Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why I Don't Go To Protests Anymore - Not Nuclear, Not Anti-War, Not Anything...

“It's just opportunists taking advantage of a trending social wave.” - Michael Distacio

There is a big concert this weekend with some very famous stars, lead by Ryuichi Sakamoto from Japan, and others from Japan and around the world at Makuhari Messe. The concert is called, "No Nukes 2012." The event proceeds will go to "Sayonara Nuclear Power 10 Million People Organization."

I'm not going to this event. No way.

For one I don't understand how running a concert and burning tons of electricity helps the problem and I don't like the idea of spending $150 a ticket... Why don't these musicians have the concert for free at a park and take donations there? And I've seen too many of these sorts of things that protest but actually mean nothing.

I'm sure the musicians all mean well (if they truly meant well, they'd perform for free - George Harrison! Where are you when we need you?), but this reeks to me of the typical modern "feel-good-protest" that we've seen far too many of in the last few decades; Yeah, yeah, yeah. In this case it's; "Let's get together and spend a bunch of money (and tons of electricity) partying, feeling good about ourselves (and acting like we've actually done something), and demanding an end to nuclear power!" 

Right on! Power to the People! Oh, and Budweiser beer cost $12 a plastic cup! What!?!!

Or is this concert just another excuse to promote, sell music, drink, and pick up on girls?

Then at night, we go back home, drink several more cold ones and watch TV and turn on the air conditioner full blast and do absolutely zero to change our lifestyle. The same lifestyle that, by the way, gave rise to an industry that produces nuclear power to feed a nation with a ravenous appetite for electricity.

I find it to be, well, frankly speaking, bullshit.

That is not to say that I think taking to the streets in protest is completely bullshit, that's much better than a concert ... But I still wonder why, if people weren't truly concerned about the environment (and I'm not just talking about the dangers of nuclear power), why they don't throw away their TV sets and turn the air conditioner off and leave it off?

Anyone who has studied the issue for more than 15 seconds knows that oil and coal produced energy are proven killers.

I helped organize a demo in front of the US embassy before the Iraq invasion... Attendance? Maybe 300... Dead Iraqis today? Over 1.2 million. And Japan even sent troops to Iraq in violation of the Japanese constitution! Think the government even cares about an anti-nuke concert? Ha! Get real!

By the way, I threw my TV out years ago and we haven't used our air conditioner at home... This is coming up to our third summer without an air conditioner at home. I might sound like I am patting myself on the back, but I am not. At the start of summer 2010, the A/C broke and since the repair bill was so high, we decided to wait until summer 2011 to fix it. Then there was Fukushima and we just decided to do without... This is 2.5 summers with no A/C. Not that big of a problem. It's hot, but not that bad...

On the webpage of the Sayonara Nuclear Power 10 Million People Organization it says:

We have always been aware that humans cannot live with nuclear. We are deeply regretting that even though we knew this fact, our protesting voices and actions against nuclear energy have been far too weak.

We are determined to take actions for a “peaceful and sustainable society”, reconsidering our lifestyles that exploit nature and waste limitless energy, and focusing on natural energy. For that purpose, we set the following goals:

1. Cancellation of construction plans for new nuclear power plants
2. Planned termination of existing nuclear power plants, including the Hamaoka nuclear power plant.
3. Abolition of “Monju” and nuclear reprocessing plants which use plutonium, the most dangerous radioactive material.

We will achieve these goals in order to save our own lives, and fulfill our responsibilities to the future children.

See? This is what I mean by bullshit. They even write, "...reconsidering our lifestyles..." Yet they have nothing at all listed on a personal level... All talk; no call for personal action or sacrifice. It's great to demand these things and to make other people sacrifice, but how about some personal sacrifice and personal responsibility? Or is that too much inconvenience for you folks?

How about adding:

4) Pledge that all our members will stop using air conditioners at their homes.

5) Pledge that all our members will throw out their TVs at home. 

6) Pledge that all our members will use only public transportation. (Sorry rock stars, you take the train home, and not limousines, after the concert - and that goes for the bosses of the, ahem... "Sayonara Nuclear Power Charity!")

7) Pledge that all our members will cut all electricity use by 30%.

8) Pledge that all our members will not litter or waste food.

Of course, we can't have people throwing out their refrigerators as spoiled food, especially in a damp and hot climate like summer in Japan could lead to massive food poisoning... 

Just like the anti-nuclear demonstrations in the 70s in California or the weak anti-Iraq war demonstrations we held in early 2003 (that I helped arrange - so ask why I am disillusioned) or the "Aids Awareness" concerts held in the mid-eighties: Everyone gets together for a few hours, claps their hands and feels good about themselves and feels like they actually did something or learned something.....

The fact is that they did nothing... 

How about some real effort and sacrifice and not just going to a concert and clapping your hands or walking down the street for a few hours only to return to a tall cool beer in time to watch the big game or American Idol on your big screen plasma TV in your most-comfortable air conditioned pad?...

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself" - Leo Tolstoy


NOTE: If folks really wanted to have a protest that made The Powers That Be (TPTB) sit up and take notice (and not some lame-assed concert) they'd do something real and make a sacrifice! Like how about getting 50,000 people to all dress up in black and march down main street in Shibuya or Shinjuku and gather at a big intersection. There they'd all take out their credit cards and burn them there, right on the spot. Now that would make TPTB sh*t their pants.... ...Nah, but that would be too much of a sacrifice, right? After all, there's a sale at the big department store next week, right? And every cog in a consumer society needs a credit card.... Now if there was a demo like that, I'd participate and I'd burn my credit card, gladly!


Anonymous said...

Aaron Moser here

These protesters are protesting Nuclear Power plants built by the government and their solution is solar and wind projects built by the government. In twenty years (If there is any economy left) they will be protesting those for killing birds and insects. Why do you think gas is a little bit more in California witch is a large oil producing state then in Hawaii witch is a small island chain surrounded by 2000 miles of Ocean on all sides? It is because of government taxes and regulations. The Market is the answer for everything.

Andrew Joseph said...

Good blog Mike. Free concerts and actually doing what they are preaching for would go a long way.
Free concerts, everyone plays acoustic, donation boxes.
Anti-Nuclear, though? WTF? What will people use? The alternate energy sources are woefully inadequate to support the country. People would be back in the stone age for 20 years. No one wants to take a step backwards even if it means going forwards.
Nuclear energy - if the safety precautions are there - can be used until the other energy sources are ready to take over. I know... geo-thermal, solar and wind are there and have been there for 20 years... but they are still underfunded. Geo-thermal! The effing country sits atop the Ring of Fire! Someone needs to get their thumb out of their ass and say this is where we will be in 20 years and until then we will use nuclear. As each alternative energy source begins to power up, and other nuclear reactor can begin to power down.
But someone, somewhere, has to be the first. Japan is in a unique position to be a major world leader here.

diego.a said...

Mike-san, how about you find a tiny Japanese town, fill it up with your anarchist friends and sucede from the Japanese prefecture and national gov't? Just for the weekend? Make it a weekend-long party.

It won't do anything, but it will give lots of publicity to "private law societies" or "freedom towns". You can even get sponsorships with all the publicity you generate.

Part of the fun is getting arrested. Get all those retired folks who play chess in the park to take the fall. They have the time "to do the time" and they will be helping their ungrateful descendants get more liberty. Plus, is the Japanese gov't going to mass arrest a group of retired grey-hair, mild-mannered wannabe anarchists? Think of the negative publicity for the govt! Woohoo. Arresting teens is popular. Arresting grandpas/mas is atrocious.

Most people will come for the party, but it will scare the politicians if your burn the credit cards in a bonfire in your very own "freedom town". Sure, people will call and have them replace, but the symbolism and global media attention will be priceless. Even the Bilderbergs hire thugs to protect them from... cameras! Like cockroaches, they flee from the light.

Jimbo said...

In addition to energy sources like wind, wave, and geothermal, which Japan has in spades, Thorium reactors are looking to be the new wave of the future. They're cheaper, smaller, and safer than nuclear reactors, Thorium is more plentiful and they last waaaaay longer.

But as has been stated before, the only way for the current system to be destabilized, people will have to start making personal sacrifices at home and at the pump.

By the way, I love the protest sign. :)

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Good idea... But with the small number of friends I have, I don't need an island... Just a backyard patio table for 4 and aBBQ will do nicely...
Thanks Jimbo... Sacrifice? That sounds like it might inconvenience some people... Won't work.

Zen said...

While I agree with the sentiments in that this generation seems completely unable or unwilling to demonstrate and follow through (similar to the demos of the 60s and 70s which actually did something), I think some of these measures are a little extreme.

Firstly, No A/C? I think this is possible for some but as it is, many people die from heatstroke in Japan every year. I know my mother (in her 60s) is particularly affected by seemingly minor temperature changes (anything less than 10degrees or more than about 26 or 27degrees) that give cause for concern.

Secondly - without TVs, people would actually have to do something with their days! :-p

Thirdly and quite seriously, stars using public transport sounds good, however in Japan this is a bad idea. People were almost trampled to death several years ago in Harajuku because of a mere rumour that a Johnnys artist was there. Having some friends and associates who are artists in Japan, I have seen first hand that the behaviour of fans is downright dangerous at train stations. Once at Shin-Osaka station, I've seen police used in significant numbers to barricade people off from the platform when a famous singer was waiting to catch the train back to Tokyo.

What I do agree with is that people these days are far more concerned with what they appear to be doing then actually doing something which actually works to change something. Makes me sad!

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