Iceland gets scant notice here. But it's financial collapse several years ago was spectacular -- the country went from being highly prosperous to being essentially bankrupt almost over night.
But Iceland is remarkable in many ways, aside from its unique geography. The populace is exceptionally well educated. After their economy was trashed by the bankers, the country's women have played an ever more prominent role in politics and government, leading The Nation to call it The Most Feminist Place in the World. And during the past week, two amazing developments were noted in the world press, but (of course) largely ignored here:
September 28, 2010 from APM
Iceland's former Prime Minister Geir Haarde has been referred to a special court in a move that could make him the first world leader to be charged in connection with the global financial crisis.
After a heated debate Tuesday, lawmakers voted 33-30 to refer to the court charges against Haarde for allegedly failing to prevent Iceland's 2008 financial crash a crisis that sparked protests, toppled the government and brought the economy to a standstill by collapsing its currency...
And no less amazing, a news story I discovered only by browsing a news channel from Spain, which actually covers events of note from around the world:
Iceland’s first lady, Dorrit Moussaieff, joined protesters in a bold move to show her sympathy for people hit by the debt crisis. As the Icelandic president and MPs came under fire from angry protesters on Saturday, on their traditional walk to church marking the opening of the parliamentary session, the President’s wife broke away to join the protest. Protesters, demanding that the government do more to help struggling households, had lined the streets in central Reykjavik pelting politicians with eggs and yogurt.
The article includes a video which shows Ms. Moussaieff climbing over a barrier to join the crowd and hug protesters, showing what appeared to be genuine affection and sympathy for ordinary Icelanders. There are some rather remarkable photos that are worth a look, as well.
The article about Ms. Moussaieff goes on to note that, "A heated debate ensued discussing whether her sympathy for the protesters is genuine or simply a well enacted PR stunt." One commenter noted that she had had a fight with her husband during an interview with a foreign magazine, where she expressed her wish to joint the protests, and that there is a perception that "she wants to be the people's first lady rather than the elite's first lady."
What we are seeing is truly a global movement. Every country is different of course, each with unique economic, historical, social and political dimensions. But we are seeing an international realization that when equality of opportunity is taken away, when democracy is threatened by oligarchy, when there are ever widening disparities in wealth and power, that fundamental corrections must be made.
For each country, those corrections will of necessity be uniquely tailored.
But we can learn a great deal, and leverage our efforts, by both paying attention, and allying ourselves with spontaneous grassroots efforts everywhere that seek economic and social justice, and restoration of equality of opportunity.
What is happening in the tiny country of Iceland is fascinating. If a former prime minister can be brought up on charges for complicity in his country's financial collapse, what does that say about our insistence as a nation on holding harmless the perpetrators of the theft of our national wealth and the architects of the destruction of our middle class, and our refusal to make fundamental changes so that these destructive trends can be reversed?
And what does it say about the effective isolation of our leaders in their Beltway bubble, while in Iceland, the first lady climbs over barriers to hug protesters? Yes, I can see Michelle Obama doing that, and yes, it's absolutely understandable why security concerns make that impossible here. But the story about Ms. Moussaieff's would clearly resonate here, and be an inspiration to #OWS, if the press were to do the unthinkable and actually report it. So, I decided to help spread the word about it here.
Closing words? Occupy Everywhere.