Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Iceland: the European vanguard of democratic resistance


The international Pirate Party movement, which primarily campaigns against outmoded copyright laws and intrusive government surveillance, is generally considered to be a fringe political element by mainstream observers.
But this is not the case in Scandinavia, where the Pirate Party of Iceland is the most popular political party: the opinion polls currently indicate that the Pirates, who are leading in them, will form the next government of this country, one of the most socially and economically developed in Europe and the world.
The Pirate Party’s commitment to freedom of information, and opposition to surveillance statism and warrantless mass retention of internet data, is exemplified in its call to give Edward Snowden political asylum in Iceland. But equally as strong is its belief in political freedom and self-determination, as seen its successful campaign to abolish Iceland’s blasphemy laws. and conditional support for Iceland’s accession to the European Union on the basis that EU-wide economic policies are decided based on the input of elected representatives, as opposed to corporatist technocrats in Brussels.
The Pirate Party of Iceland was only formed in 2012, yet in three years has accelerated to become a nationally leading but anti-establishment political force. It follows the trend of democratic revolution in the country since the financial crisis of 2008; when the financial institutions that caused the economic crisis were broken up and the country’s constitution was rewritten via a people’s constitutional convention. This humanistic approach to governance and economic decision-making contrasts with the sacrifice of the social fabric under austerity to preserve and maintain the vested interests of criminally corrupt financial institutions, enforced by unelected commissioners working on their behalf, as seen in countries such as Greece and Spain.
But the radical, popular political movements in those countries follow the same trend as Iceland’s Pirate Party. Syriza resists usurious austerity imposed the IMF rather than conceding to the vested interests it represents, a previously unheard of stance of any democratically elected government. Podemos, which was formed only two years ago, has harnessed the tradition of mass demonstration into a comprehensive manifesto that includes support for a universal basic income and the decentralization of political power reflected in the protests that it serves as a an organized vessel of.
As these radical, transformational political movements have rapidly gained popular support, the moribund social democratic parties of nominal opposition — which concede to the demands of state capitalist conservatism — have conversely disintegrated in their support and legitimacy.
Elsewhere in Europe, xenophobic and far-right elements have manipulated economic crises and political disillusionment to promote reactionary platforms that scapegoat migrants and other marginalized groups as the cause of social ills.
They are counteracted by the anti-establishment parties — like Syriza— who attack the root causes of inequality and socioeconomic breakdown while compassionately defending immigrants from xenophobic attack. They inverse the support of the fascists and far-right who rely on the scapegoating that mutually deflects attention from the social injustice that perpetuates the vested interests of the ruling economic classes.
These radical democratic parties reflect that the vision of freer and more equal technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable societies — fundamentally based on democratic and humanistic socialist values — are not fringe elements; but a popular current that clearly voices that there is indeed an alternative.

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