Today on my way home from the gym I heard a clip on NPR’s rebroadcasting of the day’s BBC Newshour (3/29/12) concerning Iceland that I found interesting. The segment on Iceland begins at about 15:00:
They interviewed a few Icelanders about their thoughts on the trial of former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and a few anecdotes on the aftermath of Iceland’s 2008 economic crisis. What I found particularly interesting was that they mentioned that it is now common to see young Icelanders donning fisherman’s clothing, traditional Icelandic wool sweaters and beards. The fashion statement is in part due to practicality – many people are turning to the traditional fishing industry and thus the apparel associated with it instead of jobs in the finance industry. According the one gentleman interviewed in the segment, the style is also a rejection of the styles common to the foreign bankers and a show of local solidarity.
This is something that gives me some hope for the future. When modern hyper-consumerism fails to deliver, people are looking backwards and internally for inspiration. The increase in interest in the founding fathers in the United States as we lose personal liberties and decline economically is an example of this same phenomena happening here. I’m optimistic that as we continue to decline, many people in the US will begin to look to some of the things that were important to our forebearers and things like gardening, urban farming, food preservation, family, heritage, thinking locally, craftsmanship and basic skills while rejecting some of the things that caused our woes in the first place. I’m not suggesting that we’ll return to some magical and quaint Little House on the Prairie days (nor would I want that!), but I think that many people (unfortunately not all) will look to these things and that gives me some hope for our future. I think this case in Iceland is a good example of people realizing what kinds of things are real in their lives and what kinds of things aren’t.
I visited Iceland in 2007. Beautiful country. One thing that did strike me was how “cosmopolitan” most of the inhabitants looked, often adopting emo/indie fashions and slick haircuts. I’m not sure what I actually expected to see from the descendents of the mighty Vikings (and kidnapped Irish women), but they had a very effeminate style to them, at least by my North American outlook. I guess I expected them to resemble pillaging and plundering warriors instead of rail-thin dudes with swoop haircuts and iPods. I’d say that Iceland has the most beautiful women on the planet, at least from the small segment I’ve seen of it. It’s a very health-conscious country and everyone appears healthy and pleasant (but reserved).
There are some things to be gained from globalism. There’s a lot we can gain, learn and experience from all the peoples of the world but that doesn’t mean that we should all morph into a single transnational culture and lose our identities in the pursuit of wealth. Good for the Icelanders for rejecting the idea that they should to abandon their culture and get with the globalists’ program.
Here is a photo of two young girls wearing the type of sweaters mentioned. I can’t say that they’re exactly my style, but they make a lot of sense in Iceland with all the abundant wool and consistently cool temperatures. It beats importing textiles from China. I suppose if you’re into them and/or want to show solidarity with Iceland, you can purchase them here.
Here’s me in 2007 at Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland.