'Neo-Liberalism' Tag Archive

Dec 07 2016

An Uncertain Alternative


Árni Daníel Júlíusson

Iceland’s recent general election shows that the country’s neoliberal consensus is over. What happens next?

When the Icelandic parliament assembled in fall of 2010, tens of thousands gathered to throw eggs and rotten tomatoes at the politicians. The MPs were participating in a traditional march between the cathedral and the parliament building that marks the beginning of each legislative setting. Protesters repeated their performance exactly a year later, now with an even larger crowd.

These events marked the midpoint of Iceland’s anti-neoliberal rebellion, which had started in the fall of 2008 at the time of the financial collapse. The mass actions represented a definitive break with the neoliberal consensus the country had sustained since 1984.

Any government will now have to understand — and then accept — this popular revolt if it wants to credibly hold power. Old alliances and structures have collapsed, and new ones must be built.

This October’s elections reflected the changed political atmosphere. On the one hand, the results were inconclusive, failing to produce a clear majority that could form a government. On the other hand, they decisively showed the fate of the sitting government, made up of the centrist Progressive Party (FSF) and the right-wing Independence Party (XD). In 2013, they had received a clear majority of votes — each winning nineteen parliamentary seats out of a total of sixty-three — despite their direct responsibility for a number of bank collapses in 2008.

Between 1991 and 2008, XD enacted a unrelenting series of ultra-neoliberal and right-wing policies that led to the financial crisis. The basis for this neoliberal turn, however, was laid in the eighties, when an earlier Progressive-Independence coalition government held power.

How these parties returned to power in 2013 can only be explained by the events between the financial crisis and that election. Their fate in this October’s election gives us a sense of what might come next.

A Disgraced Left

When the Icelandic banks collapsed on October 6, 2008, a powerful mass movement appeared out of nowhere. By late November, it had become a grave threat to the government.

The movement was organized on several levels and had several centers of operations, which were mostly uncoordinated. All of them coalesced, however, in weekly meetings in the center of Reykjavík. On December 1, protesters convened a meeting at Arnarhóll, after which the more radical wing attacked and occupied the Central Bank of Iceland. A full-scale uprising — which many expected — did not materialize. Read More

Oct 07 2011

Inspired By Iceland… No, really!


Árni Daníel Júlíusson

It is funny how things can turn around. For decades, Iceland languished in neoliberal hell, with signs of opposition few and far between. Meanwhile the opposition to the neoliberal order of things grew all over the world—with massive protests in Seattle, Genoa and elsewhere—and the beginnings of a world-wide anti-globalisation movement represented by the World Social Forum, first held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001. Almost nobody in Iceland did or said anything to support these powerful movements against the neoliberal order, with the exception of the brave Saving Iceland organisation. Read More

Aug 16 2010

Inside a Charging Bull


Iceland, one year on
By Haukur Már Helgason

After Iceland’s three banks collapsed in October 2008 – a bankruptcy bigger than Lehmann Brothers’ in a republic of 300,000 inhabitants – the public overthrew a neoliberal government through mass protest, precipitating a general election. On election day, 25 April 2009, the conservative head of Iceland’s public radio newsroom sighed his relief: ‘Judging from the atmosphere this winter a revolution was foreseeable in spring, some sort of revolution – that something entirely different from what we are used to would take over. Now we know better.’(1) Read More

Jul 13 2010
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Saving Iceland Mobilisation Call-Out


Join our resistance against the industrialization of Europe’s last remaining great wilderness and take direct action against heavy industry!

The Struggle So Far
The campaign to defend Europe’s greatest remaining wilderness continues. For the past five years summer direct action camps in Iceland have targeted aluminium smelters, mega-dams and geothermal power plants.

After the terrible destruction as a result of building Europe’s largest dam at Kárahnjúkar and massive geothermal plants at Hengill, there is still time to crush the ‘master plan’ that would have each major glacial river dammed, every substantial geothermal field exploited and the construction of aluminium smelters, an oil refinery, data farms and silicon factories. This would not only destroy unique landscapes and ecosystems but also lead to a massive increase in Iceland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Read More