The country plainly needs to change. So hear me out on a gloriously revolutionary suggestionby Joris Luyendijk / January 19, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
When I moved to London from Amsterdam five years ago I struggled to find my feet in English culture, wondering time and again why people here are so bitter and cynical, and so prone to escapism. The widespread binge drinking and gambling addiction came as a real shock to this European, as did the English tabloids. Take a look at any of them and you basically find every negative human emotion catered for: paranoia, selfishness, outrage, voyeurism, victimhood, sadistic Schadenfreude, envy and, most of all, pure, naked hatred.
Why is it that millions of English people feel a daily need to buy a newspaper of this kind, even on Sundays? I don’t know a single continental European country with similar media—Bild Zeitung in Germany is saccharine stuff of the boy scout variety compared to the Daily Mail or the Express. It is not that the English (I leave aside the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish) are evil or awful. But from a Dutch perspective at least, many of them definitely seem resentful, bleak and depressed. How to help?
I have given this matter some thought and now that I am about to leave this country to return to the European Union, I will let you in on my solution. You need to be occupied. Yes, I know that sounds counterintuitive when your whole civil religion is built around your pride at defeating the Nazis. But that is not the kind of occupation I mean.
Nobody needs concentration camps, a horrible secret police or forced labour. But you do need the one thing that occupations have brought the rest of Europe and of which you are in sore need: a fresh start. Look at the map: over the past century every mainland Euro…