Household Governance and Time Allocation – Four Studies on the Combination of Work and Care

One isn’t enough, but both is too much; these words by a female blue-collar worker express the current dilemma of many employees in combining work and care.  In all modern societies couples face an increasing need to arrange the combination of work and care in a new way.
The traditional household model with a male breadwinner who is responsible for paid work, career and income, and his wife, who takes care of all household obligations, is losing its relevance, and fits the values and preferences of the majority of couples less and less well. Over the past decades women have increasingly entered the labour market and the number of two-earner couples has been growing. Gender differences in educational achievements and earning capacities have decreased. The values and preferences of couples put great weight on an egalitarian relationship and equal engagement of both partners in work and care.
Besides the traditional male breadwinner model, a wide variety of different earning models and household constellations has emerged. In some countries, like the Netherlands or Germany, the majority of couples are two-earner couples.

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Muslim Calvinism – Internal Security and The Lisbon Process In Europe

The European Social Survey Data, and Internal Security in Europe

Muslim Calvinism systematically evaluates the freely available data, contained in international open sources, such as the European Social Survey, on the problems of internal security, and social policy in Europe. The book is the attempt to try to present an interpretation pattern for the complex reality of poverty; social exclusion, religious and societal values, and day to day contact of different population groups in Europe with the law.
The optimistic results of this study are in line with recent very sophisticated and advanced quantitative research results, especially by authors from the neo-liberal school of thinking, who maintain that instead of engaging in a culturalist discourse about the general “disadvantages” of Islam, Europe rather should talk about economic-growth-enhancing migration, property rights, discrimination against minorities on the labor markets, and that by and large, Islam is well compatible with democracy and economic growth (see also Noland M. (2004), Noland M. (2005), Noland M. and Pack H. (2004), Pettersson Th. (2006), Pryor F. (2006), Soysa I. De and Nordas R. (2006), and Tausch A. (2003)). If there is anything as “integration deficits” of the Muslim communities in Europe vis-à-vis the law, defined in this study along indicators of document fraud as well as indicators of lack of trust in the police and in European institutions, these deficits are caused rather by market imperfections and market failures in the European political economy, largely characterized by state intervention, and not by any intrinsic destabilizing or simply “evil” “character traits” of Muslims.
In many ways, the polarizing events in France are a kind of laboratory and testing ground for our theories – high state sector involvement, a mediocre Lisbon performance, and a high, and increasing poverty among the country’s Muslims, which all contribute to rising social tensions, violence and protest in the „banlieus”.
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Zou ik misschien toch nog eventjes een klein vraagje mogen stellen?

Vorig jaar zijn mijn vriend Arthur en ik voor het eerst op vakantie naar Spanje geweest. Ons budget was bescheiden en daarom kozen we voor onderdak in eenvoudige hotelletjes. We begonnen in Madrid, waar we een paar dagen verbleven in een pension in het centrum. Het kamermeisje, zo ontdekten we, had een dubbelrol: ze was ook aangesteld om het ontbijt te serveren. Dat ging haar niet echt handig af. De verschillende ingrediënten werden met onregelmatige tussenpozen zonder commentaar voor ons neergezet.
Desondanks verzuimde Arthur, die zich vóór ons vertrek had verdiept in het boekje ‘Hoe zeg ik het in het Spaans?’, geen enkele keer beleefd Gracias te zeggen. Eerst reageerde de serveerster enigszins verbaasd, maar daarna sprak er duidelijk irritatie uit haar houding. Arthur, die zich eveneens wat ongemakkelijk begon te voelen, bracht toen zwaarder geschut in stelling en bedankte met Muchas gracias! Deze formule had een totaal averechtse uitwerking; nu werd een vernietigende blik zijn deel. Tegenover mij barstte hij los: ‘Heb je ooit zo’n onbeschoft gedrag meegemaakt? Ze kent nog niet eens de meest elementaire normen van fatsoen!
Tussen Arthur en het kamermeisje is het niet meer goed gekomen.

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The Dutch Party for Freedom. An Analysis of Geert Wilders’ Thinking on Islam – Wartime

There’s been a lot of talk about Geert Wilders ever since he started his own party, the Dutch Freedom Party. He is prominently present in Dutch politics and that is how the world got to know him. His party has been very successful and from October 2010 until April 2012 it supported the minority government of Liberal Conservatives and Christian Democrats led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Liberal Conservative) in exchange for a number of demands.

Wilders and his party entered the political arena with very strong opinions on Islam and Muslims, basically expressing the view that Islam is not a religion but an ideology. Muslims may be moderate, Islam never is. Islam, he claims, is a threat to Dutch society, to Europe, to the whole world even. When Geert Wilders and his party decided to support the minority government, they could not but also focus on less eye-catching dossiers of a socio-economic nature. The minority government had been in power for a little over a year when Wilders’ party discovered a new issue that would attract everybody’s attention.

In February 2012, it put up a website where people could vent their complaints about Eastern Europeans ‘who steal our jobs and cause innumerable nuisances by their antisocial drinking and shouting behavior’. Even though the website caused an enormous row, in particular in the European Parliament, the party did not withdraw it. Also in February 2012, the Freedom Party started negotiations with the two government parties on major extra budget cuts deemed necessary due to the financial crises in the world. Much to the annoyance of his fellow-negotiators, Wilders pulled out at the last minute, claiming that now that the necessary calculations had been made by the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) he could not live with the financial consequences the cuts would have for his voters, and the government fell. In the weeks before the elections, on 12 September 2012, the Freedom Party focused virtually entirely on ‘the Evil that is Europe’. Muslims or Eastern Europeans were apparently no longer an issue. The parliamentary elections of 12 September 2012 resulted in a major blow to the Freedom Party, which lost nine of its 24 seats. It was the second blow to hit the party, the first one being the downfall of the Rutte government, which was primarily caused by Party leader Wilders. Both events marked a major loss of political power for the Party. This did however not result in the use of a milder discourse when it comes to the Party’s policies and focus on Islam and Muslims. On the contrary. Read more

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The Speck in Your Brother’s Eye – The Alleged War of Islam Against the West – Truth

SpeckMarked for Death contains 217 pages and the words ‘truth’ or ‘true’ are mentioned in it at least eleven times. As an academic I am suspicious of the word ‘truth’. I teach my students that undoubtedly, there is such a thing as the truth, but each one of us, including those we see as great thinkers, has his own concept of what the truth is. It was Socrates who postulated that what we see around us is not the real world, that what we see is but an image of it and that we can in effect hardly see reality and if so only with a great deal of effort. Philosopher Immanuel Kant argues that basically we cannot know things, we can only guess at what ‘reality’, at what is ‘real’.
Friedrich Hegel does not rule out man fully knowing things, but foresees perfect knowing as a result of a long development the end of which we have not reached as yet. The apostle Paul also claims that as yet we do not know things fully (1 Corinthians 13: 12): ‘For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood’.

Knowing things, knowing reality is not only a subject that occupies the minds of academics, thinkers, philosophers and theologians. It concerns each one of us. If asked to describe an event they have witnessed, different people tend to give different versions of it and may disagree with each other’s interpretations. This is not limited to daily events, but also goes for major events in people’s countries or for things happening in the world. Some may blame the present economic crisis on the irresponsible behavior of banks, while others may claim with equal force that the crisis has been caused by mass immigration. Read more

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The Speck in Your Brother’s Eye – The Alleged War of Islam Against the West – Culture

SpeckThe following quote is unequivocal about where Wilders stands in regard to what can be considered the best possible culture in the world. When discussing Western civilization he states: ‘When you compare the West to any other culture that exists today, it becomes clear that we are the most pluralistic, humane, democratic, and charitable culture on earth’ (p. 31). Specifying his claim he refers to the ‘Judean-Christian civilization’, which he recognizes is ‘no doubt imperfect’ but of which ‘it is unfair to denounce its faults in a historical vacuum’ (p. 31).

Wilders claims Western culture is superior to all other cultures by comparison, but fails to specify which other cultures it is supposed to tower over, apart of course from Islam. Not a word on for instance Asian, i.e. Chinese, Japanese or Korean, cultures. And does Western culture include the Balkans, or Russian culture or Christian African culture? I will come back to these questions later in this chapter.

In his chapter five, The Yoke of Ishmael, Wilders makes some interesting remarks on allegedly superior Western culture. Pages 80-85 deal with the creation of the state of Israel and here he explains why he ‘always feel(s) at home in Israel: it is animated by the same spirit that made Western civilization great – that of the soldier protecting the frontier and the pioneer settling the land’ (p. 84). In the lines preceding this sentence Wilders writes: ‘Their (the Jewish settlers’) spirit is the spirit of the West, the spirit of the pioneers who settled America and spilt “their blood … in acquiring lands for their settlement,” as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1774’ (p. 84). Both quotes refer to violence. They speak of soldiers and of blood that was spilt acquiring lands. This contradicts what Wilders said earlier and which was discussed in the chapter on Truth, namely that the West should be defended with the word and the pen and not with axes and knives, weapons used by Islam. Or do these lines perhaps require a different interpretation? That superior Western civilization established itself using violence, but that once settled the need to use violence disappeared? This suggestion appears to be corroborated by what we read on page 120: ‘Our commitment to truth, human dignity, and a just and honorable defense of the West do not permit us to resort to bloodshed or to give in to despondency.’ Are we supposed to infer from this that the West no longer uses violence? Read more

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