Iceland is a Prosperous American Suburb

If there is one thing the world has enough of, it's "why can't we all be like Iceland?" articles. Here's the latest:

I wanted to know about the kind of society Iceland had cultivated and- what its outlooks were. How did women and men see each other and themselves? What was their character like compared to other countries I had lived in? Were women more confident, men more open-minded, children better cared for? Was life there, in any way, more balanced?

I suspected I would find enlightened ideas that benefit society, not just business, although I found that the two weren’t mutually exclusive. I spoke to innovators across genders in education, health, industry, science and the arts whose ideas exceeded my imagination.

And guess what? The author's gee-whiz tour of Iceland finds all sorts of wonderfully progressive policies. Paid family leave for daddies! Mandatory quotas for women! The world's first openly gay female head of state! Great schools filled with sensitive, caring social-pedagogues! And so on, and so on.

Many will remember probably the most stomach-turning piece of virtue-signaling the world has ever seen — the Facebook campaign in which 11,000 Icelanders volunteered their homes to Syrian refugees, under the founder's motto: "They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children's band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman, a television host. People of whom we'll never be able to say in the future: 'Your life is worth less than my life.'"

Are you dabbing the second tear of kitsch from your eyes yet?

But guess what? None of those 11,000 virtue-signalers ever had to make good on their promise, and of course they knew that full well, since the government has a cap of a whopping 500 refugees a year.

Whoops! Did I just write 500? Sorry, the actual number is 50. Fifty. Per year.

But the empty promises of all those smug Icelanders earned Iceland yet another round of fawning publicity. The article continues the typical litany of the nauseatingly goody-two-shoes oh-so-gentle progressive paradise:

Icelandic society is proactively striving for gender equality, which sits at the centre of progress, and there are policies in place to promote gender equality in all spheres of society. Many stepping stones have led to the current gender equality legislation, including the use of gender quotas. As proven by the need for affirmative action policies in the USA, we are not yet evolved enough to choose fairly of our own volition.

After this rather sinister aside, the author does point to some of the more gloomy facts about Iceland, including this: "Iceland recently outranked the US in adult obesity (67.1 percent of Icelandic adults are overweight or obese compared to 66.3 percent of US adults)." Ha! Take that, Icelandic self-image!

You know what Iceland is? Iceland is a rich American suburb. (Or a German suburb, for that matter.) The population of Iceland is a laughably miniscule 330,000 people. And Iceland is 93% Icelandic, and 98% Northern European. Further, Iceland's median national IQ is 101, placing it 6th in the world. If you go to any large well-off suburb of the United States, you will see Icelandic living conditions: orderly homes, quiet evenings, honest officials, clean schools, smart students, modern gender roles, almost no violence, nice people, organic food, wooden toys, recycling, wine importers, futuristic espresso machines, tasteful earth-toned natural-fiber clothing, clean-lined architecture, yoga studios, women earning more than men, soccer, the whole nine yards. The one difference will be that the American suburb, although majority white, will still be more ethnically diverse than the Nordic purist's fantasy of Iceland.

Iceland is a fine place. I plan to visit one day, and I'm sure I'll be as enchanted as everyone else seems to be. But the world should stop looking at Iceland for lessons, because Iceland is a suburb, not a model society than can be replicated at will anywhere else.

2 thoughts on “Iceland is a Prosperous American Suburb

  1. That’s the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy you’re being snooty about there. They must be more than virtue signallers with that magnificient display of peaceful protest when their PM got busted in the Panama Papers leak: . And the quick resignation/accountability of that PM was very nice too. That is a functioning democracy. I found it really moving. I mean Iceland’s version of violent protest is eggs and yoghurt throwing …at a building. That hoses off. Totally respectful of the building unlike all the shitty antifa graffiti on the beautiful, historic buildings here.

    High IQs and the high level of cooperation, altruism and trust might have more to do with the perishing cold weather and harsh environment. I would say the weather, the language and Iceland’s sensible immigration program with skills based employment sponsored visas and a reasonable quota on humanitarian places will keep their society happier and safer than their southern cousins. They will be fat and happy. (But of course entirely defenceless like NZ.)


  2. Sehr geehrter Herr Hammel,

    in einem wesentlichen Teil Ihrer Argumentation stimme ich Ihnen nicht zu: Sie vergleichen einen “large well-off suburb of the United States” aufgrund der Bevölkerungszahl und den Lebensbedingungen mit ganz Island. Dabei übersehen Sie, dass die Bevölkerung des “well-off suburb” aus der Gesamtbevölkerung der USA selektiert wurde, z. B. durch ihren sozialen Status, ihre Bildung oder ihr Einkommen (sonst wären sie ja nicht “well-off”). In Island hingegen wird die Bevölkerung nicht auf diese Weise selektiert: Dort gibt es z. B. Dumme, Faule, Ungebildete und Kriminelle zu einem ähnlichen Anteil wie in jedem anderen Staat auch. Das Besondere an Island ist, dass in diesem Land trotzdem die guten Lebensbedingungen des von Ihnen erwähnten “Suburbs” vorherrschen.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen

    D. Peters


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