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The nuclear fallout from Japan has reached my state of California. Reportedly, the level of radiation is not dangerous to the people of the West Coast so they do not need to take those iodine pills.
I’m plagued with a different question. Here’s a possible nuclear threat that no country has placed as part of their national security calculus of risk.
There are general opinion pieces on how the world needs to rethink nuclear weapons after the coming Japan disaster. Some newspapers have picked up on the historical memory of the first use of nuclear weapons, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that led to massive catastrophe. Others are struggling with why Japan chose to use nuclear power after the horrifying specter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan’s first nuclear disaster is not just a memory. The fact that the country is once again on the brink of nuclear doom should not be lost to memory.
The United States has never apologized for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and for its hand in the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons. Most of the discourse ignores that the United States played a vital hand in the nuclear infrastructure of Japan and blames Japan for its use of nuclear power. However, Japan is facing nuclear disaster because the United States and Russia went down the path of mutually assured destruction during the Cold War rather than condemning nuclear power. They formed an exclusive nuclear club that continues to deny membership to the more “pariah states” like North Korea and Iran in the name of international security. While Japan has never been a part of that nuclear club, the fact that it has nuclear infrastructure has never become an international or national security concern until now.
Just imagine if it was North Korea or Iran who were faced with impending doom. The international response would be radically different. The UN Security Council would be up in arms. And yet, international security is not threatened by those “pariah states” right now. Any prospective threat comes from Japan, a country that is considered benevolent and right now, under the United States nuclear umbrella. Maybe we need to redefine the nexus of our security concerns and threat construction.
I’m not saying Japan is an inherent threat to international security. I’m saying that there is something very wrong about how threats are constructed using geo-political calculations, and how this construction actually endangers our security. Maybe a tsunami and earthquake need to figure higher up on our list of threats to human security than a nuclear Iran OR nuclear North Korea. And maybe the creation of nuclear waste and nuclear power should be every bit of a threat as a nuclear explosion.
- For A-bomb survivors, lifelong radiation concerns (sfgate.com)
- Nuclear crisis recalls painful memories in Hiroshima!! (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- A Rabbi Remembers The First Japan Nuclear Crisis (huffingtonpost.com)
- Japan Anti Nuclear Groups Should Not Have Been Ignored (socyberty.com)
- Nuclear crisis recalls painful memories in Hiroshima (cnn.com)
While George Bush preached ‘market fundamentalism’ yet again at weekend the photo-op named the G-20 summit, the ‘leaders’ agreed upon further stimulatory spending to stabilize the financial system, and to ‘reform’ the IMF and World Bank as global financial instruments.
In the midst of this world recession precipitated by the U.S. housing crisis and poor economy that subsequently has quelled demand critical to the functioning of other economies that depend on American buying power, young disgruntled folk are taking another look at Karl Marx.
Reporting from Japan, the Times London:
Japanese bookstores expect a comic version of Das Kapital to become the publishing phenomenon of the year (Leo Lewis writes).
The manga comic, which goes on sale early next month and is expected to sell tens of thousands of copies before Christmas, plays into a growing fascination among Japanese workers with socialist literature and joins a collection of increasingly fierce literary critiques of the global capitalist system. A sneak preview of the publication given to The Times reveals that Marx’s central themes are relayed in the comic via a cast of suitably downtrodden workers. However, when Marx alerted economists to “the knell of capitalist private property”, he may not have imagined the phrase cropping up in one of the speech bubbles in a comic strip for commuters in Japan.
In Germany, sales of Karl Marx’s 1867 work Das Kapital have leapt 750 per cent this year. Much has been written about Karl Marx and the current crisis of capitalism (UPI, NDTV) Usually it is the young academics that read Marx and Engels and I sincerely do believe that everyone should try to read through some of what Marx actually wrote and not mere bastardized interpretations. On the Jewish Question is a particularly good critique of liberalism and a personal favorite — the Marxist Archive has an entire library on Karl Marx and other like-minded scholars.
Is the collapse of capitalism an inevitability? While Marx might have prophetically stated this in The Communist Manifesto, it is nonetheless important to step away from grand, universalizing narratives and dichotomies (i.e. bourgeoisie/proletariat) that do exist in his writings. Capitalism does sow the seeds for its own destruction but so does any other stagnant ideology. Marx did suggest that “men make their own history” and that capitalism wouldn’t fall till it had fully perpetuated itself:
No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind only sets itself such tasks as it can solve
If we are to believe in the predictive qualities of Marx, we have a long way to go.
(Till global warming strikes at least…)