While we are observing a new cycle of global uprising against capitalism and the state, a catastrophic situation is unfolding in post-3/11 Japan. Two kinds of upheaval appear to be mirroring each other, shaking both capital’s business as usual and the everyday life of the people in positive and negative manners. The earthquake and tsunami of maximal scale devastated the northeastern part of Honshu, with an increasing number of losses and refugees and a worsening and long-lasting nuclear disaster. The activity of the planet has shown not only the magnitude of its nonhuman force but also the degree to which our society and its infrastructural system forged by capitalism are relying on, merging with, implicated in and expanding over the planet in an ominous manner. The event that is unfolding in Japan will inexorably have significant impact over the entire human society ecologically, economically, and socially.
Facing the expectation of slow death, the people in Japan are fighting
for their lives. They refuse to remain victimized. They have no other
choice but to oppose pro-nuclear policies and businesses: by freeing
themselves from the political, social and economic chains tying them
to the radioactive zones; by independently conducting scientific
research on the present levels of radiation; by protesting the
imposition of radioactive debris and the distribution of radioactive food
products; and by terminating all nuclear reactors and the domination
by nuclear weaponry.
The new situation forces us to re-conceptualize the crucial notions of ‘class struggle’ and ‘commons’. This presents us with two unprecedented conditions: that the survival of the people is becoming more and more synonymous with the class struggle against the projects of the state and capital; and that ‘commons’ entails two extreme poles in its spectrum: while common resources provided by mother earth continue to be our lifeline upon which to build our mutuality (commune), as the apparatus that capitalist civilization has built expands on the planet and becomes deeper and larger, its fissures caused by the wrath of the same source of commons, namely, of mother earth, human society is affected at a deeper and larger scale. But international politics, the divided interests of the nation-states which are epitomized by the concept of ‘the world’, cannot confront these dichotomous poles of commonality at once. It is now necessary to re-introduce the concept of ‘the earth’ as the critical/dialectic counterpart to the world, in order to fully approach the commons. It goes without saying that this earth cannot be reduced to the issue of environmental protection; rather it is the planetary machine with which our class struggle for survival has to synchronize itself. In other words, anti-capitalism is possible today only as a movement to decompose and recompose the apparatus in which our beings on the planet are almost completely implicated.
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Sabu Kohso is an independent writer and translator, a native of Japan, living in NYC since 1980. He has written three books in Japanese on social movements and progressive culture of NYC in relationship with the formation of urban space, as well as a book on the geographical and deterritorial lineage of anarchist thought across the world. Being active for many years in establishing a global network of anti-authortaian movements in and out of Japan, Kohso is currently working on the blog J Fissures for the exchange of critical voices between the disaster-stricken Japan and elsewhere.