"Filip/Philippe will be King of a country that is divided between a part of the population that is deeply attached to the Belgian unity, and part of the population (mainly Flemish nationalists) who prefer regional independence. The Belgian king has always played a crucial role in keeping the different parts of the country together, and the question is whether King Filip/Philippe, who is said to have less emotional and social intelligence as his father, will be able to fulfill this role in the same way as his father did. Journalists keep asking, up until today: “Is he ready for this role?”The connection here is that Mojo and I dropped in on the Bazi Bierbrasserie on Hawthorne last weekend to enjoy a lovely evening out and celebrate Belgian independence day;
The Belgian brews were appropriately robust and floral, and the stoemp was damn fine; I've got to try making that around here, tho finding the mergeuez sausage here in Portland might be a bit tricky. We enjoyed a truly peaceful and intimate evening ending up at the Heron Haus B&B where we spent our honeymoon night eleven years ago this October.
One of the subjects of conversation that evening was "what is a Belgian", and the whole business of Flemings vs. Walloons came up. Several of the patrons and staff at Bazi had their own opinions, but the general consensus seemed to be that there would always be a Belgium.
But it got me thinking about what makes a "nation", how its citizens (or in Belgium's case, "subjects", although the idea of a tyrannical House of Brabant oppressing its subjects in 2013 seems rather ridiculous no matter how loathsome the colonial record of the second Leopold might have been.) And what a curious beast an "American" is, being defined (at least in theory) not by language, or race, or heritage, or "culture", or really even geographical location but intellectual and emotional attachment to a slew of political ideals about self-government and the relationship between government, its citizens, and society.
And I'm not quite sure what I think about that, especially given the great changes in the U.S. between the society I grew up in - which was founded largely on a social compact defined by the New Deal - and the U.S. of today (and in case you think I'm romanticizing the New Deal a large part of that compact specified excluding the darker-colored citizens of the U.S. and the changes wrought by the Civil Rights Era had a hell of a lot to do with the subsequent changes and the breakdown of that social compact...).
I can't honestly say that I see Belgium's political and civil issues as vastly greater than those I see around me right here. But I do know that I might be a teensy bit concerned if my country depended on the political and social skills of one guy said (in the comments section of the article I found) to possess "the intellectual and political skills...of a cabbage".
The stoemp was damn fine, though.