Note — Aug 16, 2020

How the Dutch Invented Our World

UnHerd — The first “bourgeois revolution” was not the French Revolution of 1789, argues the author, but rather The Dutch Revolt that began in the late 16th century. It led to a Republic, to the early days of a proto-capitalism, to commerce domination, a freer nation, and a golden age for the Dutch… built in good part on colonialism and slavery.

Although he only referred to it briefly in scattered sentences across his works, Karl Marx also understood the significance of the Dutch revolt and the Dutch Republic as a key moment in the historic ascendancy of the bourgeoisie and the transition from feudalism to capitalism. […]

The revolt was about religion but it was also about money, and the right of the bourgeois to make it. […]

Spinoza’s stance on freedom of religion was intimately linked with his broader views on freedom of thought and speech. In 1670 he wrote that “in a free state every man may think what he likes, and say what he thinks”.

All of these trends made Holland the wealthiest and freest country in Europe at the time, a haven for political refugees like Spinoza and Locke, at the cutting edge of the latest developments in art, science and philosophy, the first consumer society gobbling up luxury goods from around the world. Bourgeois society found its first unencumbered infant expression in 17th century Holland.