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Five years ago today

On September 29, 2008, EPI and I had just come home from a holiday in Croatia. He went to work, then called me just after 9 am and told me that my bank, Glitnir, had collapsed.

I was speechless. Up to that time I had it had been my absolute conviction that banks were like vaults – they were built to withstand anything. I had never even thought to question this assumption – it was a given, like the air we breathe or the water we drink.

Oh the folly!

Within two weeks, the other two banks had also collapsed, our currency had become worthless outside of Iceland, and we were all terrified and in shock. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Would the country go bankrupt? Since our money was worthless, how would we survive? All the stuff we imported on a regular basis – the food, the oil and gas, the medication … how long before things started to run out in the stores? And then what would we do?

People were losing their jobs en masse. Employers had no idea what their businesses would look like in three months’ time, so they just laid off everyone to stay within the three-month termination period. The view of the future was apocalyptic. It was like a nightmare. And most of us had no idea how it had come to this. We’d gone to sleep in one reality, and woken up in another.

Then, slowly, things started to become more clear. Out of the fog appeared a picture of astonishing corruption and incompetence. WE SAW. Finally. And we became angry.

Really angry.

Iceland revolutionThere was a revolution. It takes a lot to push the Icelanders to that point, since servility seems to be hard-wired into the nation after centuries of colonization. That’s why the Kitchenware Revolution of 2009 was so remarkable. And that’s why the government collapsed. They knew, as we did, that if the people were so furious as to stand for four days and four nights outside the parliament buildings, shouting and throwing things and lighting fires, it meant nothing less than war.

The rest, as they say, is history. The socialist government that took over came up short. They were too divided, they tried to do too much at once, and they couldn’t live up to the Great Expectations of the people. Sadly, after four years of them, the people of Iceland voted the same old villains into power who had brought this country to the brink of destruction before. And their audacity and contempt for the people whom they are supposed to serve knows no bounds.

More on that later.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hildigunnur September 29, 2013, 11:34 pm

    and I’m terribly afraid the people won’t revolt again, whatever the villains do now 🙁

  • ingolfur September 30, 2013, 12:50 am

    A revolution aims to topple the ruling elite, this revolt did not succeed in that and can therefore not be called a revolution.

    That it was named the kitchenware revolution also shows you how little Icelanders know about popular revolutions and other people’s struggles around the world. The form of protest is called Cacerolazo.

  • Michael September 30, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Sadly ingolfur sounds about right while hoping hildigunnur will be proven wrong!? I hear that once the latest budget will be published and discussed in Althingi there might be another awakening and things will change !?

  • alda September 30, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Unfortunately I fear Hildigunnur will prove right. 🙁

  • Michael September 30, 2013, 2:48 pm

    Nothing personal – of course not – but shall hope you’ll be both proven wrong. Lets take the latest resignation by Landspitali CEO over anticipated further budget cuts as a good sign !? The budget will look grim and the public should understand that – no !?

  • Douglas September 30, 2013, 6:25 pm

    There’s a very widespread public feeling of “Politicians are sh*ts; politics is boring as hell; I’ll just ignore it and get on with my life.”
    Which is of course music to the ears of most politicians. 🙁

  • Z September 30, 2013, 8:03 pm

    She’s Back! I am so glad to see you are doing the IWR again, Alda. I have always found it to informative, insightful and entertaining. I missed it when you went “off the air”. Welcome back, and I hope this works out for you.
    Thank you and best wishes.