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Snap!

Last week, on June 17 [Iceland’s National Day] a man here in Reykjavík [well, nearby municipality of Álftanes to be precise] took an excavator to his house and demolished it. He also dug a hole in his yard into which he dumped his car and shoveled some earth on top.

He’d lost the house in the collapse and didn’t want the bank to have it.

Then, two nights ago, a man went berserk, rammed a jeep he was driving into all four doors of the fire station in Skógarhlíð [here in Reykjavík] before ramming into a police cruiser and at least one of two ambulances that tried to stop him, then taking off at high speed. He drove down Skúlagata and hit two separate cars on the way before ramming into the gate of the main police station down by Hlemmur. Apparently his intention was “to kill a cop”.

This certainly gives one pause. Incidents like these are not common here in Niceland. And they certainly beg the question whether the social contract that Eva Joly has so frequently talked about [and talks about in this interview] is already being broken. That people are just snapping, figuring they’ve got nothing left to lose and why should they care about anything – social codes, mores or their fellow citizens.

I fear this is the dark underbelly of the kreppa.

BUT IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL HERE NOW
The height of summer, season of the midnight sun. Everything is so vibrant green and the sun so dazzling … it’s hard to believe that people are desperate enough to pull stunts like the ones above. Right now, 10 pm, we have brilliant sunshine with light breezes, such a pretty evening. It’s 9°C [48F] right now, the sun came up at 2.56 this morning, will set at 12.03, er, tomorrow.

[PS I’ve finally added titles and descriptions to our Berlin photoset on Flickr.]

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  • hildigunnur June 23, 2009, 10:45 pm

    weeell, actually one can hardly say he lost his house in the banking collapse, it was well underway earlier – he’d started swindling people out of their money early that same year to be able to pay his bills. And couldn’t manage. Now he’s using the crash as an excuse, and gets a senator to press his case. Just one crazy man.

    But yes, this is something new here, and scary.

  • JD June 23, 2009, 11:02 pm

    Could be a bad sign indeed. For now though, take can take some solace in the fact that these protests can still border on comical, in the case of the homeowner anyway. It’s much worse when guns get involved, like they have here.

  • Lee June 23, 2009, 11:06 pm

    Even though the guy who demolished his house damaged property belonging to a bank, the symbolic value came to outweigh the bank’s monetary loss. And the image of the half-buried car is sufficiently seminal that, as a one off, I respect his actions. History in the making.

    Anyway, I suspect that most people think Iceland’s social contract was already broken by the elite and so the repercussions (such as the beserk jeep, etc) are somewhat inevitable. Not a dark underbelly, but necessary and cathartic.

  • Bromley86 June 23, 2009, 11:10 pm

    It’s been amazing me just how many Icelanders approve of the digger-guy’s actions. I doubt there will be the same approval for the maniac.

    Of course, you probably get a different view of opinions from a message board than you do in the street. So what do you friends and family think Alda? Is he a romantic or a selfish person?

  • Bromley86 June 23, 2009, 11:11 pm

    (The digger-guy, that is)

  • alda June 23, 2009, 11:21 pm

    Bromley86 – I was away so haven’t discussed it with a lot of people, but those in my immediate circle (and myself) just found it sad and sort of bizarre. But on Facebook I’ve noticed that a lot of people approve.
    The difference between the two of course is that the digger guy seemed in full possession of his faculties, whereas the other was definitely on something.

    Hildigunnur – oh! I didn’t know he’d been swindling people out of money. Hm.

  • Gunnhildur June 24, 2009, 12:28 am

    He was in very dire straits before the collapse. He had made a lot of money in the boom years and managed that money quite poorly. But I’ve heard that this sort of behavior is a classic prelude to a suicide, so I hope there is someone taking care of him.

  • Ljósmynd DE June 24, 2009, 6:20 am

    Isn’t there any way for individuals to file for personal bankruptcy to get rid of at least parts of their debts? If this man had been cheating other people, it might be a different case, but generally it is very bad for society, if people feel cornered and think to have nothing to loose for the reason of exorbitant debts. It might be bound to trigger violence and call forth populists with the easy solution. Shouldn’t the bank offering the loans be responsible, too?

    But otherwise keep the sun shining. 🙂

  • hildigunnur June 24, 2009, 9:23 am

    Yeah, he was in the business of importing – hmm, what the heck would “einingahús” be in English – ready made house parts to put together houses, as his own. There’s at least one family that had paid 10 millions all in all last summer, the parts factory never saw more than about 3 of them, the people never got any part of their house. See here and here.

  • hildigunnur June 24, 2009, 9:26 am

    Also maybe he should have thought of that the banks are now actually owned by the State, that is all of us, instead of the swindlers that owned the banks before. So now he was taking his anger out on the rest of us.

    I think way less of Þór Saari after hearing he was in on this BS, than earlier, sorry to say 🙁

  • Guðmundur June 24, 2009, 11:05 am

    It seems like the only people who have tackled the kreppa constructively are the entrepreneurs of Hugmyndaráðuneytið and the squatters who took over an empty, derelict house in the city center earlier this year. At least they managed to put their actions into some political and social context.

    This guy on the other hand seems to have tried his best to live the Icelandic dream by trampling on others, only to get trampled himself by even bigger forces. The farmer who paid him 10 million krónur for a house he never received handled this admirably, however. He said that if this guy would come to his farm and work until his debt was paid up, he’d forgive him. No reponse yet, though.

  • Sigga June 24, 2009, 11:05 am

    Yes, I definitely think we need to worry when people are hailing this guy as righteous, I am sorry, but people have to face the consequences of their greed. And this guy is just using the kreppa to justify himself and that is just soooo wrong, he was in it deep big time long before the bank collapsed. He was also just a little bit to calm and composed in the interview on the news…. seems more like psychopathic behaviour to me.

  • Gwrhyr June 24, 2009, 2:58 pm

    It sounds like these incidents are not only repercussions of the Kreppa but also of the irresponsible times before the kreppa.
    In any case, if incidents like this continue, it is definitely the start of societal collapse. These two people may or may not have good reason to be angry, but their actions only cost the Icelandic people more money and stress as well as make Iceland look like a meth-lab-infested crack-ho neighborhood in the USA or any non-major Russian city.
    These are probably the most trying times for the social contract of Icelandic society, and if more pressure is put on the people, they will snap. There is only so much pressure people can withstand.
    I have no doubt, though, the Icelandic society can weather this storm, though. Icelanders have weathered a lot throughout the centuries so there should be no reason for them to collapse now.

  • RK in Los Angeles June 24, 2009, 10:10 pm

    Hildigunnur its called prefab (prefabricated) houses.

    Not to play the devils advocate here or anything, I did think all the same things as all of you about this guy. But then I wonder if maybe he is angry because he received no forgiveness, no second chance to make up for his mistakes? But on the news every day are stories about royal colossal f*** ups made by authorities and/or bigger fish so to speak, and that the consequences are still insignificant for those people. I don’t know, I am not pretending to know what goes on with this man. Just generally wondering.

    It saddens me to read the Icelandic news these days, not just because of events but because of the tone. There is so much anger and blame going around and a lot of judgments being passed. Sometimes I cant help wondering if we Icelanders are really judgmental people, I would like to think not but I do think we are very hard on ourselves and each other. A bit of forgiveness, at least some empathy doesn’t hurt anyone. So far the wrong things are forgiven.

  • hildigunnur June 25, 2009, 12:01 am

    RK, ah yes, that was it.

    Yes, maybe we’re being too judgemental – but mainly I’m irritated at this guy being hailed as some sort of hero, really.

  • R0n & Connie Adamson July 9, 2009, 5:09 am

    We are in Naniamo B.C. Canada . We are enjoying this page.
    Connies family from Icland Thorstein Hallrimson 1844- 1936
    The world seems to be in a termoil