The news Sunday from Japan was not good. Yet another earthquake (6.0) in the Fukushima prefecture in Japan, the site of the devastating 2011 9.0 quake, further complicating the ongoing consequences from the 2011 quake. Even without this new earthquake, the damage from the 2011 quake threatens – with the most toxic substances known on earth – the Pacific Ocean, all the nations that border the Pacific, all of the ocean creatures and life in it, and the seafood and livelihoods that people depend upon from it.
Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an “emergency” that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country’s nuclear watchdog said on Monday.
This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters.
Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, he said.
Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak,” Kinjo said. “This is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone” to grapple with the ongoing disaster.
“Right now, we have an emergency,” he said.
As I wrote in my 2011 book, Globalization and the Demolition of Society:
Since the late 1970s, both the Republican and Democratic parties in the US have abandoned Keynesian economics and embraced neoliberalism’s free market policies. These policies have sparked alarm among those concerned about the extraordinary polarization in wealth relative to immiseration, the courting of multiple environmental disasters, militarization, increasing state surveillance, abridgment of civil liberties, and reactionary social and political trends, to name only its more prominent features. (p. 48)
While the particularities of the political culture in Japan and TEPCO itself are relevant to understanding this – an even more pronounced tendency to not relay bad news to the public than the U.S. government – the overriding issue here is that governments today that adhere to neoliberal principles – which is almost every government on the planet now and those that don’t adhere to neoliberal principles are operating within the larger global context of neoliberalism – are beset by a set of problems that exist as a constellation of inter-penetrating and intertwined problems, as I argue in the quote from GDS above.
In other words, the NSA spying, the attacks on civil liberties, the rise of fascist and fascistic trends, the polarizations of wealth, the elevation of all things military to the highest visibility in society, and the triggering of massive environmental disasters, some of which actually threaten the viability of life on this planet, are all of a whole cloth.
You cannot really understand and respond to this host of problems that are so dire without understanding how they are linked to each other and originate in the movement to privatize and raise up the individual over the interests of the collectivity. It is not possible to make real headway to address any one of these problems without really getting to the root of where these multiple disasters on the social, economic, and environmental dimensions are all arising from.
It is not a matter, in other words, of one major political party or another, or of backing an alternative political party that is still operating within the parameters of the existing dominant order. It is a matter of seeing that the whole edifice and system are to blame and that the answer must come out of fighting for a new order and new system altogether. This is not something that can be achieved through electoral politics or lobbying the powers that be. It is something that must be pursued through a full-blown arousal of the people, eventually mobilizing millions.
Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is a Harvard honors graduate in Government and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of “Globalization and the Demolition of Society” and Co-Editor/Author of “Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney”. Website: Dr. Dennis Loo