Take a look at the video below, which I took at a parade in Brussels in May, 2010, near the shut-down bourse. It is a whimsical mix of artists, neighbourhood people, young and old, all quite creative. It is Belgium at its best — the same Belgium that produced the Flemish artists, that fabricates the world’s best dark chocolate, and makes some of the world’s best beer. Artisans and artists, with a surrealistic bent, taking a nod to Rene Magritte and James Ensor.
As recounted in “Guns of August,” Belgium is famous for having slowed the German invasion that opened World War I. Today it is a member of NATO. But no one would mistake a country of 10 million people for a major international military power..
Most of all, it has a democracy that can seem seem strange and out of balance. However, I would argue that it is no more out of balance than the form which democracy has taken in California. The problem is that in California there is too much direct democracy; in Belgium too little. Both are damaging.
Look at the wheel below. It is an analog for what is happening right now as the feuding parties try to form a government and find themselves going round and round.