Published On: Mon, Jul 11th, 2016

Polder Model

dekker_0Jared M.Diamond, a popular science author and academic, paid extensive attention to the Dutch Polder Model in his book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." (2005)

The Polder Model by the Dutch addresses “its challenges and the top-down and most importantly bottom-up approaches that we must take now that our world society is presently on a non-sustainable course," according to Diamond.

Since Calvinism took over from the Catholic Spaniards in the 17th century, the Dutch changed course from a pyramidal to a flat society. The Synod of Dordrecht (1618) stipulated in great detail that each and every man had the same and equal responsibility in his relationship towards God, and towards morals, and ethics in their society. This powerful Polder Model of a flat world reshaped not only Europe’s Protestantism and emerging nations after 1648 but also the pioneers and their administration of the emerging United States of America.

When a Polder, a piece of land below sea level and protected by artificial dams, is about to inundate, Dutch burghers stand together, shoulder to shoulder, irrespective of rank, status or birth, to enforce the dams, dikes, and barriers with sandbags. In a flat society, all fight the rising waters; “Luctor et Emergo,” ---Struggle and Emerge, or all drown.

Diamond features this Dutch equality model, as the only way to deal today with failing nations, societies, and economies. Few have challenged the Dutch coalition model, its efficacy, and great success.

The Dutch Kingdom's autonomous West Indies islands know this Polder Model system intimately. Since Dutch traders settled in the Caribbean in 1632, the island populations were formed by immigrants from all over the world, mostly from Africa, Latin American, China, India, and Europe. Nevertheless, the island inhabitants today, facing mighty uphill battles in their economy, security and identity, reject the Polder Model and live in distinctive racial, ethnic and cultural divisions.

In the light of the upcoming elections of Curacao in September, at least nineteen political parties registered for the twenty-one-member Parliament. Officially, political parties are based on a particular party doctrine and philosophy, but little is formulated in official documents and even less in the minds of the electorate. Islanders vote based on clan-allegiance, race and friends-and-family relations, and on whoever gives them the most money.

A most painful process of forming a coalition has to be faced after the election. Recent history demonstrated that coalition governments could count on little, or no mutual respect in parliament or government. Over the last five years, a failed coup d’etat, an assassination of a popular party leader, and splintering of party factions dominated politics. Pressing issues, like the economy, security, education and infrastructure were handled with very little, or no success. The main reason was the lack of cooperation and a shoulder-to-shoulder effort by burghers to face the issues. Islanders rather attacked and crippled each other, than face the pressing challenges of today with the Polder Model.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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