Wednesday 26 October 2016

Pirate Power

Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of iced tea

Avast me hearties; wipe the parrot shit off me tunic; adjust me eye patch and give me wooden leg a quick rub down with worming liniment (two coats)! Although I’m not an avid follower of politics nor much of a political pundit, the following story is simply too good to miss.

It seems likely that the Icelandic Pirate Party will a win a majority in Saturday's national elections. As one party member so vividly stated: “Return to your constituencies, splice the main brace, keel haul the scurvy dogs and prepare for government”. Steady Flaxen, don’t overdo the pirate motif, or no one will take your article seriously; pieces of eight.

The party was inaugurated in 2012 by a disparate/desperate group of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and geeks. The founders had no idea that within a scant four years the party would emerge as the favourite to win the 2016 elections. Policy seems dictated by online polls and the Pirates' pathological aversion to state interference regarding internet privacy.

So what the hell is going on? Have the notoriously sensible and civilised people of Iceland (bit boring though) gone stark raving mad? Maybe not. There has been an undertow of political disgust and rebellion amongst the European electorate over the last few years- Brexit anyone? Are we seeing in Iceland an extreme form of this expression? The ‘strangeness’ of Iceland's politics is partly due to Iceland's small population and isolation. Political events can have disproportionate impact on a homogeneous and politically savvy nation of 330,000. However, the country wasn't isolated enough to escape the economic crash of 2008. The crisis had a profound effect on the small Icelandic economy and collapse was only averted by a large injection of cash from the IMF. Like the rest of the world the Icelanders rightly blamed their economic woes on greedy and rapacious bankers. Unlike the rest of the world they did not bail them out. Instead they locked them up; very sensible.

The Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015 also had a profound effect on the Icelandic psyche. In the wake, the Pirate Party campaigned for the repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws and as a result these archaic laws were removed from the statute book in July 2015. Although mainly a reaction against Muslim religious intolerance it also reflected Iceland’s increasing secularisation. Anti-establishment feeling went incandescent after a financial scandal involving the Prime Minister’s wife became public. So fierce was the opposition that Iceland’s then-prime minister, Sigmugumbo Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was forced into retirement.

The Icelandic situation represents a Europe in miniature. The electorate are sick of an entrenched political system mired in lies and deceit. Politicians have always been big on rhetoric and short on results and they have always connived and lied. What has changed is that Europeans have become more sophisticated, educated and critical than previous generations and are less willing to accept the untruths which drip from political leader’s mouths, as truths. No longer do we uncritically absorb the blatant biased propaganda promulgated by the government led press. No news is true without critical appraisal. The unprecedented access to news and views provided by the internet has exposed the masses to alternative interpretations and realities. If this has proved confusing for many it has enabled an increasing vocal minority to realise that the truth, while out there, is never simple and never pure, especially where politicians are concerned.

In a nut shell: Folk are as mad as hell and ain’t gonna take it anymore and are more than willing to exercise their franchise to kick the establishment in the bollocks (or arse for that matter).

Aha, Jim lad?

I'm not a pirate, just irate


  1. If only Iceland were a Europe in miniature. After the financial shennanigans of ten years ago, their banks were permitted to wallow in their own bankruptcies, and collars were felt.

    If only the rest of Europe had such authorities...

  2. PS
    "...exercise their franchise to kick the establishment in the bollocks (or arse for that matter)..."

    Or we could adopt your predilection for the incendiaries...