I have just received the no. 72 issue of your magazine, which contains an article by Gisli Gunnarsson, ‘The New Regime in Iceland’. Since it seems to me that this article gives a somewhat simplified picture of the situation in Iceland, I should like to make the following observations.
1. On the most fundamental question—i.e. that the advent of the new government is objectively a positive development, but that it does not in itself constitute a step in the direction of socialism—I agree with the author. However, the positive results that can be expected of it are not limited to an ‘ideological and political clarification’; it might also create a situation objectively more favourable to the struggle for socialism. In this context, the extension of the fishing limit is of crucial importance. Gunnarsson disposes of this measure by saying that it is fully backed by the bourgeoisie. It is true that the right-wing parties verbally support the government in this matter, but during the 12 years of Conservative government absolutely nothing was done to extend the fishing limit, and the claims of the opposition were denounced as irresponsible and adventurist. The point is that this measure, even if there is nothing anti-capitalist about it, runs counter to the strategy adopted by the Icelandic bourgeoisie: subordination of all economic policies to the goal of attracting of foreign capital and systematic neglect of fishing and fishing industry. On the other hand, control over the fishing grounds around Iceland is an essential prerequisite for a future socialist transformation of the Icelandic economy; and it is important to establish this control as soon as possible in order to prevent a destructive exploitation by foreign trawler-fleets.
Of course, the importance of this problem does not justify a reformist general line—a socialist revolution is the only global alternative to the comprador-capitalist strategy. But if a reformist government shows itself capable of solving it, this must certainly influence the attitude revolutionary socialists adopt towards it.
2. Gunnarsson’s pessimism regarding the question of the us base is probably justified. However, it should be emphasized that the government is in this respect less homogenous than his description implies. Recently, the majority of the government decided to accept an offer by the us government to finance an extension of the Keflavík airport. The ministers of the People’s Alliance publicly opposed this decision and condemned it as incompatible with the avowed policy of the govern