Mag
Opinion
The Dark Twins

The Dark Twins

Published July 17, 2009

It is always healthy for a society to go through a period of introspection and self-doubt, whatever the cause may be. The Germans did after World War Two, and decided to become a nation of pacifist nature lovers. The Americans did after Vietnam and Watergate and made some of the best movies known to man, until Reagan came along and dulled everyone again to the roaring chants of “USA, USA.” It’s their turn again now. The South Africans had their Truth and Reconciliation committee, to find out what really happened during apartheid. The Russians never quite did question themselves systematically after the collapse of the USSR, which is why their political life remains decidedly unhealthy to this day.
Iceland’s contribution to recent world history might not have quite the same body count, but it remains disastrous. This is our moment of doubt and pain. Future generations of Icelanders will probably never quite understand how almost the entire nation marched so eagerly off an arctic cliff. The usual suspects – the dark twins, Greed and Stupidity – are there to be found. But they don’t quite answer the question.
Iceland’s Ancien Regime
The problem in dealing with historical epochs is: How far do you go back to find the original cause of later effect, in this case an original sin of osrts. The one counter-argument one was always met with when criticizing the Boom was this: “So, do you want to go back to the old system?” No one did.
In the old system, party affiliation was everything. If you wanted to open up a business, get a loan, or even get a job, you had to belong to the right party. The Independence Party took care of theirs, so did the Progressives and to a lesser extent the Social Democrats. If you were a Socialist, you were pretty much screwed. Small wonder then that most people opted for the largest party, the one in the best position to dispense favours, however detrimental this might be to society as a whole.
Sure, Icelanders had equal rights to education. But once you got out of school and started paying back your loans, your education didn’t really matter. You had to know someone. In a small country, this usually meant a close relative. Iceland was only egalitarian on the outside.
Mare’s piss and gold risotto
As in most postcolonial societies, Icelanders in a position of power saw this as a means to dispense patronage to friends and relatives.
In 1994, Örnólfur Árnason wrote Bankabókin (The Bank Book), which tells of a familiar scenario: a group of Icelandic bankers sit around at London’s most exclusive gentleman’s club. One of them is spotted drinking the second most expensive champagne. “Why are you drinking that mare’s piss?” asks his colleague, holding a glass of the better type while buying all the working girls a round. The first banker, of course, upgrades.
If the disease won’t kill you, the cure will…
All this was expensed to the Icelandic public. One of the main rationales for privatisation was that privately owned banks would not be as wasteful of funds and positions would no longer be filled according to party lines. We all know how that went. The banks were given over to a handful of individuals, who moved from mare’s piss to gold drizzled risotto. Yet again, the public foots the bill.
As heroin was to morphine, privatisation turned out to be more deadly cure than the original disease. We would do best to be rid of both. It seems that Icelanders abroad always have to throw money in every direction to prove that they are no worse than the big city folk. If we really want to win their respect, we will have to change our habits.   



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Opinion
Enforcing The Status Quo

Enforcing The Status Quo

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Recently, we covered the story of an opinion piece written by Birgir Örn Guðjónsson – better known to the internet as Biggi the Cop. He’s been a pretty popular figure on social media for his perpetual grin, friendly demeanor and overall charm. Most foreigners I know react to this guy by saying he “doesn’t look or act like a cop” and police in their home countries should emulate cops like him. I disagree. There’s a lot of reasons why someone becomes a cop. There’s probably a number of men and women on the force who still maintain some altruistic notion

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Opinion
So What’s This Lack Of Army I Keep Hearing About?

So What’s This Lack Of Army I Keep Hearing About?

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Iceland has no army. It does operate a Coast Guard, which does have four ships, three of which are combat-ready vessels. The Coast Guard has a wide variety of guns at its disposal, from cannons to handguns. But it is not really a navy in any kind of traditional sense. The National Police Commissioner also has a Special Unit of 50 police officers, nicknamed “The Viking Squad,” which has several units specialized in various aspects of armed conflict. Viking Squad? Should monks in Britain and France start locking their doors at night and pray for safety from the wrath of

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Opinion
A Spaceship In Iceland!

A Spaceship In Iceland!

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A specially prepared Boeing 747 NASA aircraft landed at Keflavík Airport in May of 1983. This would probably not have made any headlines, had the plane not been carried the NASA space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ on its back. This strange flying object passed over Reykjavík before landing at Keflavík, which at the time was, of course, still the US Navy base NASKEF. The aircraft and its cargo were in Iceland for a fuel stop on their way to Paris, to attend an air show. The ‘Enterprise’ was the first ever space shuttle and was used for test flights in the atmosphere,

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Opinion
An Ornamental Resignation

An Ornamental Resignation

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Today, (now former) Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir resigned from her post, one year and one day after her ministry leaked a memo to select members of the press containing falsehoods and misinformation about Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos. As one of the first people to call for her resignation, you’d think I’d be doing a little victory dance on my desk right now over this. After all, this resignation comes just days after her former assistant, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, was found guilty of breach of confidentiality for his part in the whole thing and a slew of

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Opinion
Regarding Julien Blanc

Regarding Julien Blanc

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I do not think we should prevent him from coming here. Barring people from coming here is stupid. Why make a martyr out of him? Scumbags like him are always the first ones to celebrate censorship and deportation. Because fuckwits like him like to pretend they are the true champions of freedom of speech, and use that rhetoric ad nauseam to justify the diarrhoea that flows from their throats so freely. If we deny him entry, he’ll brag about it on Twitter and probably get loads of retweets from a sad army of braindead, semen-reeking, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing humanoids. He’ll be a

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Opinion
All Highly Unlikely

All Highly Unlikely

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The freedom fighter Last things first: Styrmir Gunnarsson, former editor of Morgunblaðið, has published his memoirs from the Cold War. As reported, these disclose, among other things, that during most of the 1960s, Styrmir provided the Independence Party’s Chair and Minister of the Interior with information about the interal affairs of two socialist groups, retrieved at weekly meetings with an undercover informant. Styrmir’s first years as a journalist at Morgunblaðið overlapped with this activity. In interviews, the former editor keeps insisting that there was nothing wrong with all that, so far without facing anyone who might claim that yes, there

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