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Re: <nettime> Japan – Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus
david d'heilly on Sun, 3 Apr 2011 10:40:13 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Japan – Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus

Don't know if this is appropriate to post here. No, I am not  
interested in getting into a protracted discussion about this. But  
every day we have to fend off this kind of crap, and I'm so sick of  
it. C'mon nettime. You want to do media criticism? How about  
critiquing the shitstorm of disinformation swarming the globe after  
3.11, rather than fostering it.

Sorry Stevphen. I beg to differ.

Three weeks ago, we in Japan were hit with an earthquake, and people  
along the eastern seaboard were hit by a tsunami that flooded an area  
six times the size of manhattan in a country the size of california.  
This dramatic event destroyed a lot of life, human and otherwise. But  
it didn't *mean* to do it. As awful of a tragedy as this was, this  
stuff has always happened in a country created at the merger of four  
tectonic plates.

What has been hard to stomach ever since been all of the drama queens  
trying to make this, and the consequential failures in uneventfully  
shutting down the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, all about  
themselves. There is not a "catastrophic situation arising" in Japan.  
There is not an "increasing number of losses and refugees" (there have  
not been diseases or fires that burned and created further  
casualties). Rather, assessing the full account of damages takes a  
certain amount of time, and the numbers have risen. We are coming to a  
grasp of the extent of what has gone wrong, and what can be done in  
the immediate, mid- and long-term. There is nothing ominous about  
this. Shit happens. It's full impact is not always known to its full  
extent. So? Some of us move directly towards doing what we can to  
alleviate the suffering of others, others go off into some delirious  
wet dream world in which all of their favorite conspiracies join into  
one. If something like this helps you deal with your own emotional  
state, fine. Everybody here has some level of PTSD. But please let's  
not confuse these things with reality. File "Fissures in the Planetary  
Apparatus" under poetry.

Time and again our mindshare, and the media-space is taken over by yet  
another person who somehow claims that the government is "veiling  
crucial information on the degree of radiation or calamitous condition  
of the reactors". The IAEA is on location. Experts and representatives  
of pretty much every nuclear research organization in the world are  
involved. Yet amazingly these Glen Beck-like figures still somehow  
claim to know something more... The experts are cautiously,  
constantly, reviewing and developing strategies, and contingencies. I  
don't know what world you live in, but in my day to day things do  
sometimes go wrong. People knew there was a big one coming, but they  
genuinely did not expect a 9.0. So things get out of hand. You try to  
keep a cool head, keep appraised of a changing situation, and do what  
you can about calibrating your short, mid- and long-term strategies  
for dealing with it. That's all they're doing. What are you doing,  

A nuclear power policy is hopefully not something adopted in a moment,  
just as it is hopefully something not to be dropped in a moment. It's  
hard to imagine anyone with any sense of responsibility suddenly  
abandoning a decades old policy with no real alternative in the middle  
of a crisis. I would hope that a lot of very public deliberation about  
energy policy takes place once the current situation is under control.  
Can't imagine it not happening. But to do so now (or insist on that  
kind of discussion now) would be an irresponsible exploitation of the  

There have been no blackouts of large sections of tokyo. In fact, of  
the 23 central wards, the only one with any kind of regular blackouts  
has been in Koto City, and the reason for their 90 minute outages has  
mostly to do with the fact that there are fewer major manufacturing  
centers in Koto-ku, and so it was decided on a more-or-less consensual  
basis that this is would be the logical place for that to happen.  
Otherwise, Greater Metropolitan Tokyo, all 36.7 million of us, have  
been amazingly resilient about cutting non-essential power, making a  
lot of other early estimates for blackouts completely unnecessary.  
Many factories had back-up caloric generators as a matter of policy.  
It's worse on the air, but business goes on, and all basic amenities  
are functioning. But given that this is the reality, it's hard to  
image how this could be construed as some kind of hostage taking  
promotion of nuclear power. How could you not know this? Are you even  
in Japan? Yes, a great number of foreigners abandoned Tokyo. Almost  
immediately. You can't blame anyone for doing whatever they see as  
necessary to protect their loved ones, but the lines were pretty  
clearly divided by nationality (7 of every 10 french persons in Japan  
left, for example), so one also imagines that the various information  
sources, and "common sense" at home had a lot to do with their  
communal, rather than individual, decisions to leave. People with  
access to Japanese information on-line (=who can read Japanese, and  
verify data for themselves), for example, tended to stick around.

The containment of stricken areas has been in accordance with  
international law and common sense. (Again, no, there is no  
"increasing" number of refugees. They don't multiply in the moonlight,  
you know.) The number of Self Defense Forces, massive or not, is as  
many as could be alloted to the task of helping these people out. I  
don't see the problem with trying to get as much logistical help into  
stricken areas as possible, and I find it beyond cynical to state that  
this is "mainly for driving the business as usual of the capitalist  
operations". What would you have them do? A lot of people, SDF and  
otherwise, are engaged in the business of getting these people warm  
and safe shelter and food, and yes, getting them back to the lives  
that they chose to live before the disaster, including doing jobs  
which make them self-sustaining, rather than living off of the good  
will of others. But you apparently have a problem with that.

I would say that yes, there probably is a concerted effort to avoid  
panic and give the impression that we're all pitching in to help each  
other in the media. Again. Your advice is that we do exactly what,  
now? Yes, the a national crisis necessarily will carry some sentiments  
of nationalism with it (one of the Tokyo mayoral candidates ran on a  
platform of "expel the foreigners", a slogan from the last days of  
Edo, and the Boshin wars, but he was roundly belittled in the media.  
We'll have the number of votes he received in a few days. That should  
be a good enough indication of nationalism, don't you think?), but  
those people are always around. I've seen no analysis that there is an  
increase in nationalist sentiment, or other aspects that could  
possibly be tied to the fascist themes of the 1930s. The tea party in  
america, for example, is far nastier to immigrants and women and  
teachers, etc. than what anyone here is saying or introducing into  

And finally, pardon my French, but *fuck you*. Japan is not an  
"accursed and confined archipelago". We have had a couple of very  
large natural disasters. That sucks, but we're getting on with things.  
We're currently in the middle of bad shut down of a nuclear power  
plant. Again, that sucks. But the only feral zombies running around  
tokyo eating people's brains are people like you, Stevphen. Most of us  
are busy with getting people out of harm's way and back to self- 
determined existences, and then will move on to public forums and the  
democratic development of clear-headed consensus about everything  
learned from the crisis and what to do next to make a better life for  
our children. The last thing we need is more drama queens creating a  
stigma around us and our lives so that they can feel self-important.  
Oh damn! I just wasted another :30 minutes on one of them.

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