Five Ways the U.S. Can Have an Icelandic Revolution
By Carl Gibson / nationofchange.org
Dec 15, 2013

“We have to nationalize the banks. We have to get rid of the government. We need to have access to the internet seen as a human right. We need to have a new Constitution," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, founder of the Icelandic Pirate Party. Jonsdottir, a lifelong political activist and recently re-elected member of the Icelandic parliament was describing the four central demands of the new political revolution sweeping Iceland since the financial collapse. "We can create power and be the government and be the media. If Iceland can do it, you can do it."

The struggle in Iceland is ongoing, but the nation's people have achieved monumental results in a relatively short amount of time due to the nature of their movement building. They managed to arrest and jail the bankers who wrecked the economy. When the government privatized public banking institutions to their friends, essentially for free, and made the people pay for their bailouts, the people threw them out of office and refused to give the banks their money. And since Iceland only recently achieved independence from Denmark in 1944, their boilerplate constitution had never been updated. The movement in Iceland successfully used direct democracy to crowdsource a new constitution via Facebook and Twitter, and that crowdsourced constitution was widely supported by the people as the official model for a new constitution.

While Iceland's politicians have since ignored the will of the people, a budding new political force in Iceland is building a movement in parliament to change that. We can learn from Iceland and accomplish similar goals here.

 

1.  Strive For Unity

Even though American and Icelandic cultures are different, the populism recently galvanized by Occupy can achieve the same goals that Iceland achieved if we organize around similar unifying principles. We have to first unite around class lines rather than fake ideological constructs. When we come across divisive issues like guns and abortion, we have to acknowledge that while we may have different opinions, we should instead find ways to agree on more unifying issues.

Example: Strive for unity and solidarity when coming across someone of different ideological leanings. If they say the government spends too much money, agree with them and then add that the U.S. spends way too much on maintaining an imperial military presence, and on an intrusive police and surveillance complex that only serves to violate our civil rights. If they bring up a divisive issue, tell them while you may have disagreeing opinions on that one issue, the other root causes of our problems should be addressed first and foremost. Remind them that it only serves those abusing their positions of power when the people are fighting one another instead of questioning their elected officials.

 

2.  Turn a Few Central Demands into Goals

To achieve unity, we need to center around just a few key goals. In Iceland, the Pirate Party's demands were fourfold: nationalize the banks, take back the government, establish free speech and access to the internet as human rights, and a write new constitution. The demands should be similar here – we should nationalize the Fed, declare a constitutional convention, declare this government illegitimate and elect new representatives, and allow free access to information for everyone. These must be part of a new political platform that can unite the political left and right against the corporate and financial interests that are holding our country hostage.

Example: Keep it basic. For starters, let's agree on a constitutional convention to address the most pressing issues, like corporate special interests and banks owning our government. Let's agree on an end to the police state that has proven it's more concerned with violating civil liberties than preventing terrorism. Let's agree on an end to private banks controlling our money supply and economic policy. And surely we can agree that the big banking institutions should be broken up and banksters jailed for defrauding millions of people out of their homes and savings. Let's start there.

 

3. Be the Banks

Even at the local level, we can take power back from Wall Street by taking over city councils and state legislatures. Any local or state government can issue public bank charters, like North Dakota has been doing since the early 20th century. With enough initial capital invested by the community, a public bank can store all tax revenues from the government and start to make loans on their initial deposit base. And unlike Wall Street, these banks won't charge obscene interest rates on an entrepreneur trying to get a small business loan, a student applying for a college loan, or a homeowner trying to get a mortgage. The bank's profits are returned to the people to be used on schools, healthcare and infrastructure updates.

Example: The community of Vashon Island, Washington, created a public bank that merged with the Puget Sound Cooperative Community Credit Union, and now 16% of the population has invested $20 millionin the public bank. Bill Moyer, cofounder of the Vashon-based Backbone Campaign, who serves on the board of the new credit union, told me the community embraced it so much that they had even driven a JPMorgan Chase bank out of business several years ago, and those bank employees now work at the credit union. 

 

4. Be the Government

Birgitta Jonsdottir, Noam Chomsky, and David Cobb of Move to Amend all identify themselves as pragmatic anarchists. They perceive anarchy as nonviolently questioning the legitimacy of any authority or hierarchy, and empowering people through direct democracy. But unlike hardline anarchists, they see electoral politics as a tool for social change in movement building. In Iceland, Jonsdottir's movement fought for a central goal of online freedom through grassroots organizing, recognizing inherent value in art, music and creativity, and having a unifying platform for their foray into electoral politics. In the last election, Iceland's Pirate Party got 5% of the vote and gained 3 seats in the 63-seat Icelandic Parliament.

Example: Here, we're already starting to finally hear revolutionary talk in the U.S. Senate. Don't take my word for it – watch any of the videos of Senator Elizabeth Warren grilling the government's bank regulators in committee hearings for failing at their jobs. She's gotten dumbfounded reactions from SEC and Treasury Dept. officials when asking them how HSBC, Europe's largest bank, didn't face criminal charges for laundering money for the incredibly violent Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. She got Ben Bernanke to say the big banks should be broken up. And she introduced a bill that would make student loan interest rates drop to the same preferential interest rate that the criminal banks get. She may even seek the presidency.

"I was one of the first people to start saying Elizabeth Warren should run for president," Rolling Stone investigative journalist Matt Taibbi told me at the 2013 Public Banking Institute conference. "I don't think she can be bought out."

Taibbi later talked about his experience with open and transparent government – Bernie Sanders inviting him to come spend a month with him, while he was still a Vermont congressman, to see all of the process for what it was. Sanders has since become one of the most populist members of the U.S. Senate, speaking regularly about the growing economic inequality in the U.S., and one of the most outspoken defenders of Social Security.

"I pitched the story to my editor, and he was like, 'Oh, Bernie Sanders? He's the one who cares, right?'" Taibbi said.

 

5. Crowdsource a New Constitution

Birgitta Jonsdottir said she believed in Thomas Jefferson's words that it was necessary for every next generation to rise up and revolt, as power is destined to corrupt those who have it. She says this revolutionary mindset also applies to the constitution, because the needs and goals of each new generation are different from the last as the world and its people constantly adapt to new events and face new challenges. Iceland did this by organizing communities at local gathering spots like pubs and cafes. Then they accepted submissions for constitutional revisions via social media, which she says is one of the reasons the internet must remain completely free. The Pirate Party is determined to force Parliament to allow the people's new constitution to become law.

Example: The Move to Amend coalition already has nearly 300,000 supporters of their We the People constitutional amendment. It would add language to the constitution that says only people have constitutional rights, not corporations, and that money does not equal political speech. They now have roughly 160 local affiliates and are planning to canvass neighborhoods in the summer and fall.

"We hope to have half a million signatures by the end of the year," MTA spokesman David Cobb said. "People are ready to get their whole communities fired up about this stuff.

The group ArticleV.org is calling for a new constitutional convention. According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the people can convene to write a new constitution if two-thirds of the states have agreed to it. The group's attorneys have found that out of all the applications submitted, there are 42 to 45 states who have all filed legitimate applications. Only 38 states are necessary for an Article V convention to take place, so it should already be happening. Dan Marks of ArticleV.org has officially submitted those applications to congressional parliamentarians for a new constitutional convention to be officially recognized by Congress.

If we begin the process of re-drafting a new constitution via social media like Iceland did, we could even have a new set of values for the next generations to live by if an Article V convention can be triggered. We could even submit amendments Reddit-style, where submissions are upvoted and downvoted by everyone participating online, and the best ones with the widest approval are submitted as a basis for a new Constitution. Amendments could even be crowdsourced via an official Twitter hashtag, like this.

We're on the precipice of a revolution here. Everybody is pissed. We all know what we want. We have examples all over the world of solutions to implement. All it takes is a little organizing.

Support Nation of Change today by making a generous tax-deductible contribution and take a stand against the status quo.

4.0 ·
1
Trending Today
PROPAGANDA (2012)
95 min · 5,827 views today · Since it mysteriously appeared on YouTube on July 18, 2012, ‘Propaganda’ has been described as ‘1984 meets The Blair Witch Project’, ‘A mouthful of scary porridge’, and ‘Even...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 4,966 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Science Behind Connection
9 min · 3,900 views today · Evolutionary Biologist, Bruce Lipton, visits the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, India with UPLIFT writer, Jacob Devaney. Making a pilgrimage back to one of the epicenters of...
Life Goes On: A Positive and Uplifting Response to Dark Times
2 min · 2,766 views today · Recent world events have a lot of people feeling fearful and angry. But there is much more good than bad in this world, and I choose to remain hopeful. This video explains why.
The Safety Pin and the Swastika
Shuja Haider · 2,174 views today · The frameworks of liberal identity politics and “alt-right” white nationalism are proving curiously compatible.
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 1,555 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,097 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 472 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 430 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 397 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 301 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 298 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 267 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
Defiance in the Face of Oppression - Iranian Artist Atena Farghadani Defends the Right to Draw
Gavin Aung Than · 245 views today · Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old Iranian artist. She was recently sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison for drawing a cartoon.  
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 239 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Money & Life (2013)
86 min · 230 views today · Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous...
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 209 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 208 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 187 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 187 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Five Ways the U.S. Can Have an Icelandic Revolution