Author: “Almost everyone I spoke to, even the most mild-mannered, said they no longer trusted the gov’t, and they said it bluntly, or angrily, or with a deep sense of betrayal”
June 13th, 2012
Diary: In Fukushima
London Review of Books, Vol. 34 No. 9, pages 35-37
May 10, 2012
One of the casualties of the [Fukushima] disaster was the relationship between the people and the government. Almost everyone I spoke to, even the most mild-mannered, said they no longer trusted the government, and they said it bluntly, or angrily, or with a deep sense of betrayal.
Governments fear their people. They fear we will exercise our power to change them, and they fear we will panic. The first is a realistic if undemocratic fear, since changing them is our right; the second is a self-aggrandising fantasy in which attempts to alter the status quo are seen as madness, hysteria, mob rule. They often assume that we can’t handle the data in a crisis, and so prefer to withhold crucial information, as the Pennsylvania government did in 1979 at the time of the Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown, and the Soviet government did during the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.