Is corruption an accepted norm in Icelandic politics?

Taboo is the word for it.

Bribes and corruption is a part of business all over the world. One has to bribe to get access to service, countries, people and to get ensure that one gets the business deal everyone wants. There is no such thing as fair and just in the world today, despite what people want to believe and what others claim. Bribes and corruption (the same thing) are devastating Africa and it’s effort to become more civilized and rid itself of war and poverty.

International aid is taken or used to bribe and the people suffer for it. The latest incident concerning bribes and international business is the Daimler Benz incident.

How is this connected to Iceland is the logical question that needs answering for the introduction to make any sense. The answer is both simple and complex. The simple version is so: Why should Iceland be any different from Africa or Western Europe, China, or any other place for that matter, when it comes to bribes and corruption?

The answer to that question is where things get complicated. Iceland is not different from those places when it comes to corruption. There are two main differences that stand out.

1. The public does not believe that Iceland is corrupt. If the majority of the public is in denial and refuses to believe anything other than what the local media and the politicians say, there is not much that can persuade them otherwise. In general this is the case here in Iceland. The whole economic collapse of Iceland and with all its ugly dirty secrets are still not enough, even though many of those secrets have seen the light of day or have not been secrets at all, except here in Iceland.

This website has talked about many things that the local media has not covered, and when it has been covered, it was late and sloppy work. No effort or will to investigate, or even look up and see the obvious.

In the latest poll about political party support, the Independence party would win a massive victory if voted now. That is strange since that party has a symbiotic relationship with corruption. One cannot live without the other. The same goes for the Progressive party as well, but they are the followers and do not have a policy other than swing in the direction they smell power, by all means necessary.

To stay on topic, and finish answering the first part of the question the dissection of the Icelandic national identity is in order. This is a topic for a book really, but to keep it short and simple, the main reason for the total denial and refusal to see the obvious is a cultural one. Ever since Iceland was settled there have been chieftains who have run families, that in return for being accepted and a part of the family or clan, they remain loyal to that chieftain and the family or clan. They used to marry people to bind those clans together or forge relationships that benefited both families.

This was almost one thousand years ago. The sad part is that in reality nothing has changed. It is still this way today, and it has been so since the age of the Sturlungs (see link above) with noticeable changes to form and methods, but in reality this is what Icelanders have know from day one.  That leads to the second part.

2. Acceptance. This is accepted without a question, and if there is doubt (there always is) then the national identity takes over and loyalty takes over. In  most cases, no matter how obvious the flaw is or how serious the breach of law or social morality is.

This is generally called co-dependency in clinical terms. This pattern of behaviour is well known in seriously dysfunctional families or with substance or alcohol abusers and their families. This state of mind is the norm in Iceland when it comes to the government relationship with the public.

This syndrome is the reason for the lack of reaction of the Icelandic government when the whole economy came that crashing down. When reports came in about the serious state of the Icelandic economy they government at the time (Independence party and the Social Democratic Alliance) dispatched all their ace players to go abroad and speak about “the fantastic health of the Icelandic financial system”. Instead of stopping the banks and responding to an apparent massive problem, they supported the abuser as a proper co-dependent would do, and attacked all those who did dear criticize the situation.

The response to the critics sound familiar to those who know co-dependency.  “Those who say that the Icelandic system is not healthy are just jealous” and “you do not understand the Iceland model” or the all time classic, that has been used on the Icelandic public for decades; “conventional economic theories do not work in Iceland“. This last phrase has been used to explain and answer those who complain about the lack of competition in Iceland or and anyone who dares to question the status quo and the lack of progress or opportunities in business.

The conclusion is that corruption is as transparent as the pink elephant in the room. Everyone sees it, everyone knows about it, and all depend on it. This explains politically motivated job positions being given, people within the family or friends getting ahead when they have no talent or merit. This takes away the professional part of society, and the results are for all to see.

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