1. On having a communist
2. On the advantages of a communist education
This file is not about the crisis, because there wasn't anything to be
found about it today, which may be because it is a sunday today. This I
do not know, but I do know there was nothing, or at least: nothing of
So today I will not write about the crisis, but about having had "a
communist education", as the phrase is, which is certainly different
from what almost anyone who did not have it would guess, and
which also is a bit difficult for me to be clear about, and is so
mostly because this is the only education I got, and I simply
do not know how it is to be educated "normally".
Also, precisely because of this difficulty, it is not easy to say for
me how much this influenced me. In the end, I think quite a lot, but
probably mostly indirectly, quite possibly especially through my never
having had any idea that the society I live in is decent, fair,
or equal in any relevant sense, which indeed it isn't and never has
been, at least not for the vast majority of the poor and the middle
1. On having a communist education
One of the
main problems with one's education is that one doesn't have any
comparison. There are some exceptions to this, but most persons,
certainly of my age, are children of single pairs of parents, and they
don't know any other persons who played that role to them. 
This is the case for me, and what makes it difficult for me to get some
clarity about my own education is that I got a communist
education. Or rather, a bit more precisely: both of my parents were
communists and both were also card carrying members of the Dutch
Communist Party; both had been in the Resistance in the second World
War ; and finally they also were the only two
persons who functioned as parents that I ever had, from which it -
supposedly - follows that I must have had "a communist education",
especially because my parents also were fairly prominent
communists in Amsterdam.
I do not say "No" to this supposition, but it is a bit difficult
to say what this communist education was, and while I agree
that my education was somehow different from the one that most children
of my age did get, I certainly wasn't brainwashed or lectured.
In fact, my parents told me and my two brothers 
that we had to make up our own minds, and that we could do so
when we had grown up. They did in no way stress that I should be a
communist, and in fact seemed to have thought that this was mostly for
grown ups and not for children, or at least very much less so.
But let me try to be a bit clear about this, also because most people
are not at all clear about their own education as children. I
have for the moment two fairly brief lists, that outline some of the
most important differences.
did NOT do that many others did
This is probably the most important list, also because in the 1950ies -
and I was born in 1950 - the Netherlands was far more
conformistic than it has grown since.
- go to church
I put this first, because this differed from the vast majority, but not
because this was important for me. I recall that my mother explained to
me when I was around 5 and saw children who went to
church, with specially baked breads, and in a large procession, that
"we do not go to church, because we do not believe there is a god",
which did explain something to me that I did not know, viz. that all these children were religious and
were engaging in something religious, but I never thought about god, since he clearly
was an extra hypothesis that I saw no need to assume at all.
believe in god
This is related to the previous point, but is not the same, for quite a
few persons who go church either do not believe in a god, or have different ideas about him
than their religious leaders, and this certainly was the case in
Holland in the fifties and sixties. But my parents were complete atheists, and
indeed my mother came from one of the oldest Dutch atheist families,
back to the grandmother of her grandmother (who was kicked out of her
farm with her five children by the Catholic church after her husband
had an accident, died, and was held, no doubt falsely, to have made
over his farm to the Church just before dying).
the ordinary prejudices
This is a lot vaguer, but it certainly is important: Both of my parents
were revolutionaries, who wanted a better society, on a socialist and
communist model, and they never praised the society they lived in,
except comparatively, in the sense of saying that the Dutch situation
was not as bad as it was elsewhere.
They also did not complain much, but it was very clear that they
disagreed with very much that was "typically Dutch". This also
means I got no education of any kind that I should be normal, or think
normally, or act as a normal person, as I think most children do get:
In Holland the most often expressed moral norm is "Act normal!".
part in festivities on "the Queen's Day"
I am pretty certain this was not very important to my parents,
but it was a clear difference for me as a child: my parents did not
take part in the festivities that are common on "the Queen's Day",
which is April 30 in Holland, when also everyone has a day off, and
children get some special presents. In fact, they thought real workers
have fesitivities on Labour Day, which is May 1, and my father also
proudly displayed the red flag on May 1, till the early sixties, as one
of the very few who did so.
- enforce our ideas on others
This may come as a
surprise, and my parents were quite clear about what they thought in
the privacy of their own house, but they did not try to enforce
their political ideals on others, and indeed also not on their own
children, except indirectly. I think this was mostly related to their
having been in the Resistance, and also due to the relative
impopularity of communism, at least from the early fifties onwards.
Next, here is a list of the things that were different:
What we DID do that differed from most others
The following list also is more specific to the education I did get:
My parents were both very intelligent, and both had IQs over 130. Had
they grown up as I did, in relative wealth and without war, they very
probably would have studied in the university, as I did, but they grew
up a lot more poorly, and also had to live through five years of war in
their twenties. They also did not have much of an education, although
they did have more books than most people of their class, and had more
and wider interests.
of talk, mostly about politics
My parents were talkers, and talked a lot, and about many things, but
most about things relating to politics and to the economy, and I am a
talker as well. Again, this talking was not explicitly doctrinal,
though especially my father was a faithful communist: we could disagree
about many things, and as long as my father did not get angry  this was all easily tolerated.
My parents were great activists, and tried to further many causes, that
indeed were nearly all communist causes (though this covered many
things, and was not at all obvious in many cases). They did far more
for other people than any other family I know of, and also spent great
amounts of time, all unpaid, on doing things for other people. Also,
from the early sixties onwards my father stopped working as much as he
had before for the Communist Party and the Communist Trade Union, and
instead started doing a lot for the Sachsenhausen Committee, and
specifically designing, making and traveling with an exhibition about
nazism and fascism, and the occupation of the Netherlands by the
Germans, and about concentration camps, and also about the present. In
the end he also got knighted for this, which was very rare,
because communists were commonly and automatically supposed to be
"betrayers of The Nation", and as such would not get knighted. Also, my
mother for many years gave free legal advice to persons with little
money about the rents.
- always explicitly dissident
I think it is quite correct to say of my parents that they were
explicit dissidents, simply because they really disagreed, on
rather rational grounds also, with very much that was accepted,
and indeed often embraced, in the capitalist Nether- lands by the great
majority. Then again, it is also true that they were considerably more
dissident in the privacy of their own house than in ordinary society,
as indeed also makes a lot of sense.
- my parents had no explicit dogmas
come as a surprise, but is mostly true: My mother was a very
rational person always, and my father was so most of the time, when he
was not angry , and both were rarely insistent
to others on the convictions they themselves did have. Also, this is
not saying they had no dogmas: it is saying that they usually avoided
these, and indeed also, as I said above, they were more intelligent
than the vast majority of those who surrounded them, though also not
very well educated.
- considerable freedom
Finally, I was mostly left free to do and think as I pleased,
especially since I was 15, when I got a room of my own in the attic.
This probably had three main reasons: First, this conformed to my
parents ideals. Second, as my father put it to me: "you are more than
intelligent enough". And third, there were my father's problems due to
his having survived over three years and nine months of German
concentration camps, that made it difficult for him to function
normally in the Sixties, and also led to him being given "a Resistance
Pension" in 1966 (although that was quite miserly, as I briefly
explained in ).
2. On the advantages of a communist education
believe that an education like I received has mostly advantages, and
especially for a man like myself: someone born to think. The main
reasons are that my parents were intelligent, fair, mostly rational,
and quite decent - and indeed when I was between 17 and 22, almost
every male I met who was around my age told me, almost always without
my asking, that "my dad is a weak
scrotum" (I translate from the Dutch, in which "scrotum" is also called
"sacḱ": the Dutch is "mijn vader is een slappe zak"), probably also
with considerable justification, given the great amount of Nazi
collaborators in Holland - but I could not say and never thought this
about my own father.
In fact, I think that my parents' being intelligent, fair, mostly rational, and quite decent is
what made them communists in the first place, which in my father's case
happened in the thirties, and in my mother's case in the forties, also
both in reaction to the rise of nazism.
Again, I think that my being intelligent, fair, mostly rational, and quite decent is
mostly due to their genes and education, and also that I was both quite
ordinary  and quite justified when I
ceased being a communist when I was 20, in 1970, simply because I had
learned to see through Marx,
mostly thanks to Evert Beth
Russell, and also had come to vastly dislike and distrust the
leaders of the
Finally, the reason why I did very much less than I might have done
otherwise does not have anything to do with my parents or indeed
myself, but has everything to do with the fact that I fell ill when 28,
and never got better, and indeed got a lot worse thanks to the former
Amsterdam mayor Eduard van Thijn's decision to serve the interests of
the Dutch drugsmafia much rather than do his duties as a mayor.
But that is another story.
P.S. Mar 15, 2014: Corrected a few typos.
 This is nowadays a bit different in that there are
at present many more divorces, which means, effectively, that quite a
few children have experiences of having had several men who played at
being their (step-)fathers. My parents, and indeed most people of their
generation, did not divorce, and indeed had a faiirly good marriage
that lasted over 30 years.
 This was rather important in several
ways: Both my father and his father were convicted as "political
terrorists" in 1941, by Dutch collaborating judges, and were sent to a
concentration camp, that my grandfather did not survive. That both my
father and his father were convicted "political terrorists" was quite rare,
as indeed was being a member of the Resistance, in Holland, where most
people collaborated with the Nazis, albeit for many different reasons,
from having no real choice to being fanatically pro-Nazi. (This is also
something most Dutchmen without my background still lie about. As the
former prime minister De Jong, who had faught in the war as the captain
of a submarine, as
part of the U.S. fleet, once related, he found that when he arrived in
Holland briefly after the end of the war, everyone was A Hero Of The
Resistance, and no one knew anything about the disappearance of more
than 1% of the Dutch population, who were all murdered for being of the
 I have two younger brothers, but the
oldest of these drowned in 1959, age 6.
 My father did get difficulties related
to his having spend more than 3 years and 9 months in German
concentration camps during his late forties and fifties, and then could
easily become angry, often not reasonably so. He did get a resistance
pension, as these were called, but being a communist he got the least
advantageous possibility, that provided him with little more than the
dole, also quite unlike most other former concentration camp prisoners.
 It was extra-ordinary because no
one else with my background did it: Everyone I know who had roughly my
age and my background remained a communist until the eighties
or indeed early nineties, when those with academic degrees that I did
know published an awful booklet - "Alles moest anders" in Dutch - in
which they for the most part tried to defend their completely
indefensible careerist choices.
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: