Soup for the politically-minded soul
Bla´berjasu´pa, or blueberry soup, is a refreshing Icelandic dessert. Blueberry Soup is also the title of a highly rated documentary based on Iceland’s political landscape.
Directed by American filmmaker Eileen Jerrett, and screening in Palmerston North this week, the film shows how the population of Iceland reinvented democracy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Massey University Politics lecturer Dr Toby Boraman said the title was adopted because in Scandinavia the antioxidantladen puree is said to cleanse and purify the system.
That’s become a metaphor to describe a ground-breaking constitutional experiment in Iceland that saw citizens crowd-sourcing to rewrite the country’s constitution. The constitutional draft was placed online, while politicians and bankers were excluded from the drafting process.
This constitutional exercise grew out of a ‘‘people’s movement’’, which demanded swift and fundamental change. The film, screened by Massey University’s politics programme at Palmerston North City Library on Wednesday night, documents this revolution.
‘‘Many people have been turned off traditional politics in recent times, however, the internet offers us a way of increasing involvement in politics again,’’ Boraman said.
Some of the impetus came from community-based sewing groups where the participants started talking politics.
‘‘Iceland might seem far away, but we can learn from this innovative use of participatory democracy and social media here in New Zealand. It could be used to help address and perhaps solve local issues such as housing costs, low wages and living standards, in a more collective and engaging fashion.’’
Low voter turnout and lack of engagement are trends in New Zealand politics, along with a corresponding distrust by government agencies of what the country’s citizens think.
‘‘There’s a lot of negativity about politics. It’s reflected internationally in volatility over figures like Donald Trump and issues like Brexit.
‘‘The film shows that something positive can come out of a political and economic crisis and why it’s important to get involved... at its broadest, politics is a social and community thing.’’
People may not be engaged or enamoured by politics, but Boraman said it affects everything in society.
‘‘Representative democracy is supposed to be a two-way system, and I think some of this has been lost.’’
Massey University politics lecturer Dr Toby Boraman says the Blueberry Soup film shows something positive can come out of political crisis.