De Kanarie in de Kolenmijn by Marianne Thieme and Ewald Engelen

de kanarie in de kolenmijn

A book about economics? I would understand this surprise when you read this title. Politics, yes, that’s what I’m passionate about. But economics? You’d be surprised, but I am passionate about that too. But mostly about how our current economical system is disrupting the planet (with the living being on it) and how we can change the economy for the better. I am not a fan of economics in its current form, but I am extremely interested in its potential. And that’s what the book I am sharing today is about. It’s about what’s wrong with our economical system and how that again affects our political system. It’s written by a match made in heaven: two politicians I love. A Dutch* book written by Marianne Thieme and Ewald Engelen: De Kanarie in de Kolenmijn (the canary in the coal mine).

The Setup

This book is quite unique in its setup. It has two parts and so the entire book is split in half. It’s like having two books in one. One part of the book is written normally and the other book is written upside down and backwards so that you have to read from the back. The first part is written by Marianne Thieme and addresses the Party for the Animals and its beliefs. The second part is written by Ewald Engelen who has also been a part of The Party of the Animals. Yet, he writes mostly about the current economical system and what can be changed.

It’s a match made it heaven because the two together make a match for a better world if you’d ask me. De Kanarie in de kolenmijn is a metaphor. Canaries were used in coal mines. They’d die just before humans did because of gas leaks and so if the canary died, you needed to get the hell out of the mine. It’s a metaphor for our current economical system. The canary has died already and it’s time for us to do something.

Party for the Animals

The Party for the Animals in The Netherlands is a very small party really and has been set up in 2002. I understand the name very well, but it creates a lot of misconceptions. This is explained in the book too. People who don’t know the party that well often think that the party only focuses on animals. However, this is also a metaphor if you’d ask me. Animals are the base of everything. They are the base of our life on earth. They represent biodiversity. And without biodiversity, humans would die off.

And so, the Party for the Animals represents the base, the very basic idea we need. The idea that we need to live in harmony with the natural world rather than destroy it, as we’re doing currently. And so, they’re a party for everything else too. They focus on the base of human life. That’s what they initially fight for because it lies the base for everything else. It’s often thought that they only take part in debates for animal rights, nothing is further from the truth. They debate about everything. But when they do, they always refer to the base of the problem.

The base

Yes, we have a problem with nitrogen. And so we need to stop treating animals like a product. Yes, there are immense amount of refugees coming. And so we need to combat climate change. Yes, we have a problem with wealth, the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger. And so we need to change the economical system which enables this and hurts the planet at the same time. If you read this book you completely understand the party and that’s why I think this book is important. This party hits the core of every single problem and I couldn’t really understand if you don’t support it. Who doesn’t want a future?

‘That’s what we mean by the metaphor of this book. If flora and fauna can’t thrive, neither can we. The Party for the Animals therefore is not a single-issue party, it’s the largest-issue party there is.’

Ewald Engelen

The Economical System

After you’ve read the basics about The Party for the Animals, there is the second part about our economical system. It explains very well why the party would like to change the economical system. It explains how our current systems is destroying the planet we live on. I think it is so clever to dedicate such a big part of the book to economics because it is the core of all the problems we face. If we change the system, we change the world.

In five parts Ewald describes what’s wrong with our current economical system and how that again undermines our political system too. Part one is about the mass-scale of production. How endless growth can never be sustained. Part two is about the implications of this problem. Big corporations have gotten so much money that power is out of balance. Part three is about how this system can’t even be sustainable and how the world is in debt. The financial crisis of 2008 is a good example and Ewald explains that we as a country (and worldwide too) have gotten further and further into debt.

Part four is about our ideals. We’re chasing the wrong things. We want more money, growing markets and more stuff rather than happiness, health and community. And then, the last part is about how our political system is affected by this economical system. ‘Money rule the world’ is something Tupac Shakur sings in one of my favorite songs. Ewald explains that this is true, but that it is largely attributed to our economical system.

My Opinion

Don’t worry! There is actually a sixth part too: the part where solutions are discussed. And that’s what this book has done for me: it has given me hope. First, it gave me insights on what’s wrong with the current economical and political system. But then it gave me hope too. People aren’t inherently evil. We all want a better world. Yet, the way we’ve been trying to do this has not worked. Neo-liberalism has failed. And so, it’s time for change!

Have you read De Kanarie in de Kolenmijn?

*I’m sorry this book is only written in Dutch. I realize that all my posts are in English, but since I currently live in The Netherlands I read Dutch books too. Sometimes I find those Dutch books just as important as English ones and so I decided to share these too. I hope you understand.

Yours sincerely,

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