Published September 30, 2013
Five years have apparently passed since the dreaded economic collapse of October 2008 shook the Icelandic nation to its core. We at Grapevine think this makes for an excellent opportunity to look back on just what happened and attempt to discern what, if anything, we have learned since.
A lot of people theorized (and hoped) that the collapse would mark a sea change in the nation’s politics and attitudes towards its economy, lifestyle and mode of discourse. That the media would and supervisory authorities would turn vigilant, that we would never get fooled again.
Has such a sea change occurred? It’s hard to tell when you’re right in the thick of things, but there are certainly mixed opinions out there. In our attempts to understand and analyse the events that have been unfolding over the past five years, we turned to two noted pundits on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, Sigrún Davíðsdóttir and Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson (fun game: guess which end each inhabits!). We also asked former PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and her collaborator, former Minister of Everything Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (who manned the government decks for most of the past four years) to share their thoughts on the situation, along with the guys currently in charge, PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and his collaborator, Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson While the latter two did not respond to our repeated attempts for comment (which is unfortunate, and might be telling for their style of governance), Steingrímur shared some good thoughts and Jóhanna surprised us by turning in a sharp, condemning article that we later learned is her first public commentary since this spring’s election.
Finally, the diligent journalist Sam Knight meticulously poured over the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables (from #CABLEGATE) concerning Iceland. The results are a revealing account of Iceland’s economic collapse, as seen through the eyes of US diplomats stationed in Iceland at the time. There is a lot of juicy and revealing behind-the-scenes stuff in there, and the article itself grants important insight into what happened, placing some of the events in a new context. Thank you, Chelsea.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere, one we need to take to heart and remember. Let this be the first of many collapsaversary celebrations.