Tuesday, 27 January 2009
GOVERNMENT COLLAPSES IN ICELAND
The worldwide financial crisis has led to the collapse of the Government in Iceland: (http://tinyurl.com/c3wl7d)
I have no sympathy whatsoever for greedy bankers, business figures and politicians. The plight of the Icelandic people, however, is a completely unneccessary tragedy which has been wrought by the same free-market policies that have caused chaos across the world. Iceland was doing fine until the state-owned banks were sold cheaply to cronies of the right wing parties. They engaged in the same casino banking that we have seen elsewhere in the world, with ridiculous leverages and complex financial products. We all know it went pear-shaped when the economic crisis hit and the banks could no longer borrow money and Western allies who have previously been happy to use Iceland as a military base refused to give any assistance. Furthermore, Gordon Brown used anti-terrorist legislation to bully Iceland. So Iceland goes from ally to terrorist state in a roll of the dice.
Icelandic people have been protesting at least weekly outside the Althingi parliament building and recently the protests have become more violent. The police have used pepper spray and clubs and reportedly arrested an 11-year-old boy. I hope the Government fell today because of the protests and not because they want out before the currency is next floated.
It will be interesting to see what kind of coalition there is, or whether it will be a National Government. I suppose whoever ends up in power will be tied into the undoubtedly punishing International Monetary Fund loan conditions that the outgoing Government signed up to?
If the Government can no longer govern, it seems wrong that people in Iceland should have to wait until May to go to the polls. They should be allowed to vote for a new Government as soon as possible. It will be interesting to see how the left-greens fare in any coalition or election. Will we see a Western democracy reject capitalism and embrace socialism?
This blog provides translations of news reports in Iceland: http://newsfrettir.com/alive/
The blogger does not seem to be particularly socialist or feminist, but nevertheless she gives a poignant account of the fear and confusion and the completely unneccessary destruction of the security, living standards and hopes and dreams of ordinary people caused by this latest crisis of capitalism.
We have a world with the resources to meet the needs of every living person, but because of the crazy capitalist system we do not have an efficient way to match the resources to peoples' needs. People in Iceland are worrying themselves to the point of illness in order to make rising astronomical payments on loans and mortgages. Yet they are having to call in sick for work as they cannot afford transport to get there. Homes stand empty while people sleep in a Salvation Army Hostel. The number of people requiring food aid has doubled and food prices are rising.
What kind of a system gives people the third highest per capita income in the world, then a couple of years later has them on food aid? The useless capitalist system.
Here are a few other blogs regarding Iceland:
And here is an article from the Times which gives some of the history of Iceland:
And lastly, here is a picture that makes the timeless point that under the capitalist system, ordinary people are always forced to pay for the greed of the wealthy.