Published August 18, 2014
I just signed up to become a founding member of Fylkisflokkurinn (“The County-Party”), which has the stated purpose and sole platform of campaigning for Iceland to re-join Norway and become its twentieth county. I was the 573rd Icelander to do so according to the would-be political party’s website (fylkisflokkurinn.is), while the Facebook group that launched it currently lists over 4,600 members (many of them very enthusiastic!) and counting.
Proponents of Iceland’s independence might call me a traitor to the country that bore me—they might even go so far as to accuse me of treason. And I won’t lie: I felt a slight shiver of regret as I hit “send” to submit my information to Fylkisflokkurinn’s website, thereby affirming my desire to become a founding member to a single-issue party whose only demand is that Icelanders beg Mother Norway to take them back—reinvoking Gamli sáttmáli (“The Old Covenant”) of 1262, which my childhood history class described as Iceland’s ultimate nadir.
Have I just enraged all of my purportedly noble forefathers, who seemingly fought so hard and long for Iceland’s independence? Are they all rolling around in their graves? Am I to be a pariah in the afterlife, doomed to spend eternity cowering in a dank corner as Iceland’s fabled independence heroes scowl at me, cursing my callow actions as a coward’s fumbling panic?
I have no idea. I don’t particularly believe in an afterlife, any more than I believe in the inevitability or permanence of nation states—and any desire to be liked and respected by my ancestors’ potential ghosts is trumped by another desire I harbour, one I have fostered since my teens.
I’m speaking of the desire to be governed by adults. Somewhat responsible, somewhat competent adults, if possible.
Which is something I’ve yet to experience in my 33 years as an Icelander.
The man behind Fylkisflokkurinn, former editor Gunnar Smári Egilsson, claims that “Iceland is just too small to raise talented politicians,” and that its population’s miniscule numbers also prevent it from raising and nurturing “properly talented people.”
While I take issue with the latter part of his claim (surely we can all agree that Icelandic music, for instance, is far superior to that of the Danes—everyone knows how much Danish music sucks), I wholeheartedly endorse the former. As a news-junkie and political enthusiast since boyhood, I have endured constant embarrassment and turmoil on account of our elected officials for over twenty years now.
Indeed, in recent years one of Iceland’s only politicians who hasn’t appeared outright laughable under scrutiny is a comedian..
You might think I’m being unfair, but the results speak for themselves. They really do. That infamous TOTAL ECONOMIC COLLAPSE aside—which was borne of that special Icelandic mix of irresponsibility, nepotism, hubris and complete disregard for rules—there are plenty of cases in point.
Listen: With Iceland’s abundant resources, scant population numbers and the relative freedom from disease and warfare that isolation brings, Icelanders can arguably be called the most privileged, opportune people on Earth. Iceland has every potential to be a sort of Scandinavian Shangri-La, a slightly cooler land of milk and honey. Yet, as folks from all over the globe flock to the island to experience its “celebrated culture” and “pristine nature,” natives are busy fleeing in record numbers, seeking greener pastures elsewhere (in fact, many of them have made the move to Norway. In fact, at least ten out of my childhood class of 60 or so are currently proud Norwegians. Heja, guys! Miss u).
This is not the mark of a properly functioning democracy. If “voting with one’s feet” is a real thing, the results are in.
The numbers don’t lie.
Many perceive Gunnar Smári’s campaign to re-join Norway as a cunning bit of political satire—a fun way to express dismay at the way Iceland is being run, while taunting the anti-EU factions that gleefully sabotaged the nation’s every attempt to engage in constructive conversation about the possible benefits of joining the European Union. That might be true. It’s hard to imagine a better, more entertaining way to circumvent the proto-fascist nationalistic propaganda that’s been poisoning local discourse since the collapse.
Still, the man (a notorious antagonist) maintains a straight face throughout every interview on the subject, always appearing dead serious.
As for myself, do I really want Iceland to rejoin Norway (aka SNOREWAY)? Or am I trying to do my part in conveying a point I believe important? To quote Sarcastic Teenager #2 from that classic Simpsons episode, “Homerpalooza”:
“I don’t even know anymore.”
HEY GET THIS! YOU CAN ALSO READ THIS IN NORWEGIAN!
CHECK IT OUT: “Derfor velger jeg landsforræderi”