Writing a book. To be honest: that was not exactly the first – or second – thing I thought of after entering the Dutch Parliament in the spring of 1994. Nevertheless in the autumn of 1996 'Tegenstemmen' (Oppositional voices) was published and with a lot more success than I could have imagined. It even reached the Dutch non fiction bestseller list and I was told that this was quite remarkable.
After the book was published I got tremendous new opportunities to talk with all kinds of people about its contents. Writing appeared to be the shortest way to discussing, debating, testing and sharing my ideas with critical journalists, enthusiastic voters, new sympathisers and many political opponents.
The attention 'Tegenstemmen' got in the Dutch media also drew the attention
of friends from abroad. Their problem: how to read a book that is written
in Dutch? My answer was: start learning it – I did it myself. Their
reaction was: if you want to tell us and others that are interested in
your way of analysing modern society and its problems – take care
that 'Tegenstemmen' is translated in a normal language.
You can imagine that this made me laugh at first. Nevertheless: it happened and here it is. I hope you can spare some time to read it and then find ways to do something with it. Perhaps in new debate with others about the necessity to answer the world wide flood of dangerous neoliberalist ideas and practice with modern socialist thoughts and creative alternatives. Because it is just too stupid to return at the end of the 20th. century to social structures of the 19th. 'because the Market says so' – instead of going forward to a 'society for people' in the brand new 21st. century. If you see that happening – and it ís happening, believe me! – I hope you will agree that it is time to say: Enough! It is time to bite back.
I owe special thanks to Steve McGiffen who really learned Dutch and then helped me, not only in translating 'Tegenstemmen' into beautiful English but also in summarising and internationalising the 10 chapters, freeing them of a too specific Dutch character without harming the original. It is sad that exactly in this period his beloved football team of Middlesborough lost its place in the Premier League and the Cup Final from Chelsea and its Dutch coach Ruud Gullit. At least Steve was able to swear about this in beautiful Dutch