Friday, June 10, 2011

it's been 3 months

What can I say?

Revisiting “The Universal Reach of Popular Uprisings,” an Alain Badiou’s short writing on revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, which originally appeared in Le Monde, February 18, 2011, I’m thinking what I should write about tomorrow’s anti- (or, de-) nuclear power protests -there will be many of them. I’m certainly excited and many people here appear to be so. Especially in Tokyo, tens of thousands will march.

Of course there are many differences between those Arab revolutions and the anti-nuclear movement in Japan. Holding demonstrations is to begin with illegal in those Arab countries and there the authorities even use snipers to oppress the protesters. There people railed against the law, and when too many of them violated the law, they lost fear. In Japan, those protesters are surprisingly law-abiding. Though the Japanese police does many nasty things to the protesters, so far there has been no teargassing or water cannoning (though the riot police’s water cannon vehicle was once unsuccessfully used to cool down the crippled reactors at Fukushima facility) since the Fukushima accident occurred. And so far the protesters have never tried to squat in one of those facilities, the government buildings, and the broadcasters. The students have never tried to occupy their institutes, demanding, for example, that those universities and institutes sack those professors who serve the authorities.

On the other hand, what I can discern in the protests in both places is a gulf between the states and the nations: the state serves multinational corporations and exploits the nation. That’s why those gathered in Tahrir Square(s) carried their national flags. And also I’ve found a few Japanese nationalists supporting tomorrow’s actions. - I’m not a political scientist, so I’m not so sure if I’m using those terms correctly - as long as the state apparatus is useful for plutocrats, the concept of nation keep being useful for people (or multitude keeps mimicking to form a nation).

The protesters’ political affiliation varies, and the outcome is unpredictable in both places. In Japan, intellectuals appear to be positive about the ongoing anti-nuke movement because it is not led by a certain “ideology.” I note that in Japan when they utter “ideology,” this term mostly refers to Marxism. And then I wonder how to translate this Japanese-English term “ideology” into English. In my view, those intellectuals are rather Fukuyamaists. Using “ideology” as a euphemism for Marxism is an ideology in historical sense. Having said that, at this moment I’m positive about the movement, not because it is free from Marxism, but because of its unpredictability.

Time flies. It has already passed 3 months since the earthquake. Now I remember what I felt when the accident occurred. Immediately after the first explosion, the government and TEPCO announced that they would implement rotation blackout. Many Japanese people criticize this, saying that the authorities tried to defend the nuclear policy and to make people accept the idea that the nuclear power plants were necessary in order to supply enough electricity. They are probably right. But I had another interpretation: I thought that the rotation blackout was a curfew in guise, and the government tried to be prepared for a situation that people ran away to western part of Japan en mass, or riot against the authorities. Cops were everywhere. I guessed that if such things really happened, the government would have suspended operations of all the public transportation and shut down the highways and communication lines, including the Internet -this was the worst case scenario I imagined (I also imagined “Bahrain option,” meaning a U.S. military intervention), and then I shut the windows of my room (it would reduce dose of radiation exposure) and kept zapping the Internet, hoping that the Internet would keep alive. I didn’t panic, but anyway I imagined things.

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