Belgium: Doomed from the Outset

A quote from Prof. Nathan Alexander at Intellectual Conservative, 3 November 2007

This move towards authoritarianism, Paul Belien argues in his book, […] is also why Belgium, a state in which private interests have historically superseded those of the public, is admired by the unelected bureaucrats who will control the looming European superstate. […]

From the outset, Belgium was doomed to political instability. The Walloons, or French-speaking Belgians, resided in the south and ruled over the majority, the Dutch-speaking Flemings. Traditionally, the north has been more prosperous than the south and as its wealth was increasingly transferred to the Walloons, it threatened to unite with the Netherlands. To prevent this, and the loss of their most prosperous region, the Saxe-Coburgs needed to remain close to France. However, even if the country were to remain together, the Saxe-Coburgs also had to prevent the Flemings from democratically taking control of the country. The crowning achievement of the Saxe-Coburg family has been to consolidate their support among the Walloons through massive wealth transfers from the Flemings; and also eliminate Flemish resistance through manipulation of the democratic process. […]

Under Albert, the third king of the Belgians [r. 1909-1934], the monarchy undercut Flemish nationalism by jettisoning the ruling Catholic elite (and the accompanying restricted franchise), and choosing instead to ingratiate itself with the more egalitarian socialist movement. This undermined, in part, the Flemish-Walloon linguistic and cultural division. The monarchy also helped arrange for the so-called Loppem Franchise system, which remains in effect until today. The Loppem Franchise system was an arrangement by which the government would run the state with unelected “social partners”. […]

The “social partner” arrangement, Belien writes, created a certain political stability, but it also “transformed Belgium into a corporatist regime,” corrupted its politics and bred massive waste and inefficiency.  “Politically unaccountable,” the “social partners” acted to ensure their own interests rather than those of Belgium’s citizens. As the “social partners” received funding from the government, they had a vested interest in high unemployment, which increased the flow of public money under their control. […]

After the Second World War (the Belgian monarchy, putting itself before country or principle, initially aligned itself with Nazi Germany), the growing prosperity of the Flanders area (and decline of the French-speaking Walloon region) once again raised the specter of Flemish nationalism and secession. To counter skyrocketing unemployment in Wallonia, the government simply increased the number of federal employees in the south – to an astounding 40% of the Walloon population. […] Massive transfers of wealth from the Flemish areas of Belgium again sparked secessionist movements. The monarchy, however, needing to ensure that it’s own base of revenue (ie. Belgium plus Flanders) didn’t fall apart, came upon an anti-democratic solution to prevent Belgium from dissolving: Federalism. In order to justify wealth transfers from Flanders to the Walloon areas, the monarchy embraced the rhetoric of multiculturalism. To ensure the Walloons were not “oppressed,” (presumably by welfare restrictions), the monarchy arranged for the larger Flemish and smaller Walloon states to assume equal status at the federal level. Despite the Walloons comprising only 40 percent of the population, their “representation” at the federal level would become the equivalent of 50 percent. In this way “multiculturalism” ensured that both “cultures” would be supported equally. In fact, it ensured that the monarchy’s base in Wallonia would continue to receive enormous “social transfers” and “solidarity payments” and that this could not be stopped democratically. As the federal principle took precedence over any democratic discussion of state wealth, the social welfare state in Wallonia expanded unchecked. […]

In the nineteenth century, the Belgian monarchy had embraced socialism in order to ensure its hegemony over national politics. In the twentieth century, it would use “multiculturalism” to prevent democracy from curtailing its authority. […]

Today Belgium has political parties, but the monarchy dominates them in a way unlike other European states. Today, the king appoints a “formateur” who brings the parties together “for coalition talks.” The fragmentation of political parties makes the creation of coalitions of decisive importance. Engineering a coalition government that was part socialist, part corporatist, the monarchy has created a situation where stability is achieved by creating a massive welfare mechanism which co-opts opposition by putting potential opponents on the state payroll.

Belien argues that the Belgians today view (and exploit) their government with a cynicism that matches that of their monarchy. The collapse of what political scientists call “civil society,” or social life independent of the state, has not been without cost. In a country not bound together by common moral or cultural ties; in a country where the “first citizen” is its most egregious law transgressor, it is only natural that Belgium’s citizens increasingly see the state as not something belonging to them, but something to exploit. […]

The lesson Belien takes from the Dutroux affair is less the monstrosity of his crimes than the indifference of government officials to pursuing the law when other, “private” interests may have been at stake. When a subculture of corruption and privilege reaches a position of dominance within a polity, citizens can hardly be expected to uphold a law which the state itself routinely transgresses. […]

Belien’s argument about the monarchy might be seen as part of an effort by the King and Belgium’s elites to exploit the rhetoric of morality and the nation state to maintain their existence outside the law. A Throne in Brussels is a superb narrative history which, despite its trenchant, unsparing criticism of the Saxe-Coburgs, and unconcealed partisanship, is as remarkably witty as it is a damning account of the machinations of the Belgian monarchy. […] In Belgium today, the government cannot protect its citizens from violence from illegal immigrants; however it is assiduous in preventing its citizens from complaining about this. One is reminded of the German poet Brecht’s statement about the East German state’s attitude towards its workers: “If the workers do not support the workers' state, so much the worse for the workers.”

cover of A Throne in Brussels: Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of EuropeA Throne in Brussels: Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe
Author: Paul Belien
ASIN: 1845400658

Leave the Walloons to the French

It seems that Belgium is a ‘mini- democracy’ that does not allow the public to have any input into the direction they are led. The public is not allowed to speak about important issues facing the country.


It seems the monarchy has become too arrogant to care what the public thinks. Maybe the Flemish are taking the right path now. The government of Belgium is very weak and they might need to worry about some of the public getting disgusted with them.


A solution might be to have the Flemish industrial north separate from the Walloon rust bowl south and let the King move south. Later they might wish to become part of France. This way the Flemish and the Walloons are both happy. The Flemish would have fewer taxes and more money to invest.

Speaking of the Dutroux affair ...

...has any of you been watching Friday night's RTBF programme "Dossier Noir"? It was a truly shameful example of gutter journalism, outrageous even by Belgian standards. The message (forcefully repeated again and again) was that all the rumours about paedophile orgies and the like, in which key figures in Belgian society are said to have been taking part, are none other than, at best, fantasies by habitual liars and "mythomanes", and at worst, part of a deliberate campaign aimed at smearing the monarchy (there was even, at the end, a reference to, surprise, surprise, the "milieux flamingants"  - i.e. Flemish separatists - which, according to the hack who authored the piece, are spreading and indeed encouraging all this black propaganda).

The programme was absolutely typical of all that is corrupt and dishonest about the Belgian media. While in more civilised countries television journalists are supposed to at least put on a pretence of impartiality, here there was blatant and shameless bias poured in buckets onto the viewer's head. The commentary had to be heard to be believed. And the "logic" behind all these assertions? It has never been proved that such things happened: this proves that they didn't happen!

In other words, we've been treated to the sight of a usually left-leaning television station bending over backwards and jettisoning whatever tiny fragments of decency and intelligence it may still have possessed, in order to cover up the brutal and corrupt lifestyle of the French-speaking bourgeoisie ... I wonder, though, whether the exercise won't turn out to have been counterproductive. First of all, it reminded viewers of suspicions that had been voiced long ago and that many had forgotten; and second, in a country where a lot of people don't even trust the television weather forecasters to tell the truth, it is doubtful whether the public are prepared to swallow the RTBF message hook, line and sinker on an issue which is still quite an emotive one for many Belgians.