QUOTE(polydemic @ Apr 30 2009, 06:50 PM)
My guess is it comes from their history of once having been a persecuted people. They were Protestants under Catholic rule, when part of the Holy Roman Empire. So after a long hard struggle for independence, they kept the memory of the intolerance they suffered in mind when deciding policies towards one another. They also saw that tolerance brought in a lot more business, making their tiny nation a powerful empire. And taking in refugees from intolerant nations brought them the best & brightest, who contributed to their science, military, arts, & culture. So seeing past examples of intolerance & tolerance, it's a no-brainer to them.
i agree history is the key to this
Being a protestant nation in the 16-17th century (when the rest was catholic) Holland attracted the rich who suffered percussion south of our borders. Not only protestant, but also jews and others. This lead to the influx of money...trade and the rise of the dutch east india company. This lead to a huge empire (indonesia, antilles and even tradingpost in japan, malesia, india etc.) Let 's not forget the boers in South Africa....So a free spirit leads to free enterprise...and this is still a driving force behind a lot of the way we look at the world.
The dutch way of having laws but not enforcing them or having a sort of allowance in somewhat strange and it doesn't really work at points....but we all like to believe it does. The coffeeshop for example can sell you the stuff. But actually they cannot buy it form the growers.