The Dutch Constitution

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I’ve had some discussions with Americans who believe that their constitution, written in 1787 following the successful American rebellion against the British, outlining the rules of a Trias Politicia democracy, will protect them against a coup, whether by Trump or the Democrats. ‘A coup is unconstitutional’ they argue, and since politics is governed by the rule of law, the original law being the constitution, a coup cannot happen.

This seems silly to me. As if a bunch of words on some paper have the magic power to prevent government collapse. Nah, they’re just words on some paper. But let’s take a deeper look at this constitution fandom by comparison with the Dutch constitution, whose history is pretty interesting, at least, insofar I can piece together the story using the Moldbuggian strategy of going straight to the historic source.

The very first Dutch constitution was written in 1798, under French revolutionary occupation. It opens with a proclamation by the French: ‘Dear Batavians, long have you been oppressed by the Spanish, but following your independence in 1588 you have still been oppressed by your own evil aristocrats! This all ends now, with our generous and kindhearted occupation.’

Interestingly, the constitution itself is not democratic. Rather, it affirms the existence of something which ominously translates to an ‘all-controlling supreme creature’, which I interpret to mean a faceless committee of revolutionaries.

The constitution is short. It stresses, among others, equality among the people and in front of the law, respect for private property, the strangely Christian ‘don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t do unto yourself’ and obedience to the all-controlling supreme creature. Compared to any modern political document, it is very readable.

Of course, the French were defeated, because when are they ever not, and the Netherlands regained independence. What do?

Well, Willem VI, descendant of Prince of Orange Willem I, Willem I being the assassinated leader of the independence war against Spain, wanted to be king. He convinced other royal houses to support him, returned to the Netherlands and gave a speech that would be the first proclamation of the Dutch 1814 constitution, in which he basically said: ‘dear countrymen, I have missed you terribly much, and you have missed me terribly much, and now that we have been freed from these terrible foreigners, I shall rule as your king and we shall be stronger than ever!’

Other proclamations in the constitution include the States-General inviting Willem VI to be king, Willem VI accepting the position of king (now as His Royal Highness Willem I), and His Royal Higness Willem I telling the Belgians that he is their king also (that last one would bite him in the ass).

The 1814 constitution itself is, again, refreshingly short, written in a way that even an amateur like myself can understand two hundred years later, very contrary to the ubiquitous byzantium nonsense found in modern legislature. It covers many more points than the French ‘we are boss and that’s all’ constitution, but every point is concise. It is monarchical: Willem I has the power and his descendants will have the power after him. The king may declare war, may declare peace, leads the army. The king rules in cooperation with the fifty-five men of the States-General, who represent the will of the people (take a wild guess how that unfolds…). Interestingly, locally, Willem I introduced democracy: cities would vote on their representatives every year.

The constitution posits four ministries – the ministry of Justice, ministry of Finance, ministry of Defense and ministry of Water (of course only the Dutch would have one of four ministries be a ministry of Water).

The final chapter in the constitution is interestingly titled: ‘on Religion, Public Education and Care of the Poor.’ What did the Dutch constitution say on Religion? Well, surprise surprise, it says that the Netherlands is a Christian country, that public education is meant to promote Christian values, and that other religions are permissible as long as they do not disrupt public peace. L O L.

Let us flash forward: Willem I loses the independence war against Belgium, is angry that being a king isn’t turning out the way he wanted, abdicates throne to his son Willem II. Willem II is a bit of a pussy, observes royal houses falling apart all over Europe, so when pushed, he allows the liberals led by Thorbecke to radically change the constitution in 1848. The Netherlands is now a parliamentary democracy, e.g., its constitution is just like the US constitution. King no longer has the power, parliament (previously the States-General) does. Rule by committee is back.

And from here on we see the predictable ever-leftward movement of Ctulhu. The constitution has since 1848 been changed three more times: near the end of king Willem III’s rule, after world war I, and in the aftermath of the hippie rebellion. Every time, predictable changes: among others, voting rights for women, more democratization, more expansion of education to teach Progressive values, and the addition of wonderful leftist ministries such as the Ministry of Economic and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The original constitution is pretty much memory-holed, and if a Dutch normie even knows the contents of the current constitution, he usually knows only its very first rule: everyone is equal, discrimination is forbidden.

So, to make a long story short, my point to my fellow constitution-loving American is the following: while you may believe that the American constitution is better protected against such radical changes, I believe that the Dutch are simply better at formalism. That is, the modern American constitution very much resembles the modern Dutch constitution, but the Dutch are more honest.

5 thoughts on “The Dutch Constitution

  1. Might as well be the Martian constitution for all the connection it has to world reality. Ebola outbreak from African migrants might help with that.

  2. The US Constitution has allowed so much of what it was intended to prevent – power-mad assholes getting their hands on the reins – because it didn’t provide punishments for government officials who violated it. Thus, the psychos have no incentive not to keep trying, over and over again, since they have nothing to lose if they fail. And of course, if you get an unlimited number of do-overs, eventually you’ll have success. For a constitution to work, it must provide punishments – serious ones – for people in government who violate it.

    1. Such punishments would be a step that slows the decay, but it would not suffice because it would still be legal to push for an amendment of the constitution.

  3. Of course. But speed is important. Imagine that the last 200 years of US constitutional reinterpretation had been spread out over 1,000 years instead. It would make everything completely different.

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