Monday, June 18, 2012

Iceland's Latter-Day Saga

Tiny Iceland has again bid fair to regain its former place in the machineries of Western mythopoeisis, this time as an icon and at least a prospective model for how, in the current revolutionary narrative, a "people" apparently can arise, in unity, and peacefully overthrow their corrupt, powerful overlords, rein in predatory, international banks, relieve extortionate debts, jail financial and governmental malefactors, and live happily ever after in the middle of the cold ocean, atop a seething sump of volcanic activity.

At least once every day, some version of this fabulous fairy-tale crops up on the web/F-book, usually accompanied by scolding commentary pleading that, if Iceland can do it, so can we.

The people of Iceland have overwhelmingly risen up and forced their government puppets of the banks to resign. Primary banks have been nationalized. The debt scam imposed by Great Britain and Holland money printers was declared null and void. A public assembly has been created to rewrite Iceland’s constitution.
The best part is, all of this happened without violence or bloodshed. A whole country’s revolution succeeded against powers that created the current global crisis without a shot being fired. A very good reason exists for the apparent failure of television and newspapers to provide any publicity on this unprecedented event: what would happen if the rest of the EU and the United States took this as an example?

Every time I see the NEW "saga" (it's an Icelandic word, after all)--how brave, doughty, determined little Iceland cancelled its debt, threw out the bankers, and started over (ALWAYS awash in noble, outraged, hortatory sentiments declaring THIS should be OUR model--I wanna grab somebody and shout at 'em:

PLEASE! What do you mean? There is not the FAINTEST scintilla of similarity between Iceland and ANYPLACE else, least of ALL the USofA.

Sure, it's EASY to see why this new Icelandic is being appropriated: OWS is moribund and without ideas, the duopoly presents us with equally suicidal electoral "choices," and the rich moneyed fux laugh at us and flip us off. The new Icelandic 'saga' is a kind of antidote: It provides the basis for kind of "propaganda for the cause" (internal agit-prop) which motivates people into believing the impossible is possible.

Thanks to some creative writing, Iceland has come to be portrayed as the tiny, insular David  who rose up and struck DEAD the greedy, global Goliath of predatory Capital; or at least tamed it...And truly,  the Icelandic courts did recently send a couple of bankers away for short terms of jail, one of whom was the former leader of the ruling party. But when being exhorted to take up this banner, it's worth remembering how unique Iceland Really is.

In the first place, Iceland's TOTAL population is barely 320,000 people... a much easier place to change things with that populatiuon size, than a place like the USA with a population of over 312 million.

There are more people in Bernalillo COUNTY, NM, (Where?) than in the whole COUNTRY of Iceland. And in Iceland, they're basically all related, all those ssons and dottirs?

As a result, Iceland's society is MUCH more intimately organized than ANY with which we are familiar. It's like a "national small-town," like Pottersville, or Gilligans Island, with pubs and neighborhood shopping malls.

Also: Because there are so few of them, and they are almost all related to one another, they know one another, socially, the "power" of acquaintance--and the immediacy of possible sanctions against alleged or presumed malefactors--is MUCH greater and direct than it would be in larger, more diffuse cultures, like ours...

Also, as befits such an homogeneous society, the Icelandic political culture is familial: It's Parliament consists of nearly SIX HUNDRED members, which is larger than BOTH "houses" of the US Congress, combined. Each Parliamentary member represents just over 4400 citizens; by comparison, in the USofA, our Congress-critters each represent about THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION people. The Icelandic parliamentarian can scarcely afford to alienate ANYONE. He or she SEES every one of their electors all the time.

As to the banking crisis and its resolution: Google it. It's more complicated than I can do justice to here ...there's LOTS of material. In general, Iceland only had one main "national" bank and 2 smaller, regional ones. The were deeply compromised by the banking frauds that brought down economies in 2007-08. Eventually, the main bank was nationalized, the other 2 placed in receivership. Some debts were cancelled.

Here, again the possibility for comparison breaks down: One USer 'mega-bank'--say BoA or CitiGroup--is worth the whole GNP of Iceland. And we're up against FAR more than 3 banks in the USA.

None of this is to diminish, of course, the accomplishments of the Icelanders. They have accomplished much, and continue to accomplish much in the way of sustaining their popular sovereignty. We COULD do it here, too, with a bit of geographic wizardy.

Just break the 300 MILLION of us into a THOUSAND little, independent NATION/States...

We can discuss how you think that'll work out, without the isolation of the large, cold oceans, when I see you at the beach...

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