Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iceland: the friendly rogue state

Iceland's voters have rejected a plan by their government to cover the losses of Iceland's banks (and their foreign creditors). This is creating tension with the British and Dutch governments, which will probably keep Iceland outside of some of the main international financial systems; as such, Iceland will not participate in the heavily regulated and subsidized regime that defines modern global capitalism. They seem to be rejecting the speculation-driven growth that had created an illusion of great wealth, only to leave them with a shattered economy.

Having told the foreign economic powers to "shove off", Iceland has also freed themselves of any need to appease them in its other activities. Perhaps the next conflict will come over the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a set of laws that will help journalists and dissidents to criticize the powerful with less fear of retribution. Before long, the champions of corporate capitalism may start pointing to Iceland as a "rogue state" that refuses to play by the rules. If that should be the case, we need to remember that their only "crime" would have been to decide to live as free and equal members of a political community.

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