Why economic globalization really, REALLY stinks

Sure, it’s easy for us lefties to say that corporate globalism sucks the big banana. We’ve been saying that for over two decades now. But if you want to see, not just hear, why it’s a bad idea, I suggest you give this nice fella from Iceland a blog-call. Here’s an excerpt from his post, “Surreal Reykjavik”, about what life’s been like in the smallest, cutest capital in the world since stockmarkets in much bigger cities took a header last week.

It’s like we know the system is broken, we know it’s gone, but we can’t see it. We can’t tell what’s real, what’s still there, and what are just the ghosts of yesterday, when Iceland was one of the richest countries in the world. A pale reflection of the golden age in Icelandic economy which is now going up in flames. Where’s the smoke?

The world is treating us like we’re dead. Bank accounts frozen. No buziness without cash payments in advance. No currency can be bought. The stock market is closed (not that I have anything left there). Imports have stopped because of closed currency markets and diapers, flour, sugar and other neccesities are selling out in the shops.

I would like to remind the world that the banks went down because of a chain reaction – that started in the US. I’m not going to tell you the chain of events, the intervention of politicians, the misunderstandings, the dispute with Britain where they used their anti-terrorist laws to confiscate Icelandic assets. I’m not trying to find someone to blame. But I would like to tell you that we still have a lot of innovative and prominent companies in Iceland, and you might actually get a pretty good deal there at the moment, as the Icelandic Krona is so low.


People are well aware of the pshycological effect of the bank crises. For me, it’s the biggest shock since my mother-in-law’s sudden death. I fear that the society will be going through a similar cycle. We’re in stage one – the disbelieve and numness. When routine hits us and we realize that we don’t have our money and can’t pay the bills, start losing our cars and homes, then the real sorrow and sadness sinks in. And it happens at the worst time of the year, when the nights are getting longer and longer. In December we have 20 hours of complete darkness. That will be a very tough month. Suicides are already being reported.

The minister of education, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, has sent an email out to all schools in the country with some guidelines on how to react. In the television ads are running reminding people that the most precious things in life – are free! Helplines have been opened. And people are being reminded that if you’re not one of those going broke, keep on spending like normally. The economy really needs it.

The last time I read anything out of Iceland was during my second-last year at Queen’s University, when I took an Old Norse course (and Introduction to Beowulf, with the same great prof) in lieu of something much drier, to cover the linguistics requirements of my English Lit degree. It was great fun to translate a portion of the Svarfdaela Saga, which had never been translated into English. It was also bolshy fun to read about the Norse Gods, whom I worshipped quite a bit in those early days of my pagandom, in the language they themselves were supposed to have spoken. And it was lovely to see, in National Geographic, a large but polite contingent of Icelanders turn out to protest against warmongering and nukes when Ronald Reagan attended a summit in Reykjavik and paid a courtesy call to Vigdís Finbogadóttir, Iceland’s first female president. A pagan priest called on Freyr and Njörður to protect Iceland from the nuclear menace, and cast a curse (called a nið) on war. Apparently it worked, for Iceland remained peaceful, uncontaminated, and nuke-free even after the old gasbag had gone his sulphur-scented way. (Never underestimate a good Icelandic curse!)

This would probably be a good time for me to dust off my old robes (and Old Norse dictionary!), and cast a nið of my own to help our little neighbor Iceland shake off the crapitalist curse and get its collective groove back. After all, Iceland’s a groovy little place. The language is as close to pure Old Norse as you’ll find anywhere in Scandinavia. The people are as cool there as you’ll find anywhere. They deserve better than to lose it all on someone else’s fiscal follies.

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6 Responses to Why economic globalization really, REALLY stinks

  1. Fernando says:

    I have decided that you and your blog rocks… hence you’re the winner of a link from geekgaucho.blogspot.com
    Have a nice day!

  2. Super! Thanks. Blogrollin’ comin’ right back atcha…

  3. Thanks for the quote and your nice words about Iceland, Sabina.
    That pagan priest you refer too was my uncle 🙂 A powerful priest.

  4. Your uncle did a great job, Hjortur. I hope things turn around for you soon–Iceland may not be a very big country, but it’s a whole lotta country in a little wee space. Anyplace where there’s so much geothermal energy to spare that people can bake bread in a hot patch of soil is a place worth saving. (And I haven’t even mentioned how much I love knitting with Lopi wool!)

  5. Stephan says:

    small islands are especially vulnerable. Tonga in the pacific is one of them.
    Fefe hake Sabina Becker
    love reading the news

  6. Thanks, Stephano! Glad to see another friendly face here…

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