In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Icelandic President listens to the voice of the people

Posted by seumasach on January 6, 2010

Notsilvia Night


5th January, 2010

Icelanders say:

No to Ice-save – No to Ice-slave

The Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimson refused to sign the Ice-save bill, which would have obligated the Icelandic tax-payer to pay unconditionally for the debts of the Ice-save division of Landsbanki, a private bank, which had collapsed in 2008. A large percentage of the Icelandic people had signed a petition for the president not to sign the bill and the president listened.

Last week the Icelandic parliament approved the Icesave package with a very thin majority.
The members of the Parliament had been under strong pressure to make this decision, although most disagreed with it personally.

The Icelandic government in turn had been for many months under strong pressure by the IMF, the British and Dutch government as well as from the European Union, to agree to a payment of the Icesave debts without the preconditions the Icelandic parliament had set in a previous decision for a conditional repayment.

The conditions had been, that Iceland would pay as a percentage of national income. In other words the parliament had agreed to pay, but only so much that it wouldn´t hurt the Icelandic economy.

The British and Dutch governments, under pressure of the international financial elites represented in the IMF, however, didn´t allow for any reasonable conditions. They wanted the total surrender and if Iceland couldn´t make the payments they wanted the surrender of all Icelandic natural resources to them.

In other words Iceland would have to become an exploited colony again, as in the times of the Danish rule.

National sovereignty would have been a thing of the past, a short past which had lasted only from 1944 til 2008.

The Icelandic parliament and the government gave in to the pressure, since it had been made clear to them, that if Iceland wouldn´t surrender unconditionally it would have meant a declaration of war (an economic war, probably). The Icelandic minister of finance actually said so in a press interview.

The Icelandic government knew from very recent experience, what this would mean.
Right at the beginning of the banking crisis, Iceland had been put on the list of terrorist supporting countries – right next to Iran. Subsequently all Icelandic assets in Britain were frozen, and the last and the largest Icelandic bank, which had not yet been bankrupted then and might have possibly weathered the storm, went down.

All financial lines to Iceland were cut. No payments could be made to and from Iceland. After three weeks Icelandic retailers warned that they were running out of food and were unable to import anything, because of the international financial boycott on the country. Fuel supplies for the fishing industry would have run out after a few months as well. Without fish or any other food, the country would literally have to starve.

However, in spite of all those threats the vast majority of the Icelandic people do not want to give in. They see the Ice-save debts as not belonging to them, but to the corrupt banks and their owners.

One thing, that´s especially unfair is that the Ice-save part of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki was fully controlled by British bankers.

The director of Icesave, Mark Sismey-Durrant, was an important well-integrated British banker, a member of the “Worshipful Company of International Bankers”, the British banker guild. There he was a member of one of the standing committees:

Charity and Education Committee
Bill Whitehead (Chairman)
Gerald Ashley
George Copus
Stanley Hurn
Anthony Rhodes
Mark Sismey-Durrant
Eric Stobart
Sean Taylor
Bob White

Sismey Durrant started his career as an international banker at one of the largest British banks: the Hongkong-Shanghai-Banking-Corporation, HSBC.

The HSBC “advisors” had been responsible for talking the Icelandic government into privatizing the banks in 2003. Five years later those banks crashed, and they crashed the countries´economy.

Before the privatization Icelandic banks had been in public hands. One belonged to the central government others to the communities around the country, others to farmers associations or pension funds.

By recycling all national income through those public banks all the great Icelandic infrastructure had been built up, from roads to tunnels to hydro-electric energy and thermal energy to warm our houses and public buildings. All of this had been built before the privatization, none of it was built with foreign money.

Iceland already had two large aluminum factories, only the third one was built by foreign investment going through the private banks.

The banks had privatized on the advice of foreigners.

The most destructive one, Icesave, was run by a foreigner and the collapse had occured because of foreign speculation with the Icelandic krona.

And now the Icelandic people are supposed to pick up the tab?

Until last week nearly a quarter of the population had signed a petition for the president not to sign the bill, which had been accepted by the parliament. The Icelandic president listened. He didn´t sign. He wants the people to decide in a referendum what should be done.

Of course the Icelandic mass-media, like all mass-media fully in the hands of the elites, is now busy at work convincing people that they would have to agree to pay debts they haven´t made. We are now told night and day that all hell will break loose if we don´t. For if the British and the Dutch governments don´t like the decision of the Icelandic people, even before the people have spoken, then they will go to courts. And supposedly the courts will have us pay far,far, far more.

How much more they can make us pay, I can´t see.

As far as we know, the per capita debts on the people of Iceland because of Icesave is even now greater than the per capita debts the allies put unto the heads of the German people after WWI. This, by the way, was one of the reasons for the total destruction of the German financial system, the German economy and later on the rise of Nazism.

And then there is still the threat of another international boycott.

Time will tell, what will happen.

At the moment the decision of the Icelandic president was a victory for the people, a victory for real and direct democracy.

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