Coincidentally, the only song I can sing at karaoke is Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols and Anarchy in the UK is the theme song I always play on my car stereo when I enter the National Police Agency building to park in the basement for study group meetings... or maybe it isn't coincidence...
SlateExcerpt from Slate Dispatches from Davos by Chris Anderson
It started as a pretty formal-looking affair with a soporific agenda of greater understanding and friendship. But by night's end the event had turned into an anarchic generation war. A gang of Americanized upstarts, led by Joi Ito, a 30ish technology entrepreneur and power-blogger, dominated the discussion, blaming their risk-adverse establishment elders for Japan's slow-motion train wreck of an economy.
"The problem with 'destroy and rebuild' [the rhetoric then coming from the more radical reformers in the country] is that everyone immediately focuses on the rebuild part," Ito said. "What we need to do is just destroy." It was as if the Sex Pistols had crashed the party. Perhaps there was hope for Japan yet.
So, I was looking forward to this year's dinner and curious to see how it would compare. Surprise: Ito was now the official MC, with full license to shake things up after dinner. Either last year's intemperate outburst had been slightly less spontaneous than it had seemed, or the old guard had listened. Fireworks were on the menu.
Finally it was time for the Ito Show. Out came the acid candor, no less shocking coming in this ultra-establishment setting than it had been last year. He had been warned, he said: "Don't talk about complicated issues, the foreigners won't understand." Nevertheless, he railed. Reform plans read like "Zen riddles," and nothing ever comes of them. The bureaucracy is defined by its resistance to change; a system that "rewards people for their obedience" and leaves critics fearing retaliation. ("In fact," he half-joked, "fear of retaliation is what I'm feeling right now.") Japan had, if anything, fallen further since last year; Ito called again for revolution.
And so it went through the rest of the youth movement in the Japanese delegation; each speaker adding to the chant of national self-criticism. Japan needs a proper shock, not the slow leak of the past decade. Nothing else seems capable of toppling the entrenched establishment, the bureaucracy elite. It was grim message, made all the more so by the thought of what it must have taken for them to violate Japanese norms of public politeness.