From Iceland — Regarding Styrmir Gunnarsson

Regarding Styrmir Gunnarsson

Published July 2, 2010

Regarding Styrmir Gunnarsson

There was a time in the not distant past when I would have bought all of what he had to say in Grapevine’s last issue. However, in light of our current (and past) circumstances, there is just no other name for this than nationalist alarmism. All of his points are totally redundant if not solely for the fact that Iceland has never even tried negotiating with the EU over its resources—as it stands we don’t actually know a goddamned thing.
Perhaps this is one of those ‘lost in translation’ moments, where old men scream independence and what they are actually trying to say is “fuck you Denmark!” rather than the slightly more succinct dictionary version. It seems to me all of the public backlash against the EU negotiation is firmly rooted in a history which has nothing to do with contemporary circumstances. The political backlash, however, has its roots in far darker places (I’ll get to them in a moment).
Pray tell Ó Granddad of Independent Iceland what we have left to lose by going into talks with Bruxelles and actually testing out and fielding your grave concerns? The fishing industry is already lost—it is owned and manipulated by a tiny group of extremely wealthy men, not by you or the Icelandic people (you are currently being denied your human rights under that arrangement, according to the UN—how very independent of you!) and our remaining natural resources are being sold off in a post-Kreppa fire sale (the Chinese visited us last week just to say “hi,” right?). How much worse can it get? Furthermore, Independence Party chair Bjarni Ben and his special friends are not OLD powers, they are the hip-young new powers, and they seem to be keeping the fires of corrupt, dishonest, fear-mongering politics smouldering away without much help from anyone. Bjarni, by the way just, announced his party’s brilliant, forward thinking plan for the future of Iceland: To pull out of any negotiation with Bruxelles. Period (remember I said I would get to the far darker places? Read on).
Anyone who believes this stance has anything to do with independence—aside from protecting the insidious circle of corruption that bankrolls that party—is living in a fantasy. Staying away from the EU has nothing to do with forging a new path for Iceland. Rather, it has everything to do with continuing business as usual, without any accountability—running the fishing industry like a mafia racket, selling off natural resources to write off debt, fast tracking us back to 2006—as long as we are all driving fancy cars and living in designer apartments with harbour views again nobody will ask the hard questions about what it cost to get there.
“Independence” in Icelandic society today means we have no control over anything and none of the aforementioned jerks are accountable to anyone: this is why Bruxelles scares them, plain and simple. We are owned from within, and the irony with which this man stands on his soap box after being replaced at the national newspaper by one of the most deplorable members of team ‘let’s-fuck-Iceland’ would be hilarious were it not so nauseating. And this is the problem; the majority of the population thinks it’s ok that Davíð Oddsson is now controlling a once respected media source largely because he is an ‘Icelander.’ He is one of us, so when he manipulates reality, and history it’s OK, because he does it ‘independently.’
I think Iceland has Stockholm Syndrome.
What we have failed to comprehend or address in this debate is the fact that Iceland never really had independence (I include myself in that equation because, like I said, until recently I was really buying all this anti-Euro rhetoric—yeah, protect the nation!). But Iceland is part of the world and depends on other nations for almost everything, especially the members of the EU, and yet, we are currently democratically barred from having any say in the way in which it runs. I cannot think of anything more subservient. And yet, Iceland is clutching onto this word, “independence,” like a child with the last piece of chocolate cake, although nobody in Bruxelles has demanded we hand it over to the other kids.
As it stands we are living in a fake democracy, with a fake economy and a fake currency. Something needs to change and, recession or no recession, Iceland continues to prove in spectacular fashion, time and again, that—in spite of an overwhelming preference for transparent democracy and self-governance—it is not capable of that change alone.
I, for one, want to know exactly where we stand.
I want to know what our options are.
I want to hear a different point of view.
We have nothing to lose.

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