Sunday, November 15, 2009


Disraeli's Revenge?

By Jeffrey Harrod

Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister in the 1870s, blamed the Dutch for the social problems of the British at that time. He claimed that the pitiful state of the British population resulted from the forced imposition on Britain of, what would be now called, in the Netherlands, the 'Polder model'. Disraeli’s demon was William Prince of Orange who, he claimed, introduced into England the system of Dutch finance in 1688 when acceding to the British throne. Disraeli wrote:

"The principle of that system was to mortgage industry in order to protect property; abstractly nothing can be conceded more unjust: its practice in England has been equally injurious. In Holland, with a small population engaged in the same pursuits, in fact, a nation of bankers, the system was adapted to the circumstance which had created it ... All shared in the present spoil and therefore could endure the future burthen but applied to a country in which the circumstances [were different]..... it has ended in the degradation of a fettered and burthened multitude."

Disraeli might surely view the current English “degraded and fettered multitude” coming by Easyjet to Holland to occasionally foul the streets of Amsterdam as nothing but poetic justice. But he also might see more important opportunities for seeking revenge. The attempted imposition in continental Europe of the contemporary anglo-american model is beginning to reap similar undesirable consequences as experienced in England in the 18 century and for the same reason - the application of a model and system developed elsewhere to situations "in which the circumstances are different". However such potential problems do not deter enthusiasts for the model thus, for example, J. van Aartsen sometime parliamentary leader of a center-right political party in the Netherlands declared that the whole of the Netherlands should become nothing but the “New York of the European Union” by 2015.

What Disraeli could not have known is how diligently the British, and then the governors of its liberated colony the USA, subsequently worked to ensure that the “fettered and degraded multitude” created by the Prince of Orange’s financial system in England remained just that - fettered and degraded.

The result is that almost everywhere in the rich world where the English language is the principal language there exists “a degraded multitude” greater in size than in any comparable countries. While income figures are only rough indicators, according to the United Nations in the three English-speaking countries of USA, UK, and Australia the richest 20 percent of the population have income between 7 or 8.5 times greater than the poorest 20 percent. This compares with, for example, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the Scandinavian countries at about only between 4 to 5.5 times. The current income distribution in the Manhattan Island of Mr. van Aartsen’s New York dream is about the same as Haiti where the top 20 percent have 52 times more income than the bottom 20 percent which, it so happens, is composed of 76% African, Hispanic and Asian Americans.

For a country to survive with such a degraded, and therefore possibly uncooperative and hostile, population requires the construction of social features and practices to deal with a dramatically divided society. Hence the creation of extensive private systems of health, education, and transport to enable those on the upper side of the divide to opt out of anything which resembles a public system which would require contact with the multitude and, for purpose of control, the development of an extensive, pervasive and dominant low-educational level media.

This dual social and political configuration is now is promoted directly or indirectly by every globally operating inter-state organisation and through every political pressure which can be mustered by the core users of it. But the price for the acceptance of such a model is for example, - privatisation of health and education, a cosmopolitan society - for which read an ethnically distinguishable component of the underclass - corporate governance allowing for executive pay at “international” (read anglo-american) levels , decline in educational standards, dumbing-down the media, development of elite Universities and schools, argument by counter declaration rather than dialogue, contention versus consensus, and the commercialisation of everything. As US Labour leader John Sweeny warned in 1997 the "the ("US model") is a highly costly, toxic export, dangerous to the health and welfare of working people and national economies across the world".

The imposition of an alien system produces malaise as Disraeli noted. The inefficiencies and dysfunctions produced by the attempted introduction of the anglo-american model have produced a resistance to the process of self-colonialisation and the idea that one system suits all. The gathering pace of this realisation throughout Europe may yet deny Mr. Disraeli his revenge and Mr. van Aartsen his Dutch New York of Europe.


Disraeli quote from Sybil,or The Two Nations
van Aartsen quote from the Volkskrant
New York Income Distribution Figures: New York Times
Income Distribution Figures: UNDP Human Development Report
Sweeny quote - The Financial Times

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