I was having a discussion about programming languages with a work colleague the other day. Like many people, he felt like restrictions of freedom were useful, making the points that apple’s iphone is better than android because of their walled garden approach, that Java is better than C++ because it prevents you from writing certain specific cases of retarded code (no matter what the language, you can write retarded code, don’t let anyone tell you differently), and that Japanese society works well because it has so few foreigners. While I list these points in unconnected fashion here, the connections were reasonable in the conversation, and I’m the one who pushed the metaphors. What I find enlightening in the conversation is how conditioned people are to accept authority and hierarchical power structures, and how this spreads across broad swaths of subject matter.
What blew me away was his observation that Japan has a well functioning society. While I’m sure Japanese society functions well by certain metrics I don’t think it’s fair to say it functions well, nor to arrive at the conclusion that the merits of Japanese society draw from the homogeneity of their culture.
In particular, since Fukushima Germany and Switzerland have made the decision to wean themselves off of nuclear power. Japan, suffering terribly from their disaster, prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, has not. This is a clear indication of a malfunctioning society, and indicates a lack of democracy in their institutions and power structure.
While the media and the pro-nuclear camp like to focus on the risks of disaster, nuclear power is gigantic crime against our children and the poorer elements of our society, even if the reactors run flawlessly. The pundits like to praise nuclear power as being clean and cheap, but this is for very specific definitions of clean, and an equally special accounting to arrive at cheap.
Just look at the waste, which is some of the most toxic stuff on earth. We have no idea how to deal with the waste we have already generated. How do they define that as clean? Well it produces no CO2, never mind the toxicity of the stuff. If clean is defined in terms of CO2 production, yeah, ok, it’s clean… but only a fool would accept such a definition. But hey it’s ok, we have the mafia to help us deal with the waste.
Want one metric of how democratic and well functioning your society is? Take a look at it’s attitude toward nuclear power.