WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE NORDIC MODEL?

“Hvað getum við lært af norræna módelinu?” er ræða, sem var flutt á málþingi sósialdemókrataflokks Litáens í tilefni af 120 ára afmælinu.

This speech was given at the celebratory „120 year Anniversary of the Lithuanian Social-Demcorati Party in Vilnius, Sept. 9th, 2016. Mr Hannibalsson is the ex-leader of Iceland´s SDP.

1.

The neo-liberal era started in the eighties as a revolt against the welfare state. It was a reassertion of the fundamentalist belief in market infallibility. It turned out to be a repeat version of history: Essentially it leads to casino-capitalism, in the thrall of high-finance, which ended in a stock exchange crash in 1929. Austerity-like policies to deal with the consequences deepened the crisis, then as now, and ended in a decade long Great Depression.

Continue reading

HOW TO SAVE CAPITALISM FROM THE CAPITALISTS – AND DEMOCRACY FROM THE PLUTOCRATS?

„The market is a useful servant, but an intolerable master“
(Tage Erlander, prime minister of Sweden 1946-69)

„The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless
image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of financial markets,
which are faceless and lacking any humane goal. – Money has to
serve, not to rule“. (His holiness, Pope Francis, NYT, May 2013)

Q: How do you define the main characteristics of the neo-liberal creed?

A: The first thing to be said about it is that despite its name, neo-liberalism is neither new nor liberal. It is in fact the reincarnation of the 19th century laisser-faire economic theory. The essence of this creed is a naïve belief in the infallibility of markets and their innate ability to correct themselves. Both propositions have been proven false. After the systemic failure of laisser-faire capitalism and the subsequent Great Depression during the thirties of the last century, this ideology was thoroughly discredited.

Continue reading

The Transition from totalitarianism to democracy: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE BALTIC ROAD TO FREEDOM AND POST-INDEPENDENCE EXPERIENCE?

The Baltic road to freedom signaled not only a national reawakening, but a democratic uprising as well. Those three small nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – wanted to restore their independent states. They had suffered more than most during and after the Second World War, having been the victims of invasion, military occupation and annexation into the USSR, as well as repeated deportations en masse to the Gulag.

The leaders of the independence movements had therefore every reason to expect, that they would be welcomed with open arms back into the familiy of European democracies.

But they were in for a rude awakening. They were, as a matter of fact, admonished for irresponsibility and even labeled as „spoilers of the peace“, treated as unwelcome intruders into the amiable company of the major powers. They were told to behave responsibly for the greater good of all and advised to settle for a compromise with their Kremlin masters, without any preconditions. Wouldn´t some form of home-rule within the USSR be good enough?

Continue reading

„SOLIDARITY OF SMALL NATIONS: UTOPIAN DREAM OR PRACTICAL POLITICS?

The Baltic road to freedom in the late 80s and early 90s coincided with the endgame of the Cold-War. It signifed both a national reawakening and a democratic uprising. The outside world was impressed by the emergence of powerful grassroots movements, which demonstrated their capacity to mobilize the will of the people – remember the human chain in August 1989? This was democracy in action. The leaders of the independence movements had therefore every reason to expect, that they would be welcomed with open arms back into the family of European democracies.

But they were in for a rude awakening. Instead they were admonished for irresponsibility and even labeled as „spoilers of the peace“. They were told to behave responsibly for the greater good of all. And advised to settle for a compromise with their colonial masters, without any preconditions. Wouldn´t some form of home-rule within the USSR be good enough?

1. Spoilers of the Peace?

Why spoilers of the peace? Because if you were „allowed“ to leave the Soviet Union – which you never joined legally – the most likely sequence of events was often pictured like this: Our partner in ending the Cold War – Mr. Gorbachev – would not survive the break-up of the empire. Then the „hardliners“ would be back. That would mean a return to the Cold War. In the worst-case-scenario it could even mean the outbreak of war in Europe, since the hardliners would not hesitate in applying military force to keep the Soviet Union together.

Continue reading

European Parliament: ON „THOSE WHO DARE“…

For almost half a century the BALTIC NATIONS were the forgotten nations of Europe. Their lands had been razed from the map; their national identities and distinct cultures had partly gone underground. They had simply disappeared from the political radar screen of the outside world. When discussing the Baltic issue with a distinguished foreign minister of a NATO country, he dismissed the subject with a wafe of his hand and added: „ Haven´t these peoples always belonged to Russia anyway?“

Two events, that caught the imagination of the outside world, did more than anything else to change this attitude: One was the „Singing revolution“ in June 1988. The world had known cases of Gandhian civil disobedience against injustice before – but singing oneself to freedom was a novelty.

Continue reading

Those Who Dare: Iceland’s Role in Recognizing Baltic Independence

Þessi ræða, https://jbh.is/?p=1363 sem var flutt 19. október, s.l. við Stanford háskóla, birtist í vefriti þeirrar deildar skólans, sem fæst við kennslu og rannsóknir á málefnum, sem tengjast Norðurlöndum og Eystrasaltsþjóðum.

Ræðunni fylgja myndir og umsagnir og ábendingar um tengiliði við áhugavert og skylt efni.

http://upnorth.eu/those-who-dare-icelands-role-in-recognizing-baltic-independence/

Stanford Introduction: ON THOSE WHO DARE

For almost half a century the BALTIC NATIONS were the forgotten nations of Europe. Their lands had been razed from the map; their national identities and distinct cultures had partly gone underground. They had simply disappeared from the political radar screen of the outside world. When discussing the Baltic issue with a distinguished foreign minister of a NATO country, he dismissed the subject with a wafe of his hand and added: „ Haven´t these peoples always belonged to Russia anyway?“

Two events, that caught the imagination of the outside world, did more than anything else to change this attitude: One was the „Singing revolution“ in June 1988. The world had known cases of Gandhian civil disobedience against injustice before – but singing oneself to freedom was a novelty.

Continue reading

The Transition from totalitarianism to democracy. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE BALTIC ROAD TO FREEDOM AND POST-INDEPENDENCE EXPERIENCE? A speech given at Tartu Collegium in Toronto in connection with The EstDocs Film Festival in October, 2015.

Let me at the outset present you with two quotations – just to start us thinking. Here is the first one:

„The dissolution of the Soviet Union is the greatest geo-strategic catastrophy of the 20th century“.

From the point of view of a KGB- officer in occupied Germany, Putin´s lament for the fate of the Soviet Union is understandable. After all, didn´t British, French and Spanish colonialists firmly believe in the civilizing mission of their empires?

Here is another quotation – perhaps a bit more intrigueing:

„I appeal to you – the people of Ukraine – not to succumb to extreme nationalism, but to keep the Soviet Union together – for the sake of peace and stability“.

Who was this firm believer in the peaceful mission of the Soviet Union? Well, he was none other than the president of the United States – the founder of the Bush dynasty – addressing the Verkovna Rada (The Ukrainian parliament) in Kyiv in 1991, a few months before the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

I bet this would have sounded like music to the ears of Mr. Putin, had it been repeated one of those days, perhaps on the occasion of the May 9 celebrations in the Red Square, to commemorate the victory over nazism in the Great Patriotic War, as the Second World War is known to Russians.

Continue reading