are not simply deduced from different facts. The wills in the North and the South differ. This sees to it that the phronesis (practical reason) in Flanders and Wallonia differs. Aristotle is not some “dead white male” from a distant land. He can help us now a lot. His Nicomachean Ethics should be required reading for everybody. Our theoretical reason(s) in principle encounter(s) the same facts. Our practical reason(s) see(s) things very differently. These deeds result from different wills.
The belief in Belgium has something religious about it. So has the belief in Flanders, but there are some good facts to support this belief. We have to accept that the belief in Belgium is very shaky. It makes no sense to insult N-VA, which is in favor for independence and won the elections on that platform. It expresses what lives among the people. To try to change the will of that “dumb” people is an assault by self-appointed “democrats” on democracy. Certain “intellectuals and artists don’t act “in our name”, as they pretend. They owe it to their “status” to stop this non-sense.
Flemish nationalists barely participate in flag-waving. Pro-Belgians however are very emotional. Why can’t we all get along? This sentimental question is not relevant, despite the fact that we hear it all the time.
French-speakers don’t believe their eyes when they see the unheard-of firmness at the negotiation table. They still hope that N-VA will break its election promises and are openly encouraged to do so by several “journalists”. It is striking how many people don’t know what nationalism is and happily confuse it with is opponents, ethnic chauvinism and imperialism. Nationalism is the political action of the person who wants that (members of) other peoples don’t govern legitimately his people. Nationalism resists exactly the feeling (and action informed by that feeling) of being better than others (ethnic chauvinism) and against the domination of one people by another. Pro-Belgianism is based on this French-speaking imperialism.
The stubborn refusal of many French-speakers to speak Dutch in the Dutch-speaking periphery of Brussels has awakened many Flemings. French-speakers complain that “Flanders was stolen from us”. They don’t want to accept that French-speaking imperialism has finished. Pro-Belgianism is based on this putrified ideology. It has the Belgian king as its ally. The monarchy is fundamentally anti-democratic. Flemish nationalists then espouse republican values. Pro-Belgians can only be in favor the king. They say they would be republican in a “normal” country, but want the res publica in the hands of a family, not of the public. With René Magritte Belgium is the birthplace of surrealism.
Brussels is not at all the meeting place of different cultures, as the Belgian regime is wont to proclaim. At best, Flemings are tolerated in their city as museum pieces. We don’t have to be ashamed of Brussels. Its Flemishess hits us around every corner. Of course there is pain because of the many losses. That Brussels municipalities get money for Dutch-speaking aldermen without any power is shameful. One who is proud of such “accomplishments” had better look for the closest tree to hide behind. We have to conquer our smallness and our fear for having cold feet.
Pro-Belgianism is highly represented in the media and in important places in society. Time and again one gives the impression that the Flemings are pro-Belgian. A bold-faced lie if there ever was one. The shadow fight that doubles for “government negotiations” irritates many. The “well-thinking” voices should listen to their cacophony. We have never witnessed so much Flemish steadfastness. That is why things are so “difficult”. We will always keep a special relationship with the Walloons. But we will be better neighbors than we were when fellow citizens. We, Flemings, have to learn to handle power better. Why doesn’t Flanders use the fact that the French-speaking are not a people? Flanders has to use this layeredness and it must not allow that it be minimized by Wallonia plus Brussels. The revision of article 107 quarter of the Belgian constitution is, as to be expected, coming back to haunt us. The French-speakers are trying to create uti possidetis facts on the ground. Despite their cleverness and Flemish naïeveté, they won’t succeed: “Two peoples will inherit”, as the poet said many decades ago.