I heard it through the Grapevine

Mér var fyrir stundu bent á að á vef blaðsins "Grapevine" væri að finna gott viðtal við Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson.  Það fylgdi sögunni að Jón léti gamminn geysa og talaði tæpitungulaust, eins og honum væri lagið.

Ég fór því á vefinn og fann "Vínviðinn" og las viðtalið.  Það er vissulega ágætt, og þó ég sé ekki sammála Jóni um margt sem þar kemur fram, er alltaf gaman eða lesa það sem hann hefur að segja.  Á köflum er Jón afar harðorður og líkir m.a. Framsóknarflokknum við sníkju- eða meindýr í íslenskum stjórnmálum.  Jón er einnig afar stóryrtur í garða bandarískra stjórnmála og stjórnmálamanna.  En það er rétt að hvetja alla sem áhuga hafa á stjórnmálum og stjórnmálaumræðu að skondra yfir á vef "Grapevine" og lesa viðtalið í heild.

En nokkrir bútar úr viðtalinu:

"– It is very dangerous for democracy when the party system is such that one small party, hungry for power, with no other political agenda than maintaining power, can become such a parasitical creature that it is impossible to form a government coalition without them. The Progressive Party has become such a party – once upon a time, this was a political movement with ideals. They fought against the urbanisation of this country and stood up for the farmers and the countryside. That was then, but those times are over. We are left with this strange phenomenon, the Progressive Party. For sanitary reasons an operation is called for. This party has become a malignant tissue in the body politic."

" But another question is: Are we willing to trust the opposition to take over? A big drawback in our election system is that the renewal process among the political candidates is too slow. I believe the Social Democratic Alliance needs to put new people around [party leader] Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir. People from other venues who have shown that they can handle governmental responsibility."

" – Well… whether they come from outside the party or the business sector is not really the main concern. I will give you an example. I want [university professor] Stefán Ólafsson to enter politics. Why? He is very qualified and has in the last few years demonstrated through his research what the opposition has failed to do, that under the governance of the current coalition, Iceland has been moving fast towards becoming a caricature of raw American capitalism. Iceland has been moving away from what we have been, a Nordic welfare state, towards becoming the most inequitable country in Europe. It is the role of social democrats to stop this. No one is better suited for leading this charge then Stefán Ólafsson. He has demonstrated this process in his studies, better than anyone else, with professional methods and arguments no one has been able to refute. And we can see the response; they bring out their attack dogs against him, trying to undermine his honour and credibility as a scholar. This is standard dirty politics. But they have not succeeded. People trust Stefán Ólafsson and they know he has no other agenda than revealing the facts of the matter. This is the kind of candidate we need. And we need to find a few more like him."

"Look at the media. What is the constant subject of the media here in Iceland? Money, money, money. Who is the wealthiest today, and who was the wealthiest yesterday? Who sold this? Who bought that? In my days as a politician, I criticised the media for not paying enough attention to the economy, the media was so caught up in politics that there was no space devoted to discussing how different industries or companies were doing. Now it is the complete opposite. Political discussion has become something without substance, an afterthought. The new objects of worship in our society have become the nouveau riche.

There we have experienced renewal, in the financial sector. There we have seen a new generation emerge. The question is, is this a positive evolution? Do we want to live in this kind of a society? This is one change. Another change is related to globalisation. Iceland has become a multicultural society, which it was not only a few years ago."

"I believe all social democrats are environmentalists. Does that mean that I am willing to agree with all the extreme bullshit I hear from the environmentalists’ camp on their love for the highlands? Of course not. I care about people primarily. But in the long term, people need a healthy natural environment. In that sense, I do not see this as a problem. I hear extreme views on both sides that I disagree with, but the fundamental truth is that we need coherent natural resource policies and employment policies that can coexist. We need to maintain employment and income, but we cannot do that by focusing on short-term solutions. Right now, it is time to say: enough! We are not going to use all our natural energy resources to sell them to a few multinational aluminium corporations. The world is undergoing a technical revolution in the energy field. There is an ongoing crisis with fossil-based energy and it has already become unsustainable. We are already in the final stages of an obsolete technology. There is an ongoing intensive search for future solutions although we cannot yet tell exactly what the outcome will be. We need to preserve our energy resources for more sensible use in the future. We should not spend it all on aluminium. More benign alternatives will present themselves in the future. Sustainable policies on the environment need not split the left. Europe is a different story. The Left-Greens would be well-advised to renew their thinking on Europe. "

"– Well, two men are said to have made the decision. One of them was the former prime minister, Mr. Davíð Oddsson, a strange and enigmatic character, a funny and artistic person, but at the same time completely unpredictable. Mr. Oddsson claims to be a bosom friend of President Bush. If he is, he really is one among a very select few who wish to boast about it. The other one was the then foreign minister Mr. Halldór Ásgrímsson. I know he did this in the naïve belief that this would guarantee the continued U.S. military presence in Iceland. As subsequent events have shown this was indeed a grave and naïve misunderstanding."

"– The short answer to that question is a simple one. I have already done my duty. I was a part of this "dirty business" for many years. I did my best, and I have no regrets. This means that I have no obligation to subject myself to the tough discipline of Icelandic politics during my sunset days. I have already told you about my doubts about the fitness of primaries to recruit worthy political leadership. It is a rather depressing charade. At worst it means the subjection of honest politics to plutocratic control behind the scenes. Not a very attractive proposition at all. It will at least take several wild horses to drag me into this process again."

Viðtalið í heild sinni má finna á vef "Grapevine", hér.

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