Sunday, June 19, 2011

Can you discuss internet freedom with morons and barbarians?

My colleague, who is a member of the D66 LibDem party in the Netherlands, asked me to host a debate on internet freedom and net neutrality at the upcoming D-cafe meeting. They are trying to get government officials for the discussion. I'm not sure if the topic still warrants such a debate, because there appears to be broad consensus about the validity of net neutrality.

Internet freedom may prove to be a whole different kind of animal. But how do you discuss freedom with parties such as we have in our minority government (VVD, CDA), supported by the neo-fascist PVV party? How do you discuss basic values with people who are showing democracy's dark side: a minority, with support from dubious morons, imposing their will, having no eye for the democratoc rights of minorities. Or social cohesion and cross-party loyalty for that matter. VVD and PVV have the V for freedom (vrijheid) in their names, but we all know where their conception of freedom ends: when people start wearing funny things on their heads.

The latest disgrace coming out of them is cutting the cultural budget. Classical music especially is falling victim to their cultural barbarism.
  • The Radio Kamer Filharmonie will disappear. A few years back, the national radio 0rchestra infrastructure was severely cut back and now it will happen all over again. We have an internationally acclaimed set of orchestras (Radio Filharmonisch, Radio Kamer, Metropole) and a unique choir (Groot Omroep Koor).
  • All institutions will receive less state subsidy and will need to be more commercial to find new income sources. A US model around patrons paying big bucks is seen a role model for our country.
The government wants to make our cultural life less dependent on subsidies. But this comes at a very bad time, when culture is completely undervalued and the economy isn't picking up. But what do you expect from a governement that honours mediocrity? They have appointed the embodiment of mediocrity as their minister of arts & sciences: Marja van Bijsterveldt. Her state secratary Halbe Zijlstra is probably even worse. His cultural background reaches no further than rock band Metallica. And a system of patronage cannot simply be imposed to a nation that is alien to the concept. You can't change a national character just because you want it. And look at what it brought to the US: culture is for the very happy few only and the range of music on offer at live concerts (esp. outside a handful of large cities) is horribly poor.

In our country, another complete moron, Joop van den Ende, king of musicals and soap operas, is looked at as a patron of the arts, because he is building a 'musical hall' for his horrible and mediocre 'art'. It is mediocrity that is at the heart of today's cultural barbarism. I come from a place where mediocrity = bad. But the people ruling our nation today live by the opposite of this rule.

Here is what Reinbert de Leeuw, who needs no introduction, has to say on the matter in today's newspaper:
"I feel defeated and dispirited. It is as if all if did during the last 50 years was without value. I am bewildered by the resentment against the arts. It's one big frontal assault. As if you are sitting at the table and somebody gets up to slap you in the face. That makes it so hard to formulate a response."
Indeed, how to discuss matters such as art, or freedom, with mediocre morons like the people he refers to? Come to Utrecht on June 29.

If they will still have me.

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