A Monument of Civil Violence

 Some people find it appropriate to construct a sculpture near the parliament where MPs are told that they will be beaten up if they do not perform. I don’t. Now what?

***

Once, when I was young and stupid, I published a magazine called “The Blue Integral – the voice of right wing math students.” It was a messy little tabloid. One day I held a festival in the student facilities where I put posters of David Oddsson and quotes of Bush and Thatcher on the walls. Many of my fellow students thought this was funny, but some did not. I was pissed off at those who did not find it funny. How did they dare ruining my day by not finding my jokes clever?

***

I’m sorry, I simply do not share their view of those that believe that the times when they smashed the windows of Parliament, when they broked into the Althing’s spectator platforms, and when they harassed MPs on way to work and outside their homes… I do not consider those to be the finest moment in the history of the Republic of Iceland. And I do not want to see these events commemorated. People may disagree with me. But no one can force me to like something I don’t.

***

What is the iconic imagery of this black cone? We have a black color, favorite color anarchists. We have a reference to the French Revolution. Date of installation work was chosen to remind us of the “pots and pans revolution”. All this sends a message. The message: “Dear Members of Parliament, you only sit here just as long as we, the mob, feel like letting you.”

Of course I agree that MPs only sit as long as they have people’s mandate. But MPs are to be substituted by throwing ballot in a box, but not by throwing stones at windows.

***

I have recently been reading some of the essays of the newly deceased former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel. In his essay “The power of the Powerless” from 1978 Havel expresses the opinion that the use of violence is only justified in extreme marginal cases, for example as a response to an extremely violent dictator and if the use of force can in fact stop the violence. As an example he takes the allied war against the axis powers in World War II. Vaclav Havel is, however, against the use of force against the communist totalitarian governments of Central and Eastern Europe. It is his opinion that they neither deserve it, nor would such an armed struggle be fruitful.

I tend to agree with Havel. Maybe at some time we here in Iceland will have such an disgusting government that getting rid of them with violence may be justified. But so far are we, and have always been, from that point, that even mentioning this route to power is a bit like threatening a child who just spilled milk with death sentence.

Repeated reminders that violence and riots are justified as a means of achieving power, are more likely to establish fascism, rahter than impede it.

***

I do not like this piece of art at all. It claims to exalt disobedience, but actually it elevates the idea of violence against people we have chosen to make our society a little bit better. I do not want to see this message in a public space, let alone do I approve of such a raised fist being erected a stone’s throw from Parliament House. If anyone disagrees with me then they can offer their own private premises to host this artwork and open them up to it so that others who are similarly disposed towards it could admire it. But thing like that do not belong in Austuvöllur.

***

I myself realized that if I perform art by pasting Thatcher quotes on the wall in math students facilities I could not require of others that they would share my sense of humor . People can have their opinions, even opinions such as the ones that violence against elected representatives can be justified. But they can not claim public space for permanent glorification of such message. And expect that those who do not accept it will just swallow it.

This post is also available in: Icelandic

Leave a Reply