Peasant mentality

That ' #slechtementaliteit 'is deep in the DNA of the Dutchman. The truth is that this so-called 'bad mentality' has existed for centuries and is deeply embedded in the DNA of the Dutchman.

You just have to read the relaces of foreign travellers from the 17th century to get an idea of them. Almost without exception they noted - sometimes running for their lives because they were chased by Dutch mob - how rude, immoral, rude and aggressive those swamp dwellers were.

Live distiller flask
And then Voltaire's famous 'adieu canards, canaux, canailles' was neat (farewell canals, gossip and rig). Take Diderot in his book 'Over Holland': “Whoever sees a fat Dutchman always with a pipe in his mouth, takes into account his colossal form and realizes that he feeds on butter and milk, will probably have to think of a live distiller that owns the distilling is.”

Invariably a 'free rider'
If we take the history books, a characteristic picture looms up. The Netherlands — if we mean the government now — was never solidarity, and invariably behaved like a 'free rider'.

Every major war during the last two centuries has been accompanied by the spread of infectious diseases in Europe, sometimes ending in a pandemic. This was the case after 1815, when the thousands of hosts came from the Russian and Habsburgian empires to liberate Western Europe, but from the Middle East, the Mediterranean and even with detours from India and Asia reintroduced various plagues into Europe. The cholera raged across the continent again. A similar pattern was repeated during and after the Crimean War, in the 1950s. And we have read enough about the spread of Spanish flu.

This extreme spread has to do with the infamous stacking effect that French historian Devroey wrote about in La nature et le roi (2019): pandemics arise when the outbreak of an infectious disease is linked to more intensive movements of people, poor living conditions , poor hygiene and possibly other (climate) changes. Wars thus create the conditions for an aggravated outbreak and spread of various plagues.
Practiced from destruction

But what about the Netherlands? Interesting is what those post-war outbreaks did to the Netherlands, and what the Netherlands did with them. Nothing to very little. The Netherlands was the net profit of many of the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries (excluding World War II). The country remained neutral thanks to the support of some of the great powers friends, could continue to trade a little while, at the same time, it was mostly protected from the destructive plagues that carried along with the many displaced persons and mobilized and demobilized soldiers. After 1815 cholera raged all over Europe, but the Netherlands was spared and was not affected until the second and third waves later in the 19th century. Even after 1918, the Netherlands was less affected thanks to neutrality, where 300,000 people died from Spanish flu in Belgium, in the Netherlands it was 20 to 40,000 (the figures are unclear). This also had to do with the stacking effect, in Belgium and France, health care and living conditions were already bad because of war exhaustion. When the disease entered the country through the demobilized Dutch soldiers from the garrison towns on the border, and via Limburg, where many people had relatives in Belgium, the government did not do much. The population had to cope with the burdens.

When the forerunner of the WHO was founded in 1923, the Netherlands was difficult about the costs, and only wanted to contribute two years later when the League of Nations set up an office in the Far East, from which the Dutch in Indonesia directly benefited.
No bow around our country

During the Second World War, the Allied powers agreed that after the war they would invest more attention and money in the 'freedom from want', developed by the left-liberal Sir William Beverigde in a large-scale programme for the renewal of health care and social security. The Dutch SDAP minister and his senior official Aat van Rhijn also, already in exile in London, started a similar plan, which resulted in a thick report in 1945 and 1946. But Prime Minister Gerbrandy thought it was all nonsense, health and retirement were the responsibility of the people themselves. International cooperation was certainly not necessary. Too big a role, and too large investments from the state were 'on-Dutch'.

The tradition of Wopke Hoekstra