The Ministry of Culture and Plastic Surgery

The German high court decided that deporting the Syrian and Eritrean refugees was unconstitutional. Chancellor Merkel, decidedly anti-immigrant and a builder of Fortress Europe policies, had little choice while governing a country where most citizens understand the fine print of democracy, including the sovereign decisions of the supreme court. In European Union countries such as Denmark, Hungary or the Netherlands, democracy has been subverted by xenophobic and technocratic politics, and the judiciary no longer makes any sovereign decisions unless these are permitted by the immigrations police or by business.

The European Union is a pact based on greed, cloaked in the language of ”sustainability” and jargon, consisting of the many member-states who marveled German economic superpower to such an amazing extent, that they have agreed to surrender into becoming provinces of German superpower. (Economist Joseph Stiglitz suggested the overnight solution to economic crisis in the Euro: Germany’s stepping out, as it has no rival, and then stability would return.)

Many pro-German EU countries are totally unlike the German society in their have given over to a culture where political campaigns are achieved primarily by television and consumer ad-marketing. They have surrendered their cultural and educational investments as well as their democratic constitutions, and thereby happily signed up for becoming provinces rather than independent sovereign nations.

The most extreme, and cinematic recent example is Ukraine: the Euro-maidan movement, including opposition leaders like Yulia Tymoshenko, who were once accused in corruption scandals identical to those of Yanukovich, waged a coup d’etat with molotov cocktails rather than wait out Yanukovich’s presidential term for new elections. Euro-maidan first ignored the example of Greek membership in the EU—though Greece was remade into a wasteland in order to serve as a warning to other marginal or subaltern countries with hopes of entering the European dream and of easy migration. The “Euro-Maydan”–a comical new word, as ”maydan” is a Ukrainian word of oriental origin meaning square—is evidence of what Polish poet Czesław Miłosz called ”the captive mind,” a predicament of peoples of the Slavic Eastern Europe whose consciousness is one of being the colonial subject of either German or Russian civilization, without any hope being more than the subject of either.

But members such as the Netherlands and Denmark mostly different from Ukraine in their lack of theatricality. All of them have been resolutely anti-immigrant and pro-Merkel until these two ceased to coincide perfectly, and all of them rallied in a jackal-like fashion for the humiliation of Greece in a convention of penal spectacle.

As a consequence, whether they like it or not, the provinces take orders from Germany, even if the new orders—to welcome refugees—are not what these countries signed up for in their xenophobe euphoria.

Merkel announced a plan to distribute the responsibilities of caring for the refugees throughout the European Union. “Wir Schaffen Das”, the acceptance of law and order, was mistakenly attributed to a ”change of heart” or a noblesse in Angela Merkel. Wolfgang Schäuble reprimanded Merkel for allowing in refugees—“careless skiers cause avalanches!” the wheelchair-bound treasurer warned. And yet Schäuble admitted to an audience of Parisian students that he was overpowered by the Supreme Court’s decision—having no choice in one of the only remaining EU countries where the decisions of high court judges are still sovereign, and not instantly overturned by the immigrations bureaucracy and its police as occurs in subverted democracies like the Netherlands and Denmark.

Even before the Paris attacks, a discussion has raged within Germany, as well as throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands and many other EU member states. A hot provincial debate rages on about how to avoid the duty of incorporating refugees from war-torn countries who fled the conflicts. The reigning discussion is that of mutiny on the decks of the pirate-ship that Schengen and European Union have become. “Which strategies for mutiny work best ?” ask the court-intellectuals and sophists like Maxime Tandonnet, Paul Scheffer and other think-tank consultants who have the major financial newspapers as their platforms. Most of these strategists make pseudo-philosophical and moral arguments, insisting on the right to throw captives and shipwrecks back overboard. The differences of opinion along the center-right spectrum are only in gradations, appearance and nuance. Many of the thinking about immigration in the Netherlands has a penchant for Malthusian formulations—the ideas of John Malthus and of the ”carrying capacity” of the Netherlands. They claim the Netherlands is already jam-packed with humans—hardly noticeable when Amsterdam’s population counts 800,000 people. They insist Holland is the most densely populated country in the world. How do they do it? The city of Istanbul is slightly larger than the Netherlands. So is Buenos Aires if its provinces are counted. These cities have far denser population density than the Netherlands, a country without major urban centers except for the port town of Rotterdam, a harbor with the highest immigrant population. The lie about ”Netherlands being the most densely populated” is a schoolboy’s trick used to justify the measures of deportation.

Public intellectuals such as Paul Scheffer in the Netherlands, along with his comrades in sophistry across the German border, have spelled out their solutions clearly. “Programs of discouragement” are needed in order to to gently scare away, intimidate or otherwise condition the refugee into changing course are being debated.

Enter the Dutch former minister of culture, Halbe Zijlstra, announcing his new post as Plastic Surgeon General. Zijlstra (of the ruling VVD party, People’s Freedom and Democracy, center-right) came forth explaining the need, much talked about by the anti-immigration Malthusians and theorists, for a ”Sober Welcoming”. Sober Welcoming, explained by the parliamentarian and former minister of culture: ”Refugees can get bread, a couple of 10 euro bills and a shower before turning back. They won’t be allowed to have plastic surgery, breast implants, cosmetic surgery on the budget of the Dutch taxpayer”

A stunned Volkskrant journalist asked “But were there such mass requests for plastic surgery?” Shameless Zijlstra had to admit there had been none—but if made, they would be swiftly turned down.

Halbe Zijlstra is known for having enforced the austerity measures towards funding for the arts. During his stint as Minister of Culture, there was a total of 200 million euros of cultural funding slashed by his plastic surgeon’s scalpel in the country of Vermeer, Bosch and Rembrandt. In all likelihood, that money as most of the capital retrieved by austerity measures, has been reinvested in the Netherlands’ military sector. After the Dutch humiliation in Srebrenica, when Dutch peace-keepers were blamed for the decisions of the UN bureaucracy, the Dutch government elected in 2010 has done its utmost to be a government of military funding, building new bases in the Caribbean and in the Middle East. Zijlstra, the proud son of a police-commissioner, said he was the ideal Dutch Minister of Culture—precisely because he is a Philistine, or ”managerial outsider” in the arts. His being an ordinary Dutchman and a fan of Dan Brown novels guaranteed his cool-headed impartiality.

The recent plastic surgery outbursts caused shockwaves in the Dutch press and in the political arena: Zijlstra’s avowal to charge for his virtuoso plastic surgery and tit-jobs for Eritreans and Syrians, was the sort of statement expected from the Dutch Freedom Party, a radical front of Euro-skeptic nationalists, most commonly associated, and falsely, irresponsibly given all the credit by liberals for anti-immigrant extremism in the Netherlands.

Despite their having served as a decoy, the mutiny-leaders of Partij van de Vrijheid deserve some credit: their Euro-skeptic example of mutiny is now being followed by many of the pro-Union political establishments in Europe, who are protesting the German shift in migration politics, despite that it really boils down to the European Union avoiding war in the Balkans by absorbing the refugees, who met with the violence and political pogrom-rallying of ethnic nationalists in the Macedonian regime, in former Yugoslavia and Hungary. But when the refugees were brought Westward, it turned out that Dutch and Austrian populists, in lands known for their civility, could be as violent as the Balkan neonazis. Almost immediately, a detention center was torched in a Dutch city (Woerden) and rallying exploded with rumors about the Syrians coming to rape Dutch women and molest children. The German decision, beyond the high court’s resolution on constitutionality, is also part of Merkel’s realpolitik.

There are consequences to the EU’s profiting in US-Mediterranean wars, that few or no enriched member states want to hear about. The receiving of refugees is spun by the predatory media as “the radicalism of Angela Merkel” and denounced by the same Eurocrats who were lackeys of Merkel in the cooperative strangulation and psychological-fiscal torture of Greece.

Zijlstra, in his statements on ”no free plastic surgery” is said to be trying to tow the line of the Euro-skeptic extremist Freedom Party, as the Dutch political mainstream once again flirts with the extremists after the period of coalition that began in 2012 ended.

Exemplary Freedom Party revelers would include Martin Bosma, a former journalist and the author of a recently published book about the ”white genocide in South Africa.”

Bosma is the Freedom Party’s ideologue and its house speaker in the Hague. His most recent book, Minderheid in Eigen Land (“Minority in my Own Country”) compares the fates of white South Africans to that of the Dutch majority confronted by migration. By repeating the statements of ”white genocide in South Africa,” Bosma shows his affinity with the bizarre South African Red October movement, recently launched by South African right wing intellectuals and folk singers from among the Boer (Dutch and Afrikaans for ”farmer”) population. The right wing “Red October Movement” bases its talk-radio propaganda upon interpreting violent crime rates and the rule of the ANC as reverse-racist genocide, directed specifically towards the settler-descended, land-owning population.

Prior classics by Bosma warned of the dangers of a rising “Eurabia”. His books counted among the   ideological guides acknowledged by Norwegian mass-shooter Anders Brevink in his online manifestoes.

The extremism of the Dutch Freedom Party was tolerated, because served only one essential purpose: that of creating the illusion of a political moderate center within the Dutch mainstream. Any and all debates between right and left were typically thrown aside by the histrionic ravings of a starry buffoon, Geert Wilders. His phalanxes have chanted ”Deport the Moroccans” ”the Syrians threaten our daughters” and other Freedom Party repertoire—always obtaining the outrage of Dutch liberals who have been able to look the other way as the Labour Party boasts the record of building the most detention centers.

As reported by the brave Dutch journalist Sheila Sitalsing in her Volkskrant columns, adherents of the Freedom Party have popularized limericks and nursery rhymes about how the Syrian refugees are likely to be rapists, ”testosterone bombs threatening your daughters” and child-molesters.Who would have thought that the political utterances of a Donald Trump sound like normalcy in the small North-European country known for tolerance and progressive policies?

The Israeli journalist for Haaretz, Chemi Salev, in his column West of Eden wrote an article responding to the prominence of both Trump in the United States and the normalization of Israeli extremism with the title “Trump’s biggest mistake? Not running his campaign in Israel. And have he got the party for him.” Where is the Dutch journalist who points out that the Netherlands is a country where the ruling political groups, day after day try to enforce laws to prevent future ”anchor babies,” where new laws have complicated and frozen the process by which a foreign spouse can gain her Dutch husband’s citizenship; where they have refused to investigate the overseas deaths of Dutch citizens of immigrant origins, where they produce raging nincompoops like Halbe Zijlstra who tickle the appetite for the gallows-as-entertainment?

A decade has passed since the assassinations of the right wing populist Pim Fortuyn by a Dutch vegan, Fortuyn’s punishment for having attacked the illusion of the Netherlands being a tolerant society, rather than an intolerant yet politically correct one.

An apple of discord has been thrown once again into the Dutch corridors of power by the war-refugees. There has never been as much disarray in Dutch politics since the assassinations of the Frisian politician Fortuyn.

In the Hague, politicians of the mainstream keep catching themselves and each other sounding like the Freedom Party. The need to consistently make an effort to fight and snarl against the court jester, Freedom Party spokesperson Geert Wilders, as his raison d’être threatens to turn superfluous. Geert Wilders’ celebrity as the most internationally-instantly-recognizable Dutch politician once helped to maintain a striven-for consensus and mediocrity in the Dutch political spectacle—not unlike the function of the Tea Party in the United States, which served to create an illusion of the Republican Party having not yet gone down the road of extremism it had long since embraced.

It remains clear that whatever the diktat of Germany’s high court or Brussels will be, the refugees are undesired by the Netherlands’ political classes, no matter what talents or skills they can prove. Orders are handed down from Berlin and Brussels to the provincial lords greedy for participating in an explosion of wealth called ”the crisis” and caused by living in the shadow of the economic giant of Germany, but they signed up in order to kick out more foreigners while developing their technocracies (the replacement of democratic systems with the automaton or the computer program’s cost-effective efficiency).

There is no debate about what the responsibilities of the Netherlands and the Dutch state towards refugees might be. Prime Minister Mark Rutte openly endorsed and participated in the Coalition of the Willing during the Iraq occupation. Once more in 2012 did the Netherlands dance along with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans for Syria in the initial phases of fighting Assad: to conveniently rally the Sunni extremist mercenaries towards regime-toppling. Many of the Sunni conscripts who later went to join the developing ISIS/Daesh were the unwanted and marginalized youths from the outskirts of Dutch, Belgian and French cities, enthusiastically invited to exit Europe with gifts.

Given the anti-immigrant politics of the Dutch political mainstream and of Rutte in particular, the logic was that of an opportunistic Pascal’s wager: regardless of whether or not the war is right, if the young Sunni fanatics armed with American and Saudi weapons prove successful in Syria and Iraq, they will become another Taliban over there and they won’t return. But if unsuccessful, the legionaries will die, and then they won’t return. It has all the cold risk-calculation that Pascal used to determine whether or not it was convenient to believe in God: if he believes and he is not right, nothing happens. If Pascal’s agnostic merchant believes in the logical God and it turns out after death that his gamble was right, then the wise mercator sapiens gets to Heaven. Everybody wants to go to Heaven, even rational planners of realpolitik. (Far preferable to Pascal’s modern computer, is the belief in the Egyptian test of Osiris for entry into the afterlife: the heart is weighed against a feather.)

The stellar successes of the caliphate, however, was an unforeseeable shock to Rutte’s wager. The Isil/Daesh mercenaries showed a visionary lunacy, a will to power reminiscent of the Nazi Third Reich on the Eastern front. Mark Rutte’s opportunistic win-win calculus backfired: because of the foreseeable destruction the militants would cause, now their victims seek refuge in Europe, entering in droves.

Allowing the victims of political and militarist Islam to reside in Europe would sow the seeds for an end to political Islam once and for all. Many of the young Muslims in European banlieus have idealized and romanticized the legionaries of Da’esh. If they were forced to live alongside the Arabic-speaking victims of their own Islamism, the refugees, the resultant dialogue would help bring down the romanticized image of Islamism among most of Europe’s working-class minority youth.

Sobere Opvang, the Dutch policy of Sober Receipt, is the educational program in which the immigrant is given signals and a treatment designed to demotivate foreigners from ever again wishing to come to the Netherlands. By shock-treatment are they to be made into shivering Pavlov dogs. Such is the psychological torture of the tolerant and giving, as promised by the minister of culture and plastic surgery, along with court intellectuals like Paul Scheffer who pretend to ”moderation.” How to create a propaganda for discouragement is the talk of the Hague. It is possible that the German decision to use the historical buildings of Bergen-Belsen to house refugees is also part of such a program of creating an external image of discouragement. The new use of Bergen-Belsen has been hailed as the opposite: heroic practicalism to save lives, a vulgar ”Phoenix of tolerance rising from the ashes” implying that German provinces are like Greece, without the facilities to properly house their new guests.

The Euro-technicians’ radical quest for designing an effective “program of discouragement” is nothing new under the European sun. The discourse is only an official expression of a state of affairs Dutch society had reached since the early 21st century before the enforcement of austerity measures (the Northern European mechanical simulacrum of financial crisis) reached full-swing.

After all, what was the real purpose of laying waste to Greece, if not to make an example, another ”policy of discouragement” warning countries of undesirables not to dream of entering the European Union?

A Greek wasteland, extraneously controlled by the Euro-group, is external propaganda of discouragement to those who would otherwise want the right to freely travel and migrate within the EU. A landscape of discouragement for EU entry is Greece, there to witness for any non-member who can see the punished and the poor from their mediterranean balconies or in the media. Albanians have lost any illusion of future entry and Turkey’s AKP changed its mind about EU dream somewhere in 2011.

The German and Euro-group austerity-politicians have done their utmost to command timidity in foes and servants. The language of “sobriety” when it comes to the rhetoric about refugees and the language of ”austerity” have common origins, words of the intoxicated.

Arturo Desimone (Aruba, 1984) is an Aruban-Argentine writer, poet and visual artist. His articles on politics previously appeared in  CounterPunch, DemocraciaAbiertaBerfrois UKDiem25news and elsewhere. Author of the poetry collection Mare Nostrum/Costa Nostra (Hesterglock 2019) and the bilingual book “La Amada de Túnez” which  appeared in Argentina during the pandemic, he has performed at international poetry festivals in Granada, Nicaragua, Buenos Aires and Havana.