The history of the Netherlands is demonstrative of a unique situation both socially and politically as the level of Dutch tolerance has been duly noted on countless issues. The historical underpinnings of this are clearly defined in the brief document History in an Nutshell clearly details the liberal nature of the formation of the nation and its political system as well as the many times that this liberal/tolerant policy stance has been challenged, from abroad and now from within. Another interesting aspect of the history of the Netherlands is that up to the end of French occupation the region was actually a Republic and the only after the end of the French occupation did the nation become a monarchy. Yet despite its liberal and tolerant demeanor and even in the wake of many European revolutions that resulted in the end of monarchies the Dutch have remained loyal to their crown with limited additions of parliamentary process and the ability of mass political involvement despite the fact that the highest levels of office are appointed rather than elected. (Besamusca 1-11) Dutch involvement in colonial endeavors, which coincided with the early formation of the nation as well as the development of the industrial revolution demanded the tolerance of cultural differences, as the Dutch polity had a marked interest in improving the lot of colonized people and especially the Dutch East Indies. This historical desire to see improvement in treatment of colonized individuals and especially workers demonstrated the seeds of socialism as well as immigration tolerance. The work clearly displays these issues through a brief but well developed timeline of Dutch history, both political and social from its early development, government building to its development of a representational parliamentary system where heads of state are appointed rather than elected and the parliament is the product of very active voters. The nation also boasts an active multiparty system, where individual parties with varied interests can rise to some access of power even in a single year if they are persuasive enough to do so. One particular highlight which should be mentioned here for its significant contribution to Dutch policy is the Provo party movement with began in 1965 as a popular student's movement and became a foundational part of the generosity and size of the Dutch government. Interestingly enough there is significant evidence that the more income disparity one sees in a given representative area the greater the polarization of conservatives and liberals (Garand)and yet the Dutch political and social situation seems to be in contradiction to that as the culture demonstrates frequent and sometimes extreme polarization at the same time that the nation and its people have relatively limited income disparity in large part due to massive regulation and extremely generous programs and benefits. The development of programs and benefits that tend to be representative of a Social-democratic welfare state is also significant in that it demonstrates broad acceptance of regulations that control income disparity and also results in extremely high taxes for the majority. Someone clearly has to pay for the generous programs associated with the government, this is more specifically detailed in the work The Dilemma of the Welfare State by van Voss, who then also compares the Dutch welfare system to that of the United States which she describes as a liberal welfare state which concentrates its aide to only those most in need and restricts its access severely which allows for both income disparity to be supported as well as lower taxes for the majority. (1-11)
WWII devastated the nation economically and physically despite its concerted effort to remain neutral in all major conflicts the invasion of the Dutch East Indies, the nation's most profitable and beloved colonial interest by Japan demonstrated the point where the Netherlands declared war on Japan and began an offensive, where as previously their involvement had been only defensive. German occupation of the Netherlands had begun at least a year prior to the declaration of war on Japan. Colonial independence, which occurred rather rapidly after WWII, also proved to be a pinnacle for the nation as many of the former colonial populations immigrated to the Netherlands. Recent unrest has been associated with the foundational conflict between those who believe the Netherlands to be entirely too tolerant of crime and immigration. The challenge will then be to demonstrate a continuation of the general tolerance and leading by consensus that has been associated with Dutch political procedure and is really a part of the Dutch psyche overall. This level of tolerance for immigration and crime has also been foundationally shaken in the last few years as at least two very public and very destructive assassinations have taken place. First, the assassination of a school director Hans van Wieren by an ethnic minority student and second the assassination of Theo van Gogh, a filmmaker who was instrumental in the making of a film about female submission under Islam written by the controversial yet charismatic Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali is a member of parliament and a historical asylum seeker from North Africa who fled to the Netherlands from Germany while awaiting entrance into Canada to become a bride to a man she did not know. (Ali) The challenge will remain, despite very recent public outcry regarding a mass deportation of asylum seekers. The nation is clearly split and likely poised for change.
An interesting bit of research associated with the historical tolerance regarding crime and social choice, offers a view of the ensuing conflict associated with historical tolerance and new calls for tougher policies to challenge especially youth and specifically minority youth from involvement in crime. The work details the level of historical tolerance associated with drugs, euthanasia and prostitution. According to Buruma:
Tolerance as a way to for negative reaction to things are not morally approved as a core characteristic of Dutch Society. Dutch criminal justice policy, tolerance not only are first generally told me and see regarding petty crime that also means that government in some circumstances does not prosecute specified infractions of statutory law. This tradition made possible distinctive Dutch ways of handling problems such as drugs, prostitution and euthanasia. (73)
All three of the use issues of moral turpitude are legal in the Netherlands under conditions of strict control and additionally Dutch police and judges are known for their historical ability to take mitigating circumstances into consideration and allow a wide berth to those who may be breaking laws but are not proven to be hurting anyone doing so. According to Buruma this allows officials to differentiate between crimes that may cause harm to others and those that are less dangerous and has also led to a remarkably more effective justice system than many western countries. Yet Buruma also stresses that, "Rising criticism of legal tolerance can't sides with a decline of cultural tolerance in general. Some blame official tolerance for recent ethnic difficulties involving the rapidly growing Muslim minority." (73) Another worked that discusses and supports the ideation of flexibility and tolerance for statutory crime is the work The Law in Action which stresses the exemplary nature of Dutch decision-making with regard to criminal activity, in a sense the work claims that Dutch culture has a unique characteristic of tolerating a certain amount of criminal activity as long as it is shown not to hurt others. Bruinsma claims in his work that this sort of discretionary allowance for both bottom up and top down decision making with regard to criminal and unacceptable moral behavior is a demonstrative aspects of social justice in the Netherlands and that up to this point it has worked a relatively well. (1-8)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is an interesting character that demonstrates Dutch tolerance as it becomes pervasive among those from different societies who have immigrated there. Ali's book Infidel offers an interesting glimpse into the development of an individual Muslim woman when she is exposed for the first time to the relative freedoms of European Society. (Ali) It also offers a very interesting look at asylum seeking in the Netherlands and how this has historically been an active part of the political and social strata of the nation. The work and Ali's very existence and history in the Netherlands provides an interesting backdrop for the ensuing political and social debate associated with Dutch tolerance.
Lastly as an analysis of the region one cannot walk away without discussing the fact that the nation is highly urbanized, with its definite center in Randstad Holland a region that encompasses only about 20% of the nation's land surface but is home to 40% of the population and is a location for 50% of all the jobs of the nation. The region is described as that of an urbanizing ring that encompasses the nations largest cities Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrect. (de Pater & van der Vaart 1-13) This relative concentration of population and resources clearly affects the nation as much as the fact that much of its…