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Autonomy and mutual help

Radiation and Revolution
Forfatter: Sabu Kohso
Forlag: Duke University, (USA)
ATOMIC POWER / Is learning completely new ways to love people, countries and culture – only possible if we break down the state apparatus, as Sabu Kohso claims?


Ten years after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, the fight for justice is far from over, according to Japanese activist author Sabu Kohso.

How can resistance movementr survive ever-increasing constraints in social life? In order to maintain political engagement during the corona and climate crisis, we must not only think new, but act in a completely new way. Our room for maneuver has changed and is significantly limited – but the battle is not over; it mutates. In Japan, the corona pandemic hit an already weakened body of society, which ten years after the Fukushima disaster is still struggling with its consequences.

Boken Radiation and Revolution comes out on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Fukushima-the accident and is a metaphysical reading of how such existential and environmental destruction forces new life horizons. The author sees the radioactive radiation as a symbolic threat, an invisible danger that characterizes the human mentality also far beyond Japan's borders. Sabu Kohso, who lives in New York, points out that the crisis in his home country occurred in 2011, the same year that the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement shook the world. In his analysis, these two phenomena, the nuclear accident and the social resurrection, have the same cause: the totalitarian expansion of capitalist nation-states. His hope was that the accident would topple it nuclear powerfriendly regime, but instead it soon became clear that neither TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) nor the government had any intention of giving up the power and wealth inherent in nuclear power.

Sabu Kohso

Kohso emphasizes that the challenges associated with the damaged reactors and the collection of radioactive waste have not yet been resolved. Nevertheless, the authorities are trying to smooth over the scope, and the corona makes the job easier for them. The book was written before the word "pandemic" became part of our everyday speech, but in an interview related to the book launch in February this year, Kohso discusses how the coincidence of the two crises in Japan is an indication of what awaits us all. The problem is that we are not facing one disaster after another, but a synergy of an increasing number of disasters. We do not have time to deal with one situation at a time, we have to go into a kind of default setting, always prepared for chaos. That is why it is important for the activists that we do not forget Fukushima – where solidarity work must become a natural part of life.

The question is how we can combat the industrial complex of nuclear power while building new, sustainable ways of life. According to the author, the answer is what he calls «life-as-struggle». It is a new level of activism, which we are no longer considering what needs to be donebut how life should be lived. A self-reinforcing liberation struggle can let us practice how we will live through solidarity work. Instead of leaving the task to a government agency or the UN, we get involved here and now. Instead of transferring responsibility to the authorities, we take control of our own lives and live in the way we understand to be right: through autonomy and mutual help.

Nuclear accident and pandemic

The Fukushima accident proved that technological development, driven by the demand for economic growth, triggers processes that are beyond the comprehension or control of human consciousness. We have pushed the earth away from us through a brutal alienation, until we can no longer communicate with it. Without understanding its dynamics, we are unable to relate to it and remain paralyzed in the face of climate change, pandemics or radioactive radiation that destroys the ecosystem.

To learn to know the earth anew, we must break with the world we know. The corona pandemic has already changed the world; now we need an individualization of the collective struggle to reinvent our relationship with the earth. We must forget it the nation state stood for, says Kohso – to learn completely new ways of loving people, country and culture. An earth without rulers, where we can be ourselves, is only possible if we dismantle the state apparatus. In this decomposition process, the concept of the nation-state will also dissolve, so that we can develop a new and healthy relationship with the earth.

The chaotic penetration of radioactive radiation after Fukushima is irreversible and something people have to live with. In this sense, the catastrophe is far from over, it has just begun. The combination of nuclear accident and pandemic prevents access to both a sustainable environment and social life, two basic relational conditions that make up the human being. The main challenge will be to create new types of corrective life in order to survive such deadly conditions.

Men Radiation and Revolution shows that the powerful global network of nuclear-friendly nation states is not going to give in. We can not trust anyone but ourselves. Life-as-struggle can be the real test: Will it be man or the system that stands most steady in the storm when chaos occurs?

Emma Bakkevik
Emma Bakkevik
International freelance writer for Ny Tid

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