Anarchism in Iceland
|Part of the Politics series on|
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.
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."
More recently, some anarcho-capitalists have claimed it to be a possible model anarcho-capitalist society, where police and justice were guaranteed through a free market. Author Jared Diamond has written
Medieval Iceland had no bureaucrats, no taxes, no police, and no army. … Of the normal functions of governments elsewhere, some did not exist in Iceland, and others were privatized, including fire-fighting, criminal prosecutions and executions, and care of the poor.
Medieval Icelandic institutions have several peculiar and interesting characteristics; they might almost have been invented by a mad economist to test the lengths to which market systems could supplant government in its most fundamental functions. Killing was a civil offense resulting in a fine paid to the survivors of the victim. Laws were made by a "parliament," seats in which were a marketable commodity. Enforcement of law was entirely a private affair. And yet these extraordinary institutions survived for over three hundred years, and the society in which they survived appears to have been in many ways an attractive one. Its citizens were, by medieval standards, free; differences in status based on rank or sex were relatively small; and its literary, output in relation to its size has been compared, with some justice, to that of Athens.
This "Thing system" survived for several centuries. It was eventually destroyed by the Christian church, which bought up all the godards (defense agencies) creating a state monopoly. For market anarchist scholar Roderick Long, this illustrates a flaw in the thing system which differentiates it from pure anarcho-capitalism - new "startup" mutual defense units were not allowed.
The social anarchist authors of An Anarchist FAQ took issue with Friedman's portrayal of the period, arguing that the Icelandic system was pre-capitalist in nature with numerous communal institutions. Friedman accused them of misconstruing his position and not caring whether what they published was true. The authors of the FAQ admitted to making mistakes, but rejected the notion that they were uninterested in the truth, and maintained their analysis that Iceland was a communal system. 
- "Anarchism in Iceland", Interview with Siggi Pönk
- AFTAKA report of direct action in Iceland
- A-Infos circulation of AFTAKA report on the Icelandic state, January 2009
- Andspyrna bookstore and library
- John P Clark and Camille Martin Anarchy, Geography, Modernity, p. 70]
- Diamond, Jared (2002-05-23). "Living on the Moon". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Friedman, David D. (March 1979). "Private Creation and Enforcement of Law: A Historical Case". Journal of Legal Studies. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Long, Roderick T. (2002-06-06). "Privatization, Viking Style: Model or Misfortune?". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Klassen, Robert (2002-03-18). "Iceland: A Libertarian Model?". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- An Anarchist FAQ. "9 Is Medieval Iceland an example of "anarcho"-capitalism working in practice?". Retrieved 2008-11-11.
- Friedman, David D. "Iceland Anarch FAQ2 reply". Retrieved 2007-08-12.
- An Anarchist FAQ. "AFAQ and Medieval Iceland". Retrieved 2008-11-25.
|This anarchism-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
|This Iceland-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|