To My Brothers and Sisters in Japan

Norman Rockwell painting from the 1940s

To My Brothers and Sisters in Japan

I am speaking to you as one who experienced the Chernobyl catastrophe in Europe in 1986 with a three year old son.

I know what you are going through, especially if you have small children. Your children will be picking up on your and the collective fear and anxiety, even, perhaps especially, if it is not talked about. Their dreams, drawings, bed wettings will be revealing this. Hold them close.

This is why the nuclear industry, like nuclear weaponry, is a form of terrorism, a form of corporate and state terrorism against the population. Even when there are no massive catastrophes, leakages and cover-ups, the domestic and military nuclear industries hold us, our children and descendants hostage to their ongoing and accumulative global contaminations and ticking time bombs.

There are 440 nuclear reactors in the world, countless fuel reprocessing plants, uranium mines. They are all potential Fukushimas or Chernobyls. They are all an extreme form of industrial violence against life. Nuclear corporations, politicians, experts and adherents are extremists.

However, we must face the fact that nuclear energy is also a terrorism that has been allowed to happen by a majority of the population, whether as outright support, quiet collusion or in naive ignorance. Many are enamoured of the high-energy gadgetry and ‘all electric’ lifestyle propagated by the corporations and power utilities. Although many share passive discomfort about nuclear energy, anti-nuclear activists actually willing to confront the powerful are usually a minority in all countries.

I am trying to speak to that part of you that is strong and free and intelligent and moral. (If you are not in contact with that part you will probably have already stopped reading this.)

Like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the Fukushima meltdown is an opportunity to change one’s mind about unexamined beliefs and assumptions about how our ‘democratic’ and industrial-capitalist system works.

One has a choice to continue naively and loyally trusting the powers that be like infants that know no better or of starting to think for oneself like an adult.

The whole system is not primarily structured to express majority opinion and satisfy human needs but to make profits and maintain power for its decision-makers in business and government.

For example, the government does not regulate corporations rigorously in the public interest ‒ that would be so-called ‘socialism’. Not just the nuclear sector but most industry is ‘self-regulated’, i.e. it can make up reports on emissions and emissions controls as it suits its bottom line, with only cursory or no real checks by government. This is called ‘minimising red tape’ and ‘maintaining investor confidence and international competitiveness’.

The corporation running the Fukushima plant has been caught cheating and doing fraudulent reports on several occasions, but it is just doing what they all do. Corporations must, by their very nature within the capitalist system, aim to keep costs down and profits high. Fraudulent reporting helps keep costs down. Welcome to capitalism.

The government in every country is thus collusive with big corporations in degrading, contaminating and destroying ecosystems and human health. Science and scientists are not objective and shown to be very malleable for political purposes. As now in Fukushima in regard to occupational radiation ‘safety’ levels, after Chernobyl governments simply raised the legal radiation ‘safety’ levels in food and water in order to ‘keep the economy going’.

What was ‘unsafe’ yesterday becomes magically ‘safe’ today. Abracadabra.

All this primitive voodoo thinking is sold to us as ‘prosperity’ and ‘economic growth’, and most of us believe it like trusting children believe fairy tales.

If you still believe in it, then I can’t see how you can really complain about nuclear meltdowns or the terror your children are experiencing now when the inevitable catastrophe happens. Catastrophes just suddenly reveal how the system always works, at least for all that have eyes to see.

The answer, from my perspective: people cooperating globally to change the power structures so that the people decide what should and should not be produced and how. Nuclear power can never be part of a truly democratic and ecological society.

The people of Japan, once they have recovered from the first shock of the triple catastrophe, instead of passively waiting for the authorities to act, could be seeking to meet up in popular assemblies, organize their own mutual aid and practical cooperation networks, discuss the ways and means of shutting down nuclear power stations and the kind of Japan they want for their kids. I know this is highly unlikely even as it was in less culturally ‘obedient’ Germany in 1986.

As for right now: get potassium iodide tablets especially for your kids to prevent thyroid cancer, move your kids as far from Fukushima as possible and seek out organic produce grown with fertilizers rich in potassium to reduce the uptake of caesium-137. And hold them tight.


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on March 17, 2011.

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