Abraham Kuyper is one of the great figures of the Dutch nineteenth century. He was born in Maassluis on 29 October 1837. He spent his youth in a religiously moderate environment. He studied arts and theology in Leiden. In 1864 he entered into correspondence with Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, founder of the Anti-Revolutionary movement and, at the time, leader of the orthodox protestants. Groen was to influence his way of thinking strongly. In a short time, Kuyper developed into one of the most important advocates of Calvinistic orthodoxy. As a matter of course he took over the torch from Groen in the course of the seventies. More successfully than his aristocratic predecessor, Kuyper, being a populist, subsequently managed to make the Anti-Revolutionaries into an important factor in Dutch politics, profiting from the fact that society, which for decades had seemed to be petrified, had begun to stir.
Kuyper developed an impressive range of activities. Successively, he was a clergyman in Beesd (1863-1867), Utrecht (1867-1870) and Amsterdam (1870-1874). He was general editor of De Heraut, an ecclesiastical and political weekly of the verontrusten (the ‘alarmed’) of those days, and since 1872 of the daily paper De Standaard, which was established by him in that year and which would be the leading Calvinistic newspaper in the Netherlands until World War II. Kuyper used his ample journalistic qualities to propagate his views and to unite his political sympathizers into one powerful social, ecclesiastical and political block under his own personal leadership. He wanted to ‘restore’ Calvinistic orthodoxy. He sought to liberate the kleine luyden (the ‘small people’) from their spiritual and social isolation and to emancipate them in a society which was politically and culturally dominated by the well-to-do liberal middle class. Socially the kleine luyden belonged to the small tradesmen and shopkeepers who felt threatened by the process of social modernization; religiously they formed the orthodox wing of the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church). In 1878 he founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party, which he was to lead practically until his death in 1920. He was the founder of the Calvinistic Vrije Universiteit (Free University) (1880), at which he himself was a professor from 1880 until 1901. He led his followers in the Doleantie (1886), a huge secession from the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk, which resulted in 1892 in the formation of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Reformed Churches in the Netherlands). From 1874 until 1877, from 1894 until 1901 and from 1908 until 1912 he was a member of the Lower Chamber and from 1913 until 1920 a member of the Upper Chamber. From 1901 until 1905 he was Minister of Home Affairs and Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
Apart from its social policy, the Kuyper Cabinet has of old been especially criticized for its foreign policy. In an international climate in which the Netherlands more and more threatened to be sandwiched by the accumulating English-German differences, Kuyper’s traditionally favourable disposition towards Germany was supposed to have driven him as Prime Minister to seek support from the powerful German Empire. Kuyper’s travels, especially his visits to Berlin in March 1902, to Vienna and Turin in the summer of 1902, to Brussels in January 1904 and again to Berlin in January 1905, were thought to be related to this. When in the beginning of 1904 it was feared that the seemingly inevitable Russian-Japanese conflict in East Asia would result in a European war and the Netherlands, together with Denmark and Belgium, were informally given to understand by Berlin that in that case they would have to make their positions clear within 24 hours, an alliance with Germany is said to have been seriously considered by Kuyper and discussed within the Cabinet. In the autumn of 1904, when the sailing of the Russian fleet into the Indian Ocean threatened a violation of Dutch neutrality by Japan, De Standaard is said to have given to understand in covered terms that in case of a world war Dutch security could only be found on the German side. Only Queen Wilhelmina’s interference is said to have prevented Dutch annexation to Germany. This did not alter the fact that the Germans knew where they stood with Kuyper: the confidence that, in case of an English-German conflict, the Netherlands would consider England as its enemy and would either actively or passively give support to the German side is supposed to have induced Von Schlieffen to his strategic plan of December 1905 which in case of a European conflict provided for a German passage through the Dutch province of Limburg.
It is a highly critical picture that was created historiographically by two authors: by J.A. van Hamel in his Nederland tusschen de mogendheden (The Netherlands between the Powers) from 1918 and by A.S. de Leeuw in his Nederland in de wereldpolitiek (The Netherlands in World Politics) from 1936. However, their analysis, which was uncritically accepted by historiographers after them, proves false when compared to Kuyper’s almost daily comments in De Standaard and to the diplomatic records available.

Kuyper and England

From boyhood Kuyper had been an admirer of England. His ideological example was Edmund Burke. Ever since his student days he had visited England almost yearly. Kuyper felt attracted to the English lifestyle.
However, Kuyper’s admiration for England was not unconditional. He absolutely disliked Disraeli. This was partly a dislike of the English statesman as a person: Kuyper could not stand Disraeli’s vanity tending towards dandyism, his scepticism and cynicism and, mirabile dictu, his histrionic disposition. More essential, however, was Kuyper’s aversion to Disraeli’s foreign policy. For Kuyper Disraeli was, besides Napoleon III, the personification of an ‘immoral, utterly selfish and ignoble statesmanship’, which paid no attention to solemnly concluded treaties and historic rights, an egoistic, ‘conservative-revolutiona­ry’ statesmanship, with which Disraeli, in the wake of Palmerston, betrayed the anti-revolutionary tradition of Burke and Pitt. Kuyper saw this statesmanship especially manifested in Disraeli’s policy with regard to the Eastern question, in which neither the duty to dispel the Islamic Turk from Christian Europe, nor the right of the suppressed Christian peoples on the Balkans and in Asia Minor came first, but the endeavour to prevent the capture of Constantinople by the Russians and to maintain the European balance of power. He also condemned the English policy in Afghanistan and South Africa.
Kuyper identified with the English liberals, whom unlike the liberals in the Netherlands he did not see as followers of the principles of Enlightenment and Revolution, but as guardians of the Whig tradition, protestants and defenders of the rights of Parliament against an absolute authority of the state. Among them he found his true political friends in the dissenters or non-conformists. They had of old adhered to the liberal principles: the liberals responded to their demands for religious freedom and social and political equality; with the liberals they shared the belief in free trade, social reform and a moderate foreign policy. They had great confidence in the political leader of the liberals, William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstone was of the opinion that religion was not a government affair, that politics should do nothing more than guarantee the freedom of the different churches and that the state should keep aloof from church government. Moreover, his religiosity commanded respect from the non-conformists. This respect turned into boundless admiration, almost adoration, when during his Midlothian election campaign of 1879 Gladstone turned with great rhetorical force against Disraeli’s histrionic and jingoistic foreign policy and argued in favour of European sanctions to exact freedom for the Christians in the Turkish Empire. This admiration for Gladstone was also felt by Kuyper. Gladstone was a ‘Christian statesman’, one of the few European politicians who were led by ‘higher principles’.
However, in the eighties and nineties Kuyper’s sympathy for England was seriously tried. The governments that ruled in Whitehall were mainly conservative, pursuing an active foreign policy. Also the cabinets led by Gladstone proved not free from Greater Britain stains. The same sentiment which in the Netherlands made Kuyper into an advocate of an ‘ethical’ colonial policy, induced his non-conformist political friends in England to accept imperialist aspirations. In their racially based nationalism full of religious overtones, England, in their view, had a mission to fulfil in the world.
Kuyper saw it but did not understand it. He hoped for a purifying protestant reaction and he blamed Gladstone for not having founded his party on confessional principles. Gladstone regarded his religious orthodoxy as a personal matter and kept it out of politics. This was, according to Kuyper, the reason why after his death the radical elements within the liberal party were given a free hand so that the English liberals lost track completely.
Kuyper saw Gladstone’s death in 1898 as an important point in the development of his admiration for England. However, the process of alienation had already advanced far. A final split had indeed become unavoidable. This split came shortly after Gladstone’s death with the outbreak of the Second Boer War: the England which assaulted two small, independent nations, indeed two nations of Dutch origin, was no longer the England which Kuyper thought to know and had admired for so long. His visit to London in January 1902, at the time of his attempt at mediation between the English government and the South African republics, was his last to England. The ‘unholy’ alliance which England concluded that same year with Japan could only increase the dislike he had developed.

Kuyper and Germany

Kuyper had never been an admirer of Germany and German politics. In 1870, during the German-French War, he had taken sides with Germany, but this choice sprang from his loathing for revolutionary France, not from admiration for Otto von Bismarck and his policy, which was slight. Under Bismarck’s leadership Prussia had lost its ‘Christian stamp’, the ‘rich and versatile organization of Prussian society’, ‘which was founded on life as well as past and was therefore organic’, had had to make way for ‘a more centralised state administration based on a foreign model’. The policy conducted by Bismarck for the realization of German unification was condemned by Kuyper as one in which ‘power went before right’, contrary to the principles of international law. It is true that Kuyper realized that Bismarck’s foreign policy after 1871 was directed at keeping the peace in Europe, but his confidence in the durability of the German alliance policy was not large.
It was not until 1900 that there was an essential change in Kuyper’s position in relation to Germany. Concerning this it must be taken into account that in the course of the 19th century Germany had become increasingly important. At first being divided and, though economically hardly and culturally not at all inferior to the Netherlands, an object of implicit Dutch loathing, Germany had developed into the most powerful nation on the European mainland, the antagonist of England, which was traditionally considered to guarantee the independence of the Netherlands and its colonial empire. For long it had been feared in the Netherlands, shaken by the separation of Belgium, that Dutch independence would be lost in the process of German unification. Also in the eighties and nineties that fear had never disappeared completely. At the same time it was realized only too well that at least economically the Netherlands became increasingly tied to the German Empire. In the fields of education and science, technology and culture the Netherlands sought alliance with the successful German examples. Consequently, it proved to be more and more difficult politically to keep the balance between England and Germany, both indispensable neighbours for the Netherlands, but to an increasingly large extent each other’s antipodes. Already in 1900 Foreign Affairs Minister De Beaufort had to deny rumours about a Dutch alliance with Germany. In 1901 Kuyper, later accused by De Beaufort himself of an irresponsible pro German orientation, on his part blamed De Beaufort for a ‘conspicuous leaning over to Germany’.
Kuyper was never an advocate of a Dutch political or military alliance with Germany. From his Neo-Calvinistic national awareness, which was carried by the conviction that the Netherlands had a mission to fulfil in the world, Kuyper was a strong advocate of an active Dutch policy of independence. When in 1889 the former officer Henry Tindal set going a discussion on the Dutch defence policy, Kuyper finally concluded with emphasis, after a careful exploration of the various options open to the Netherlands, that the starting point had to be ‘to become an ally of the enemy of any country that was to violate our borders’. Afterwards Kuyper’s standpoint did not change essentially.
This did not alter the fact that after 1900 Kuyper no longer saw the danger for the Netherlands as coming first of all from Germany. In his view England by its demeanour in South Africa had lost all credibility as protector of the small European nations. The English alliance with Japan made Kuyper fear especially for the Dutch East Indies. Old notions about England as hereditary enemy now began to predominate. In the past the Netherlands had waged four wars with England. England had superseded the Netherlands as a world power. After the Napoleonic period it had taken possession of large parts of the Dutch colonial empire. And now again it seemed to play with Dutch interests, even with the Dutch nation itself. This induced Kuyper to orientate towards Germany. But, even if at the very outbreak of the Russian-Japanese war Kuyper considered seeking refuge on the German side, it did not last for long. When he visited the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Von Richthofen in January 1905 in Berlin, he was already convinced that Germany’s international position had been seriously harmed by the realization of the Entente Cordialebetween England and France: Germany had become the centre ‘of a group of less significant nations’.
What Kuyper did think about was the formation of a political and military cooperation with Belgium. He had talks about this with King Leopold II and several Belgian politicians; early 1905 as a Minister, later, in 1907 and 1908, as a private person. His concern was ‘to enable us by a federal alliance of the Netherlands and Belgium to act entirely independently both politically and militarily, to be completely free from our eastern as well as western neighbours and, by thus taking a powerful and entirely independent position, prevent the outbreak of a war between the neighbours on the right and left’.
Also during World War I the by then aged Kuyper remained a powerful defender of the Dutch policy of independence. At the time he openly sympathized with Germany, though not uncritically. He defended the German invasion of Belgium, repeatedly expressed his great admiration for the German Emperor, had very close personal relations with the German envoys in The Hague, Von Kuhlmann and Rosen, and, until the bitter end, continued to hope for and count on a German victory. However, it should be clear, he argued emphatically, that ‘intellectually, as before, we continue to turn away with heartfelt antipathy from the German Vermittlungstheologie, from the philosophical chimeras and from the Pan-German attractions to stick to the Calvinistic line, which runs across Scotland to America.’ But this could not lead to siding with England. Accounting for his pro German sympathies, he said: ‘What must be firmly established for us, Calvinists, is that first of all we have to reckon with the threatening consequences of this world war. And that, in relation to this, we cannot nor may not wish that the former wretchedness and misery will return to Central Europe as a result of the destruction of Germany.’ However, for the Dutch foreign policy this should not have any consequences: ‘if in a world war such as the present one, there is no higher principle nor higher interest at stake, we cannot choose sides but have to remain neutral.’

Kuyper and South Africa

The traditional picture of a Kuyper who had ‘of old been favourably disposed towards Germany’ thus proves to be mere fantasy. Kuyper was an outspoken Anglophile. However, in the course of the eighties and nineties his love for England, the English and English culture collided more and more with his dislike of English foreign policy, which he condemned as expansive and imperialistic. It was the cause of a slow process of alienation. Of crucial importance was the English policy in South Africa. As chief editor of De Standaard Kuyper had written more about South Africa than about any other foreign political question. His interest, which was aroused in the second part of the seventies when the Boers rebelled against their liberal president, Thomas Burgers, reached a climax in 1877 (the first annexation of Transvaal), 1881-1884 (the First Boer War and the restoration of Transvaal independence) and 1899-1902 (the Second Boer War), but was also present in the periods in between and after. The subjection of the Boer Republics in the years 1899-1902 finally led to Kuyper’s definite breach with England.
The success of the Boers in their fight against the English in 1880-1881 and, after that, the visit in 1884 of president Kruger, general Smit and the reverend Du Toit, the Transvaal minister of Education, to the Netherlands had led to thus far unprecedented outbursts of national feelings. What was manifested was no doubt nationalism, but it was a defensive nationalism, in which complacency went together with care for the future. The Boer success gave to a nation which had for so long doubted the meaning of its existence the realization of being an old imperial power. A despondent elite saw the position of the Netherlands threatened internationally by the increasing rivalry between the Great Powers. At home they were facing fierce national tensions caused by the school funding controversy, the fight for an extension of suffrage and the social question. These tensions were intensified by a protracted economic slump. For them, South Africa, seen as New-Holland, was proof of the vitality of the Dutch nation. From a South Africa made into a New-Holland it expected a recovery of Dutch unity, confidence and prosperity.
At first Kuyper was very explicit in his expectations of a Dutch South Africa. Though politically loose from the Dutch ‘mother country’ it could become ‘another and even better Indies’, ‘a counterbalance to the questionable one-sidedness which for so long made us only seek gain in the exploitation of tropical possessions’. Among other things, Kuyper had in mind the possibilities for Dutch business and capital. He made an appeal to make South Africa into the foreland of Dutch trade and industry and warned not to wait too long to do so: other powers, especially Germany, were ready to seize the opportunities missed by the Netherlands.
As with the liberals, the expectations expressed by Kuyper in the eighties with regard to South Africa showed a longing for economic and cultural expansion and for reinforcement of the Dutch position in the world. To a certain extent it can be called an imperialist sentiment, a vague longing to capture all that was lost in 1806. However, this sentiment was completely subordinate to and dependent on the nationalistic sense of kinship. Moreover, it had a continually defensive, almost pessimistic undertone. For him, emigration to South Africa was especially important in case the Netherlands ‘would disappear from the chorus of nations’, in case ‘life would be made  unbearable for us, Christian people’: ‘then we will march out as free sons, to the new Holland, to Transvaal’, ‘then the core of this Christian people will cross the sea to Transvaal.’
The nationalistic sense of kinship as a driving force behind the pro Boer movement of the eighties created a new sense of unity in the Netherlands. The action in favour of the Boers and based on national feelings made the political, religious and social lines that divided the nation fall away for a moment. In that sense the pro Boer movement was an integrating force. The sense of national unity in the Netherlands of these years being still fragmentary and immature, the awakening feelings of kinship with the South African Boers among broad layers of society, not only among the upper class, but also among the lower middle class and the Calvinistic labourers, may even be regarded as a nation forming factor. Kuyper, who had turned away from the nation as a whole ever since 1876-1877 and had started to work on the mobilization of his own anti-revolutionary part of the population, was genuinely pleased with this sense of renewed national unity.
However, it was based on a misunderstanding. Whereas the Boers were feasted by the nation as the ‘Beggars’ of the nineteenth century, the liberals recognized the argument of freedom in their fight; Kuyper, on his part, stressed the religious argument: the Boers had to be free to be able to fulfil their historic task of civilizing, i.e. converting Africa. In 1877 Kuyper had recognized the Boers as kinsmen and congenials. Essentially for him there was no difference between kinship and congeniality. His nationalism was of a neo-Calvinistic character: the Dutch nation was a Calvinistic nation, a nation the character of which was determined not by the catholic or the liberal but by the Calvinistic part of the population. Kuyper’s ideological inability to distinguish between kinship and congeniality made him assume that the liberals, when in 1880-1881 they too set themselves up as brothers of the Boers, felt this kinship as a kinship with the ancient Dutch nation from which they themselves had become estranged. This assumption was the basis for his expectation that the liberals would give him and his followers the opportunity to act as the exclusive representatives of the Dutch nation. When the liberals within the Nederlands-Zuidafrikaanse Vereniging (Dutch South African Society), founded in 1881 to give shape to Dutch relations with Transvaal, refused to behave in accordance with this expectation, Kuyper did not hesitate to wage his party war also in the circle of Boer friends. In this way Kuyper caused a split within the Dutch pro Boer movement which doomed it to virtual powerlessness in the crucial years of the restoration of Transvaal independence.
Contrary to Kuyper’s expectations, the Transvaal leaders proved in the end unwilling to choose sides in the conflict risen in the Netherlands. In the last resort the Boers were only led by pragmatic reasons in their contacts with the Netherlands. They looked for association with the Dutch nation as a whole, not exclusively its Calvinistic core. The visit of the Transvaal delegation in 1884 confronted Kuyper emphatically with this for him almost incredible truth. In Kuyper’s view, the Transvaals renounced their true Dutch character. What Kuyper felt as especially painful was that the delegation refused to entrust the education of the Transvaal intelligentsia exclusively to ‘his’ Vrije Universiteit.
The for him disappointing end of the visit of the Transvaal delegation to the Netherlands overshadowed Kuyper’s involvement with the South African question in the years after 1884. Caught up in the myth created by himself of the Boers as bearers of the true in casu Calvinistic and anti-revolutionary Dutch national character, he lost his belief in the future of the South African Republic when confronted with South African leaders looking for a national identity of their own. The plans, supported by Kuyper, of the Nederlandsch-Transvaalsche Kolonisatie-Maatschappij (Dutch Transvaalian Colonization Company) to settle large groups of Calvinistic Dutchmen in the South African Republic failed to materialize because of the negative attitude of the Transvaal authorities. With Kruger Kuyper clashed fiercely about the plans to establish a Transvaal university, which he felt as yet another underestimation of the possibilities which the Vrije Universiteit had to offer. All in all it confirmed Kuyper’s disappointment of 1884. Kruger’s very narrow electoral victory in 1893 finally made Kuyper say farewell to the ‘idea which had proved intolerable as if in Transvaal a new dawn for the Dutch race had broken’.
There was something else, no doubt unconscious, but certainly not less important. Kuyper’s discovery in 1877 of the Boers as kinsmen and congenials had had an ideological function at the time: in their Calvinistic resistance to their liberal president Burgers and in their national resistance to the English, Kuyper used the Boers as a distant mirror which he held up to his political friends by way of instruction and to his liberal opponents as a warning. In the nineties Kuyper had much less need for such a mirror. By then the Calvinists formed a powerful political, ecclesiastical and social body. They had grown into a significant factor in Dutch society. Kuyper, their leader in everything, had developed from a figure in the political fringe to a personality of national stature. This no doubt affected the way in which Kuyper spoke and wrote about South Africa. The South African Republic no longer had to be the model of the promised land to which he wanted to lead his people. What remained was the kinship, the at the same time vague and comprehensive Pan-Dutch awareness which united Kuyper not only with the South African Boers, but also with the Flemish in Belgium, the Dutch colonists in the Dutch East Indies and the Dutch emigrants in the United States. What also remained was the conviction that in their confrontation with the British the Boers fought for a perhaps hopeless, yet fair cause and that the Netherlands, itself a small power, moreover kinsmen of the threatened Boer Republics, could not but enter the ring for them. The basis for Kuyper’s remaining loyalty to the Boer cause, also after 1893, was formed by a sense of kinship and justice, which in 1899 moved him to his forceful plea in favour of admittance of the Boer Republics to the The Hague Peace Conference. It was the same sense of kinship and justice which induced him at long last to his diplomatic intervention to put an end to the military conflict in South Africa.

God, the Netherlands and South Africa

Kuyper judged the international relations of his time in moralistic terms. The actions of powers and politicians in international politics were assessed by him in terms of justice and national character. Justice and nation were the decisive factors in Kuyper’s assessment not only of the South African question but of international politics in general. This did not imply that Kuyper’s analysis of international relations was moralistic. On the contrary. Without much reserve, Kuyper may be called a realist. He saw Europe being surpassed by the United States, by Russia and by Japan. He foresaw not only the falling apart of the Turkish Empire and of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, but also the end of the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa. In his opinion France and England were declining powers and in view of this he recognized the crucial importance of Germany for the balance of power on the European mainland and for the position of Europe in the world. His analysis of international relations made him feel pessimistic. He was inclined to attribute the decline of Europe and the yielding of the Germanic peoples to the pressure of the growing half-Asian Slav masses, which he considered inevitable in the long run, to the disloyalty of the Christian nations to their God. He hoped that these developments could be seen as signs of the approaching Day of Judgement. Kuyper rejected the power games of the Great Powers and their arms race as symptoms of the European decline. However, he presented as gospel truth the Christian statesmanship preached by him and based on an international law presupposing the complete sovereignty of independent God-given nations. It was a message for but not of this world. The order advocated by Kuyper could only be realized all over the world after the Day of Judgement.
The same pessimism, the same implicit tension between ideology and reality characterized Kuyper’s assessment of the Dutch situation. Kuyper was pleased that within the Dutch state there was a national unity: ‘we have a single origin and we feel united under the House of Orange’. He regarded the character of the Dutch nation as pre-eminently embodied in his own anti-revolutionary movement. Consequently, the Netherlands was a Calvinistic nation, led by the House of Orange and called upon to acquire and protect the freedom of conscience for the world, which had been given first to the Netherlands. It was a nation which had had its golden age in the years between 1572 and 1795 when the Calvinistic character was predominant. Therefore it was also a nation which was past its prime and whose decline had set in. Now the Netherlands was dominated by the liberals, whom Kuyper saw as the representatives of the weakest national type. Naturally, Kuyper’s ambition was restoration, but he could hardly conceal his serious doubts about its feasibility in the long term. Kuyper feared that the Netherlands was bound to disappear. The Netherlands, once a Great Power, had sank to the ranks of Denmark, a small, third-rate state, ‘whose chances of survival had only weakened over the last fifty years’. In his view, the policy of ‘power before right’ of the Great Powers was a threat to the independence of all smaller nations. He repeatedly pointed to the possibility of the Netherlands being swallowed by Germany, in case of a new French-German clash.
This inspired Kuyper’s continual pleas for the reinforcement of Dutch defence and his attention for forms of military cooperation with Belgium. It also inspired his view that the Netherlands had to stand up for strengthening of the sense of justice in international relations. Itself threatened by powers whose only object of interest was their own and each other’s ambitions for supremacy, the Netherlands could not but take action wherever the rights of small nations were trampled. Finally, it also inspired his attention for offshoots of the Dutch race, in the first place for South Africa. In the Boers he recognized the descendants of the ‘Beggars’, originating from and still loyal to the true Calvinistic spirit of ancient Holland. He regarded their struggle against the English as a da capo of the Dutch rebellion against Spain. He recognized Israel’s exodus from Egypt in it. For him Kruger was a present-day William of Orange, a new Moses. It was this recognition that gave him the hope that a new future on the African continent awaited the Dutch nation, which was apparently doomed to die in Europe. It was an undeniably Dutch nationalism which was at the bottom of his pleas for a forceful defence, his attention for a world order based on a God-given international law and his cultivation of Pan-Dutch feelings of kinship of a religious and national nature. Potentially, it was a dynamic nationalism: it stimulated a sense of national identity and resulted in an activist approach to foreign policy. However, it cannot be regarded as the product of a reinforced national awareness and of a euphoric belief in the possibilities of a small nation. On the contrary, it sprang from a heartfelt pessimism about the future of the Netherlands.