Alone

It is the safe bet of every politician. To woo potential voters where there is democracy, or oppressed citizens where there is not with sound-bites about their uniqueness in the world. That their nation for some reasons is special.

But trouble is that the world just doesn’t work that way anymore.

If your eyes have been open for the last couple of decades you will see new generations emerging that are not as border-sensitive as their forerunners. With the emergence of the internet, jet-travel and increased study abroad, young people from different backgrounds have been hit with the reality that their needs and wants are more and less the same.

One of the more profound discovery of my time studying in the US was the realization that I had more in common ideologically with a couple of friends from Africa and Florida, than a couple of friends from back home. The reason was that they had opened up their mind, traveled to different countries, met different people and read different stuff than what had been prescribed by the national psyche in their countries. Their friendship has never been border-sensitive, but inclusive of all, while criticizing in thought.

They would never spurt out cliches that would proclaim their people or piece of land as more special than anyone elses.

To succeed as a politician it seems to help to keep your ideological and intellectual curiosity in check. To tell people what they want to hear instead of the hard, but awesome truth. But we are not alone in the world and we are all interconnected. You cannot afford to isolate your country anymore, because those who will inherit the planet from us will be increasingly averse to being kept down by shackles of their nationality and special interest of their politicians.

In 2006, Landsbankinn like other Icelandic banks had trouble finding ways to finance itself with further loans. The market considered its model risky and tried keeping it in check by hiking their rates. They found another solution, to finance themselves by cheating on globalization. Their CEO would later exclaim it to be total genius. They entered the British savings market with IceSave, an internet savings account that offered the highest interest rates for savers in the UK.

Don’t be mistaken. Alarm bells went off. How could this tiny bank offer the best rates in the UK? And therein was another piece of genius. It was implied that deposits would be guaranteed by the Icelandic government. And with interest rates astronomical in Iceland since 2004, people didn’t think enough of it to look twice. But how could the tiny economy of Iceland guarantee the savings of foreign depositors who outnumbered its citizens?

It could not. The house of cards came tumbling down and now the country is paying the price for playing by its own rules. The government lead by the Independent Party has always opposed Iceland entering the EU. It has always stood by the Icelandic krona. It has always implied a unique standing of Iceland in the world, therefore eliminating the need for increased international cooperation. And most people abroad don’t realize that the management of Landsbankinn is closely tied to the leadership of the Independent Party. The same leadership that gave the bank to its members, Bjorgolfur Thor and Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, even though they had the lowest bid during the privatization process.

The same leadership that is now telling the Brits, the Dutch and the Germans to take a hike when they are trying to reclaim their citizens’ money. The same leadership that is trying to borrow their way out of this mess through the IMF and unbelievably, Britain, Netherlands and Germany amongst others.

The embarressment is endless. Fortunately it is 2008 and not 1908 or 1808, or the US today under Bush that we are dealing with or we would probably have been invaded by now.

We are experiencing a massive meltdown of domestic politics. An MP for Left/Green, Arni Thor Sigurdsson has bought into the mess and proposed a solution. Cut us off from the rest of the world. Isolation. In the biggest domestic crisis since Iceland became independent the solution from the parliament opposition is to become North Korea.

The president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson’s solution is to tell the ambassadors of our closest allies off and threatening to seek new friendships with Russia for example.

So this is what intellectual and ideological insolation does to you. You end up retreating backwards in a hurry, instead of moving forward with pride. There might be a hinge. It is absolutely unsure whether anyone who hasn’t been politically brainwashed under the age of 40 will accept this insolation. With borders fading elsewhere and common ground, they just might seek a new country to be proud of.

The rest will be left alone.

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3 Responses to “Alone”


  1. 1 Roy November 12, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Seeking solace from an oligarchical country? Let´s hope it´s only a ploy to intimidate our western friends. If not….my last meal request is gonna be a Big Mac and a large order of fries.

  2. 2 Elías November 12, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Total embarrassment to all Icelanders, served hot by our president. I just hope our neighbors don’t take him seriously. Throwing a tantrum just because we don’t get a loan doesn’t help. I wouldn’t loan us money, we have the same idiots in charge.


  1. 1 » Alone Trackback on November 12, 2008 at 11:11 am

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