Why am I so suspicious of PARTICIPATIESAMENLEVING (participation society)? Not because it is a pleonastic figure of speech. All types of societies are participatory associations by definition… No, I’m afraid that this long ugly word is a euphemistic figure of speech aimed to promote selfishness and iniquity, putting it mildy.
Saturday week (16 November) the conference of the Dutch linguistic assocation ‘Onze Taal’ (Genootschap Our Language) chose PARTICIPATIESAMENLEVING as the Dutch Word of the Year.
It was King Willem-Alexander who launched this waster into the public arena. It was not his fault, however. The King’s Speech (his first one, delivered at the opening of parliament on 17 September 2103) was composed by the prime minister and his cronies.
Stately plump our new King intoned that: ‘the classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a participation society. Everyone who is able will be asked to take responsibility for their own lives and immediate surroundings.’
PARTICIPATIESAMENLEVING sounds learned, positive and maybe even socially endearing but what our government is trying to disguise in this word, however, is: ‘now, it’s up to you to clean this mess we’re in’.
Willem-Alexander add in a kingly tone in the same speech:
‘When people shape their own futures, they add value not only to their own lives but to society as a whole. In this way, the Dutch people can continue building a strong nation of confident citizens. A nation with a small but strong government which gives people the space they need.’
A small government allowing people to create ‘the space they need’ can be another way of saying: ‘Okay, so our social contract endeth here, we will now transfer the responsibility that you so graciously entrusted to the government back to you.’
Is that what PARTICIPATIESAMENLEVING really means? Time will tell!
(This is a really short digest of yesterday’s long, long, long, posting about the word ‘samenleving’)