As people who know me well or who read me carefully and with intelligence
may know, I like titles which may seem a bit strange. Here is the
explanation of today's title:
Eduard Douwes Dekker
Strictly speaking, the title is nonsense, but it is true the Dutch writer
Multatuli = I have suffered / born / tholed much = Eduard Douwes Dekker
was born today in Amsterdam, 191 years ago. (So he would have turned 190,
had he lived.)
If you are not Dutch, you probably didn't know of him, but he is best
described as Holland's Shakespeare, in prose:
He wrote an amazingly beautiful Dutch, had many
interesting ideas, and was one of the few true geniuses writing in Dutch.
If you do not read Dutch,
there is a translation of "Max Havelaar" by Multatuli in Penguin
while a considerable amount of his work that he published himself has been
translated into German.
Of the "Max Havelaar" - a classic attack on
Dutch colonialism, first published in 1860 - there are many translations in
many languages, including French and Korean.
Also, you'll find the seven volumes of his Ideas on my site, with my
comments. Here are some possible starting points, though I should say
here that you need to know Dutch, and Google will not translate
Multatuli's (or my own) prose in any useful sense:
It seems that the parts on and with Multatuli's Ideas on my site are the
most visited and download, with considerable justification: He was the
greatest Dutch writer; an original mind; a courageous character; a great
satirist; with many interesting ideas about many things - and all of his
1281 ideas (plus considerably more: There often are several ideas with
letters added to the original idea) have been commented by me, also in
I did last year translate a few of his ideas:
but this will not give you an adequate idea of the man, his prose, and
his role in Dutch history, which was of considerable importance in the
19th Century, especially, because he argued for many changes in Holland;
did battle with Dutch colonialism; tried to help emancipate the working
class and women; and was the greatest opponent of religion and
Last year I wrote on the occasion of his 190th birthday in Dutch, and
everything I said then still holds, and I don't feel like doing it again,
either in Dutch or in English:
The second item is added because there are elections today, in
Holland, for the provinces and the senate, and the item includes an
interesting point of view about a democracy of 12 million voters of
average human - moral, intellectual, artistic - capacities, that
is quoted from a translation from
friend Guiccardini, that I reproduce here lest you miss it, since it
should be quite instructive - if you are not morally, intellectually
or artistically blessed or blighted like an ordinary Dutchmen, to be
"Guidantonio Vespucci, a famous
lawyer and a man of remarkable intelligence and skill, spoke as
'If, most worthy citizens, a
government organized in the manner proposed (..) produced the
desired results as easily as they are described, it would certainly
be perverse of anyone to wish for any other form of government for
our country. It would be a wicked civilian who did not passionately
love a form of republic in which the virtues, merits and abilities
of men were organized above all else.
But I do not understand how one can
hope that a system placed entirely in the hands of the people
can be full of such benefits.
For I know that reason teaches,
experience shows and the authority of wise men confirms that in so
great a multitude there is not to be found such prudence, such
experience and such discipline as to lead us to expect that the wise
will be preferred to the ignorant, the good to the bad, and the
experienced to those who have never handled any affairs whatever.
For as one cannot hope for sound
judgement from an unlearned and unexperienced judge, so from a
people full of confusion and ignorance one cannot except - except by
chance - a prudent and reasonable election or decision.
Are we to believe that an inexpert,
untrained multitude made up of such a variety of minds, conditions
and customs, and entirely absorbed in their own personal affairs,
can distinguish and understand what in public government wise men,
thinking of nothing else, find difficult to understand?
Quite apart from the fact that each
person's self-conceit will lead them all to desire honors - and it
will not be enough for men to in the popular government to enjoy the
honest fruits of liberty - they will all aspire to the highest posts
and to take part in the decisions on the most diffciult and
In us less than in any other city
there rules the modesty of giving way to the man who knows best or
who has the most merit.
But if we persuade ourselves that we
must be by right all equal in all things, the proper positions of
virtue and ability will be confused when it rests with the judgments
of the multitude.
And this greed spreading to the
majority will ensure that the most powerful will be those who know
and deserve least; for as they are more numerous, they will have
more power in a state organized in such a way that opinions are
merely numbered and not weighed.'"
And thus it remained to this day....--
For more political rational enlightenment, see my
in Amsterdam and
P.S. Corrections have to be made later, if any.
A little addition on the Wikipedia-link for
Multatuli : I find
it pretty sickening, if also very typically Dutch - dishonest
backstabbing - that my extensive work on the Ideas is not
mentioned in either the English or Dutch Wikipedia pages - where it has
been linked for several years - whereas rather worthless collections by
Dutch so called "literary scientists" are, as indeed are commercial ventures
that having nothing whatsoever to do with Multatuli, except that
his name or the name of his best known book have been pirated, for
monetary or propaganda reasons.
But indeed, ever since the Dutch got
rich with colonial exploitation, piracy and slave trading, the only
two Dutch moral values that are effective in the Dutch masses are
monetary greed cloaked in hypocrisy - which also explains
ME in Amsterdam, and
the billions that are yearly traded in illegal
drugs in Amsterdam and Holland, actively tolerated, protected and
assisted if not ruled and surveyed - nobody knows, for since 40
years all Dutch parliamentarians, Dutch mayors, aldermen, council
members, ministers, policemen, and bureaucrats have looked upon Dutch
drugsdealing as decent citizens view the clothes of the emperor: "drugs
corruption is totally impossible for real Dutchmen" - all for monetary
gain or from cowardice or conformism.
It should and could be
legalized in Holland. It is
not because keeping it illegal is hugely profitable, to very
many in the Dutch city governments and bureaucrats, since tens of
billions of dollars are illegaly turned over in Holland's illegal Dutch
drugs trading each year.