A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015

Does It Matter

Published April 3, 2009

In the film Frost/Nixon, former President Richard Nixon wonders if his legacy will be an entire generation of Americans losing faith in the political system. The fact that Nixon was forced to resign was itself proof that the system, in fact, worked. However, the shock of seeing the President exposed as corrupt led to people abandoning faith in the very system that at that point was proving that no one was above it.
We all know the story from there. Reagan, Bush, a brief Clintonian intermission, followed by even more Bush. All that is needed for evil to prosper, as the oft-quoted Burke once said, is for good men to do nothing. In the aftermath of Watergate, it seemed that good men took a collective step away from politics. For nearly 30 years between Carter and Obama, they were to do very little at all. Many even stopped voting, and the fewer people that took a stand, the better the Republicans did.
In many ways, Iceland now stands at a similar turning point to the one the US faced in the 1970’s. Instead of Vietnam, we have the banking crisis. Instead of Watergate we have, well, the banking crisis. It seems that every evening, Icelanders are bombarded with still more news of corruption within both the private and public sectors. Small wonder that many consider the country to be hopelessly corrupt, even beyond help.
But saying that all politicians are the same is really saying that politics don’t matter. They do matter; they matter a great deal. For those that would say that the Left-Greens are just as corrupt as other parties, the simple fact is that they have never been in government before, and, hence, have not been able to become corrupt to the same extent, if at all. Beating them with the same stick as a party that has excelled at corruption the past 18 years is as unfair as it is inaccurate.
Major changes in Iceland are needed, but these will not come overnight. By turning their backs on the system, by not voting at all or voting for parties with little hope of entering government, those that want the system to change the most will lead to it changing the least.
In fact, it is hard to see any fundamental differences between the platforms of the newly formed Borgaraflokkurinn and the present government. It is often those with the most in common who argue most with one another. In the recent University of Iceland student elections, the Anarchist Party Öskra asked people not to vote for any of the above, instead of the lefty Röskva. Many did not vote and the party the far right of the spectrum, Vaka, won. Hopefully this will not be a template for the elections this April. At the very least, politics are a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. When people forget this, the greater evil prevails.  



Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Brotherly Love

by

My brother is a fourteen-carat, stone cold wanker. At age twelve he spoke fluent French, at fourteen he was the fastest 100-metre runner in Ireland for his age, at eighteen, he captained our school choir and won a scholarship to university for academic excellence, by nineteen he spoke fluent mandarin. My name’s Tom and I’m his older brother. Yesterday I started putting raisins into my porridge. Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients that can improve your ability to see in the dark, and in Iceland around this time of year I reckon that it’s a shrewd bit of thinking. But society wouldn’t notice.

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Lost In Mucous

by

The first time I heard it, I did what all good girls do and politely ignored it. The second time, I shot him a look of disgust. By the third time, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt like I was going to be sick. I cast a crazed eye around the room, but to my shock nobody else seemed bothered by the fact that a certain member of the Grapevine team, let’s call him Bill (because we have a Bob), has a penchant for sniffling and snorting large globules of mucous down the back of his throat. HAD HIS MOTHER

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Audiomilk And Book Mafias

by

In short: Only the privileged few A large number of Icelandic books are available as audio books at the audio books library. Available, in this case, however, means available to those who need them rather than those who would merely enjoy them. The audio book library is publicly funded and to some extent exempt from copyright restrictions, to serve blind and dyslexic audiences. Last week saw a mild debate involving non-blind and non-dyslexic readers who would nonetheless like to be able to buy these audio editions; the manager of the library who explained how absolutely nonsensical and futile not to

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Accidental Iceland

by

I don’t have the sharpest social skills but I know when someone is making a joke at my expense. My travel agent was clearly making a joke at my expense: “I know you won’t fly through Heathrow or JFK and I know you will ‘never get on another Delta plane as long as you live,’ but of course you want the cheapest fare possible. The cheapest roundtrip ticket from New York to London is Icelandair with a slight layover in Reykjavík.” I had several pertinent questions for my travel agent and she answered with an exaggerated patience that made me

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

You’re Wet, And You’re Cold, And You’re Miserable

by

You’ve just come in for the day. Your clothes are strewn across the radiator. Your anorak is hanging in the bathroom. It’s creating a giant puddle on the floor. Oh, and you’ve just stepped in it with your last pair of dry socks. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s gray. It’s late October in Reykjavík. You’re kicking yourself for not choosing to visit during the summer, but as some Pollyanna told you, at least this way you’re getting the authentic Icelandic experience. Well, you should know that it wouldn’t have made much difference if you had come during the summer. It

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

So What’s This Men’s Only UN Gender Conference I Keep Hearing About?

by

On Monday, September 29, the Icelandic Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. In between talking about things that few present cared what Iceland thinks about, he mentioned that the governments of Iceland and Suriname had decided to plan a conference on gender equality only open to male political leaders. Because what is needed to achieve gender equality is men with political power telling others what to do? It is hard to do justice to what he said without quoting his speech in full: “Iceland and Suriname will convene a ‘Barbershop’ conference in

Show Me More!