Earthquakes and Revolution

  • Posted on: 25 September 2018
  • By: thecollective


Keita Watano, while taking up Yasushi Kurihara in his commentary on current events in “Avid Reader” asks, “is an earthquake a revolution?”. As someone who has assessed Kurihara on this blog, I’ll respond. For anarchy, revolution is the release of governance, a condition in which nature’s superiority over civilization is exposed, and within those terms we can say that the conditions brought about by disasters such as earthquakes are close to a revolution. More important than this is the becoming (1) of people in the face of disaster, one of the results of which is what we can term the “disaster utopia” of people’s self-organization. At the same time this release of governance is fear itself to those who favor discipline, and thus it also violently spews forth counterrevolution. The example Watano gives of the massacre after the Great Kanto Earthquake (2) is the latter, and isn’t it clearly a different question whether that meant the “defeat of anarchism”? The “Arab Spring” we mentioned here last time was revolution itself, and everyone knows that it attracted the Islamic State among all sorts of counterrevolutions mistaken for revolutions. And even in this country, after the temporary insurrectionary conditions following 3/11 (3) there has been an unprecedented shift to the far right. However, the question of disaster throwing us into anarchy is more fundamental. Being caught in the disasters described above isn’t the same thing as hoping for disasters to happen. Among people, disaster is first a direct hit on the lower class and minorities. But this is a problem of society itself, the “revival” counterposed to rebuilding the former society is a counterrevolution, and it’s this impulse that makes massacres a reality. The landslide which occurred in the Hokkaido earthquake (4) was identified as a product of climate change, meaning earthquakes are also a condition of the anthropocene. What we’ll be questioning from here on is living in collapse as communism. This is connected to the “rearrangement” in the process of “Unending Demise” written by Iwasaburou Kouso for Hapax 9. The question of disaster in the summer of 2018 is a call for a new “politics”.

(1) seisei henka (生成変化), used the same way as Deleuze's "becoming" - here it's talking about fundamental changes in the way people exist before the disaster

(2) Two Japanese anarchists and one of their nephews were murdered by military police during the martial law imposed after the earthquake in 1923 in what was known as the Amakasu Incident

(3) The Touhoku Earthquake and tsunami which occurred in 2011 in northern Japan, leaving almost 16,000 people dead and triggering the Fukushima meltdown, among other things

(4) This article was written following the September 6th Hokkaido earthquake

Translation by anarchist news



Historically, famine has preceded a plethora of riots which are rapidly dispelled with food handouts.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Enter the code without spaces.