The Main Threat is the Anarchy of Capitalist Production
JAPAN´S NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE
Por Carlos Petroni
In the hands of capitalists: Japan and the World as we know it approaches its end.Under capitalism, nuclear energy is collective suicide. The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear complex is currently demonstrating this: six reactors are seriously damaged and emitting clouds of radiation and leaking radioactive water that threatens the lives of millions. Fukushima is thse active reminder of Chernobyl (Pripyat, Ukraine), Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, USA) and dozens of other “nuclear accidents.”
Fukushima is an obsolete nuclear plant dating from the 1960s. Built like a giant Russian roulette wheel on known earthquake fault lines, it is just a short distance from the ocean with its potential for tsunamis and in the midst of millions of people.
Now, in the wake of this disaster, the facts are emerging that the Japanese government, along with domestic and foreign companies, have not reported previous accidents at this plant and have been negligent about necessary maintenance. They built and expanded the plant exclusively for the potential profits of its capitalist owners.
Nature, in her powerful manner, exposed in one day the fragility of nuclear technology, further weakened by cost cutting and the taking of unnecessary risks, all mainly to be used to provide electric power to big Japanese industries. It also exposed the dangers of a technology whose operators lack the resources, know-how or ability to repair damage in the case of an “accident” like at the Fukushima nuclear complex.
There is nothing that science or the Japanese government can do to resolve this catastrophe. Once the plant melts down, all we can do is watch hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of deaths and economic destruction of the country. Meanwhile the Japanese working class and the rest of the world watches and waits in shock as the bourgeoisie of Japan and the rest of the world shows its indifference via inconsequential criticism and ineffective symbolic actions.
As a result of this catastrophe, Germany has decided to close its seven most obsolete nuclear power plants and the French government has harshly criticized the Japanese for allowing the circumstances that made this crisis possible. U.S. imperialism is attempting to hide its own potential nuclear disasters. Even “progressive” Hugo Chavez must now freeze his plans for the construction and development of nuclear power plants because it was ”discovered,” during the planning and construction stage, that the planned facilities have all the potential dangers unleashed in the Japanese Fukushima tragedy.
All of this is evidence of the criminal intentions of the international bourgeoisie. They shed false tears now and wait patiently for enough time to pass for us the public to forget this new mass murder. This has happened before, at Chernobyl (Ukraine) and Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, USA) and in many other instances. Soon they will return, if they can, to operating in the same way.
Capitalism must guarantee sufficient profits to the energy industry in order for them to build and operate the nuclear power plants. Everything else is subservient to this profit margin, including lives, homes, jobs and safety for all the inhabitants of the planet. In order to guarantee these profits regulations are weakened, loopholes are found, accidents are hidden, inferior materials are used, maintenance costs are cut, and workers salaries are curtailed.
The plant operators economize on technological research related to handling disasters, plants are kept operating beyond their initial life expectancy, and nuclear waste disposal is left to chance and political maneuvering. It has been undeniably demonstrated, most recently in Japan, that the specific areas where these plants are built and operated are under constant risk of nuclear genocide.
Governments collaborate with business to expand business profits by turning a deaf ear to the complaints of scientists and researchers, by not implementing existing laws or watering them down, and by extending permits to keep plants open beyond their original life expectancy. Companies have reached the point where they do not even inform their governments, much less the public, when disasters occur. This is how we arrived at the situation where the Japanese Prime Minister heard about the latest explosion in the reactors at Fukushima through the public media. Such is the impunity felt by these businesses.
Like during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2004 that left more than 300,000 people dead in a dozen countries, the coastal defenses, advanced warnings of the path of the disasters, evacuation plans and immediate assistance to victims simply did not exist or evaporated in the early stages. Governments were missing beforehand in prevention efforts. As a result they were overwhelmed and inadequate in their relief efforts and other assistance.
In Japan, this nuclear disaster has exposed these failures of the bourgeoisie government. An ocean with a record of earthquakes, seaquakes and tsunamis, sent towering 30 foot waves over hundreds of kilometers of land that should not have been inhabited. The tsunami smashed through concrete and steel protective barriers and other infrastructure as if they were made of paper and flooded nuclear and petrochemical plants that should never have been built where they were.
Of course, this situation is not limited to nuclear plants. This happens in all industries. Do you recall Bhopal and the petrochemical disaster of Union Carbide in 1984 in India? Do you remember the oil spill in Alaska and more recently the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as hundreds of other catastrophes that have occurred in the last decade alone? The airplanes that crash, the trains that derail, buses and rail vehicles that crash because regulations have been eliminated or maintenance has been cut back, the industrial plants that have been used beyond life expancy all are examples of every way profits have been prioritized over safety.
Bhopal Disaster: Between 6,000 and 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and more than 12,000 have died of related illnesses. Today the effects of that toxic cloud that affected 600,000 people is still impacting 150,000 of their lives.
The disaster at Fukushima is massive and deadly, is at the level of a capitalist genocide and as a result, it shakes the conscience of the world. However capitalism and the bourgeoisie apply the same practices, to a greater or lesser extent, in all these disasters. In the end, the numbers may be bigger or smaller, but the result is always multiple deaths and the gradual death of our planet.
The growth of consumption, above all in the industrialized world and by the dominant and privileged social classes, is putting excessive pressure on natural resources and creating extreme exploitation that upsets nature’s balance and aggravates her response. Thus, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes strike at human society in ways it has not previously experienced. This destiny could be avoided through global planning around resources and geographical location. It is necessary to eliminate unnecessary consumption and the anarchy of capitalist production.
Capitalism, as a world system, is exhausted. Capitalism is living through a period of its mortal agony and for this reason has become a lot more dangerous. It has mobilized all its defenses in order to survive the inevitable, by reinforcing the strength of its political states, cutting the democratic benefits of the masses, and increasing the devastation of natural resources, both non-renewable and those that are renewable that it does not know how to grow sustainably. It is time to end capitalism or it will put an end to the planet and to human civilization as we know it.
The people of the world see their own reflection in the mirror of Africa (mutilated resources, the violations wrought by wars and invasions, tribal struggles, and illnesses and pandemics that are liquidating national states one after the other). We can also see our reflection in the devastating tragedy under way in Japan which is causing Japan as we know it to disappear and become a ruin of its former self. This is the future of all of us in the hands of the capitalists.l