So a couple of days ago I was walking around the outskirts of a quant town, enjoying some Dutch herbs. 3 Germans on bikes approached me – they were looking for a city in the neighborhood. I had no sense of spatial orientation and no sun to help, so I pointed them towards a couple of blue signs in the distance. Their city had to be on those signs I told them. They told me they already looked at those signs and the city was not on there. I told them it had to be, seeing as the city was sufficiently big and close to be included on the signs. As they were German they did not take my word for it and they went on to heatedly discuss the right direction amongst themselves. I wished them good luck and continued walking, eventually passing the blue signs. The city was on one of the signs.
This made me realize 2 things: 1) Germans are decidedly autistic 2) the Netherlands is the only country in the world where I knew the signs were helpful. You do not get lost in the Netherlands. Everything is orderly. If your direction is not on the big blue signs on the big streets then it’s on the small mushroom signs in rural areas. Every square meter has been assigned a purpose.
This image of order is what fuels the fantasy of altruism: there is no enemy, there is no ‘we vs them’*. Cooperation and trust among people is high – Dutch people expect everyone to get along with everyone. ‘Gezellig’ is a hard to translate Dutch word that refers to social events where people don’t really know each other but enforce a good time anyway because that’s what good people do.
It will be interesting to observe how all this pride will come to fall. The model is not sustainable. The US leads the fall with the conglomeration of cities in West Netherlands following in 2nd place and the smaller cities in East Netherlands in 3rd place. The wheels of K/r-selection are turning.
* Well there is of course there is but it is defined as ‘we’ (good people of the world) vs ‘them’ (haters like Trump, Farage and Wilders), which does not count as a real we vs them because everybody knows these people suck so really lets just ignore that.