Old Men, Addicted To Power - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Old Men, Addicted To Power

Old Men, Addicted To Power

Published November 14, 2014

Thoughts from a cab, on the state of Iceland

Thoughts from a cab, on the state of Iceland

I’m sitting in a cab waiting for Karin. She is the youngest member of the travel party, and it is our first time travelling together. We are en route to the airport, headed to Toronto. Young Karin is being invited, along with the rest of us, on a mission to showcase Icelandic culture across North-America. The big picture is that by doing these concerts, more tourists will eventually make their way to Iceland, and spend more money. This is essentially a win-win situation for all involved.

It’s nice, being a musician in Iceland. Our society supports its musicians, which in turn results in a good market, and some world-class musicians.

We come from Austurbæjarskóli, the school of immigrant children. Our mother is an immigrant, and she has been battling kidney troubles for twenty years. We have been grateful for the society in which we were raised, and we have come to love it.

But, now, we feel ‘the system’ is changing. It is suffocating us. The politicians lie to us. They break the laws and cover up their crimes. We have no reason to believe anything they say. A sad lesson, they’ve taught us.

They’re cutting down art-funds. They are fucking up the healthcare system. And the real-estate market is going nuts, especially in our own neighbourhood. Fuckin’… 101 Reykjavík. Politicians want to create a false divide between the city and the countryside. They want political turbulence at the borders of our neighbourhood. They want this, perhaps, to distract from the bigger picture. But we have had enough.

They start by slashing taxes on the people who really own their parties, depriving our community on insane amounts of tax-revenue. And then, they try to gain back that revenue from the people who barely have anything at all in the first place.

In theory, we should be able to believe that the actions of our current government are driven by their ideas about economics, wholly different from our own—that they honestly believe they are doing what’s best for society as a whole. Believing this would be great, comforting. But, what can we than say when we look at those same parties and their problems with human rights, their track record.

The Progressive Party is now trying to silence the Nazi xenophobia card they played so masterfully in the last elections, perhaps hoping to bring it back when their current term is out. We can promise you this: By the next election, that party will have become so poisoned by the racists that signed up in the wake of their cheap, desperate campaign ploys last time around, that the random candidates they enlist to run for each district will display more blatant appeals to nationalism than ever before. I think this matter lies in the hands of the people that are already in the party (and are not too socially distorted), who really care about this party, to bring it back to the right track.

If House of Cards was a show about Icelandic politics, Interior Minister Hanna Birna could stand in for Frank Underwood. She has really messed up this time.

What can she do now? Well, she could lay off with the smear-campaigns, and try to buy a little goodwill. She could donate millions to poor children in Africa, to mask the fact that, due to her actions, a poor African child in Iceland cannot be with its father.

And then we point to you, dear right-wingers. Do you want to be part of a political force that is run by old men, addicted to power? Who make fun of your skin colour and try to control the public debate?

Back to the taxi.

Two years ago, we went on a similar trip to America. In that visit, we were invited to the Ambassador’s Residency in Washington DC. There we met Iceland’s current Ambassador to the US, Guðmundur Árni, ‘the one who resigned’. That’s how be and my brother Logi remember him: a successful politician who resigned when he messed up. That is extremely rare in Iceland.

Hanna Birna, please resign. You’re probably a nice lady and a mother who lives a spotless life outside politics.

Come to think of it, you’re probably not really Frank Underwood. You’re maybe more of a Jackie Sharp, the California congresswoman stuck in Frank Underwood’s web of lies and crimes.

The country that young Karin will grow up to inhabit is not like any country you would chose for yourself. It is an old country, controlled by men. Men who are older and more powerful than you.

Hanna Birna. Could you maybe set a good example for the politicians of the future, and become “Hanna Birna, the one who resigned…”? It would be a selfless act, and an important one.

Now, we’ve arrived at the airport. I’m going to have a soy-chai latte and my brother’s gonna drink down the juice of some Goji berries.

From Austurbæjarskóli, with swag,

Les Frères Stefson

Unnsteinn Manuel plays music and does other things, most notably with his band Retro Stefson (and he also has a new solo project, Uni Stefson). He indeed wrote the above as an extended status update while waiting for the singer of his brother Logi’s new band, Young Karin. And then he translated it, for your reading pleasures.

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