Catastrophe in Japan

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Alf
Catastrophe in Japan
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 I'm opening this thread with a translation of the post written by a comrade in France. I hope others will follow with their reactions, information and analyses:

 

It’s hard to look at the horrible, apocalyptic images of Japan on the TV and not feel sick.

10,000 dead or disappeared already, perhaps tens of thousands more, nuclear power stations at the edge of meltdown, radioactive clouds. It’s really unbearable.

Capitalism is a madhouse. To crowd together 120 million people in a strip of land which can be hit by earthquakes at any moment, to leave hundreds of thousands living in wooden houses which everyone knows can be swept away by giant waves, and the real cherry on the cake – to put nuclear power stations in the middle of all this: this is just building a delayed action bomb on a huge scale.

 

For those who have not yet understood, we have one choice faced with this inhuman system of exploitation: socialism or barbarism, struggle or death.

Tibo

jk1921
I agree that it is insane to

I agree that it is insane to build nuclear power plants in a known earthquake/disaster zone. What kind of short-sighted rationality/irrationality is responsible for this?

How would communism address the issue of, "120 million people crowded on a strip of land which can be hit by earthquakes at any moment"?

Marin Jensen
120 million people

jk1921 wrote:
How would communism address the issue of, "120 million people crowded on a strip of land which can be hit by earthquakes at any moment"?

This is a comment which doesn't pretend to be a complete answer: at least a part of the answer is surely that communism would abolish national frontiers within a worldwide planned economy - which, one might hope, would allow people to live where they liked.

baboon
The bourgeosie are currently

The bourgeosie are currently saying that, apart from the nuclear consequences, this is a real "natural disaster" - the implication of its tone being that some of the natural disasters it's talked about before have not been so "natural". But there is some evidence from some scientists who support the position of man-made global warming that the latter can have an affect on the phenomena of more frequent, deeper and widespread earthquakes and the tsunamis that result from them. There could well be some validity to this given that only a small increase in temperature on the surface of the planet - bearing in mind that temperature is another way of describing pressure - could well have an effect on tectonic plates floating on a bed of molten iron. Hopefully I'll come back on this.

 

A couple of days in and the bourgeoisie is already calculating the economic consequences of the earthquake on Japan and probably looking at what it means for them in terms of their own economic interests. I agree with the longer term question of borders and the way populations are crammed into dangerous positions. Regarding borders, it was noticeable that Japan very quickly rejected any help from China while welcoming that from the US, Australia and South Korea.

Peter Pan
Japan

For the ones who read french: interesting discussion going on on the french site. Maybe it can be a basis for discussion on the english site.

https://fr.internationalism.org/forum/312/tibo/4593/seisme-au-japon

 

vstanrabotnikov
 Excellent discussion on that

 Excellent discussion on that thread internationalis.., you've got some passion going on there and I like it. Describes a lot of what I felt when I saw/heard about it too.

Control of nature is a good starting point.

 

In Armenia, the Metsamor nuclear plant was shutdown IIRC from 1998 to 1995 thanks to dangers of the earth's crust and the possibility of a quak, nevermind the Russian airplanes that were transporting the fuel being, as the EU IIRC termed it "a flying nuclear bomb".

 

What was the effect of shutting it down? Massive loss of power to 40% of the nation already economically crippled by sanctions from Azeria and Turkey.

 

What has been the effect of running a 'modern' nuclear power plant in the world's 3rd largest economy? Probably the same thing - bear in mind Armenia safely shut it down when an earthquake posed a threat to the plant, cannot remember the year.

 

This also raises the question of alternate power generation, our government wants to use nuclear fuel more and more and they have recently cancelled the Severn barrage, which would've generated 5% of the UK's electric for 20bn. The limits of Capitalism are pretty obvious here, really. A massive amount of solar energy panels (which are relatively cheap to make en-mass and certainly doable as a DIY project so I am told by an informed friend, who makes/installs them for wannabe-do-gooding middle-class types in New Mexico, US) would do the trick alone, stuff could be self-energising.

jk1921
The financial news pundits

The financial news pundits are alrady foaming at the mouth over the economic boost they claim will result from "rebuilding Japan," with the disaster described by some as "war level." Meanwhile, Robert Reich draws attention to the cost cutting rationality involved in the contruction of the Japanese nuclear reactors:

"The New York Times reports that G.E. marketed the Mark 1 boiling water reactors, used in TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, as cheaper to build than other reactors because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.

Yet American safety officials have long thought the smaller design more vulnerable to explosion and rupture in emergencies than competing designs. (By the way, the same design is used in 23 American nuclear reactors at 16 plants.)

In the mid-1980s, Harold Denton, then an official with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Mark 1 reactors had a 90 percent probability of bursting should the fuel rods overheat and melt in an accident. A follow-up report from a study group convened by the Commission concluded that “Mark 1 failure within the first few hours following core melt would appear rather likely.

Don’t get me wrong. No company can be expected to build a nuclear reactor, an oil well, a coal mine, or anything else that’s one hundred percent safe under all circumstances. The costs would be prohibitive. It’s unreasonable to expect corporations to totally guard against small chances of every potential accident.

Inevitably there’s a tradeoff. Reasonable precaution means spending as much on safety as the probability of a particular disaster occurring, multiplied by its likely harm to human beings and the environment if it does occur."

What is the nature of the calculus Reich describes in the closing sentences here? What if one substituted "communist society" for "corporations" in the sentence that closes the penultiamte paragraph? Can communist society be expected to guard against any and all potential accidents, regardless of how remote? Would communist society employ the type of cost/benefit analysis cited here, or does this remain within the horizon of bourgeois rationality and the scarcity imposed by bourgeois society? What about the period of transition?

 

The Marxist
my question is: How exactly

my question is: How exactly is capitalism to blame?

 

Ask yourselves, were the plants built next to each other to save money? I really don't know/don't think so, but even then, how was capitalism to blame? Wouldn't human judgement be to blame then?

 

I really don't know if communism would solve the situtation better. The plants may have well been built by each other in a communist Japan for all I know. Also, we have not experienced a true communist society yet(assuming that your referring to that and not Russia or China) so how would we know?

 

I guess in a true, democratic Communist system the people in the local regions would get more say then simply having a company decide. But certantly not in Russia or China

 

My two cents

The Marxist
my question is: How exactly

my question is: How exactly is capitalism to blame?

 

Ask yourselves, were the plants built next to each other to save money? I really don't know/don't think so, but even then, how was capitalism to blame? Wouldn't human judgement be to blame then?

 

I really don't know if communism would solve the situtation better. The plants may have well been built by each other in a communist Japan for all I know. Also, we have not experienced a true communist society yet(assuming that your referring to that and not Russia or China) so how would we know?

 

I guess in a true, democratic Communist system the people in the local regions would get more say then simply having a company decide. But certantly not in Russia or China

 

My two cents

Red Hughs
"Ask yourselves, were the

"Ask yourselves, were the plants built next to each other to save money? I really don't know/don't think so"

Why not? The approach is entirely irrational. A nuclear power plant should never built next to something dangerous, like... another nuclear power plant. Building them next to each certainly saved money, that's even mentioned in the capitalist press - they had a smaller crew and ships did not need to make as many trips.

A large number of things about the plant were insane design decisions likely based on profit. A signaficant portion of the plant's high level waste was a stored above the reactor itself. I just read a report of these waste containers now being out in the open as result of the recent explosion (and their waste preventing workers from approaching the plant). Many features that are often below ground in other reactors were above ground here - clearly making containment harder. For all I know, this design might have been because of the fault but the conclusion should instead have been to not build a nuclear reactor next to a fault - well, especially not on the coast next to a fault - well, at least they didn't build it on an active valcano.

Geothermal energy is an energy source that quite similar to nuclear in terms of creating a lot of electricity from heated. It supplies a significant portion of the energy needs of Nicaragua and the Philipines. It is clearly much safer. One would assume it hasn't been adopted due to some combination of costs and the monopoly position of the various nuclear suppliers. Japan as an extremely seismically active country could certainly generate a large amount of geothermal energy.

I would speculate that a communist society would not have the same of irrational consumption that prevails today. In the US, large portion of houses are uninsulated with the individual owners seldom having enough money for full insultation. A communist society would allow resources to be more rationally distributed. A good portion of the entire world's natural resources today are consumed in building unwanted office building in China just as previously they were consumed in building unneeded houses in the US. I believe each person could have more actually needed resources under a communism which would consume far less energy than today. The use of automobiles in both the US and China is another insane squandering of resources which bears mentioning.

The Marxist
China also has 1,341,000,000

China also has 1,341,000,000 people as of 2010, just like to point that out

 

But, I totally agree with yor points Red Hughs. I guess a true communist society would comsume resources less as resources would only be distributd based on need, not on want(ie profit incentives/overconsumption)

 

 

d-man
Stalin on Japanese earthquake

"The opposition, which is a bloc of a section of the "Left" Communists (Preobrazhensky, Stukov, Pyatakov, and others) with the so-called Democratic Centralists (Rafail, Sapronov, and others), has suffered a crushing defeat. ...It asserted that the Party has practically been turned into an army type of organisation, that Party discipline has been turned into military discipline, and demanded that the entire staff of the Party apparatus be shaken up from top to bottom, that the principal responsible workers be removed from their posts, etc. Of strong language and abuse of the Central Committee there was, of course, no lack. The columns of Pravda were replete with articles, long and short, accusing the Central Committee of all the mortal sins. It is a wonder that it was not accused of causing the earthquake in Japan."

And in his response to Trotsky:

"I do not by any means think that the old Bolsheviks are absolutely guaranteed against the danger of degeneration any more than I have grounds for asserting that we are absolutely guaranteed against, say, an earthquake. As a possibility, such a danger can and should be assumed. But does this mean that such a danger is real, that it exists? I think that it does not. "

Sorry to hijack the thread, but these remarks are found in a text by Stalin, where he also gives an interesting reply to Sapronov:

"To ensure internal Party democracy it is necessary, first of all, to rid the minds of some of our responsible workers of the survivals and habits of the war period, which cause them to regard the Party not as an independently acting organism, but as a system of official institutions. But these survivals cannot be got rid of in a short space of time.

To ensure internal Party democracy it is necessary, secondly, to do away with the pressure exerted by our bureaucratic state apparatus, which has about a million employees, upon our Party apparatus, which has no more than 20,000-30,000 workers. But it is impossible to do away with the pressure of this cumbersome machine and gain mastery over it in a short space of time.

To ensure internal Party democracy it is necessary, thirdly, to raise the cultural level of our backward units, of which there are quite a number, and to distribute our active workers correctly over the entire territory of the Union; but that, too, can not be achieved in a short space of time.

As you see, to ensure complete democracy is not so simple a matter as Sapronov thinks, that is, of course, if by democracy we mean not Sapronov's empty, formal democracy, but real, workers', genuine democracy."

Frankly, Stalin here is spot on.

Also, I searched for Rafail Borisovich Farbman and it turns out he's another democratic centralist who survived the purges, living untill 1966! He did capitulate however, in 1932, but was imprisoned in 1935 and only rehabiliated in 1956. So this translation from a Souvraine text is somewhat inaccurate (I'm amazed to see that it list Ossinsky as a Democratic Centralist in a footnote).

Alf
No spamming

 This is the second time that 'CodyA' has been used to advertise personal loans. We are looking into this. 

Admin: spam deleted. CodyA may be a spambot, not a real person...

Alf
Stalin

 D-Man I think it would be better to discuss this on a different thread, and then you could also make it a bit clearer why you think Stalin is 'spot on' against Sapranov.   

A.Simpleton
Apparently " natural " disasters : reply to 'The Marxist'

I remember the first time I was confronted with the seeming contradiction that something that the forces of nature wreaked upon humans could be in anyway connected to the oppressive system of Capitalism : the responses from contributors are 100% correct but the first time - when I asked exactly the same questions as you -

I needed to find the 'intermediate' connection .

Think about it for a moment and 'unpack' the two different components in any natural disaster :

1 ) It happens regardless of humanity .

BUT and this is the important informing link

2 ) It's CONSEQUENCES and how grave /light : massive /small they are is very much dependent upon Capitalism's utter disregard for the working class or indeed any other oppressed class - even in a relatively advanced industrial country like Japan .

****

Earthquake in Haiti ? :

Yes : no particular form of human society could have necessarily prevented such a thing ( although it may be the case that 'humanity' has the advanced technology to - if not prevent - then more or less negate the consequences : but the bourgeoisie cares nothing or pathetically little -even if such technology existed- to expend such resources on its wage slaves : worshipping the 'bottom line' of profit )

SO : 300,000 dead in Port-au Prince ? very much to do with Capitalism and its deliberate concentration of some of the poorest workers in the world into ghettos of fragile shanty towns working for $2.90 per day for the American Clothing Industry

AND what is more if you research the issue you will find that even the 'alleged' charitable western organisations under the guise of 'Foreign Aid' have consistently offered 'incentives ' ( i.e. pitifully small bribes ) to smallholders and farmers on the island , to 'encourage' them to move to the urban centres .

So even the so-called 'Aid Agencies' are complicit in the exploitation of the oppressed class regardless of consequence .

The bourgeoisie cares nothing if they at worst die or at best are - in Marx's words - thrown on the scrapheap of history .

Keep asking the questions and listen to answers , measure them up against what you see around you : god knows I still have too : and I get my bus pass this year .....