Belgium: Long United, Long Divided

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9781849041461: Belgium: Long United, Long Divided

This concise history describes the traditions and transitions that over two thousand years have developed in Belgium in a sense of shared identity, common government, and a centralized nation-state - and then over a few recent decades paved the way for Flemish-Walloon schism that now threatens to break up Belgium. It responds to the question: Why does a government, unified for more than 600 years, no longer seem capable of holding together a linguistically divided country

In tracing the evolution of Belgian governance, Humes describes why and how the dominance of French-speaking propertied elite eroded after having monopolized the land's governance for centuries. The extension of suffrage, combined with the rise of literacy and schooling enabled labor and Flemish movements to gather sufficient momentum to fracture the Belgian polity, splitting its parties and frustrating its politics. The presence of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has, in a tangential way, enable the Belgian separatists to discount the merit of a national government that is no longer needed to defend the country militarily and economically.

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About the Author:

Samuel Humes lived in Belgium from 1984 till 2008, where he was most recently director of Boston University's Brussels campus. He is a graduate of Williams College (BA), the University of Pennsylvania (MGA), and Leiden University (Drs and PhD). His latest book is Managing the Multinational: Confronting the Global-Local Dilemma; earlier publications include The Structure of Local Government Throughout the World which has been described as a seminal work in its field. He resides in Williamstown, MA.


"In this book, Samuel Humes gives us a brilliant insight into the age-long history of Belgium and tells how the linguistic and cultural divide determines the outlook of our country to this day. Belgium: Long-United, Long-Divided has the merit of describing Belgian history without any complexes. Or should I say: without prejudice or bias. ... The objectivity with which this work is steeped makes it particularly worthwhile reading for Belgians."-Wilfried Martens, former Prime Minister of Belgium

"At last a brilliant, intensive wide-ranging study of Belgium's history and politics by a political historian who has immersed himself in its remarkable and complex political system - one of the most unusual governments among the world's democracies. The volume concludes with a magisterial and authoritative essay (assessing Belgium's 2000-year long history, its present language-driven separatist crisis, and its future prospects." -- James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer, Woodrow Wilson Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science at Williams College, and author of Fire and Light

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