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Thierry Baudet on the farmers
In a recent interview, the charismatic Dutch opposition leader offers his take on the farmer protests and what lies behind the government's draconian anti-agricultural policies.
Last week the leader of the Dutch Forum for Democracy (FvD), Thierry Baudet, gave a short (15 min) interview to Epoch Times’ Roman Balmakov in which he discussed the ongoing the farmer protests. If you aren’t familiar with our much-reviled “rightwing populist” it’s a good introduction. Baudet speaks excellent English and is very articulate.
I was ambivalent about Baudet when he emerged on the scene some five years ago. The party platform was decidedly a mixed bag. I watched a parliamentary debate on the abolition of the stock dividend tax in which he came across as dilettantish. During the pandemic, however, Baudet and his FvD colleagues emerged as vociferous critics of the lockdowns and other aspects of the government’s pandemic measures. I watched a number of interviews with Baudet and one could see that he had evolved to become a formidable opposition figure, less coltish and erratic, more thoughtful and serious.
In this interview, Baudet makes some interesting observations, perhaps most notably that the draconian new measures were directed at a demographic (farmers) with a strong attachment to cultural identity and place; many of their farms were multi-generational family enterprises. These people, rooted in the land, Baudet argues, are not “post-modern, post-national, post-historical” and as such “pose a threat to the globalist’s post-territorial, post-identitarian agenda”. Later in the interview, Balmakov mentions a recent news report announcing that former agricultural land in the province of Flevoland will be be used for the construction of a shelter for immigrants and refugees. Baudet thankfully does not attempt draw a straight line between the appropriation of farmland and the construction of immigrant housing, but it does give him the opportunity to ventilate on the topic of mass migration. If you are familiar with Marine Le Pen or Victor Orbán or other European right-wing populists, Baudet’s conservative nationalism will sound familiar. Are European elites using mass immigration to undermine national identity as part of a campaign to dismantle the modern nation-state? There is circumstantial evidence to suggest it may well be a deliberate strategy, and at the very least it is a question that should be asked.
Such questions, such appeals to national and cultural identity, are of course beyond the pale in the Europe of today. Baudet and the FvD aren’t welcome in civilized company. In the aftermath of nationwide city council elections earlier this year, the leader of the Dutch Green Party, Jesse Klaver, a fervent supporter of Ukraine, called for the exclusion of the FvD from any city council governing coalitions, a remarkably illiberal demand. Some of the most vociferous attacks on the FvD, suggesting they are extremists and fascists, are made by the very same people who have added Ukrainian flags to their Twitter and Facebook profiles, so typical for the degraded, performative political culture of our age.
During the worst of the Covid containment fervor, when the experimental injections became such a volatile issue, when we were faced with an emergent QR-code society, we were fortunate to have articulate voices, such as from the FvD, as well as others, in our parliament, calling out the manipulative and misguided strategy of the government. At the same time, I do have some reservations about Baudet. He’s brilliant in opposition, but rhetorically he tends more towards preaching to the converted than winning over new souls. His analysis of Klaus Schwab and the WEF can be reductionist. His ideas about carving out self-governing enclave for like-minded souls called Forumland come across as Utopian. I find more resonance with the left populism of Germany’s Sahra Wagenknecht, who I believe has a better grasp of economic issues (alas we have no such left populists here in the Netherlands). Where I do wholly identify with the FvD is the party’s indefatigable opposition to the EU and their call for a much-needed Nexit.
In any case, it’s inconceivable that in the current environment Baudet and the FvD would ever be allowed to participate in a coalition government. So, may they live long and prosper as principled opposition, until things change, as they eventually will.