On the road

The marshrutka is full and does not seem to be built for fully grown passengers. After a while the driver seems unable to pick up speed. Something is wrong. We stop at the roadside. I doubt that I will get in time to my destination. Maybe try right away to stop a car and get […]

In Kazakhstan

Exit from the safety provided by the customs gate is followed by an inevitable assault of the taxi drivers. One needs a strong will not to succumb to their offers and promises of cheap and quick transport. But one should always try to assess the situation first. There is a bus leaving every ten minutes […]

Nationalism arrives in Iceland I

Some people out in the big world seem to think that the Icelandic government can still be expected be progressive about causes such as freedom of expression, transparency and access to information about governmental affairs. But this is not quite the case. We have a new government now and a Prime Minister who wants to […]

A Seminar on Democratic Experiments, sumar 2013

Challenges to aggregative models of democracy have been a central topic of democratic theory during the past two decades. The concept of deliberative democracy has become the main alternative concept but other models for participatory democracy have also gained ground, such as ideas connected to citizenship, civic virtue etc. In recent years authors such as […]


Are we in a crisis, recovering from crisis or facing a crisis? The problem seems to be that crisis is difficult to grasp. What the problem is, is not easily understood. What will happen if global warming continues? (Global warming will continue). What if the financial system continues to develop in ways that will eventually […]


You will not find „atomization“ in the index of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism* (nor will you find „banality“ in the index of Eichmann in Jerusalem, at least not in the 1963 version). I wonder what that tells you about the original intention behind these concepts, which in many ways have become key concepts in […]


Jagten (The Hunt) causes real discomfort. The events unfolding are somehow too predictable – immediately, at the first hint that sexual abuse may have taken place, the epic consequences are obvious. What is not obvious is how the main character, the person accused, reacts (or fails to react). In the end he is forced to […]

On the last evening of the last session

Is anything more foolish than a vote in parliament where each voting MP gets a chance to explain his vote – i.e. say why he/she votes yes or no? Who cares? Why not get on with voting? It is maybe nothing more than the ultimate expression of what parliamentary debates tend to be: expressing opinions. […]

Revolution or not

In 2009 something happened. It looked like this: Hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of people gathered in front of the parliament building in Reykjavík, Iceland. They had their pots and pans with them and hit them with sticks and spoons and other kinds of blunt objects (apparently forks and knives were left at home). A few […]

Local matters

The way in which the greatest ambitions sometimes appear in an intense desire to achieve very limited goals can be quite stunning. Look at the constitutional bill, here in Iceland. It’s been created in a highly unusual way, through open consultation between a first elected, then appointed, council and the public. It has evoked interest […]