Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Republic of Flanders?

An intelligent, humorous commentary on the Flemish separatist movement. I think it would be a tragedy if Belgium and her monarchy disappeared from the face of the earth and I see no compelling reason why the loss would be worthwhile.
Flanders has, for most of recent memory, been more prosperous than Wallonia. I am sure some of the more racist Flemish nationalists (and there are plenty of them) would likely attribute this to the natural superiority of the more Germanic Flemings over the more Latin Walloons. Actually, in racial terms, there is hardly any difference between the two and the real reason is that Flanders has followed a more intelligent economic policy compared to Wallonia which has long been dominated by the socialists and has an economy that shows this. I can completely understand the Flemings being upset that their hard-earned tax euros get shoveled over to the Walloons to compensate for their bad economic decisions. However, the answer to that problem does not require independence, it only requires getting the socialists out of Wallonia and a good way to start would be to see them cut off from outside help so they would be forced to face the economic reality that socialism simply does not work. If the Red Chinese can figure it out, so can the Walloons. Ignoring the huge problem that would be Brussels, there is also the problem of what to do with the two halves of the former Belgium if Flanders declared independence. 
Contrary to what some think, the area of modern Belgium has been a distinct political area for quite some time before the declaration of independence in 1830. It was distinct during the period it was united to The Netherlands after the Napoleonic Wars and before that it had long been the westernmost outpost of the Hapsburg empire. Wallonia as a part of the French Republic holds no romance for me and would be an odd fit; the similarities of language aside. However, Wallonia is not the driving force behind this but rather Flanders. What would become of Flanders? There are two options: either Flanders remains independent or joins their fellow Dutch speakers in a “Greater Netherlands”. Neither option appeals to this monarchist. First of all, let there be no confusion on this point: an independent Flanders would be a republic. Period. Without doubt. So, in that scenario, Europe loses a monarchy and is cursed with another republic. In the second case; Flanders being annexed by The Netherlands, no new republics are created (assuming Wallonia joins France as is most likely) but Europe is still down one monarchy. Not good. Furthermore, I do not believe Flanders would be happy in The Netherlands anyway. They have too much of a regional mindset and are too used to being treated as something special for me to believe that they would be content to be just another Dutch province. So, I say “no” to a Flemish republic and “yes” to the Kingdom of Belgium (which, lest we forget, has been a country longer than Germany, Italy, Poland and a number of others).

4 comments:

rtaylor1802 said...

This post left me with several questions. If Belgium dissolves into Flanders and Wallonia, will an orgy of separatism break out in Europe? Will we see new sovereign states on the map such as Bavaria, Veneto, Catalonia, Cornwall and Corsica? Will the collection of small European states be able to sustain armies, navies and air forces? The European Union is not a defense organization. Will the EU be able to provide defense for its micro states or will the United States become the guarantor of European security? As an American taxpayer I say, "God save King Albert II!"

Matterhorn said...

Good questions!

I remember watching a weird interview with Flemish separatist (and inveterate hater of the Belgian monarchy) Paul Belien, who was talking somewhat coldly about Europe being corrupt and doomed and so forth, while nonetheless airily assuring us that Western civilization would survive alright as long as at least the USA remained in existence. As an American I thought, "Thanks alot, how are we supposed to do just fine as the only Western country in an alien world?" And I did not like his cool unconcern with his own country and continent.

rtaylor1802 said...

Thanks, Matterhorn, for sharing Mr. Belien's thinking. It confirms my fears that a break up of Belgium would have consequences beyond its borders. I read his book, A Throne in Brussels, and it makes no sense. He advocates for independence, not considering that a Flemish republic would be viable only as a member state of the EU, but he is anti-EU. And he is asking America to be the republic's guardian angel?

Matterhorn said...

His book is a disaster. But I'm not sure if, in the interview I am recalling, he was seeing the fall of Europe as a consequence of Flemish separatism, per se. It seemed to be more that he was predicting Europe's fall for other reasons, i.e. moral decay, Islam, etc. But yes, the idea of the USA taking over as the sole support of the West, was definitely there.