Rock bottom, no solidarity

By: Geert Luteijn

After the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands in September, my first reaction was relieve that the populist and anti-foreigners party of Geert Wilders, PVV lost a lot of support and maybe even more important: momentum. The election campaign was dominated by the question how to pull the Netherlands out of the crisis and what the EU means for the Netherlands. The debates dominated by populists such as integration and the so-called ‘islamization’ disappeared to the background. Unfortunately the right wing liberals remained the largest party and in a coalition with the social democrats, they managed to cut away a billion in foreign aid and oppose any real solution for the European debt crisis. The package of budget cuts just came out and global development aid hit rock bottom. International solidarity is at an all time low in the Netherlands.

My basic argument against the plans of the new Dutch government is simple, why do we have to cut the state budget with 16 billion and consumer purchasing power with 5 percent while we are still one of the richest countries in the world and definitely in Europe; our economy is not shrinking at that rate, but that might change with this visionless government. I argue for more international solidarity, we should invest in less developed areas of Europe, not impose austerity. We shouldn’t support the banks; we should save the people that lose their houses and jobs.

For me the Our Future Project is an initiative to overcome the uneven development in Europe: to restore international solidarity, especially in the Netherlands. Engagement with issues abroad has shrunk tremendously in comparison to the 1970s, when protest against the Vietnam War and Nuclear arms attracted massive crowds. People seem to fall back into a hiding pattern. As if the problems we face today are not related to global events. They hide from the world and cut off their links with other societies and blame them for the economic downturn. Arguments like: the Greeks are responsible and the EU that bosses us around; are not constructive. Our Future should represent the new generation of civil society activists that opposes this blaming the victim behaviour. We should come up with alternatives.