Anyone who has followed Dutch politics for the past few years must know Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch ultra-right political movement PVV (which translates to: Party of Liberty). Those who have even examined Wilders’s speeches and pamphlets must be familiar with that curious and controversial little phrase: ‘the judaeo-christian tradition’, or alternatively, ‘our judaeo-christian tradition’. This concept, so little elaborated, is sometimes presented as the core of Wilders’s anti-Islamic stance, which in turn can be described as the core of Wilders’s political programme. If the judaeo-christian tradition can be termed the core of the core of Wilders’s politics, then it is absolutely crucial to get a clear sense of what the judaeo-christian tradition means. Only once we understand what maneuvers Wilders is making by using this phrase in the way that he does, we can effectively counter this concept or expose it for what it really is: a poorly concealed desire to have an uneducated and sheepish Dutch people to carry out his every wish.
If there is one topic that has never ceased to captivate the (largely Western) political imagination, it is the civilisation-barbarism complex. Any superficial knowledge of the course of human history must include also knowledge of considerable cruelty, ignorance and hatred. For some scholars, the study of history provides plenty of reason to plunge into great pessimism about the future of civilisation, and about its ability to withstand the barbarians – who are always imagined ad portas; already ‘at the gates’ of human compassion, insight, and love. For the great English historian Eric Hobsbawm, for example, civilisation had receded to make way to the tide of barbarism since at least the start of the First World War.