Why The Dutch Left is Actually Capitalist

Historically, what is called the political left has mostly been in the forefront of creating more freedom, self-determination and prosperity for all, not the few. Just like every other form of ideology, the left has taken many forms over the centuries. The contemporary political left has been mostly defined by a subset of revolutionary struggles in the world. Starting from the colonial period up until today, the world has been mostly shaped by Christian white supremacist values. From the creation of the nation state, slavery, the extermination of indigenous people to the colonial extraction of resources from most of the world. One cannot accept these historical facts, and presume that any thinking, ideology or cultural attempts of fighting against these oppressive systems, will not be tainted themselves by oppressive ideology.

This can be seen for example at the very racist and anti-Semitic views of one the anarchist heroes Mikhail Bakunin, or the racist ideas of history expressed by Karl Marx. This euro-centric view of leftist politics has contaminated revolutionary struggles all over the world. Whether it’s the low level of civilization of the population of the US remaining idle and quiet long while the US invaded the Dominican Republic in 1916 till 1924 and later in 1965, the invasion and overthrow of democratically elected prime-minister of Iran in 1953 by the CIA. Such idle behavior of the most powerful nation in the world at that time is still somewhat of a symbol of how the political left is mostly shaped by the ones who hold the most power in the geopolitical structure of the world.

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That is not to say that there are no other forms of leftism that succeed in their own struggle. But they will most likely be crushed by the imperial powers that dominate the world’s economic and political sphere. Such was the case with Granada on 25th of October 1983, after the so-called revolutionary period of the 1960’s, which by no means were small in their long lasting effect of civilizing the western societies. But this idle behavior, of submission, and sitting on the side lines while people within their own country get slaughtered by the economic policies of their own government is one of the prevalent pandemics of our time today, in 2023.

We can all assume that not every nation is the same, its political structure, its culture, language, cuisine and even traditions may vary quite substantially. But if you look closely to the predominant distribution of power within almost every nation, it is very similar if not the same. This distribution of power has a major actor apart from the state. This major actor has control over the economic system, the corporation. To explain very briefly what a corporation is, it is a fictional legal entity, that has been granted the rights of persons and beyond, to conduct and participate in economic transactions of any kind. The corporation is, as it is the case in most western societies, obligated to by law to prioritize the maximization of profits and market share over anything else. Even above human rights. The corporation is also a totalitarian institution, having the judicial, executive and legislative powers concentrated within the management of the corporation. This is the most powerful weapon capitalism has in its hands.

Because the corporation and the state are the dominant structures of power in our societies, under the framework of capitalism and its doctrines, the leftist movements and politics have also been contaminated with this distribution of power. This has not only contaminated the type and structure of organizations that the leftist movements can create, but also its people. The most triumphant victory that capitalism has achieved is to make people not able to imagine another system of organization of human life and activities. It has commodified not only our necessities to live, but also ourselves, and moral values and integrity. This commodification entails that people will only commit to a task, goal or activity if it is transactional in nature. A transaction that is short term where the self interest of every person involved is fulfilled as fast as possible, so that each person can move to the next transaction. When this has been the unconscious motivation and values of human beings, crafted by the educational system and the public relations industry, the commitment necessary for revolutionary struggle becomes even more remote.

Revolutionary struggle requires a level of commitment that can cost ones life in some cases. It requires patience, emotional and spiritual maturity over a long period of time. It requires changes in the organization of human life, like communal practices and livelihood, sensitivities and justice of marginalized people, to name a few. These commitments and achievements do not come by gifts from above, or any god. These achievements and dreams for a better world require enormous efforts, time and dedication of one’s life.

This is where the left has lost its focus and its integrity. Because the left is shaped by all the above discussed white supremacist and colonial culture, practices and attitudes, it has created a leftist movement that is superficial in its nature. A leftist movement that is based on transactional relationship between organizations, where most of the members live isolated lives from one another. A leftist movement where in one organization, every member lives in a different city and only enters the organization for a few hours of their day and then exists it. A leftist movement that is dominated by the superficiality of celebrity worship practices dictated by social media. A leftist movement in which there is no community support for when students are forced to go into the labor market and abandon the activist work that they were doing. All of these fractures in community of everyone needing to have their own private space, their own private garden and their own private car, their private career and their own private life, has weakened the left to an extent that could never have been conceived before.

The left is based not only on anti-authoritarian struggle, but it is also based on strong communal and spiritual connections between every member of the community. By which other communities can connect, learn and develop from. One of the most important requirements for leftist movements to succeed and actually transform the nature of the societies we live in, is the spiritual transformation not only of the movements, but of the large part of the population. This spiritual transformation can only happen through education and the practice of that education. For as the Black Panther Party in the US put it, “the marriage of theory and practice” has to be in the forefront of the struggle. Only then can one be liberated by the internalized systems of oppression. When that happens, it is almost impossible for one to be corrupted by things like materialism, greed, money and power.

One of the problems of the leftist movements within the western construct is the lack of or the complete absence of any form of spiritual education and transformation practices. The western left has absorbed the material and mechanical views of human life and made it its dominant form of operation and focus. That is why even if there is victory for higher wages of workers, or better working conditions for workers, the population will still submit to the dominant values and morality of the state and the corporation. Workers will remain in isolation with a higher wage, communities will have fancy roads and street lights but have no sense of belonging to the world or their communities. The fracturing of social and spiritual bonds is the main objective of any for of authoritarian power, be the state, corporation or capitalism itself.

Now it is imperative to discuss specific cultural and societal values. Namely within the Dutch society. The Netherlands, apart from the UK and the USA, is what we would call “the belly of the beast” of the western economic and white supremacist system. The Netherlands is the country where most of the contemporary systems of oppression were born. The Dutch royalists were key in constructing the political and social systems we now call “apartheid”. As one of the founders of Anglo-Saxon white supremacy, the Dutch were the first European nation to construct an economic system based on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. Within this context of slavery and colonialism as a form of wealth creation and extraction of other nations driven by white supremacy, the Netherlands had to create a new form of economic institution that did not rely solely on the State as primary source command and planning system. This need gave birth to a new economic institution, the Mercantilist economic institution, based the mercantilist “theory”. This economic doctrine and its institutions laid the foundation for the birth of the structure of today’s corporation. Which then later developed more rapidly in the US, since its business influence on the state has been much greater than in Europe, for interesting historical reasons that will not be discussed here.

When one takes all of these historical developments into account, revolutionary activism in the Netherlands, in Dutch culture and society becomes not only a struggle against white supremacism and capitalism, but against the birthplace of most of the oppressive institutions and doctrines in our contemporary history. It is not only a material struggle, which is mostly a superficial struggle, but a spiritual struggle. A struggle against centuries of capitalist doctrines of the Dutch culture and norms.

Cultural norms such as the prioritization of personal privacy above any other human concerns and issues. The cultural norm of centering one’s experience above everyone else’s in a way that is dismissive even to fellow white Dutch members of society. This leads to transactional forms of human relationships in which the social fabric of the country is superfluous in some manner. The cultural value of prioritizing personal freedom above communal freedom, which entails that individuals lack or do not have any conception of accountability for the community they live, since accountability limits their own personal freedom. The cultural norm of having the illusion of speaking up for one’s self, while submitting one’s entire life and being to the normative societal pressures and economic, political and social institutions.

This superficiality of human relationships, an attitude of extreme subordination whilst holding enormous pride into one’s heritage and history, leads to a population that values individual self-interest, is highly subordinate to state and capitalist doctrines and values and does not have the spiritual strength to directly be involved in actions that can change any institution that they know is oppressing them. This leads to a society that claims to be “tolerant” and open minded about non-normative activities, while in reality is extremely authoritarian in their behavior towards anything and anyone that does not fit into the normative values mentioned above. This can be seen from simple things like lack of communal spaces within a university or neighborhood, to more complicated dynamics within the leftist movements such as focusing on squatting and sexual liberation. Which if looked at more closely, can also be seen as a capitalist venture of self-interest of individuals or groups.

The Dutch leftist movement is a very superficial movement, consisting mostly of superfluous young people who are dedicated to either a potential career or is focused on the enjoyment of the materialist, sexual and social status that activism provides them. Together with the cultural values and norms mentioned above, this creates an attitude of consumption in all aspects of life, even within activist movements. There is a difference between absorbing, processing and applying with others what activist activities have thought an individual or community, and consuming the activity and returning to one’s normal life. Activism is not something that is up for consumption of anyone or any community. Consumption in this context means absorbing what activism provides as product produced by someone or a community. Much like one consumes a movie or a concert in the form of entertainment, activism is also seen as such a medium. A medium to only entertain one’s thoughts and feelings, but not to face them and more importantly to transform them.

In order for the Dutch left to become a true revolutionary movement, the individuals within the movement need realize that the way that activism has been done in the past, and they way they are practicing it now, is rooted in capitalist, statist and white supremacist doctrines, values and norms. By this I do not mean that reading Karl Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin or even current revolutionary writers from the global south and adopting their ideas will cure this contamination of the leftist movement. Intellectual education and self-defense is only but a small part in the total struggle against system of oppression. In order for the Dutch society to be free in the left anti-authoritarian sense, it needs to create alternative spiritual practices rooted in recreating the Dutch identity, free from the corruption and contamination of white supremacy, the state religion and capitalist doctrines, values, norms and practices. This is no easy task, since this means destroying the identity of a whole lineage of culture and traditions.