The fight for independence resumed
There is nothing more beautiful in our history than the resurrection of the unrighteous in the second half of the nineteenth century. How the common people managed to break the link and start their fight for equality, justice and human dignity of all people.
The impact of that resurrection on the formation of society in the first half of the twentieth century will be the motivation of the people for a long future. People of the people who were completely unjust 150 years ago, without the right to vote, freedom of expression or association, without the right to decide where they lived or for whom they worked, without income and property, in fact unjust slaves; rose up and built a movement to fight for justice, equality and humanity. This struggle resulted in universal suffrage and political movements that served the interests of the public and not only the interests of the upper class, it resulted in trade unions that led the people’s struggle for equality, justice and decent living and it resulted in the freedom struggle of women, children, the disabled, LGBTQ and other oppressed groups. In just two or three generations, the Icelandic people managed to turn their position in society around, from being without all rights and to having every opportunity to shape society to their own interests, expectations and hopes.
But this story is not over. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that it is not taught in this way in schools or in the speeches of those in power. It tells the story of the rulers who are said to have brought the people rights and the wealthy who are said to have brought people prosperity, technology and progress. And in spite of many victories, the common people still live within the history of the princes and under the oppression of the few, rich and powerful. Despite the fact that the general public has gained far more than what the slaves of the past enjoyed and that living standards have improved, no complete victory has been achieved. The public is still living in the class oppression of an unjust society, it must be welcomed that most all decisions about the future and structure of society are made to serve the wealthy.
And it can also be argued that the public has lost much of what it fought for in previous years. Then came the struggle to build a democratic platform as a power against the domination of wealth. It was the path of the people to justice, to build power on the basis of universal suffrage to counteract the inequality of wealth, which distorts and distorts everything. In recent decades of neoliberalism, the democratic arena has been weakened and decisions, assets, resources and power exported to the so-called market, the playground of the few and the rich. The shaping of society is no longer a common task of the whole public, but of what pays for the easy to decide the future of the rest of us. The future is no longer the common property of us all, but is the task of the few rich and powerful.
And that is precisely why the Socialists want to revive the struggle for independence of the people. Hope has weakened and the future of justice and equality has faded. That must not happen. Without strong dreams for a good future, without hope for equality and without a fight for justice, society will continue to thrive.
It is therefore a precondition of all progress to revive the struggle for independence of the people.
The economic foundation of society
Apart from increased democratic rights, the biggest victory in the struggle for independence of the people in the last century was the implementation of fisheries jurisdiction to allow the power of resources to build a good society. At the beginning of the last century, the catch of Icelandic ships and boats was only 1/3 of the fish caught off the coast of Iceland, but at the end of the century, all fish was caught by Icelandic ships and boats. Without the struggle for the implementation of fisheries jurisdiction, Icelandic society would not have been able to develop from one of the poorer regions of Europe to one of the most stable.
The development of the fisheries sector in parallel with the implementation of the territorial waters was characterized by the active employment policy of the government and social operations. The big steps were taken when the Socialists were in government; job creation during the innovation government at the end of the war, the extension of the jurisdiction to 12 miles during the time of the left-wing government 1956-58 and then even further implementation at 50 miles and the stern trawling during the time of the left-wing government 1971-74. Most of the development was through socially run companies, town companies and cooperatives.
With these actions, communities were built around the country. It then happened with the quota system and the transfer of catch quotas that the resource came under the control of a very small number of fishing companies that reversed this development, demolished the settlements that had previously been built up and put the dividends that had previously shaken society into their own pockets.
The Icelandic people, who had fought for the implementation of the jurisdiction and built up the fishing industry and communities all over the country, were deprived of the benefits of their struggle. The first step in reviving the struggle for independence of the people must therefore be to regain control of the fishing jurisdiction of the fishing industry, to wage the fourth cod war to seize marine resources for the nation so that they can become an economic basis for a strong and just society and not just a poor family.
The same goes for other resources. The energy should be used for community projects that strengthen and strengthen a good society. These goals are not achieved by making the energy companies profitable and allowing private companies to access the resources. The resources are the common property of the nation and they should be used for the benefit of all.
It will be best done by using them to build a society of equality and justice. It was about the people’s struggle for independence, to build a good society. Poor people and the low power perceived well that it was the most desirable value, to be allowed to live and work in a society where everyone enjoyed respect and recognition.
The struggle for this was not least within the companies, that the owners of the companies treated the workers as equals and not as slaves or laborers. That struggle must be revived because we do not build an active democracy or a good economy if people have to submit to the dictatorship of business owners as soon as they come to work.
It is part of the independence struggle that employees acquire more rights in the workplace, that employees sit on the boards of larger companies, that cooperatives be increased and that it is ensured that companies take into account the interests of employees, society and the environment and not just shareholders. This is not only socially important in itself, strengthens democracy and equality, but such companies have more resilience than those that only take into account dividends to shareholders. Increased labor democracy is therefore an economic measure to strengthen the means of employment.
The social basis of the struggle
The people built their power through collective power and organized struggle. In light of its positive consequences, the state should push for the power and influence of the trade union movement and other non-governmental organizations. The Socialists therefore emphasize that labor legislation should be changed so that the power of trade unions increases and the possibilities for workers to force wage increases and other rights, but no less to meet the oppressive actions of business owners. To do this, the trade union movement needs to be able to take various measures in the workplace in cooperation with workers. It not only strengthens the struggle but also brings the struggle closer to the ground and thus spreads power within the trade union movement.
The experience of an organized trade union movement is good and it can be transferred to other areas, the lessons learned from the labor market to other markets where the public is sick of the domination of wealth. The labor market was tamed by the fact that 0.7% of wage income went to the organized struggle of workers, to trade unions. It is a fee that has paid off. Without trade unions, business owners would have all the power in the labor market.
The imbalance of power in other areas of society could be equalized in a similar way; that 0.7% of all rent went to the tenants’ association, that 0.7% of all interest went to the debtors’ association, that 0.7% of all insurance premiums went to the policyholders’ association and so on. A strong public interest campaign will not only protect people from oppression, betrayal and oppression, but will also build a more decentralized and diverse society.
The same arrangement can be used for students, to take 0.7% of the interest on the loans while the student loan system is used and later a comparable proportion of the student salary and to contribute to the active struggle of students’ interests. And in the same way build up the rights associations of pensioners and the disabled by contributing 0.7% of pensions to the organized associations of these groups. Ways need to be found to stimulate the organized struggle of immigrants, children, women and others in other ways.
All the most significant things in our society were built up by the organized struggle of the people in the last and there last century. We should learn from this story and do more of what has worked well. Active democracy is built where the interests of the weak take precedence, and this only happens if society encourages an organized struggle of the people.
The democratic foundation of society
Decades after the people gained the right to vote, politics changed from a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie to what might be called popular politics. Public interest was on the agenda; cheap and safe housing, free health care, education for all, job security and so on. But in the process, the authorities managed to gain a foothold in the democratic arena. For a time, there seemed to be a tendency for state power to become the executive arm of the people that the people could use against the threatening power of wealth; but over time many things went the same way as before. Today, state power is used to maintain the power of the rich, increase their wealth and bring them public property and money, no less than in the years before universal suffrage.
This is a real problem that we have to face. The politics that in the past were liberating for the common people are today used to reduce the power of the people. Representative democracy has not lived up to expectations; Althingi and local governments do not reflect society, and there is a lack of representatives of those who are hardest hit by the injustices of society. It is therefore necessary to democratize the state and its institutions, no less than to strengthen and strengthen public organizations.
There are many means to do this.
It is one thing to randomly elect a Constituent Assembly that regularly revises the Republic’s constitution, the first being to start with a 2011 Constitutional Council bill passed in a referendum that would form the basis of a new constitution. Random selection would ensure that the constitution was not imposed by a parliamentary or a narrow elite, but reflected the will of the most ardent people. This would separate the constitution from the conflicts of everyday politics. Experience has shown that the Althingi has been able to make a thorough review of the constitution or pass a bill by the Constitutional Council. By Althingi separating itself from the process and entrusting the Constitutional Assembly with passing the bill of the Constitutional Council, it is possible to resolve the knot in which this matter is both easier and earlier.
Various institutions can be transferred from the political power, institutions that belong to the nation rather than the state. This applies, for example, to Ríkisútvarpið, national parks and natural and historical monuments and Tryggingastofnun, to name a few. The board of these institutions may be elected directly by the people or those whom the institution is to serve. The same can apply to schools and educational institutions, health care institutions and more. Experiments can be made on the combination of elections and random selection so that the school board in the neighborhood reflects well the composition of the population.
The aim of these changes is to distribute power and bring it as close as possible to the people, to the neighborhoods and the countryside, to the interest groups and those who are most dependent on the service. And thereby reduce the power of the wealthy and the elite.
The experience of extending suffrage in the last century was good. Together with the public interest struggle in organized trade unions and other non-governmental organizations, the extension of the right to vote was a prerequisite for building a society that took into account the needs of the public. Today there are two groups that do not have the right to vote in Althingi; children under the age of 18 and immigrants without citizenship. By extending the right to vote, politics could be stimulated to look after the interests of these groups. And does not give off. The economic situation of families with children has declined compared to other age groups, and a relatively high proportion of immigrants among low-wage earners and tenants has meant that the interests of those groups are less on the political agenda, despite the urgent need for benefits.
Democracy will never work and we will not succeed in creating a just society unless the emphasis is on improving the situation of the most disadvantaged. The elitism of politics and the increasing power of the system at the expense of democracy work against these goals. One of the main tasks of politics today is to counteract this reversal of the democratic system.
The social foundation of the future
The main results of the struggle for independence of the people in the last century were, in addition to higher wages, the development of the health system, schools and educational institutions, social security and other social measures necessary to build equality and justice. The more affluent can buy health care and education, while the less affluent can not enjoy health care, education or financial security without building systems that are open to all free of charge.
With this in mind, a health and education system was built up in a short time, a focus was placed on the social housing system, social security was established and most of what is a prerequisite for a civilized society. After rapid development for several decades, it slowed down during the neo-liberal era. Taxes on the rich were reduced and the post-war social contract was effectively repealed; that people should pay taxes according to ability and receive public services as needed. Instead of paying for medical care while people were fully healthy and in the labor market, the tax was collected from people when they became ill. Instead of looking at education as a social project, it was seen as an investment of individuals, which it was natural for them to pay for and then sell in the labor market. Instead of people paying taxes on income but everyone receiving the same pension, a system was created that extended the social class gap to the grave and death.
It is therefore not enough to recover the resources from the shipowner and the wealthy or to build the people’s tools of struggle, but we must learn anew to talk about the society between us. Should we pick up the thread from the popular movements of previous generations and aim for a society that takes into account the needs of those who live with the greatest injustice and the worst conditions, or should we continue to target the structure of society to the needs of the richest and most powerful?
This may sound like a simple question with an obvious answer, but unfortunately, societal values have given in so much to the neo-liberal extremism of the neo-liberal years that we need to practice to get back on track.
One of the neo-liberal methods of success was to de-politicize the whole debate. Instead of asking what we want with the health care system, we were told that there was a limit to what was available, that we did not have enough money to provide all the good services, but we had to prioritize, cut back, accept that the system would always be limited and inadequate. Instead of the ideals of justice and equality, there were questions about whether money should go to this team or the next. Hope did not continue the development of society as before, politics was no longer a creative forum for the country of the future, but a compulsive stalemate with a bad result built in.
Although the Socialist offer is characterized by clear proposals for action, we mention this here. If we want to build society according to our hopes and expectations, then we need to practice hoping, allow ourselves to dream big and remind ourselves that we can go further than we might dare to hope.
Socialism is optimistic in itself. Socialists believe that the people can build a just and good society. Center people share with us the ideas of what is a just and good society, but it is not as optimistic, thinks we have to accept less. And the right-wing people are not only pessimistic but also have a dark view of human beings, believing that it is not in our nature to build justice or live in equality.
Socialist offer: Revival of the struggle for independence of the people
Iceland is now at a crossroads at the end of a period that has been blamed on neoliberalism. At that time, social support was weakened and some of the success that had been achieved with the organized trade union struggle in the last century was reversed. The infrastructure of society and the main basic systems are now weak and the power imbalance has grown. Ahead are technological changes that will continue to increase the wealth and power of the few, but will leave the poorer and more powerless behind. And just as capitalist capitalism has broken down societies, so too has the quality of nature so endangered that the future of mankind and the biosphere is in jeopardy.
The Socialist Party’s offer to the electorate at this juncture is to meet these threats with the collective power of the people, with the aim of distributing the burden equally as well as the benefits. Recent history shows us what the public is capable of if it succeeds in building solidarity within an organized struggle. Our grandparents, great-grandparents, began the struggle of a destitute people, disenfranchised and destitute people who had nothing but the hope of a better society. These people managed to transform their position in society, improve their living conditions and rights, and have a decisive influence on the shaping of society for the benefit of future generations.
We are those generations. As previous generations managed to transform Icelandic society through the struggle for independence of the public, we will succeed as well. They succeeded and we will succeed. And it is our duty to the people who mocked the struggle in the last and there last century, to understand with society that the position of the people is much better when we leave society than when we were trusted to do so.
The Socialist Party’s offer is to restore fishing jurisdiction to the fishing industry, to use the resources of land and sea to build a more just society, to strengthen the trade union movement and to further ignite the public interest, to democratize the economy, to strengthen public institutions, to work against elite politics with a randomly elected Constitutional Council and the further development of democracy and to set clear societal goals for the entire development of society’s infrastructure and basic systems.
The special position of society in Iceland is that we are few in a large country with great resources. It is the resources of the people that are really the driving force behind this society. We are therefore in a unique position to build a just society of equality and human dignity, a society that the people of all time have longed for.
About that is the Socialist offer for the revival of the struggle for independence of the people; to awaken the dreams of the people and make them come true.