There is little to gain in a world that is losing

hIt’s boring, but the symbolism didn’t escape me: in the first photo to appear of our new government, four ministers have their eyes closed. Let’s hope that a better version of the photo is already in circulation, otherwise not everyone will be happy with it. It’s also hard to get a perfect group photo. A fifth minister also missed the lens: Eddy van Hijum (Social Affairs). Although his eyes were open, he was pointing them at the horizon with a slight frown, far to the left of the camera, as if he were standing on the platform looking for that first redeeming point on the train that will take him to his destination.

Salvation is a tall order, only God is capable of that and many people have not even believed in Him for a long time, but expectations of the new cabinet are high. A new survey shows that trust in the government has almost doubled among people with a lower level of education and has risen sharply among those with a secondary education. According to Peter Kanne, researcher at Ipsos I&O, this is due to the new team: “The fact that PVV and BBB have won and are also governing is something very much celebrated and leads to greater trust in the government.”

About the Author
Ibtihal Jadib is a deputy judge, writer and columnist for of VolkskrantColumnists are free to express their opinions and do not have to adhere to journalistic rules of objectivity. Read our guidelines here.

The framework agreement now reads like a sunny weather report, so bring on those beautiful days. We could all use a pep talk. Perhaps this is more needed now than a substantive analysis full of legal, financial and rule of law frameworks; it is also worth hearing that everything will be fine.

The Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) has no interest in this, because this week it published a report full of dark clouds. It is a harshly written treatise on how the Netherlands once found itself in a “friendly international context” but has now ended up in a “fragmented world order” full of “divergent forces”. The WRR hopes that its report will be a wake-up call because costly efforts will have to be made to stay afloat and even then we will not emerge unscathed: “The Netherlands will not always be on the winning side, and it will be damaging to do so.”

The word painful appeared no less than fifteen times in the report and after reading it I had to suppress the urge to run to the nearest doomsday preparedness store. According to the WRR, many Dutch people have little or no idea of ​​the fundamental changes taking place globally: ‘It is not clear to many that vital public facilities, our standard of living and possibly even our freedom may be at risk.’ The WRR believes that it is high time to learn to play the geopolitical game better.

That line of thinking, however correct it may be, is part of the problem. Of course, it is necessary to take a strategic position on the world stage to safeguard one’s own interests, but at the same time it is this kind of self-centeredness that has brought us to where we are today. When people talk about terms like “being on the winning side” they imply a division in the world that has existed for a long time and is now taking its revenge. You cannot declare your own part of the world the winner, put a fence around it and then blithely hang streamers. Then you close your eyes to the fact that our interests cannot be separated from the interests of others. There is little to gain in a world that is losing.

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