I well remember the first time I landed at the Keflavík airport, on December 26, 2008. Making my way to BSÍ to meet my Icelandic friends, I felt home in a really strange way, like if I had been there before. Since then, I’ve come back to Iceland almost every year, and I believe that—who knows why, maybe some Icelandic fisherman visited Barcelona in the 18th century and got frisky?—I have some Viking blood running in my veins.
So, after getting to know Icelanders better, I feel close to them in many ways. This does not apply to most of the people from South of Europe. Even if we are all Europeans, we grow up thinking that we are not the same. You, the North, the right working people, the example of a great society. Us, the South, the lazy workers and the great talkers.
If we analyze the idea of how we view politics in the North and in the South, we find the same stereotypes. You are the perfect people, with politicians that listen to citizens and work for a welfare society free from corruption. In the South, our politicians are somewhat akin to the mafia, with lots of corruption, lying again and again to their voters and the rest of the population. And, yes, the truth is that here in Spain and Catalonia, for example, politics mostly work like that. However, things aren’t so different in Iceland. Icelanders suffered what is sometimes called “the greatest banking collapse in the history of the world” (by Icelanders), so…
Let me tell you a little story. When the 15M revolution started in Spain in 2011, many people noted that this new movement was not made up of the classical groups of “right” or “left” voters. The group’s conclusion was that we were the underdogs, and that our main goal was to drive our rulers from the top.
Thus, as European who believe in the need for a global reset, the beginning of a new Economic and social era, I think it is a great idea to build bridges between societies of the North and the South to explode the myth that says that we are so different and to work together to change this World. Until now, I already connected some bridges to explain Icelandic society to the Catalan and Spanish readers. I self published the book ‘Iceland 2013. Story Of Deception’, which includes a Catalan translation of the Constitutional draft Icelanders wrote in 2011.
Currently, I’m writing a second book, ‘Iceland 2014. The Price Of The Economic Miracle’, that includes the translation of the Executive Summary of the Special Investigative Committee. In this book I seek to dispel the myth of the “Iceland’s great recovery,” since it’s obvious that Icelanders paid an incredible amount of money to bail out the banks, that they still have strict capital controls and that they have lost the previous level of their Scandinavian welfare society. And it’s quite funny, because the powers-that-be are using the same words and concepts in Spain to convince the population that the economy over there is also recovering. The truth is that our economies are doing more or less fine, because we increased our debt to historical levels.
The story goes like this: the bankers started a gambling game through the financial sector, taking high and absolutely unnecessary risks thanks to access to cheap money from the Central Banks and the creation of crazy financial products. This lead to our economies collapsing, and after the nationalization of our banks, which was the solution proposed by the system? “Ok, don’t worry guys, we are going to save your nation and lend you more money!” So, yes my friends, bankers, those responsible for the crisis, are still gaining great benefits from the interests of the billionaire credits they are giving to the states (that they are paying back with money coming from our taxes). And the states, after getting all this money—and cutting social services and some basic rights—are proud of it and say something like: “Hey, guys! We are recovering! Come here and invest in our country, we are the best place to make business!”
The saddest thing is that this last sentence is true. That’s the way countries in bankruptcy recover in the North and in South of Europe: borrowing unreal money, offering cheaper resources and selling cheaper workforce. If we translate it into capitalism language, we are now again competitive countries.
Èric Lluent (Barcelona, 1986). Freelance Journalist.