Suvarna Garge

Anarchism in Iceland

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Anarchism in Iceland

Anarchism is a small minority political movement in Iceland, defined by its relationship with other progressive social movements, and its involvement in primarily ideological work. The AFTAKA collective was involved in direct actions in relation to the collapse of the Icelandic government. Andspyrna, a small library and bookstore collective also exists.

Contents

Interest among anarchist writers

Anarchist historians and philosophers have looked to the Icelandic Commonwealth with interest since the 19th century. The Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin first noted in his book Mutual Aid that Norse society, from which the settlers in Iceland came, had various "mutual aid" institutions, including communal land ownership (based around what he called "the village community") and a form of social self-administration, the "Thing" – both local and Iceland-wide – which can be considered a "primitive" form of the anarchist communal assembly. Anarchist geographer Elisée Reclus also noted that in Iceland they "succeeded completely in maintaining their dignity as free man, without kings, feudal principles, hierarchy or any military establishment." They governed themselves through a process in which "the common interest was discussed in the open air by all inhabitants, who were dressed in armor, the symbol of the absolute right of personal self-defense belonging to each individual."

Modern Iceland

The traditional Icelandic system was pre-capitalist in nature with numerous communal institutions.

Icelandic anarchists recurred in the 1950s in force. However, several prominent anarchist leaders have recently been arrested for “attacking parliament”. Many people view this as infringement on their right to protest. The anarchist movement today in Iceland is much smaller and is met with greater hostility. However, several anarchists publish magazines, and while the movement remains small, it is more in the public eye. Anarchists are involved also in music and other pop-culture movements. Some anarchists view themselves to be part of a slow moving revolution. The anarchist movement in Iceland has several international connections, especially with eco-activists.

Much of neo-anarchism in Iceland was caused by a recent credit crisis. For already anarchists, it was a solidifying factor, and for non-anarchists, it was a cause to learn about anarchism. Another factor was the recent energy boom, which started the anarchist and environmentalist movement “Saving Iceland”. The goal of this movement is to spark eco-activism, and prevent the economically wise but environmentally disastrous energy projects happening in Iceland. Icelandic anarchism is also practiced with civil disobedience and direct actions, including protests, camp-outs, and blockades. Many of these forms of protest were new to Icelanders, and the police had to create a word for lock-ons to use in their reports. Even the protests themselves were anarchist in nature, being sporadic and random, and having no clear leader.

Most anarchist protests in recent years have been against banks, energy companies, and parliament. Noise protests were particularly popular when targeting parliament. Attempts to derail meetings or harass government employees were also common, and protesters would show up dressed in all black. Word of these protests was spread anonymously, and all were welcome to participate. Protests took a variety forms, including distribution of propaganda, breaking through police lines, and providing medical attention to those who had been injured by police officers trying to fend off the protesters.

References

Anarchism in Iceland Wikipedia


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