The Political Economy of Icelandic Nationalism : The Rise of the Rhetoric of 'National Interests‘

by Steinar Guðmundsson Jón

Institution: University of Bifröst
Year: 2016
Keywords: Financial crisis; Fjármálakreppur; Nationalism; Stjórnmálafræði; Þjóðernishyggja; Economic policy; Hagfræðistefnur
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2120391
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/25145


This thesis explores the class structure, determined by economic interests, of Icelandic nationalism. In explaining the economic factors associated with the agents involved in promoting nationalist ideology standing for nationalist rhetoric, I adopt a critical realist approach, according to which market economy embodies, transforms, and ultimately reproduces nationalism. The rise of the rhetoric of national interests in the aftermath of the financial implosion of 2008 is chosen as the event to explore this issue. Is nationalist ideology economically determined? To provide an answer, the first part of the thesis deals with the international context of financialization, beginning with the role of financialization in the international political economy, the concepts of financial expropriation and speculation are explained, and the development of the Icelandic political economy is put into context of the financializing world market. The second section is a critical comparison between orthodox and heterodox, or idealist and materialist, theories of nationalism. The thesis argues for a materialist approach, one which considers nationalism to be an expression of class interests. The final section deals with the political economy of Icelandic nationalism, or how economic factors influenced nationalist rhetoric. The conclusion is that the economic factors of high indebtedness of Icelandic households, coupled with an international dispute over repayment obligations surrounding a failed bank branch, were the material conditions out of which the rise of nationalist rhetoric can be explained. In addition, the reasons for the qualitative difference in the expression of Icelandic nationalism prior to the financial implosion is found in the hegemony of the transnational capitalist class, a class position which imploded with the banking system in 2008. Key concepts: Financialization, class structure, nationalism, political economy, critical realism, Iceland, financial crisis.