Japan and the Crisis of Global Capitalism

Spinning out of control

Japan’s predicament, at the edge of a precipice, is obviously tragic and a terrible loss of human and non-human life. However, it is a full-throated demonstration of what can happen when we – ensconced in our castles of concrete and steel, and under the influence of our own hyper rationality – mistakenly try to dissociate ourselves from nature, assume that we are better than her, and believe we can control her through the continual progress of industrialization and technological innovation.

Those of us in the “First World” have a bad habit of over-rationalizing what we are, and our relationship to the natural world; guided by our hyper rationality, we work to unearth its “laws” and thereby gain control of it.   We make the fallacious assumption that the natural world is simply a set of mechanical processes subject to mathematical reduction, simplified and subsumed so that it can be manipulated and bent to our collective will. Generation after generation, the drumbeat continues unabated, so that we come to believe ever more firmly that nature is simply a backdrop, a slick marketing advertisement on a billboard, against which we paint our pretty pictures of a civilized and well-manicured life.

We believe we have tamed nature, showcased it for all of our compatriots and those anxious, visiting international tourists to see and enjoy. It has become just another notch in our belt of enhanced GDP – of growth and prosperity. All of it looks grand… until this happens!  Or the floods in Australia, the heat wave in Moscow, the hurricane or the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico… the list this past year is a long one. Suffice it to say, they are all evidence of the problems generated by industrial civilization, cemented in its belief that nature is a pretext for life, not the inter-animating context within which we live and breath and have our very being. And capital is the driving force of this industrial machine.

Whether a tsunami, volcanic eruption and nuclear meltdown in Japan or a global financial meltdown initiated by USA “banksters,” they are two sides of one and the same problematic.  There are not enough social or scientific laws, regulations, policies and procedures in the entire civilized world to insure against such eventualities.  In fact, they are directly or indirectly a function of our own arrogance, our deeply held but unnatural assumption that we can and should conquer everything in the way of our earthly, planetary, indeed, our galactic dominance.  This, we believe, is our manifest destiny. And the very idea of progress, of calculus and calculating the benefits, the very presumption of independence and mastery…these lie at the root of our fast converging global crises.

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13 Responses to Japan and the Crisis of Global Capitalism

  1. Pingback: Japan and the Global Crisis of Capitalism | kulturcritic

  2. Straycat says:

    Linear thinking will always leave us with surprises. Whocdoodanode is the cry of the technocrat or politician who allowed themselves to confine their thought process to the plane, the two dimension world of the organization. Our “leaders: are so imbued with the positivist mindset that they confuse equivalence with identity, and similarity with identity. The reductionism that is rampant clouds the minds of both the rulers and the ruled. The most evident example of this logical and epistemological fallacy is the existence of derivative trades, in which substance is wholly missing, and the entire process is a series of numbers connected to events that can not be measured as to probability of occurrence or cost if they do.
    Our news organizations compound the problem by using “causation” as a linear thing, one cause, one effect. It is so elementary an error, that I conclude that it is purposeful, and intentionally misleading. The consistency of the misleading descriptions and explanation of events on the news is so strong, that I conclude that the misdirection is part of the attempt to keep the population from thinking.
    It struck me that after the earthquake and tsunami that the seismologists were talking about whether the energy could travel over long distances and result in quakes in the Americas. No where have I found any discussion of the possibility of crust dislocations from the initial quake creating new energy as a means of long distance tremors. Not knowledgeable about this subject, really, but aftershocks are pretty well known, and are happening in Japan even now.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Straycat – Absolutely right-on about the nature of the reductionism to which we have accustomed ourselves. Every cause and effect are tied to a time line of past-present-future; the richness and complexity of life simplified for the dumbed down masses. And the news agencies are part and parcel of the problem, along with the broader tutors and marketers for the Curriculum! Unilinear time is the foundation of our reductionistic frame of reference. And it enslaves us to the stock ticker, the time clock, the manager, the newsman, the president and the State. But Nature is a wiley bitch ; and she will have the last word… for certain!!

      • StrayCat says:

        That timeline is a straitjacket, for sure. When one is one the water for days at a time, time as experienced becomes multi dimensional, with the boat moving to one meter, the people on it to another, and various animal to their own time signature. They collide unless one is careful to try to synchronize. When one is successful, the beauty and fullness is breathtaking. The freedom of the anchor removes all concerns about “getting there”. The kinship with dolphins, manatee, storks and turtles is real They beckon us to rejoin them, and when we do we have received a great gift.

  3. troutsky says:

    I figured it out. Anyway, I agree some very rude shocks are underway and will only accelerate. One might have thought the last century of global war would have forced some new thinking but apparently the suburban narcotic is a powerful elixer.

  4. troutsky says:

    I was just struggling to find the ‘drop down menu’ here but all is well. I am curious to what degree you think technologists consider entropy a formidable foe ( if at all?) and whether you think it coincides with your ‘trying to tame nature’ hypothesis? The metaphor of shocks and after shocks is potent. People often think the release of energy means they can rest easy for awhile but the system doesn’t necessarily work that way. Stress is shifted elsewhere.

  5. There is ALWAYS the moment of truth.
    Nothing is created or destroyed, everything transforms…
    Money can flow from our bank accounts to the banksters´and from them to gold.
    Zero on our accounts and gold to $1600 or more…
    Nuclear material from a reactor to the sea, then into our lungs and bodies and then out again in the earth that surrounds our graves.
    Erupting material from the center of the earth up into the sky and then on the surface again…what is in between, goodbye.

    And time, life, they go on, untouched, unaware, uncaring of what is left behind.
    That was, is and will be.

  6. kulturcritic says:

    Patrizia – you are right… It is a cycle of predation played out with the entire globe, it is all animate!!

  7. Disaffected says:

    This, we believe, is our manifest destiny.

    Yes indeed. That little pearl of American exceptionalism is still alive and quite well these days, isn’t it? Like our British forbears, the loss of our national pride will indeed be the most traumatic part of the coming dissolution of the American empire.

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