EN | 17/04/2021 | by ERIK



Scherpenheuvel, 17th of April 2021

About: My resignation as Comms Co-lead of Volt Belgium, due to serious conscientious objections

Dear Vicky, dear Vic,

As we discussed earlier, for some time now I have felt increasingly uncomfortable with some of the political positions Volt has adopted. To be precise, the message that Volt has been putting out both internally and externally has, in recent months, given me considerable trouble. As a result, I feel that it is no longer possible for me to hold an official position within the party. At least not without going straight against my personal convictions – which is something I would rather not do. As I am bound to follow my conscience, I have decided to resign from my position as communication co-lead of Volt in Belgium immediately.

Some background: As you know, I joined Volt in 2020 because I believe that European cooperation is important, especially if we want to create a united Europe that is truly free, democratic and effective. In short: a Europe that can achieve great things on its own (instead of leaving everything to the U.S.). I also joined because the European Union, in its current form, does not function, but is a bureaucratic, corrupt and spineless nightmare that it incapable of getting anything done. Finally, I joined because I believe that a united Europe must be fundamentally democratic; and, right now, it is not. After all:

-> the members of the European Commission are not elected by anyone, but are politically 'reliable' insiders who have received their extremely well-paid (and untaxed) positions as a consolation prize for the fact that they cannot get a job as a politician anymore in their own country;

-> the European Council is a shadowy organization that holds the real reigns of Europe, although nobody knows exactly what it is they discuss ...

-> The European Parliament is a parliament in name only, but not in practice. After all, the E.P. has no right of initiative, which means the European Parliament is, in reality, a fairly powerless body.

-> And then we in Europe have also been saddled with a duo of slapstick 'European presidents' who were not elected by any voters and who, because of their uninspired actions, their vague job description and their undemocratic appointment, are not really taken seriously by anyone, but who (despite their lack of democratic legitimacy) nevertheless seem to believe they have the right to speak for the whole of Europe.

It should be clear that I still believe that European reform is absolutely necessary, as the ideal of European unity can only have a chance of success if Europe itself is also democratic and free. Which is why I still believe that European cooperation, unity and collaboration are of vital importance and that "traditional" European freedoms (such as open borders and the freedom to go as you please) are worth fighting for. As I said during my introduction last year: I am still glad to have the freedom to be able to get into a car and drive from Belgium, straight through Germany, to Prague. Although, of course, there was little chance for that in 2020, as we have all seen how fragile our 'European unity' really is ...

It is, however, important to be honest. We have seen too many politicians come by who like to talk about laws, democracy and human rights, but in reality seem to have little regard for them. So I will be honest: A number of positions adopted by Volt are, in my opinion, completely incompatible with those of a political party that officially wants to stand for freedom, democracy, human rights and impartial, practical solutions for the whole of Europe. The most important of these, which have led to my decision, are:

-> “We are neither left nor right” is simply not true: One of the principal reasons why I decided to join Volt in 2020 was the message promoted by Volt (and which Volt is still actively promoting) that Volt is neither left nor right, but ignores classic political differences in order to focus on finding the best solutions for Europe, no matter which side on the political spectrum they come from ... In practice, however, Volt turns out to be a very left-wing party indeed. And despite the fact that I have often enough heard the story that Volt's degree of leftness or rightness varies strongly from country to country (even though I get the impression that Volt usually defines “right” as “open market liberalism”, which is not necessarily the same thing), the two sections of Volt that I have had direct dealings with (namely Volt Be and Volt Nl) do present themselves as extremely leftist parties, without leaving much space for Volters who have other ideas or priorities.

-> A real-life example of this is the fact that I have been branded a "hawk" almost from day one, because I am outspoken about what I find important, such as; Not cooperating with foreign slave-drivers (like China), not being completely dependent on the military protection of the U.S. for the defense of Europe; and more positions that apparently label me as "right-wing" and as a "hawk". Let me be clear about this however: In and of itself, I do not mind the label, but it does speak volumes about the fact that the ideal of “neither left or right, but a party for everybody” does not really conform to reality, as it is astounding how fast people have resorted to sticking labels like “hawk” or “conspiracy theorist” and more, as soon as an opinion is presented that does not seem to mesh seamlessly with the party’s dominant train of thought… And as a consequence of this, I have also noticed that not everyone is equally comfortable togo against the narrative, but that Volters more often than not are a bit timid about showing sympathies that may be construed as "too right-wing", because these do not fit within the approved ideological framework... In short: The idea that Volt is located somewhere between left and right is simply not true. And that lack of self-knowledge is a sticking point for me.

-> As you know, the previous months I have repeatedly voiced opinions that are clearly not in line with what is expected within Volt. An example of this is my critical attitude towards the corona restrictions imposed by the various European governments, which construe a far-reaching violation of our constitutional rights, let alone the damage already caused by the lockdowns. The fact that the head of the World Food Programme warned out for "famines of biblical proportions" last year, but that nobody in Europe seems to be particularly bothered about this, is something I find a shameful stain on Europe’s self-assumed role as a defender of human rights. The fact that I am critical about this and refuse to turn a blind eye to the negative consequences has already led to me being labelled “a conspiracy theorist” among other things, because a critical opinion is clearly not appreciated. The fact that Volt openly propagates to be a party that is for the protection of human and civil rights, yet internally dissenting opinions are barely tolerated, I find both horrible and unworthy of a party that claims to fight for democracy, freedom and equality.

-> As a concrete example of this: As you know, last monthI posted an invitation on Workplace to the global protest for freedom and democracy (which, by the way, went off completely peacefully in Belgium, while in the Netherlands the police employed heavy violence again). I would like to point out that I did not use any radical or disrespectful language in this invitation, nor put downany untruth or lie; it was just an invitation to whomever would read it to join in the demonstration. Just that. Nevertheless, I received some very negative reactions (including that I was telling "untruths", i.e. ”lying”) andeven a notification from Jordy that the board of Volt Belgium had decided to officially distance itself from this protest. In itself, I have no problem with this. As in my reply to Jordy's message, I clearly repeated that I was sharing this entirely on my own title and in a personal capacity, even though this distancing evidences a certain hypocrisy. After all, Volt Be sees no problem at all in participating in other protest marches(such as the march for women's rights that went straight through Brussels; where – as we could see from the photos shared afterwards – the corona rules were not or barely respected), butat the same time, however, the board of Volt Belgium felt compelled to immediately distance itself from a similar demonstration for freedom & democracy. In other words: Gender equality is acceptable, but freedom, democracy & personal choice are not... That is hypocrisy. There is no other word for it.

-> Because of incidents such as these, I have received the strong impression that Volt really only caresabout charities that are both fashionable and politically correct, while resolutely refusing to actually criticize the government, even if the criticism is justified! I honestly cannot understand how a "party for highly educated young people" like Volt is willing to meekly sticks to the rules, while it is actual the old people right now who stand up against the governmentand go out to protest! For some obscure reason, this generation seems to be the first one ever where young people are more docile than their parents ...

-> It might be interesting at this point to relate to you the event that led to the first crack in my faith in Volt, which was caused by the reaction of Volt Nl’s no 2, Nilüfer Gündoğan, to the protests on het Museumplein in Amsterdam and Malieveld in The Hague and the riots in Eindhoven and the rest of the Netherlands; which, in essence, was as follows: That the violence by the police was entirely justified and that people should just shut up and do as they are told. The fact that someone who constantly talks about human rights and how inhumane the Dutch government is at the same time rationalizes police violence against demonstrators, applauds draconian measures like a curfew, and at the same time refuses to consider the fact that riots don't just happen (especially in a heavily regulated country like the Netherlands); and subsequently couldn't take it when I disagreed with her on twitter, was the first real indication that the message of democracy and human rights that Volt publicly propagates is largely hot gas. As far as I am concerned, you either believe in freedom and democracy, or you don’t.

-> And then, as a sad cherry on the cake: In the meantime I have also learnt that in 2018 (i.e. just after the official registration and before the first member congress) Volt Europe accepted 19,191 euros from the Open Society Initiative. The fact that this indicates a direct financial dependency between Volt Europe and George Soros, the man who is known as the “man who broke the bank of England”, because he made his fortune by appropriating £1 billion from the Bank of England; a man who has had to pay millions in fines over the years for insider trading; a man who has already been declared persona non grata by several countries in Europe and the world; a man who has admitted that he has no interest in the consequences of his actions and who is considered by the US Senate to be directly co-responsible for the run-up to the previous economic crisis, also makes me very uncomfortable, as it raises important questions about both the moral backbone and the independence of the organization.

These are just some of the reasons why I have decided that I can no longer hold an official position within Volt. There are more…

To be honest, I think it is a shame. After all, at first I believed that Volt had something valuable to offer Europe: A better, united, strong Europa; and I have fully committed myself to that goal. Unfortunately, in the past few months I have come to know Volt as an organization that publicly presents itself as a party of broad appeal, which is open to everyone, although, in reality, it doesn’t have much room for people who have a different perspective on things. After all, if Volt had actually stuck to its principle of "neither left nor right", it would have ended up as a stronger, more inclusive party. As it stands now, Volt will simply not be able to appeal to a large part of the European electorate (namely those people who are already suspicious of the Brussels elite and who are unwilling to give up on their own language & culture) and therefore will never be able to gain enough influence to actually make the necessary changes the E.U. so desperately needs. It doesn't have to be this way; there are enough parties in the world (and even in Belgium) that have both left and right wings, that are for or against hot topics like Belgian state reform/Flemish independence, free trade, the curfew, and so on: A party that is actually broad (and not just say that it is, but also applies this principle in practice) is stronger and therefore has a better chance of eventually succeeding.

I have to admit that my experience with Volt has severely shaken my confidence in Europe; to be honest, I do not look forward to living in Volt’s vision of Europe: A Europe where the cultural differences between the member states have been rubbed out and everybody speaks English, instead of their own language; where our last bit of human intelligence is replaced by the desire for faster mobile internet; where we are technologically, culturally and militarily completely overshadowed by the rest of the world, because we are too afraid to compete, because we always want to “collaborate” and “cooperate”; where we have a big mouth about human rights, but not the spine to say “no” against inhumane and dictatorial regimes, because we are too afraid to “create an incident”, where the freedom of personal choice no longer exists, only “collective security” … It will not come as a surprise that for a while I could not and did not want to have anything to do with Volt, which is why it has taken me some time to write this letter and send it to you.

However, at the end of the day I still believe in the need for European cooperation, unity and openness. I still believe that every European should have the right to go wherever he or she desires. I still believe that a free and democratic Europe can shine a light in the darkness of the world, but only if we ourselves want it to … Nevertheless, I have had to take some time to really consider if it makes any sense to remain a member of Volt Be. However, as, during the previous months, I have managed to make contact with some people who do share certain values and goals with me, I have decided to remain a member (at least for the time being)... Nevertheless, my trust in the party has taken a fair bit of damage that I do not think can ever be repaired. In any case, I know that Volt has lost my vote.

With kind regards,

Erik Schrama