One of the things that impressed me most when visiting Russia dominated Czechoslovakia when I was young was the way people looked at you when you entered a local pub.
Conversations shut down and a silent hostile atmosphere settled around you. It would only slightly thaw when you started speaking your own language and you ordered some food and went about your business of being a tourist and it became clear you did not speak the local language.
But fear and mistrust clearly ruled in the pubs because the punters knew that the secret police where around everywhere and it would be dangerous to talk politics with anyone other that the people you trusted and even that wasn’t safe because everybody could be blackmailed or pressured into fibbing on anyone. Hell, you got into a fight with anyone and they ratted you out you could end up in one of the secret prisons of in one of the Gulags for years on end and millions upon millions of innocents died far away from family after another secret court order or less.
So when I read the head of a newspaper article announcing that “controleurs” would be scouring the Amsterdam pubs for drunken punters which would allow them to close a pub down for a week, if it happened the second time for a month and if it happened for a third time forever I knew that we are in the country I once called home a dangerous new phase. A phase where in the places we are most likely to let our hair down for a bit of R & R and human interaction with the aid of alcohol to loosen the tongue, inspectors in civilian clothes will, like in Chechoslovakia of Russian oppression times, once again roam to instill in the guests of these public houses a fear of the state as a secretive, oppressive and unpredictable master. This is not about drunken punters. This is about the boiling frog technique of desensitizing the masses to the ever increasing control the ruling elite wants to assert of the great unwashed as they push for ever greater austerity.