Conjecture 10: On facts and meaning

Doctrine 6: Reading. The difference between meaning and the significance of the facts.

Question: what do others see when your organization is at work and how do they call it?

Even the Dutch that did attend the events of the time, there at the scene of the Battle of Nieuwpoort, probably differed in meaning on the significance of the facts. They might have known Maurice in the same way that we know the Army Commander of our State. They knew what was meant by ‘nests of pirates’, maybe in the same way that we visualize the cave dwellings in Afghanistan where we suppose Osama bin Laden lived, without ever having been there, or the waters around East- and South-Somalia. The pirates in 1600 as a kind of late-medieval terrorists or violent Somalian pirates. The people of the time were acquainted with the fact, but the given meaning differed.

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Was Maurice a strategic commander, a hero, who realized in time that he had to bring his troops into safety, yes, who according to contemporary chroniqueurs even opposed to this mission from the beginning, considering it to be hopeless? Or a military amateur, type rather lazy than tired[1], who fled within hours, fighting with the burning summer sun right into his eyes? Oldenbarnevelt, his political superior, wanted to conquer the pirates nests in Nieuwpoort and Dunkirk in order to lower the costs of ships safety and security. Maurice didn’t quite fancy the campaign, and didn’t like the idea of putting peoples lives at stake only to enlarge the profits of the traders by conquering a piece of land that is hardly defendable. The Battle didn’t exactly go smoothly and could have ended in defeat. The ultimate victory didn’t lead to much joy, because Maurice, who argued he had saved the Dutch Republic, did not conquer Dunkirk and didn’t chase the pirates.[2]

Even if we ourselves would have been there physically, at the Flemish coast at the time, in Nieuwpoort and would have been able to tell about the Battle from our own experience, even then the most important wouldn’t have been our facts but the meaning we would have attributed to these facts. What would others see (Maurice decide and do) and how do they call it (brilliant or cowardice; strategic or lazy).

Next time: Facts die an inglorious death

[1] Rudi Rotthier, De naakte perenboom, Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013, Ch. 7: “Maurice fine tuned the strategy of waiting to a higher form of art. He had to be pushed to come into any kind of action.”

[2] Ibid.

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