Thursday, April 13, 2023

Going Dutch

Syndics of the Drapers Guild by Rembrandt

Mercantilism runs contrary to feudalism, to the extent that market forces take the place of entitlements. The Netherlands, a liberal society less ruled by aristocratic doit de seigneur, eventually turned into a major trading economy. Ironically, commerce in turn led to imperialism and consequent repression. In order for the Dutch East India Company to expand, native populations needed to be subdued, with sometimes brutal efficacity. Every culture has its own schizoid tendency, its own contrarieties. The tolerance which may exist at home usually doesn't extend to the indigenous populations over which imperialist societies raise their flag. Yet how do these generalities express themselves in the collective unconscious of a population? What, if anything defines national character? Amsterdam is a city of canals all bordered by charming townhouses. You walk down streets, one more charming than the next in search of illumination. Yet, remember the Provos and squatters? The country has had its flirtation with anarchism, but the dissident elements are like a child that’s allowed to cry itself to sleep. Underneath it all, the society flourishes because it knows its own limits and is ready to clamp down on those who would turn freedom into chaos.

read "Amsterdam Journal: Conatus" by Francis Levy, TheScreaming Pope

and listen to "Juicy" by Notorious B.I.G.

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