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Anarchism in the Kumamoto earthquakes

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I was caught up in the recent very serious earthquakes here in Kumamoto, Japan. I did several interviews and articles about it on the BBC, PRI radio, and newspapers, including this article where I focused on the anarchistic elements in the Japanese emergency volunteer system:


"What is called ‘Hinansho’ (避難所 place of refuge, shelter) system is, to me, an example of an anarchistic type system, operating on the lines of the political, philosophical system of anarchism. By which, of course, I do not mean lawlessness, and chaos. That is NOT what anarchism is. A simple but massively misunderstood point. Normally these are set up in school or university sports halls, sports grounds or other such communities centres. There are 100s of them now in Kumamoto.The one I four nights in is right next to where I live, in Kumamoto University. It’s staffed by young student volunteers,who all work together in a spirit of equality and co-operation, and, with no set leaders and no formal pay. They politely hand out free water and food to everyone, help old ladies get out their wheel chairs, pass out free blankets, etc. All just to be decent people helping their community. Well done them, very impressive.

And THAT is how an anarchist system works – people are volunteers, not wage slaves; they are all formally equal, not structured into tight hierarchies of works, managers, bosses etc; they perform their work for the sake of contributing to their area, not because they are forced into it by threats of poverty; and the work ties people together in a system of mutual aid and appreciation. People often say ‘Anarchism is good in theory, but it does not work in practice’. Crap. It does work. I can take you right now to such a hinansho centre in Kumamoto and you can see it working very well."

See more here:



Another article I did last year focused on the anarchistic elements in the Japanese undokai (school sports day) system. Both these articles caused quite a bit of disagreement, but I feel quite sure the points are relevant:

https://japandaily.jp/undokai-and-anarchism-1905/ ;

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