One of the Grapevine’s most locally discussed features of 2009 was our interview with Political Science professor and Independence Party ideologue/Davíð Oddsson advocate Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson. Entitled ‘The Architect Of The Collapse?’ the 3.700 word conversation detailed his stance on ideological responsibility Iceland’s recent economic collapse, its apparent causes and what could be done to rectify the situation (our favourite quote: “[…] the tycoons, aided by the President of Iceland, acquired ownership of all the media in Iceland—except for the Grapevine—and simply secured total media power over the country”).
We would be lying if we said we particularly agreed with Hannes’ interpretation of the world, but we would also be lying if we said it didn’t interest us. In that spirit, we asked him to name us the high- and low points of 2009.
What were the highpoints of 2009?
Davíð Oddsson’s brilliant speech at the biannual general meeting of the Independence Party in the spring of 2009, where he answered his critics, cogently and convincingly. It is the height of injustice that the only man who warned against the expansion of the banks, both publicly, and more strongly privately, and against their reckless behaviour should become a scapegoat in the aftermath of the bank collapse.
Davíð Oddsson is the only person who comes with flying colours out of the Icelandic debacle. He is the only one who resisted the oligarchs that contributed so much to the downfall of Iceland. Well-known (or notorious) media personalities like Egill Helgason, for example, did not want to take sides in the 2004 struggle between Davíð Oddsson and the oligarchs about the control of the media; they said publicly that the court cases against the oligarchs were “boring.”
And the low points?
The Icesave-agreement, which the Icelandic leftist government made in 2009 with the British and the Dutch governments. It was in fact not an agreement; it was a full-scale surrender to the British and the Dutch. Why should Icelandic taxpayers undertake responsibility for the transactions of private individuals abroad, beyond what is clear and written into law and international treatises? Why could matters of doubt or interpretation not be referred to courts, either in Iceland or in England?
The British were not held culpable for their outrageous behaviour during the banking crisis when they refused to save only one British bank, namely the one owned by Icelandic Kaupthing; and when they put (on a government website) Landsbankinn on a list of terrorist organisations, alongside Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is clear that the British caused much of the damage, or fall in the worth of the Icelandic banks.
Another low point was the violence that drove the former government (a spent force as it was) from power at the end of January. Iceland should be ruled by reason, not violence.
A third low point was that the International Monetary Fund turned, in Iceland, out to be a hand collector for the British and Dutch governments (in the Icesave-controversy), instead of serving its original and constitutional purpose.