Amsterdam to create "scum villages"

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Doug
Amsterdam to create "scum villages"
lagatta

They never are. The good burghers of Oud Zuid (Old South, a posh but very low-key, Calvinist, old-money district) are very annoyed by their "Russian mobster" neighbours, with their loud laughter, conspicuous heavy drinking, flashy cars and clothes (including furs, which are sillly in rainy Amsterdam, which has a climate similar to Vancouver's). But I highly doubt the nouveau riche arrivistes will ever see a "housing camp". 

6079_Smith_W

The outrageous nature of the plan aside, it's also a very mixed message. What do you expect to happen when much of your tourism industry is directed at high school mentality boys? If they think that place runs off the proceeds of the Van Gogh museum they might be in for a surprise.

 

lagatta

Indeed! 

Well, that is an old contradiction in mercantile, Calvinist Dutch society. Walking around Amsterdam (in non-touristy neighbourhoods) I'd see people washing their front doors and stoops (a Dutch word, popular in NYC) on a Saturday and generally being neat, tidy Dutch, but a lot of their tourist industry is based on the overgrown teenaged boy mentality - thinking Amsterdam is a theme park to "smoke dope, look at prostitutes and drink ourselves shitfaced" as a couple of lads from Liverpool announced their weekend plans to me on a connecting flight from London. 

The government has backed down on its plan to restrict coffeeshop marijuana sales to Dutch residents - simply too much of a market. There were some limited restrictions mostly in towns bordering Germany and Belgium - the latter were more concerned about the hard drug sales under the table in and around coffeeshops. 

Outside tourist areas, coffeeshops seem to be in decline; younger generations are more interested in internet-related activities. 

Even back in the Golden Age of Amersterdam, while decrying prostitution and other "vice", the worthy burghers actually allowed the curious to PAY to view "fallen women" imprisoned in workhouses. 

Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of cool, tolerant attitudes in the Netherlands as well, but the druggie and Red-Light tourism (the latter not only involving actual clients of sex workers, but far more who go to the Red-Light to gawk) is just a money grab, and very sad. 

6079_Smith_W

I think their progressive drug laws are a good thing too; I haven't spent a lot of time in Amsterdam (more in Enschede and near the German border), but I have never seen anything in Netherlands like fixer parks I have seen in Frankfurt and other cities, which were like a scene out of Bosch or Hogarth. And I was once a guest in the home of a fellow in Amsterdam who was on a methadone program, and explained to me what a difference it made for his life; so no, it's not the progressive  laws.

It's that utterly juvenile marketing everywhere there, like the whole downtown is some horrible beer bash, that I find so offensive - plus the feeling that I can't take my eyes off my bags. I try to just pass through there when I can, but the last time I was there overnight I was in a hostel with two fellows from France (probably in their 30s, so not kids) who were there to gamble and hire prostitutes. They spent a long time trying to convince me to come along, and I think they were seriously concerned that there was something wrong with me because I was not interested in their idea of recreation.

So I have no idea what is behind this, or how they can possibly make it fly legally. But it seems to me to be a break with financial and social reality - and also trying to find a convenient scapegoat. Any bets on how much racism plays into this?

 

lagatta

Yes, the part of the city centre near the main railway station is a sorry sight indeed. Other fairly central areas are nothing like that though. I really enjoy Amsterdam; nowadays where I stay (at a research institute) is in the eastern end of the central city, a very multicultural, popular, and pleasant area that feels very much like where I live in Montréal. 

Oh, the guys I was listening too weren't teenagers either - I think more of youngish adults acting like overgrown teens, but of course the hire of prostitutes also includes boomers of my cohort, and even older customers. 

I'm sure racism plays a part - a lot of ASBO "lumpen" families are "ethnic Dutch", but I fear it means targeting visible immigrants such as Turks, Maghrebis, perhaps even Eastern Europeans but in that group, above all Roma people. 

Of course such dysfunctional households exist, but no more in the Netherlands than any other Western European country. It is bizarre. Note that its advocate is a social democrat, not an official "right-winger". Like Toady Blair? 

MegB

Sounds like a delightful mix Apartheid policy and Nazi concentration camp mentality.  Perhaps, for the price of admission, they can offer tourists tours of the camps. That way they can recover the cost of all those shipping containers and make a tidy profit for the city's coffers.

Sven Sven's picture

Rebecca West wrote:

Sounds like a delightful mix Apartheid policy and Nazi concentration camp mentality.  Perhaps, for the price of admission, they can offer tourists tours of the camps. That way they can recover the cost of all those shipping containers and make a tidy profit for the city's coffers.

Well, now you're thinking like a good capitalist, Rebecca!! (wink)

Bacchus

I have no doubt that with todays culture, if nazi germany was happening now, they would be selling tours of the death camps. They certainly gave them to officials.

lagatta

They also had fake "model camps" like Terezin. But that stuff goes back at least to "Potemkin villages" in Russia. 

The containers cost nothing except the general price of shipping goods - everywhere in the West and other parts of the world is now flooded with Chinese containers. People started repurposing them themselves, and the idea of using them as student housing (and hostels) was born. But this is far more pernicious. This also harks back to 1930s shantytowns, but with a punitive, repressive aspect those lacked. 

MegB

The shanty towns of the 30s are a good analogy.  In both Canada and the US, unemployed single men were "convinced" to allow themselves to be shipped out to rural areas to live in shacks on the pretext of working on government projects.  The real reason was to keep them away from populated areas where they could - and did - protest against the depression-era government's policies and, of course, rabble-rouse in general.

ETA: my grandfather was one of those shit-disturbers, in Toronto.  He had a family, so was excluded from the cull.

6079_Smith_W

Anyone remember the Vancouver bylaw banning people from parts of town if they had a conviction there? I remember seeing a couple of terrible things around that time - including an obviously terrified woman trying to work along the Barnet Hwy late at night in the dark.

And of course, it runs the gamut from strict borders overwhich certain people aren't allowed to cross (I remember seeing a plaque commomorating jus such an oriental ghetto  in Bellingham WA), to the fact that if you have the wrong look in the wrong part of town you are going to get noticed and harrassed.

Though another approach to this  has also been been for the rich to lock themselves up inside gated walls.

 

Bacchus

Sundown Towns still exist in alot of places

 

Unofficially now of course, with the signs down

lagatta

Interesting - I'd never heard the expression "Sundown Town", but certainly knew about Grosse Pointe (wealthy Detroit suburb) as my parents told me "even Jesus Christ could never have lived there" (being "swarthy" and Jewish). 

http://sundown.afro.illinois.edu/sundowntownsshow.php?id=1320

 

Bacchus

Oddly enough, it seems like lots of sundown towns are in the north as opposed to the south where you would expect it. And several PA towns had it written into their town charter like levittown PA not far from where my wife grew up

Ken Burch

It should now be recognized by all that the Dutch Labor Party has become a party of the right.  It is a full partner in the current austerity government(where it is accepting every cut in the social wage demanded by the Christian Democrats without a peep of objection)it supports the racist restrictions on immigration, backs a Blairite program of rolling back trade union power, and is now evidently taking a position on "law and order", based on this, that puts it near the right fringes of European politics.

This party is now "Labor" in name only.

lagatta

Bacchus, Southern US towns already had unwritten codes against "race mixing" - and the Klan to enforce them. Moreover, I think that in many cases there was a "bad side of town" where "coloured" people lived - handy to have cheap labour nearby. 

In new towns up north, one didn't want those uppity N*****s who had got ideas while serving their country against those other racist/fascist forces thinking they could be equal and live where they wanted, did one? 

And yes, the Party of Labour is a full partner in the austerity government and has veered far to the right. At one point, a strong vote for the Socialist Party (which is considerably to the left of the Labour party) was anticipated, but that fell away. 

This "solution" is really scary stuff. also because it means abandoning any attempt to help screwed up people improve their own lives. 

Bec.De.Corbin Bec.De.Corbin's picture

I'm pretty sure in my younger days my friends and I would have probably qualified to be put in one of those containers…

lagatta

Ha, we would have too! Except for the violence and certainly the homophobia - one of my close friends was an early leader of Le Front de libération homosexuelle here... and they gave great parties - positive stereotype, that?

In the meantime, the number of Dutch households in poverty has increased: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/12/more_dutch_households_live... No surprise that this sort of repressive crap accompanies a fraying of what was an enviable social safety net. 

Ken Burch

lagatta wrote:

 

And yes, the Party of Labour is a full partner in the austerity government and has veered far to the right. At one point, a strong vote for the Socialist Party (which is considerably to the left of the Labour party) was anticipated, but that fell away. 

 

 

Any idea as to why?  I can't understand what possible case that the Party of Labour could have made to get all those voters who were prepared to defy the austerity demands to...well, just surrender their dignity without a fight.  What kind of scare tactics did they use to win back the votes of the huge number of people who'd been totally disgusted with them only weeks before?

kropotkin1951

The Dutch can be such Boers.

Sven Sven's picture

Is there no such think as "due process" in The Netherlands?  I mean, if someone is a "nuisance," then the government can force that person to live in a shipping crate?  Does a person not have to first commit a crime and then be convicted of the crime and sentenced to confinement?

Bacchus

lagatta wrote:

Bacchus, Southern US towns already had unwritten codes against "race mixing" - and the Klan to enforce them. Moreover, I think that in many cases there was a "bad side of town" where "coloured" people lived - handy to have cheap labour nearby. 

In new towns up north, one didn't want those uppity N*****s who had got ideas while serving their country against those other racist/fascist forces thinking they could be equal and live where they wanted, did one? 

And yes, the Party of Labour is a full partner in the austerity government and has veered far to the right. At one point, a strong vote for the Socialist Party (which is considerably to the left of the Labour party) was anticipated, but that fell away. 

This "solution" is really scary stuff. also because it means abandoning any attempt to help screwed up people improve their own lives. 

 

They had outright segregation, no need for signs or unwritten rules. You live there, we live here was pretty much the order of the day. Or the 'wrong side of the tracks' as you put it if it was basically the same town.

 

It was only the north that had to cloak their racism in hypocrisy. "We believe in civil rights, as long as they dont live near us"

Michelle

Exactly, Bacchus.

Quote:

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
And I'm glad that the commies were thrown out
From the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
And I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Ah, the people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
Now I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

- Phil Ochs, "Love Me, I'm A Liberal"

MegB

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The Dutch can be such Boers.

Ha! THAT's funny.

I'm not sure about the rest of you but I was, and probably still am, a candidate for the 'Scum Villages'.  And proudly so.

Michelle

The state of my front porch and lawn would probably qualify me!  I really have to get out there and tidy up. :)

lagatta

Michelle, especially among the Dutch. I think they are even worse than the Germans and Swiss in terms of COPD "neat and tidiness". 

They wouldn't let me in their country if they saw the current mess in a corner of my bedroom... 

MegB

I love your front porch Michelle. It's one of the few places in Toronto I can smoke.  With Bob. And Rod. 

lagatta

Michelle, you used to live quite high up in a flat. So you have a lower of some kind? 

I stay high up atop my triplex. I have a large front balcony, and a smaller one behind the kitchen, though alas some neighbours leave smelly rubbish outside on theirs. 

Smokers are welcome on my large front balcony. Matter of fact, wish I could allow people to smoke in my flat, just to piss of the morality police, but alas I have bronchitis. 

Ken Burch

Michelle wrote:

Exactly, Bacchus.

Quote:

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
And I'm glad that the commies were thrown out
From the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
And I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Ah, the people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
Now I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

- Phil Ochs, "Love Me, I'm A Liberal"

Or,. even more appropriately given the Labour Party's role in this, the LAST verse:

"Oh sure once I was young and impulsive,

I wore every conceivable pin.

Even went to socialist meeting,

Learned all the old union hyms.

Ah but I've grown older and wiser,

and THAT'S WHY I'M TURNING YOU IN!

So Love Me, Love Me, Love Me,

I'm a Liberal".

Michelle

Hey lagatta, yeah - moved into radiorahim's house with him three years ago and we got married last year.  So, I now have a front porch, which is much nicer than the balcony I used to have.  In fact, it's been ages since I've lived in a highrise - I lived in three apartments in houses since I lived in the high rise and before moving in with rr. :)  Guess it's been a while since we've caught up!

Feel free to come over any time and enjoy the ashtray on the porch, Rebecca! :)

Ken Burch

Had no idea you and rahim were married.  Hope you two and The Artist Formerly Known As "The Midget" are happy.

Jacob Richter

Pardon my ignorance here, but what's the difference between this crap paternalist pet project and the poor houses of 19th-century England?

Meanwhile, I'll second the best wishes to Michelle.

lagatta

I'll third the best wishes. 

My balcony is as nice as a front porch, but I'm lucky to have a large one in front, with those wrought-iron railings. Lots of flowers and herbs in summertime (herbs on the back balcony too). 

Jacob, it is an updated form of those, and the whole "enfermement" of the poor and marginal as described by Foucault (prisons, poorhouses, hospitals, "insane asylums")... I guess worse architecture, but a bit more privacy (though you have a social worker/cop snooping in). 

Ken Burch

The main difference between this concept and 19th century paternalist institutions like the workhouse and debtors' prisons is that, today, we have reality tv....and I'm going to wager right here and now that there will be a reality show about the "scum villages" within the next year or two.