Pillars of society


About 150 years ago the Dutch society started developing itself around, what they themselves call, pillars. Minor theological and big political disputes in the Protestant Church let to a common practice of separation and segregation. After all, who wants to be a sheep if he can be a shepherd.

Pillars of society

Every religious group had their own communities with their own churches, schools and shops. A group called the elderlies, democratically decided which pastor they would hire. The elderlies are men of means who manage a good christian household themselves. They chose the theological scholar they thought best to represent and enforce their ideas and opinions. He was suppose to be the architect. His job was to construct out of the many support beams, crossbars and matchsticks the social framework of the community.

Building pillars

The subjects of the community had little privacy. On Sunday, sometimes twice a day, the preachers shouted from the pulpits about the hell and damnation that awaited us, the sinners. They formulated the wrongdoings in such a way that everybody knew who was being addressed. The discussed sins covered a large range, from mortal ones to minor transgressions in social behavior. The control and the micromanagement of daily and personal matters left a large imprint on the character of the Dutch and their social and cultural habits.

Hiding behind pillars

The herd

The bible sometimes describes christians as being the sheep of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Jesus appears as the guide, the protector and the healer for those who need care and mercy. The allegorical figure of the Good Shepherd was originally based on the pagan representation of a man bringing his lamb for offering to the altar. At the beginning of christianity the figure also came to represent the ‘ram-bearer’ with its connotations of philanthropy and loving care.

Herds and livestock are however predominantly female. Young males are chased away, preferably before they are capable to challenge the positions of the older males. Or, if they are part of the stock, they will be slaughtered for food or sacrifice in order to keep the group peaceful and fruitful. The composition and the social structure of a herd is therefore quite different than that of men. Although if we look at the last two world wars, we can certainly see a resemblance.

Wandering through the pillars

Pillars of sand

Nowadays, in the western world, we notice that religion is replaced by politics and science. No less than 37 political parties participated in the last parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. Bickering and arguing about the most trivial matters and minor details, they resemble a genre of painting that’s called hyperrealism. The starting point of these artists is not a three dimensional reality. While working, they don’t visualize the underlying structures such as skeletons and skulls. They don’t look beyond the two-dimensional thin and decorative covering that is presented to them.

Pillars capital
Queens’ day

The Dutch kingdom is in fact ruled by the pillar of the permanent state. About a hundred people from the circles close to the royal household rotate the top-official positions. They have united in the office of ABD-Topconsult with a Top-management-group and they are untouchable. Their job is to throw sand in the eyes of the subjects.

The parliament on the other hand, has become a nursery and training centre for those who aspire to work for the top. They have the difficult job of reconciling the image of being both sheep and shepherd at the same time. They are Good-Shepherds to their constituency and good sheep in the herds of the House of Orange. Thus they are in charge of manufacturing consent.