An Inundation of Rumors is Already Announcing the Advent of Revolution

Quelle: Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus

The Committee for Translating Coming Insurrection

Politicians, the State,
Mass media, the specialists,
The high officials of nuclear power
They all are enemies
They all are liars
– from a poem of a high school student in
Minami-soma City, Fukushima Prefecture

The Justice of Panic

Sudden catastrophe runs a crack through everyday life (labor, politics, art, the state, capital…). Perhaps the interruption is the beginning of all becoming. We might recall Bertolt Brecht’s morality plays. But what needs to be summoned now, more than anything, is Akira Kurosawa’s film I Live in Fear (1955).

The protagonist Kiichi Nakamura manages a metal foundry in Tokyo, but tries to take refuge in Akita Prefecture in order to avoid radiation spreading from the south. When he hears however that radiation would come from the north as well, he attempts to emigrate his entire family to Brazil. He ends up being declared quasi-incompetent.

In the year preceding the film production, the Lucky Dragon incident took place. The focus of the film was on the fear of nuclear annihilation. Here we must not forget that around the same time the Atomic Energy Basic Law was put into effect[1]. Finally Nakajima burned down his own foundry and was sent to a mental institution, where seeing the sun through a window he grumbled to himself: “the earth is burning.” Who could laugh at him today when radioactive substances are scattered over the entire northern hemisphere?

The etymology of “panic” goes back to possession by Pan or panicos, wherein domestic animals come to be uncontrollable. In fact before and after the rioting of the Paris Commune, Stéphane Mallarmé put into writing The Afternoon of a Faun. Or following Walter Benjamin, we could see a justification of evil by great anarchists in works such as Dostoevsky’s The Possessed and Lautréamont’s Songs of Maldoror written around the same time[2]. What is palpable with these figures is an amorphous potentiality of crowds. As Alberto Toscano makes clear, following Gabriel Tarde’s social theory, crowds should be distinguished from ‘the publics’ who are objects of control.

Where crowds are affected by the tumultuous but relatively short-lived contagion effected by physical proximity and horde behavior, publics – or ‘spiritualized crowds’ – are much weirder entities. On one level Tarde suggests – and his epigones in the public relations industry would make much of this – that publics, with their dispersion, immateriality, and action at a distance, may neutralize the physical threat to order and stability posed by crowds. On another, he realizes that publics are a kind of pharmakon, an antidote to the frenzies of multitudes that might provoke auto-immune reactions of sorts, presenting dangers far greater than those of crowds, with their spatial and temporal finiteness.[3]

Nakajima is precisely surrounded by such publics who internalize the gaze of power. Publics are nothing other than the ruins of crowds, an end result of their auto-immunization. Rejecting the anonymity of crowds, publics identify themselves with the authority of public opinion. For them, the behavior of Nakajima is a sheer panic to be brought under control. Thus Nakajima set fire to the foundry in order to press publics to give up their sordid way of life. Why are you so cowardly as to not look straight at your own fear? He is saying: it is not I who is insane, but the world that is insincerely smiling while being exposed to radiation.

Don’t be panicked! Don’t stir up unrest! – Amidst catastrophe the antidote of publics continues to be injected. What is named evil here is the flow of expression by the revolutionary intelligence of crowds. Along with radioactive substances emitted into the atmosphere, soil and the ocean, namely, the earth, the voices of innumerable living beings echo out from the dark forest of fauns. Nobody can persuade them to be calm. The inundation of rumors has announced: we are already in the state of revolt. Instead of suppressing fear, we should share the panic. What is at stake is to live the justice of panic.

The Time of a New Meteorology Flows

In The Plague Albert Camus points out:

There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise. (…) Our towns-folk were not more to blame than others, they forget to be modest – that was all – and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible.[4]

Have we too been taken by surprise? Camus’ plague has arrived with an infinite number of rats. The pandemic imprisoned men and women within the city gate, and killed them in their dread. On the other hand, the time of a new plague under pouring radiation would also deliver agony and death to us, except that herein fear is about to be deprived to us.

The military campaign of capital and the state is targeting fear more than anything else. The suspicious-looking specialists repeat their oracles stressing safety, while we are encouraged to incriminate the panicking of our own friends and families. Mobilized in this campaign are not only the nationalism of recovery but also the troops of empire, led by the US military and atomic capitals. How many friends have we lost since 3/11? Exposed to the attack is a conspiracy of affect — that which only can run fissures in the rule of empire. In any event the archipelago has lost its future, and we are living the time of a new plague. Recovery? Natural disaster and man-made disaster? — The words of order of publics have already failed. Now it is necessary to remove the distinction between human and nature, following Deleuze and Guattari. On the same line, our philosopher Takao Egami expounds upon climate (including both earthquake and radioactivity) that is supposed to be the onset of a new naturalism:

In all ages, clouds, rain, wind, thunder, fog (…) – the people who constantly watch these climate phenomena are not scientists but those who are mostly ignored by them: peasants, fishermen/women, sailors, hydraulic and agricultural engineers, travellers and outdoor workers. But the reason why meteorology has been oppressed and unjustly looked down upon is not because climate phenomena are too disorderly to forecast, or entail too much contingency to formularize; it is precisely because it engages itself in the environment consisting of events of the essential. There is neither normal nor abnormal among meteorological phenomena. It is rather that the existence itself of climate as such is anomaly. The thoughts on climate as the a-normal thus continue to be oppressed and forgotten for an enduring time[5].

What publics care about is always weather, the object to be judged by abstraction along the dividing line of normal/a-normal. In contradistinction, crowds who live climate (such as travellers and outdoor workers) create transversal connections between anomalies without any selection. According to Egawa, the time of climate (the latter) has three categories[6]. First there is the time of cruelty, the time of plague toward collapse. The second time is a deterritorializing time of clinamen (differentiation), wherein nature becomes a war-machine against the state. The third is a time through which massive particles of atoms flow, wherein nature is a breathing of the body without organs. In this time, the earth itself becomes a body without organs, and with the plague and slums we are now emphatically experiencing across the globe, what Sabu Kohso calls the advent of planetary time is being invited.

By the body without organ called the earth, the division between nature and human was blown away like that building at the power plant. Now that the time of plague has begun, panic would have to be affirmed. Not only earthquake and tsunami are climate, so are our fear and rumors which become war-machines against the state and capital in the time of clinamen. It is only in this sense that the Arabic Revolution and the Fukushima disaster can be grasped on a same horizon. In both, what insurrection realizes is something that penetrates through and goes beyond the earth/human division. It is both incapable and unable; the breathing of particles would promise neither resignation nor apocalypse — Except that there is only an insurrection, that is, for converting deportation to a grand desert into exodus, as both our destiny and rejection of destiny, as both punishment for and revenge upon the creation of nuclear power.


Everywhere on the horizon an unprecedented struggle has begun. Everybody is experiencing it. Let us not ask for now: if capital takes the annihilation itself as its resources for profit or if the state and capital have lost even their will to govern. All these are up to the course and outcome of the struggle. What is certain is that the disaster will produce massive number of refugees.

Nonetheless, why has there not been a discussion of cancelling the loans for the cars and houses that were washed away? Why have local government bodies not appeared in the stricken areas to unconditionally offer livelihood support, instead of the likes of gymnasiums and temporary housing? Looking at smoke coming out of the power plant, a farmer who had committed himself to organic farming for thirty years killed himself. Eating the vegetables produced in the zones exposed to radiation, under the fine-sounding slogan of recovery, is nothing but to trample down his death.

In any case, radiation is self-evident. All the discourses on numbers and safety are meaningless. Sooner or later, radioactive substances are introduced into the body in certain forms. What is happening in this time of plague is the struggle of crowds over the truth. To be evacuated should not be only the bearing sex. Stop murder, break away from nuclear power as a sacrament of capitalism, put an end to the idiotic society – we shall behave recklessly disregarding any manner and shame.

Revolt will be varied. A large sabotage will occur demanding the cancellation of all the loans of the disaster sufferers. Government buildings in the stricken areas will be occupied by the refugees claiming unconditional livelihood support. And with the money, part of them will start living in company housing and the resort facilities of TEPCO, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi, among others. All the courses of the proxy scholars at universities will be boycotted. Students will realize that there is no such knowledge that only specialists would understand.

There is no need to take arms. We just have to destroy. In the anti-nuke demonstration of April 10th in Tokyo, twenty thousand people participated. As for a demo organized neither by a political party nor a labor union, the scale surpassed 1968. Nuclear power will be stopped and blackouts will be brought about by ourselves. Let us repeat – we must affirm panic and live the time of a new meteorology. As we are panicked, frightened, grieved and in despair, the rule of capital that has involved our affects into labor will be driven to its termination. The disaster of nuclear plants was the implosion of cognitive capitalism and nothing but a beginning of insurrection, that is, within the revolution.


[1] In his book Heaven and Earth Have Feelings – Speaking of Fifty Years of Postwar Politics (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjyu 1995), the former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone expounded upon his major role in promoting nuclear power with Matsutaro Shoriki, commonly known as ‘the father of Japanese professional baseball’ but more of a media mogul, ever since he participated in a summer seminar at Harvard University led by Henry Kissinger. The fact that Shoriki was also a CIA agent is revealed by Tetsuo Arima in Nuclear Power, Shoriki, CIA – The Backside History of Showa Read via Classified Materials (Tokyo: Shicho Shinsho, 2008). We do not tend toward conspiracy theories, but it is absurd not to think that there were no CIA agents among the present politicians and top managers of electric companies. In any event what is important for us is the fact that at the fountainhead of the so-called 55 regime, there was a hybridization of nuclear power and mass media, and that we create threads of action from the ruins of the regime.

[2] Walter Benjamin, “Surrealism,” included in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2, part 1, 1927~1930, translated by Rodney Livingston and Others, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p.214.

[3] Alberto Toscano, Fanaticism – On the Uses of an Idea, London, New York: Verso, 2010, p.21.

[4] Albert Camus, “The Plague,” included in The Plague, The Fall, Exile, and the Kingdom and Selected Essays, translated by Stuart Gilbert, New York, London, Toronto: Everyman’s Library, p 35-36.

[5] Takao Egawa, “The Ethics of Deterritorialization – On Deleuze and Guattari (II),” included in a monthly Shiso (Tokyo: Iwanami Press, February 2010), p 141.

[6] Ibid., pp.141-143.

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