From Iceland — Húmanistaflokkurinn (“The Humanist Party”) Interviewed

Húmanistaflokkurinn (“The Humanist Party”) Interviewed

Published April 8, 2013

Húmanistaflokkurinn (“The Humanist Party”) Interviewed

1.    Briefly describe your party’s general agenda in one sentence.
The party’s agenda is to prioritise the human being before money and to create an economy that is in the service of people and their needs rather than the other way around.
2.    Tell us about your party. What’s it all about? Does it have a history? Are you proud of that history?
The Humanist Party is an international party founded in 1984. The main reason for the HP’s presence in politics is to bring the values of humanism into the political landscape. The HP has taken part in three national elections in Iceland and three municipal elections. Despite the fact that we have not yet managed to get our representatives into the Parliament, we are very proud of our history because of our insistence on human rights and prioritising the human being, which has influenced other parties and contributed to more emphasis on human values in Icelandic politics.
3.    Is there a foreign sister party that you identify with, one that international readers might identify with?
We are an international party so we are part of a network of political parties with the same political vision. Broadly speaking we identify with parties left of the traditional left. In Iceland we have a good relationship with Alþýðufylkingin (“People’s Front of Iceland”), sharing the basic idea of social solutions and emphasis on people’s collective needs over the individualistic or capitalistic ideas that now govern our society.
4.    What do you consider the most important issue facing Iceland today? How about the most important issue to consider in this election?
The most pressing, short-term issue is the needs of the thousands of Icelanders who now live in agony because of the financial crash and its consequences. Long term it’s a new monetary system in which the Central Bank is the only institution allowed to produce money and it does so according to the needs of the economy. We also aim for a banking system without interest.
5.    What do you admire about the current coalition government and what it accomplished in the last four years? What do you dislike? What will you do better?
We are not very happy with the work done by the current coalition government. We dislike that they worked with the IMF to more or less re-establish the same order of things that brought us the big crash in the first place. We would do better if we come to power by creating a new money system in the service of all. And we would, given general support of the people, stop the slavery of interest that robs us of our time and the quality of life that we could potentially have if we no longer had to pay those gigantic donations to the rich. Also, we would slow economic growth to the extent that we could live on one Earth, not needing five earths, and that we can deliver the Earth to our future generations in at least the same condition as we received it.
6.    Was the financial crisis in 2008 and the problems Iceland now faces in some way caused by government policy and action or the lack thereof? Is your party in some way responsible for this? Why or why not?
The financial crisis was created by the neo liberal financial system that controls the world here and in all other countries on this planet. It is the reason for the big crash here in Iceland. The Humanist Party has nothing to do with this and we have warned about this process and its inevitable consequences for nearly 30 years.
7.    Specifically, how do you plan to bring Iceland back to economic prosperity?
We will change the money system, taking the power to create money from the banks and putting it into our own hands through the Central Bank and begin working on creating interest-free banks. Bringing real democracy into the workplace and rewarding the process of forming co operatives, for instance by changing all companies the go bankrupt into workers cooperatives. Cooperative enterprises endure economical crises far better than the private ones and they are generally managed more efficiently due to their democratic vote.
8.    Do you want to weaken, strengthen or keep unchanged the regulation of the financial industry and other business activity in Iceland?
While the beast is loose you should have it in chains, but it would be better to replace it with a more useful and human-friendly animal.
9.    Do you plan to increase or decrease the total tax burden in Iceland?
Decrease it for the poorest population and increase it greatly for the wealthiest.
10.    Do you believe in the Icelandic króna? Or will you work to adopt an alternative currency? If so, which one?
We believe in the króna in a production-oriented economy with the amount of money produced relative to the needs of the economy and the real values produced in society.
11.    Do you support the newly passed law removing an expiration date from Iceland’s capital controls? Will your party work to lift these controls? Does it have a timeframe in mind?
We support these controls as long as they are necessary to protect the economy and the people of Iceland.
12.    Do you believe that the collapse was more than an economic one? If so, what else failed in 2008 and does it still need fixing?
The crash was that of an old mentality which accepts that some human beings are above other human beings and that the interest of individuals are greater than the interests of the whole. It’s a culture of letting others take responsibility for our existence rather taking that responsibility into our own hands in a real participatory democracy.
13.    How can the government best serve Icelandic homes?
Fulfil the basic human right for housing, food and clothing and access to healthcare and education as a top priority in the society.
14.    What is your stance on Iceland’s application to the European Union? Do you ultimately think Icelanders’ interests would be best served by being part of this coalition?
We do not think that Iceland should be part of EU, which is in our view is a European Union of Banks rather than people.
15.    What is your stance on the new constitution that was called for in the wake of Iceland’s financial crisis? Are you for or against pushing the current draft through parliament? Why or why not?
We find many important flaws with the current draft for a new constitution. Even so, the people agreed in a referendum to have it form the basis for a new constitution so we think that the parliament should work in accordance with the will of the people.
16.    Will your party do something to protect the land and its resources? Is a more stringent regulative framework needed to ensure conservation of the environment?
We call for reduction in economic growth. The level of consumption in Iceland is far higher than in all other countries and this has to change. The natural resources should be under control of the state and be used so that the environment can be delivered to the future generations in the same or better conditions.
17.    Is gender equality a problem in Iceland? If so, what does your plan to do to ensure equality?
Yes, and making it right would be following the existing constitution and laws as well as human rights declaration and charters on this issue.
18.    Where do you stand on immigration issues?
Our vision is a word without borders where people can move freely between countries and decide where they want to live. Human rights be upheld everywhere for everyone where ever he or she is born. It should be the task of the international community to commonly ensure that the Human Rights to a dignified life and fulfilment of basic human need is upheld in all countries for all people. The Humanist Party has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of its founding documents.
19.    Does your party harbour any ideas about the role of religion in governance?
Religion is a personal decision. Everyone should have the freedom to believe or not to believe in a higher being and all religions should have equal rights in society. We do not think that religion or non-religion should be an issue in governance.
20.    Are there any parties that your party will not work with in a coalition government? Why?
This decision will be based on political issues rather than political parties and personalities.

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