Previous Next

How the Dutch do things, part III: bleahmigration

Emigration is when people pack their bags and seek their fortune in another country. Bleahmigration is when people want to get the hell out of the stinkhole their country has become. The bleahmigrant is the lifter standing bij the roadside with a sign that reads "Anywhere".

Bleahmigrants are typically still found in their country of origin. This has as many reasons as there are types of bleahmigrant. The most despicable type are just indulging in the favourite Dutch pastime: complaining. They have no real intention of departing, which is sad for me but fortunate for those countries they claim they'll grace with their presence. They're miffed that their country has Gone Downhill and is no longer what it was in the Good Old Days, that it's been overrun by filthy foreigners who have corrupted its virtues, and that the new generation doesn't know Respect. So, like huffy customers, they threaten to take their patronage elsewhere. My reaction: "So long, goodbye, good riddance, don't come back!" accompanied by hearty, happy waving.

Slightly less despicable are the curious ones - not so "bleah"migrant - who are simply eager to experience life outside a country that is small in every aspect. So far, fine. But they glorify their dream countries in a way that is beyond naive. Canada (a big country, that) is a great place where people are much more laid-back and open-minded than in the pathologically judgmental Netherlands, and where you're free to pursue your own lifestyle. Oh? I only know Edmonton, Alberta, where people are indeed more open in the vacuous US American "everyone's my buddy" style, where "careless" is the default mode of work and where being on time for an appointment is for anal-retentive minute nazis. Very friendly, tolerant people though. Children at Edmonton schools face strong peer pressure and have to date and get laid from their early teens. Canada is great if you don't have to grow up there. From comments by the only Alaskan I've ever known, it seems the same goes for Alaska. The USA might be worth visiting today if the original natives had killed the Pilgrim Fathers and anyone who followed in their footsteps. The joke is that all around North America, it's the Dutch who are seen as tolerant and broad-minded. Are they? Not where I live.

These two types of bleahmigrant, as vague in their complaints about the Source Country as they are unrealistic in their assessment of the Target Country, are especially alarming when their patriotism surfaces. They like to keep one foot in cloggieland because, as I read in a "where would you go" thread on some forum, "It's still your own country", meaning that if they left for the Great Beyond, the first thing they would do on reaching their destination is hoist the Dutch flag. Talk about neocolonialism! No doubt they would, once their dream of bleahmigration was realized, set about lecturing the long-suffering natives on the greatness of the Netherlands, "and where I come from the trains run on time, which is more than I can say about this dump", and hopefully the natives would stick them in a cooking pot and eat them. Ironically, an often cited reason for wanting to leave the Netherlands is all the "foreigners" (coloured people) here, and the crime and violence solely attributed to these "foreigners". I laughed when reading a newspaper article about criminal Dutch/Antillian youths, one of whom just wanted to hustle together enough money to escape the Dutch ghetto and move to Curaçao. Just as I laugh at cloggies complaining of foreigners invading their country when they consider themselves entitled to invade someone else's.

The next type of bleahmigrant to stay put, a type that includes me, would like to leave, but simply can't. Why would one say "bleah" at one's circumstances? Because those circumstances are maybe not very good? Because they might involve a lack of m-o-n-e-y? The $$$ that one needs to finance a new house, transport one's possessions and survive the long dry spell while looking for a job? The retirement funds that one builds up here and that may be lost when one changes nationality, a loss that the new country may not be keen to compensate? Money draws North African immigrants here; money keeps me here. Right now, I'm employed; I have the money to pay my bills and afford some luxury, like the odd purchase of CDs. Nothing's left to save, though, and like most "rich" Westerners I have several debts, including a mortgage. And I'm lucky; though underpaid for a skilled worker (like most skilled workers at the bottom of the career spectrum, may I add) I might be working for the Dutch version of $5 an hour. A situation that is worth a "bleah". And if I don't like it, I can take the plunge and end up as some cloggies did: a homeless bum in the south of France. Thanks, but no thanks. Making plans to scramble out of the frying pan doesn't mean willingness to jump in the fire.

Conscientious bleahmigrants - people who want their tax money to go to a more deserving country than theirs - are also likely to stay put forever. As Cheb Khaled put it: "Fuir, mais où?" Kicked out of an increasingly fundamentalist Algeria, he settled in France. Would I want to live in France? These days I name countries by their scandals. France is Mururoa. Belgium is Dutroux. Britain is B'liar, and the real Axis of Evil runs diagonally from Washington to Florida. Despite its shoddy treatment of voters and its black history, Germany is actually becoming a better option, pioneering in environmental measures and open-source software. But one bleahmigrant's account of life in Germany, which was supposed to be positive - in the rural community where he settled, rules were not as strict as in the Netherlands but participation in the annual picknick was mandatory - reminded me how close krauts are to cloggies, and not just in distance.

Valid reasons to leave while one can, are: the country's precarious safety (global warming makes matters worse, but this country's history is one long fight against being reclaimed by the sea) and its by now harrowing overpopulation (for a "wealthy" country - I'm aware that Calcutta is worse) which accounts for the rising aggression at all levels in society, as cloggies desperately try to increase their volume of private space at the expense of someone else's. But I laugh when these same cloggies laud the superior social climate in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, wherever. The country names are interchangeable, it's always the same song: the people are So Much Nicer Over There. What bleahmigrants don't realize is that as exotics, they occupy a special position; wrapped in a transparent but thick cocoon of Otherness that prevents them from being ensnared in the local social mesh, they think their private space is finally being respected. As this cocoon erodes over time, so does their new freedom, but illusions die hard. Still, the number of heads per hectare makes a difference. Homo sapiens is a rotten species all around the globe, but larger distances between its members make life more bearable.

A personal reason to leave is a burning hatred of cloggies, further fanned by some brochures at the "Emigratiebeurs", emigration exchange, that I recently went to in a listless attempt to seek inspiration. My emigration plans (and while I'm wishing, I'd like a pony) would be to find a little hut in the middle of a nature reserve in either Wales or Bretagne, because these areas are oppressed by their governments, so the natives are likely to nourish a sane, healthy hatred for the authorities. Neither were advertised at the exchange, and why should they be? This exchange was to put prospective emigrants (not bleahmigrants) in touch with countries and municipalities insane enough to invite in the cloglanders. That in itself is quite interesting. What masochist fools would want cloggies as their new neighbours? Obviously, quid pro quo: not cloggies per se were wanted, but skilled medical and construction workers, agrarians, entrepreneurs, prospectively wealthy taxpayers who would act as money magnets generally. Incredibly (to a cloggie), some countries are economically underpopulated. That's to say, the air is clean, the wildlife is happy, but the humans would be better off if there were more humans. Because the humans that were there, have migrated to crowded cities. So foreigners who grew up in crowded conditions are beckoned: "Look, we still have plenty of room!" For how much longer?

The immigrant-soliciting countries play heavily on the Dutch notion that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. As a deeply cynical bleahmigrant, I know the grass is thoroughly mucky on either side. So I steered away from the stands for Canada, the USA and Australia/Tasmania. At the first, I would have said: "Why go to Canada now, when in a few years it will be part of the United States?" (Not kidding here. A North American Union is in the make, and will only be prevented by the hand of God reaching down to flatten the Pentagon. I'm praying.) At the USA stands I would say: "What makes you think anyone wants to help support your arms industry, or do you think the Dutch won't mind because their prime minister is a war criminal too?" At the Aussie stand, I would say: "Oh, so the logging industry is clearing ancient forest to make room for Dutch immigrants? How about inviting the Pacific peoples whose islands are now disappearing in the sea, and who Howard wants gunned down if they set foot on Australian soil? Do your brochures mention that your prime minister equates civil disobedience with terrorism and wants protesters gunned down too?" And of course both USA and Canada stands would be asked to explain how immigrants would be safe from kidnapping and torture by the CIA. Now these stands just want to brain-drain the Netherlands in return for room to swing a cat, and would have directed me to the stand that shows the EU's history in pictures, alongside historical events (the rape of Vietnam, the despoliation of the Balkans) and fashions in time (summed up: variation in length of women's skirts) to fully make it clear to me that we're not going downhill, we always have been this low.

Only lack of knowledge makes me milder towards Tasmania, which I'd still avoid as too many whites before me have damaged its flora and fauna by their own imports, and I do like to take plants along. Other immigrant magnets were interesting, too: South Africa (a big NO even after the official abolition of apartheid), Uruguay (boasting water reserves in the inevitable drought that the oil cartel has prepared for the world), Spain and tropical America (for real estate investors and the old folks), central France (mainly about tourism, for old folks and tourism workers) and of course the blessedly underpopulated, don't-know-when-they're-lucky countries of Scandinavia. Wanting to kill time between the morning "international movers" presentation that I'd half missed in the morning and the "how to start a business in the Auvergne" presentation at around three, I took a seat in room 3, the Scandinavia room.

Expect no useful information from stands/groups like "Nybro, where you can hear the silence" and "Gold of Lapland". Everything is great, everything is possible, the people are So Much Nicer Over There, it's a great place for your kids to grow up in touch with Nature blah blah blah. I sat through two presentations in appalling English before just leaving, and f*** the Auvergne. What are the common elements of Scandinavia-peddling:

One-horse town seeks more horses.
We've got lots of lovely nature - come help us destroy it by developing our industry.
The tourist season is too short, we need year-round tourists.
Everything educational is free (that's why taxes are so high).
Your child will get all the attention it needs at school (what with three teachers to a child).
Homes are sooooo much cheaper here.
Our climate (whatever it is) is lovely once you get used to it.
We have super connections to every country you never really wanted to go to.
We have all the shops you need (which is why we're so desperate for people to set up shop here).
The friendly natives are always ready to help you - and you always have to be ready to help them, so kiss your personal boundaries goodbye.
The friendly natives really are friendly, even if not in the typical intrusive Dutch way, but don't worry, they're intrusive in their own way.
We always say the sky's the limit because quite frankly, we have no jobs to offer. Create your own.

If I had money to burn, I'd settle down in Scandinavia. And I sure as hell wouldn't mingle with the natives. Incidentally, much the same crap is peddled about Groningen: the calm life, the nature, the space... I live there. In a poky house in a poky village where someone's always watching what you do. In the Netherlands, every blade of grass is marked "owned by..." and any illusion of space is just that: an illusion. There's no employment, which is why people move away, although I'm still waiting for my neighbours to move away so I won't have to - it's always been a dream of mine to live in a ghost town.

But, as said, I'm a bleahmigrant. And as a child of bleahmigrant parents (oh, how I hope they'll be killed in an ethnic purge) who blew it to the extent that dad fled back to his home country leaving the family stranded, I'm not about to repeat someone else's mistakes. Warning to enthusiastic cloggies: on emigrating to your new homeland, you will not in fact move to the rolling green hills and lush forests of the brochures. You will end up in one of those nasty little detached, semi-detached or terraced houses designated for newbies, and likely stay there all your life. You will have low pay, if any, and no social security. You will either be dragged into an exhaustingly time-consuming social life (but you cloggies love that) or treated like a bad smell. The net improvement of your situation will be... a bigger back yard. Emigrants with an actual, viable business plan may fare better, but not by much. To repeat what I said earlier: this exchange was organized for emigrants, not bleahmigrants. This was made clear by the exchange's own flier: not all emigrants are people who are sickened by a country that won't let political agitators live, many emigrants want to realize their dream of starting a successful business abroad. Personally, I am sickened by a country that bewails the assassinations of political agitators, but not the murder of political activists (the latest I knew of was in 2005) or victims of racism, or completely innocent children. I am nauseated to the point of vomiting by cloggies who feel the country hasn't treated them right, and shamelessly export their Dutchness to pristine shores. (Especially uneducated proles are good at stamping out of the country, suddenly needing medical aid, discovering they can't get any where they've gone, slinking back, finding they no longer qualify for aid here either, and ranting about it in misspelled Dutch on expat forums.) I'm incensed by fortune-seekers who will happily emigrate to future police states and places where immigration has already done more harm than good. Likewise, I'm angered at immigrant-seekers who pretend to offer paradise on a platter. Oh well, if it's bleahmigrants they attract, either party gets what it deserves.

Still, it wasn't a total waste of time; I came away with a pile of brochures on places that would make fun holiday destinations. If I could afford to go there.

And while grumpy bleahmigrants like me stay put and wait to win a lottery, the newspaper article that drew my attention to this event in the first place, tells me that the cloggie emigration rate is 300 a day. Despite the influx of political refugees, for the first time in a long while, more people are leaving than entering.

300 a day. I'm not sure that figure is correct, but even 300 a year would be significant. After all, isn't this the best country with the most superior educational system and social security in the world? Doesn't barbarism and starvation set in not two yards beyond the border? Wouldn't it be safer just to stay here?

Regardless of their motivation, a lot of cloggies seem to prefer leaving. I wonder how many of them look back and go "bleah!" on their way out.

Previous Top Next