Melanie and I are excited to announce the launch of the very first episode of the Love From Tokyo podcast, aptly titled ‘Class Power is Built from Love’. Like the blog, this podcast focuses on politics and activism in Tokyo and the wider region. It’s a project that Melanie and I have been dreaming up since we first started talking about coming to Tokyo and is inspired by some of the new wave of radical podcasts we have been listening to over the past couple of years such as Living the Dream, Novara Media and Floodcast. You can listen to the podcast here or via iTunes and Stitcher.
For this first episode we took the opportunity to interview our dear friend Nick Southall who was in Tokyo last month for the Love as Politics seminar at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. This symposium was the capstone for a four-year JSPS-funded research project on ‘The Lived Experience of Anarchist Culture: The Making of Autonomous Space and Subsistence [生きられたアナーキズムの文化実践：自律空間の創出とサブシステンス]’ (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 15K03872) that involved members of an Autonomism reading group formed in Kunitachi in 2012. In his talk at the symposium, Nick addressed the importance of care in social movements and argued that love is increasingly being recognised as key to building alternatives to capitalist power. In the podcast, we asked him to expand on his use of the term love. We then talk extensively about love, and its lack, on the political left and how love can serve as the basis for building class power.
The project is the work of a fairly informal network of researchers and activists that first started to come together around the G8 summit in Hokkaido in 2008. We held our first conference in Wollongong in 2010 under the title From Empire to Commonwealth: Communist Theory and Contemporary Praxis. When I was in Japan between 2011 and 2013 a group of participants in that conference and other local activists and researchers started a reading group on Sylvia Federici’s book Caliban and the Witch (Autonomedia, 2004), an alternative history of capitalist modernity that emphasises the role of the witch hunts in the destruction of pre-modern forms of autonomous community and women’s power both in Europe and the colonies. These discussions coalesced around a second conference, Crisis and Commons: Prefigurative Politics After Fukushima where we considered autonomist perspectives on the Fukushima nuclear disaster and other struggles in a world of deepening crisis. One of the reading group members, Odawara Rin, subsequently translated Federici’s book into Japanese.
My talk at the symposium was an attempt to summarise and theorise the experience of a series of events I have been involved in organising in Wollongong that we call Love: Art, Ideas, Music, Politics (my talk is available here and in Japanese translation here). Some readers of this blog will have attended one of these events at Minto Bush Camp in 2014 or at Kum Ba Yah Girl Guide Camp in 2017. These events, which we refer to more casually as ‘love festivals’ were themselves the outgrowth of an earlier reading group on love that started in 2013 in direct response to the above mentioned 2012 symposium at TUFS. Stay tuned for the Love: Art, Ideas, Music, Politics book, which we hope to publish in 2020.
The full text of Nick’s talk is available here ( and in Japanese translation here). You can also read more of his work on his blog, Revolts Now. In 2016 I interviewed Nick about his experience growing up in the Communist Party of Australia. The interview is available at The Word From Struggle Street(part 1, part 2, part 3).