Demonstrations in Japan: indignation is spreading

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Demonstrations in Japan: indignation is spreading
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Demonstrations in Japan: indignation is spreading. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

The same message is coming

The same message is coming from Japan as that contained in the Spanish leaflet elsewhere on the site. It is presumably the same message transmitted by all the "Indignant" and "Occupy" movements of the last year. The message briefly is that for all workers, all exploited, and all the dissatisfied: " the street is a political space that it can take over to struggle and express solidarity."

As one immured in isolated privacy I find it a difficult message to swallow, and feel squeamish even embarrassed at the thought of coming out, going on the streets, making a political noise, and taking over the street as a political space. I may not be alone here. With a lot of other people around it would be okay. If we already had "solidarity" it would be easier. To lose the misery of isolation and feel the joy and relief of community and solidarity...ah! that'll be the day. But I think we have to re-discover solidarity, as with so much that the workers' movement once had, but which has been forgotten and submerged in the thick scum of bourgeois ideology, where we're all suspicious of each others intentions, or afraid of being noticed and drawing attention to ourselves. I think we are hardly aware of the incredible darkness this society has plunged us in, or the joy of communal life which it has drained away. So I trust that the younger generation, like the writer of this article about stirrings up of protest in "quiescent" Japan, and the emergence of anger against the crippling system with its persistent resentment of life, really is beginning to feel the need to act across the globe.

Is it just me or did this

Is it just me or did this article come off as a bit anti-nuclear? Sure its fucked up that the goverment lied to the people in regards to many details. But hey, its the bourgeoisie after all thats what they do. Calling the Japanese nuclear program "suicidal" is going a little too far I think. How do we see ourselves powering the electrical grid in a communist society? Generation IV nuclear reactors are the only viable option at this point.

nuclear power in communism?



We examine the question in this article, which concludes, that the dangers of nuclear energy outweigh the advantages, but it's not something we can be definitive about:

If thinking nuclear energy

If thinking nuclear energy programs are suicidal leads people to street demonstrations, to solidarity, and to challenging the capitalist system, then that's fine by me. The article Alf refers to, suggests the pursuance of nuclear energy by the bourgeoisie, is really only a smoke screen for their more obviously suicidal pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

Whats suicidal is having a

Whats suicidal is having a nuclear power plant without reliable back up power systems. And these plants were running without safeties only kilometers away from the ocean.

Thats more so what happened at Fukushima. Those reactors were some of the first ever built in Japan, and there were many mistakes. The seawall for example was absolutely no match for a tsunami, which they should have been prepared for considering an earthquake and tsunami of the same strength hit that very same region less than 100 years before. I dont think it was even considered. Furthermore, there was no reliable safety method for continuing the cooling process in the event of a power outage. This facility was missing crucial components that a safe nuclear facility built in the 21st century would never allow. I think it was built starting in 1967.

The article Alf links to above makes some of the typical mistakes one should expect from a anti-nuke leftist mentality on the questions raised. The article mentions the Neoltihic era a few times--- I have to wonder if maybe it was written then hahah? For example the questions relating to the Chernobyl disaster, the consequences, what should we learn from it. It wholly misses the mark here.

Also, while its correct to speak of capitalisms dependency on oil and coal, it neglects to mention even once the peak oil problem. It alludes many times to moving away from "non-renewable" energy sources without ever mentioning specifically which ones. Yet it considers nuclear power to be non-renewable. Even though we have today reactors which burn their own waste as fuel and are self-sustainable. If by renewable the article is refering to wind and solar power, thats really a joke, a myth. And were going to see this myth take blows at the proletariat in the close future I suspect.

In places like Germany its already started, they have plans to put solar panels on everyones houses and "buy" electricity from everyday people. This is completely ludicrous considering you would need to cover the equivalent area of nearly half the farmland of Germany to even come close to running the electrical grid with solar and wind. Its completely unrealistic, and will in the end just worsen conditions for German workers.

I mentioned the peak oil crisis. Its projected we have already reached the peak point of fossil fuel discovery, and therefore production. By the year 2027 things powered by fossil fuels will be too expensive to use affordably under capitalism, for anyone. That means, pretty much all power in the world. Is anyone even considering this?? Raising these questions?? What does that mean for the next 15 years? Do we really think capitalism can handle this issue in that small amount time, given all its other problems? Is it possible we are underestimating the economic effect of the elevated prices we have seen just in the last decade? Whats going to happen when not a single worker can drive to work, or the grocery store. What about places where the nearest store is 2-3km+. Can we really build that many electric trains in 20 or so years? Can we essentially restructure the whole power grid of the world in 20 or so years?

From where Im sitting at least, I definitely see and confirm many of the problems the article raises. I just don't think it was able to piece them together well in a coherent and non-typical/non-leftist way, a way which ties into our theories on decadence, questions of decomposition, etc.

Your post is very informative

Your post is very informative p_p and you are clearly very concerned about the energy issue, and rightly so. You say: " By the year 2027 things powered by fossil fuels will be too expensive to use affordably under capitalism, for anyone. That means, pretty much all power in the world. Is anyone even considering this?? Raising these questions?? What does that mean for the next 15 years? " The bourgeoisie can't do anything about this, just as they can't do anything about global warming, or any of the other problems facing humanity, and the planet. For these now massive and imperative problems require serious and international cooperation of a kind the bourgeoisie is just incapable of doing. They're also financially bankrupt and have more or less given up! They await the miracle of recovery.

In fact only the miracle of the proletarian revolution and the introduction of use value as the driving force behind production, can even start to address any of these problems. And if this doesn't happen soon it'll probably be too late. The release of the forces of production from the stranglehold of the bourgeoisie is the only hope left. If that were to happen is it not possible that humanity's untapped abilities and creativity might indeed discover new ways of generating energy, new developments we haven't thought of?

I think the "peak oil" thesis

I think the "peak oil" thesis is still somewhat controversial. I think there have been some differences in opinion on that in the ICC in the past.

If the "peak oil" thesis

If the "peak oil" thesis really is controversial does that mean we'll have to call off the revolution? In the past, back in the seventies, there were some differences of opinion within the ICC about the state in the period of transition.

I am not sure I follow you

I am not sure I follow you there Fred....

Seven myths used to debunk

Seven myths used to debunk peak oil, debunked by Andrew McKay

Peak oil deniers see oil fields as a kind of a welcome Hydra: use up one and you can grow another. But it's not working. Image: Hercules Slaying the Hydra, Hans Sebald Beham, 1545.

Peak oil is a fact, not a theory.

From US conventional oil production peaking in 1970 to global conventional oil production peaking in 2006 the figures are indisputable. Even institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and publications like The Economist that are not known for alarmism have admitted that oil production from conventional sources has peaked.

So why are there still commentators who refuse to believe peak oil?

Similar to the phony global warming “debate,” many, but not all of the most vocal deniers are politically conservative, pro-business. And, by their refusal to take into account basic statistics, they’re anti-science. In terms of reduced energy use per capita, and the inevitable downsizing of the global economy, deniers are ideologically opposed to what happens now that we’re living in a post-peak world.

So what are their arguments, and why are they so wrong? The top seven are listed below:

1. Peak oilers say oil is running out, it’s not

At best this is a misunderstanding; at worst it’s a straw-man fabricated to cast doubt on the assertions of those concerned with the realities of peak oil.

No peak oiler worth their salt has ever argued that we’re running out of oil. Sure, there may have been a couple of fringe bloggers arguing the case alongside conspiracy theories about alien abduction cover-ups and laser guided death unicorns, but no one takes them seriously.

The issue isn’t when oil will run out. It’s about when conventional oil extraction peaks, which happened in 2006 according to the IEA’s 2010 World Energy Outlook. Unconventional oil has filled the gap for now (along with decreased use), but there’s much skepticism as to how long this can last.

2. Fracking will save us from peak oil

While it’s certainly true that the massive increase in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas was largely unforeseen by the peak oil-aware, it’s merely a game extender, not a game changer.

The small amount of oil that arises as a byproduct of fracking accounted for less than 5 percent of daily US consumption last year. This is even after a 750 percent increase in tight oil production since 2003. Clearly there would need to be an unprecedented increase in exploration and drilling for oil from fracking to even begin making a dent in the wider scale of things. But that’s before we consider damage to the environmental commons — land, air, and water — from the fracking process.

The other trouble with fracking is that production figures for individual wells commonly decline 60-80 percent in the first year followed by a more gradual decline. This means new wells must constantly be drilled to avoid production for a whole area dropping off very quickly.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that domestic production of tight oil will max out at 1,325,000 barrels a day by 2030. This is only 7 percent of the current US daily consumption. No one seriously believes that the US economy can grow without increasing oil consumption. The numbers don’t stack up, it’s as simple as that.

3. The US is now, or will soon be, a net oil exporter

The rise of tight oil extracted through fracking has been hailed as a new era for US energy independence. Some have even gone as far as saying that the US is now a “net oil exporter.” The devil is in the details however. On a Btu basis the US imported 58 percent of the oil it consumed in 2011.

Now, it’s true that the US became a net “oil product” exporter in 2011 for the first time in over sixty years. This is, however, very different from being a net oil exporter proper.

Gasoline, diesel, and heating oil made up the majority of these products. But much of this oil was initially imported as crude from overseas, refined in the US and then exported back out. This doesn’t make the US a net oil exporter.

Total net crude and product imports did fall 11 percent in 2011 to 8.436 million barrels a day, the lowest point since 2005. And domestic oil output did rise 3.6 percent to 5.673 million barrels a day. But this still leaves a 48.7% difference between imports and domestic oil output, a huge gap that the IEA forecasts will not be closed as far out as 2035. Observant analysts don’t think it will happen ever.

4. Oil production is still increasing annually

Like many peak oil denier myths this old gem is true up to a point. But only if you include unconventional oil, natural gas liquids, and biofuels. Which means that when you take those figures away you get…that’s right…a peak in the production of oil from conventional sources.

And as we see from the example in the US, it’s highly unlikely that unconventional plays will be able to take up much of the slack.

5. Saudia Arabia will ramp up production to ease prices soon

Uh, no.

Crude oil prices have been over US $100 a barrel since February 2011. This is after steadily climbing from a low of US $42 a barrel in December 2008, after the last recession killed demand.

The question is, With oil prices so high for so long, why hasn’t Saudi Arabia stepped in already to ease prices?

Saudi Arabia produced the highest amount in thirty years in November 2011 and then actually decreased output and exports the following month. The increased November output dropped prices by $3.00 per barrel to $107.97 for December 2011. The easing was short lived however, with average March 2012 prices sitting at $126.4 per barrel, the highest price since July 2008.

Production capacity figures for OPEC countries are notorious for being inflated and there’s increasing skepticism that Saudi Arabia couldn’t produce any more oil even if it wanted to.

6. East Africa is the new Middle East

Madagascar has been targeted by Exxon and Norway’s Statoil since 2005. Statoil found a billion barrels of oil equivalent. That may seem like a huge find but consider these points. First, world oil consumption is about 80 million barrels a day, give or take, making it the equivalent of about 12 days of oil.

Then compare the Madagascar finding to the largest conventional oil field in the world, Ghawar, in Saudi Arabia. It’s extracted 65 billion barrels of oil since 1951 from initial reserves of over 100 billion barrels. The Madagascar field extends down to Mozambique where Anadarko have found 1.3 billion barrels of oil. Further inland Tallow has found 1 billion barrels of proven reserves in the Ugandan Albert basin. Plenty of other African countries are now being explored by a number of interests but they have yet to show any major finds.

Oil pundits might be saying “game on” but really all there is to show is a lot of wishful thinking which, at the end of the day, won’t fill the gas tank. I should know, I tried that plenty of times in my student days.

The truth is that most of the new oil finds throughout the world are less than 2 billion barrels each. The global annual consumption is currently a little less than 33 billion barrels per year. There is a huge disconnect between the size of the fields currently being discovered and the predicted future demand for oil.

7. There’s always a new frontier

The question is, Why do we need new frontiers if oil production isn’t peaking?

It’s an odd concept that oil companies would spend millions of dollars in politically unstable countries and areas where the physical barriers are immense — such as the Arctic — just for the hell of it.

The truth is the low hanging fruit has been picked. All the easy to access oil has been found and developed. What we’re seeing now is increased exploration in increasingly economically dubious areas such as the Canadian tar sands, deepwater drilling, and fracking and horizontal drilling in tight oil plays.

It ‘s as if the pundits pushing this line have never seen a globe before. The world is round. There is a finite amount of land and ocean that can realistically be developed to economically extract and refine oil. From all the evidence collated over the last few years it appears that we’re pushing up against these limits right now.

The biggest oil find since the 1960s, the Kashagan oilfield in the Caspian Sea, has 13 billion barrels of proven reserves. Development of the field has, however, been plagued with funding problems after Shell shut its Caspian office in May last year. At this stage it’s unlikely this field will produce anything close to the original estimates due to ongoing delays with development.

After denial, acceptance

You have to give the deniers credit for being so tenacious about drumming up new magical thinking on how to outsmart Mother Nature. But in the end, their denial, especially as the lackeys of industry with their plutocratic ties to government, puts us at risk in terms of smart transitions to other ways to live and do business.

At some point, the “peak oil debate” needs to go the way of the phony “global warming debate.” Into the dustbin of history, where it belongs, so the rest of us can get on with civilization 2.0.


This is the part I found most unsettling, especially considering the extreme rammifactions this would have on workers who already struggle to afford gas at $3.50 p/gal:

"The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that domestic production of tight oil will max out at 1,325,000 barrels a day by 2030. This is only 7 percent of the current US daily consumption. No one seriously believes that the US economy can grow without increasing oil consumption. The numbers don’t stack up, it’s as simple as that."

Here is a link to a piece by

Here is a link to a piece by an "ecologist" arguing against the peak oil thesis. I DO NOT endorse his ideas, only pointing out there is a controversy here.

Jk,I just got a chance to


I just got a chance to read the link. Wuerthner barely touches on the issue of demand.

Using his numbers lets say the US does have an estimated 400 billion barrels left. In 2010, the US consumed 7 billion barrels of oil. Thats 22% of world consumption, making us the leader in the world.

Worldwide oil consumption has been rising over the last decade or so, its estimated to increase about 21% by 2030. That puts US consumption at 150 billion barrels or more by 2030. This is out of the total 400 billion barrels left to be consumed by Americans. You can then add the 13.9 billion the US will export by 2030.

By these calculations, the US will be completely out of oil as early as mid-2053. How is that not going to amount to another huge crisis for global capital?

I heard someone on the radio

I heard someone on the radio the other day say that peak oil theory relies on the assumption that the BRICs will have the same standard of living as the global North in a short period of time. Of course, we know the ICC says that won't happen.

I don't know P_P, you may be right, but I am not sure we can assimilate people who deny peak oil to those who deny man made climate change or evolution. I am not sure peak oil theory is in the same boat as these others.