Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can the King Save Belgium?

Once again, the news media is howling that the end may be at hand for the Kingdom of Belgium. Prime Minister Yves Leterme presented his letter of resignation to HM King Albert II after the Flemish party, Open VLD, left the coalition government leaving only French-speaking Walloon members and no Dutch-speaking Flemish representation. The break came after disputes involving the re-drawing of electoral boundaries around Brussels. So far, King Albert II has not accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister, fearing that giving up on the coalition could spell disaster during the current economic crisis and the upcoming EU-presidency for Belgium. The King of the Belgians has been working hard the last few days trying to convince the Flemish party to come to the government and for the two sides to work out a compromise. The Flemish have held out some hope but so far no agreement has been reached. The media was quick to pounce (yet again) saying that this could be the end of the Belgian monarchy, that the country does not "make sense" and that the will to exist seems to be gone.

All of that is frustrating enough, moreso since we have heard this same song and dance before every time there is a political stand-off. It does wear on the nerves but it also cannot be easily dismissed. The whole issue frankly baffles me. Europe would simply not be the same without the Kingdom of Belgium and it seems incredible to me that after a history longer than many other countries around today, after going through so many trials, tragedies and triumphs and so on that the Belgian people could be so divided as to 'give up' on their country. We can only hope that this disaster is avoided as it has been in the past and give some deserved credit to the King, both Albert II and his predecessors, who have done more than any others in keeping the country together throughout threats of "divorce" in the past.


  1. It may be in part due to the combining influences of seperatist and even euroskeptic sentiment in Belgium itself. The line of logic here goes something like this:

    1. "Belgium" is the unholy union of Flanders and French Wallonia, which shoudn't be together.

    2. The EU is largely based in Brussels. Brussels is in Belgium. Therefore, to attack the EU, dismantle Belgium.

    A look into someone like Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal, who clearly puts both these sentiments into one basket, helps.

  2. That would be a tough one for me. There are few people as generally anti-EU as I am but I don't see how the dissolution of Belgium would be anything more than an inconvenience for the EU. I wouldn't mind at all if Belgium left the EU entirely but I doubt that would be enough to make the EU go away, probably do nothing more than force them to re-locate some offices -if that. I've also never bought the "unholy alliance" line. The country has always had the Flanders-Walonia difference but it has not always been so divided and despite the differences it still seems to me that the Belgians have far more in common with each other than with anyone else and too much shared history to give up on.

    This issue cannot come up without my picturing the tired, ragged, battle-scarred Belgian troops that fought throughout World War I especially and also WW2. I picture them and I cannot help but thinking that if the country divides it is the same as saying all that they suffered, fought and died for was ultimately meaningless. Perhaps so, perhaps not, but that's what always comes to mind anyway.

  3. Here's something else: if Paul Belien is to be believed, the Ruling House of Belgium (which he simply refers to as Saxe-Coburgs) is a dynasty of thieves. There's even a book on that subject, showing how awful the lot are in general. And it all goes to supporting the notion that Belgium has to be destroyed.

  4. In that case, it is much easier as I can dismiss him as a dishonest peddlar of slander and defamation. The Belgian Royal Family has been one of the most exemplary in modern Europe. Leopold I was a man of great wisdom and widely respected in his own time. The only one with an unsavory reputation that could in any way be justified is Leopold II and even that is not as simple as most are led to believe. Albert I, Leopold III and Baudouin were all men of the most noble and upright character and examples of the very best of Christian kingship.

  5. It will probably not surprise you that this talk of separation makes me very angry, for the reasons you outline in your post. Nonetheless, I'm not going to get too alarmist yet, there have been so many false alarms in the past.

    Don't even get me started on Belien. In his book, we "learn" among other things, that Albert I and Elisabeth gave their children no religious education. The source? Their daughter Marie-Jose's memoirs. Well, you can't get better than that, can you? Actually, Belien twists an anecdote in her memoirs completely out of context, and ignores the fact that she then goes on to describe, in the very next sentence, more or less, how her father insisted on personally instructing her in the catechism prior to her First Communion...

    Belien also tells us that Michel Didisheim, a prominent Belgian civil servant, is an illegitimate son of Leopold III, born during his marriage to Astrid, no less. He lists D. in the Belgian royal family tree. But he admits: there is no proof that D. is the son of Leopold III, but, get this, that "sources in Brussels" that "the author considers reliable" have asserted this. Well, if they are so reliable, why not enlighten us as to who they are?

    And on and on... The "Saxe-Coburgs" are more or less all cold, opportunistic, unfeeling, promiscuous, immoral in public and private life.

    I suspect that Belien and his ilk, with their trumpeting of "conservative family values" and the like, are really just trying to alienate conservative Belgians (esp. conservative Flemish), who might be able to help the country, from the cause of Belgian unity. In short, I think they are "part of the act." It's sad that too many, frustrated with the liberalism and socialism etc. in the country, turn to such people as the "voice of sanity." I think they are a red herring.

  6. Yes, it is, as I mentioned, very emotionally tiresome. I adore Belgium and it wears on the nerves when every few months you're peppered with headlines that it's all about to go. For this reason, I hesitate to mention it, but I do because I don't think it should all be dismissed. Having long been a student of the 'War Between the States' in America I know that one of the things that drove seperation was the widespread belief in the northern and border states that it would never happen. 'Oh, they've been threatening to secede for ages' they said, 'it will never happen'. Then one day the headline appeared in Charleston "The Union is Dissolved". So, I don't want to play into the media hype that it is inevitable but I also don't want to ignore it -I want to oppose it.

    Thank you for the additional information. I had asked the one other Belgian blog follower (who I know of anyway and have email for) about it and he said he never kept up with that sort of stuff and couldn't say. It does seem to be all 'part of the plan' to bring the kingdom down. I suspected as much as soon as I heard of the attacks on the royal house, which as I said has been exemplary on the whole.

    Perhaps the upcoming days would be a good time to post more of my Belgian picture vids -try to stir up a little good, honest patriotism.

  7. The real problem is not for the EU. If the Kingdom is Dissolved, I'd wager the EU would "Help reconstruction" and set up two Puppet Governments. The King would either get Flanders, or else be forced out and two new republics created. They'd both also be economically Dependant on the EU which would still be Centred in Brussels.

    I think that the biggest problem is the Psycology of modern culture. We so focus on our rights, our needs, and hwo we are we easily divide between camps, and have little to nothign to unify us. The King can't Unify the Belgians because in our Age of Democracy we are encouraged to see him as nothing more than a relivc of a less enlightened time. The Church is seen as seperate and not part of daily lives. Multicultralism is so pushe don Europe they vomit at the thought and raslly harder behind even the smallest distinction.

    basically, divisiveness is caused by lack of firm Ientity and shared allegience.

    The Byproducts of ur Enlightened freedom.

  8. If Belgum BRaks up, th EU will be Strengthened. I wrote another post but I dont knwo if it got through due ot a glitch.

    Basically, the EU would help in Reconstruction fo the two new Nations, both of which would become Financially dependant upon the EU. THe King of Belgium woudl likely beocme the King of Flanders, if the Monarhcy continued at all. I'd wager the EU woudl want tow new Republics though.

    Th real problem is in the Psycology of our Culture. We place so much Emphasis on our rights, and how a Majority creates soverignty that we focus on those like us, and divide society along Partisian lines. With nothing to unite us that is seen as a COmmon Authority, we divide alogn political, racial, and Cultural Grounds easily. As in our modern age the Kign of Belgium is seen as nothign mro ehtan a leftover Historical Relic form a less enliughtened Age, peopel don't Rally behidn him as they once did. We also know the CHurhc is not a Strong social inlfeunce, we're too enlghtened to let it be in our modern Secular Culture.

    What we're left with is a focus on each other. And we want to dominate, for Majority rules.

    Thats the result of our modern Enlightened Freedom.

  9. As I understand the situation the King would likely end up with nothing. It has always been my understanding that the nationalist groups pushing for the withdrawl of Flanders are the most republican in the country. As you say, far from hurting the EU, it seems to be the growing centralization and power of the EU will only encourage more of this sort of thing to happen -it doesn't make any sense to me but that's how it seems to go.

    Being the sort of person I am, I tend to attribute alot of this to loss of faith. There is also a loss of pride (the good kind) that has overtaken most of Europe and the western world in general and I tend to think that plays a part as well.

  10. It makes perfect sence to me.

    1: You have a culture which views itself as a Democracy, in which the King id kept for Ceremonial Purposes but few regard himand none seem to be united behind him.

    2: You have the usual problem with Republicanism, in that it really divides society rather than unites them. We've discussed his any number of times.

    3: The fact is, the EU Government IS asupreme over the Individual nation-States, and peopel always look to it for guidance or as rhe supreme arbiter, as well as that which gants them heirr wishes.

    Combine rhis and nothing but a tether holds belgium togather, withthem lookign to Brussels not to the King for support and loathign each other as diferences are highlighted and nothign exists to unify them.

  11. For the record, the Flemish separatists, are, indeed, very republican.

    I agree that dissolving Belgium would do little to harm, if not actually strengthen, the EU. For one thing, a breakup would doubtless embolden other separatists in Europe ( Basque, Welsh, Scottish etc), tending to lead towards a Europe of smaller and smaller regions, each even less capable of resisting central authorities such as the EU than the current nation-states are.

    I'm not sure I'd agree that "few regard" the King anymore. My impression is that there are plenty who would like to keep the country together and keep the monarchy, but as usual it is the destructive forces that are better organized and more vocal.

  12. I often bring up that point to those who tend to shrug off the possible break-up of Belgium; it could end up having an impact on a number of other countries as well. I should also specify that I tend to favor lots of smaller countries as opposed to a very few great big super-powers, but regardless of what the founders intended the modern EU is certainly no modern-day Holy Roman Empire, a patchwork of sovereign but allied states. Division of the states in Europe now would, as you say, only make them more vulnerable than they already are. They would be unable to support themselves independently and would become all the more beholden to the EU-safety net.

  13. To be fair, Belien's Brussels Journal is generally reliable. Or as least some of it is actually informative and useful (Switzerland and Hungary have some space). The catch is that there are at least two columnists who tend to either be somewhat-misguided zealots or indulging in a bit of emotional alarmism (EURABIA IS HERE!!11!).

    And don't get me started on the one-shots posters. One in particular commented on Copenhagen (before it even took place) and concluded "fascist UN New World Order," even though it initially started about trade. Regardless of what you may think about the UN (it's not really fascist), there has to be a threshold into Conspiracy quackery.

    Those said, why would seperatists think that splitting apart nations and states (or reenacting Yugoslavia if they're going for the violent rebellion setup) is a good idea for dismembering the EU?

  14. Well, as the saying goes, 'even a blind pig finds an acorn once and a while'. I've been accused of being a conspiracy quack more than once myself but I can definitively say that the UN is not a fascist conspiracy -but more probably a communist conspiracy. It is not nearly efficient enough or effective enough to be fascist. That is one reason why fascism alarmed many people more than communism -because one was a horror that just didn't work and the other was a horror that worked alarmingly well. The break-up of Yugoslavia seems a good point to me -I have often spoken of my inability to comprehend why a country like Croatia, which struggled so fiercely for independence from Serbia, is now so desperate to give up that independence to the EU. The same could be said for Ireland (rule by the UK is bad - rule by the EU is acceptable) and a number of other countries. I am not extremely familiar with the platforms of the various parties in Belgium but the only ones I have heard of to be stridently anti-EU are the most radical nationalist (to the point of neo-nazi) Flemish groups which, I would have to believe, are not the majority.

  15. There may well be valuable articles at the Brussels Journal. After all, there are a number of authors who contribute there, not just Belien. For instance, I believe Elena Maria Vidal has a cousin who has written articles for the journal; she has quoted some on her blog and they were certainly interesting. And even Belien and similar separatists would probably not win such a following if they did not make *some* valid points (eg. about the dangers of the EU, corruption in Belgian politics, etc). But one must bear in mind that not everyone who poses as a profound conservative thinker necessarily is so. Even that may sometimes be a ploy to ensnare conservative people, for other ends.

  16. I'm afraid that similar cases could be found even in monarchist circles, from what I've stumbled upon. There's a website promoting a patriotic American Monarchy by any means necessary. If it just stopped there, it might have been worth a curious browse. But it proceeds to sound increasingly like stereotypical right-wing-gone-wrong propaganda. They describe the democratic/republican US *from the very beginning* as a "fascist police state" (as though Washington was comparable to Hitler). Thus, giving the impression of a cross between the Nazis, Soviets and whatever Orwell thought of for writing 1984. I'm not an American, but that's a BIT going overboard, yes?

    What makes it more baffling is them going through the trouble of posting an article on republics and monarchy by Dr. Otto von Habsburg. The good Austrian Doctor's essay effectively *rebukes* the very purpose and aims of the group in question.

    In other words, this is NOT how to forward monarchism, in the same way that there are sites that make a joke of Catholicism (be they Trad or non-Trad). I have sympathies for royals and monarchists, but these days care has to be taken into account.

  17. I've never heard of such a group but in any event the fact that there are unsavory characters attached to virtually every social, political or cultural position does not seem relevant to the topic at hand.

  18. MadMonarchist, what do you mean by "loss of faith"?
    The Christian faith ?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...