Being Belgian means needing the other to define oneself - commentaires Being Belgian means needing the other to define oneself 2010-06-17T16:02:35Z 2010-06-17T16:02:35Z <p>No party wins an election by chance. There is always a reason. Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Poutin, each of them hasn't been elected by mistake. I would like to believe the contrary but no. Voters are more intelligent than that, they have their reasons, and it's not “all because of media”. Otherwise Belgium wouldn't be a democracy.</p> <p>Secession is not a right in legal terms, but it is a right in political terms. Conversely, if Flanders breaks away, people will perhaps continue to consider Wallonia+Brussels as Belgium, but it won't be Belgium in legal terms anymore. Because Belgium hasn't ratified the Vienna conventions on treaty law !</p> <p>I really believe there is racism and discrimination behind the Flemish vote. What's happening in and around Brussels is terrific, and I would like the small cosmopolitan community of Brussels to open their eyes and face what is a concrete discrimination on a large scale against EU citizens. Austria has lost its right to vote in the EU Council for far less than that.</p> <p>But do not make the mistake of thinking that all NVA voters are just selfish.</p> Being Belgian means needing the other to define oneself 2010-06-17T14:19:26Z 2010-06-17T14:19:26Z <p>It's very heartening to read a positive message like this, written by people from all different parts of the country. I think that every country has sub-groups claiming to be different from one another. I also believe that one can keep on separating countries in ever smaller entities. But this wouldn't mean it would work. To react to the previous poster : no it is not a democratic right to separate. Secession is not allowed in international law, unless a number of strict conditions are fulfilled, which isn't the case in Belgium. An old (Flemish) politician said it a while ago : Flanders can separate, but people will continue to consider Wallonia+Brussels as Belgium and Flanders as « Kosovo of the North », because for all the reasons Kosovo might have had to separate, it also needs to be recognized as a State ! I believe that a lot of the success of the separatist party is due to certain people turning toward egocentrism in times of crises. It's quite easy to blame everything that's going bad on certain sub-populations. The NVA (separatist party) has also been hugely hyped in the media, the entire election was about them, and with a few sarcastic one-liners Bart De Wever won over almost one third of the public. I really wonder how many of them truely know his party's program.</p> Being Belgian means needing the other to define oneself 2010-06-14T15:02:49Z 2010-06-14T15:02:49Z <p>I find what is hapenning in Belgium fascinating and while I agree with the principle of unity in diversity which is the thrust of your article, I feel that you risk ignoring the problematic issues of Belgium which can't be pushed aside. These issues need to be addressed. Why has the seperatist party won so comfortably in Flanders ? And if the majority of the people of Flanders vote for separation, is that not their democratic right ? While I do believe that Belgium is a great mirror of European integration at a national level, I also get the impression that it's almost a 'forced' co-habitation with too much friction between the 2 sides with constant desperate attempts to keep it all together. In addition, unlike most other federal systems, Belgium (with the exception of Brussels city) has only 2 federated entities - Flanders and Wallonia. This gives way to considerable confrontation.... Belgium unfortunately is not the world's best example of a well functioning federal system. Anyway those are quick thoughts though I appreciate that the issue is one that deserves considerable discussion. Perhaps you could expand on the issue of increased support for seperatism and why that has come about. Thanks</p> Being Belgian means needing the other to define oneself 2010-06-14T11:40:16Z 2010-06-14T11:40:16Z <p>Good article, although I don't support the bottom line (title) and some of the paragraphs.</p> <p>I don't agree with the romantic identity-constructing paragraph about Brel, Ensor, Fabre and the reference made to the past « where Belgians were the leaders of a multiple, complex, .. identity ». I do not inherit the attitude of my ancestors, nor do I carry a surrealistic behavior. At best I perceive surrealism (wether it is art, poetry or a political system) as 'normal' cause it's brought to me by the media and society. Exactly the same media that, as put in the article, are split up, and in that manner create different media landscapes, 'imagines communities'.</p> <p>There are better arguments to defend the survival of the current, federal Belgium ; social-economic arguments, financial arguments, ... .</p> <p>I agree with you that we should « reject closure closure and intransigence ». Belgium should indeed ask itselve « which face we want to show to the world », especially now, when we take up the presidency for 6 months. But, not as it is put in the first paragraph. What is being stated in that first paragraph (« without this fusion, melting pot, Belgium would not have been able to produce such extraordinary people as ... ») Exactly the same reasoning is used by separatist movements (eg. flamingants). Here again, history is begin used to approve a Belgian identity. Flamingants are doing exactly the same, the also get back to 'our history' (eg. Guldensporenslag) to construct a common identity.</p> <p>I agree that Belgium (as mirror of Europe) is a unique model, a model of living together. Therefore I strongly support your second paragraph that Belgium functions as an example. But, although I do support the European parallel that is being made in the article, I don't « need the other to define myself » . No, thanks.</p> <p>best regars,</p> <p>a Belgian European Federalist</p>