Three Lessons From 2014 - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Three Lessons From 2014

Three Lessons From 2014

Published January 18, 2015

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chair of the Left-Green Party

Photos by
Alþingi

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chair of the Left-Green Party

I think of 2014 as the year in which we learned three important things about our society and the world we live in. First, through new research into inequality—such as Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ and various studies on trickle-down economics and the legacy of neoliberal polices—we have come to realize what we always suspected: Inequality will only get worse unless we really decide to do something about it. And we have to, as its effects are proving detrimental to the general public. Unfortunately, we see a reverse development in Iceland, with various government policies that will further increase the gap between the rich and the rest.

A second fact that we are confronted with is that of climate change. In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered its fifth assessment report on the issue, giving even more serious warnings than ever before. As the panel makes clear, it is time for immediate and substantial action to reduce carbon emissions. We have seen a reverse development in Iceland, the current government having undermined most of the efforts to reduce emissions instated by its predecessors.

These two phenomena, rapid environmental change and growing inequality, are probably the biggest sources of conflict in the modern world. It is a sad state of affairs that too many believe that conflict and disagreement can only be resolved through the use of force, a solution that rarely works, as history has repeatedly demonstrated.

And, finally: We have seen how precious and important real democracy and real protection of human rights is for the people of the world. At the same time, we have witnessed how easy it is to erode and undermine these them, leaving those on the periphery to lead a life devoid of necessary freedoms, opportunities and security.

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