What accounts for the difference in the way Iceland is developing politically?
The video at the top of this page, “From the Hell of the Crisis to the Paradise of Journalism” (1 hour 13 minutes) provides a dramatic and informative introduction to what has been happening in Iceland since the economic crisis of 2008 to the near present.
Alternatively, the paper on this page, Beyond WikiLeaks: The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative and the Creation of Free Speech Havens (pdf 24 pp), provides a written down version of similar information.
SUMMARY OF THE VIDEO:
The video opens with this quote from "Demian" by Herman Hesse.
"We were not separated from the majority of men by a boundary, but simply by another mode of vision. Our task was to represent an island in the world, a prototype perhaps, or at least a prospect of a different way of life"
- A particularly severe Banking crisis in 2008
- Icelandic citizens in response held a weekly kitchen revolution outside parliament with clear demands (the Government, the Bankers and Monetary authorities should resign). These goals were achieved. Unlike other countries those responsible were punished.
- A new government constitution was developed initially through crowd sourcing of 1000 citizens randomly (direct democracy) to develop it
- The media was held complicit in not spotting the weakness of the Banks
- Wikileaks helped by publishing information about corruption in those same Banks at that time
- The Bank involved took legal steps to suppress that information – but this resulted in making things worse for them
- In response the opportunity was taken by visionary leadership to launch a freedom of information revolution
- One aim is transparent government, to move from secrecy by default to transparency by default
- A large section of the video goes into detail of the FOI legislation, under nine subheadings: Freedom of Information; Whistleblower Protection; Source Protection; Communications Protection; Limiting Prior Restraint; Judicial Process Protection; Protection of Historical Records; Defamation Law and Libel Tourism Protection. They are serious and well researched about the legal issues surrounding FOI. Also see Progress Report for detail
- In a world where the internet and governments are becoming less free the Icelandic visionaries see an opportunity to promote freedom as a nation building exercise
- Never waste a good crisis (advice to those in other countries)
- countries need to update their outdated constitutions (Birgitta)
- be clear about what you need to do and how to do it (Smari)
- catch the spirit of the nation by listening to the people (Birgitta)
- radical change only happens during crisis, at other times people become too complacent (Birgitta)