About the misconception that the Dutch don’t have an identity of their own. De Gids, 167, nr. 4/5, Mai-June 2004, pp. 117-118. Special issue: Misunderstanding the Netherlands.

The last people to ask about the Dutch identity are the Dutch. They make themselves smaller than they are and than they actually think they are. No other nation would present itself to its European neighbours with a series of chaffing pieces that trivialize its own history, society and culture.

This self-abasement is a widespread characteristic in Holland. Especially in the company of foreigners the Dutch tend to run their country down. By pretending to be less than they know they are, they prevent being belittled by other people. By distancing themselves from their fellow countrymen, they try to elevate themselves to the high level they place the foreigners on.

I haven’t seen this in any other Western nation. Collective self-exaltation is the most common tendency in the rest of the world, national self-abasement is a specifically Dutch trait. Read more..