Liaisons received a letter from our friend, Sabu Kohso. Expanding on the framework developed in his recent book, Radiation and Revolution – an examination of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that illuminates the relationship between nuclear power, capitalism, and the nation-state – Sabu’s letter reflects on a handful of questions posed by our present: the relationship between pandemic and radiation, the significance of the recent US uprisings in a global context, and the heterogenetic silver lining that emerges with the prospect of American decomposition.
Book of Catastrophe
Radiation and Revolution is a project prompted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster that began in March 2011. Overwhelming manifestations of the catastrophe compelled an investigation into the ontopolitical status of nuclear power in Japan and the world, from the standpoint of people’s lives entrapped within its logic and their struggles against it. This book of catastrophe is the outcome.
Previously, I had never been engaged in the anti-nuclear movement, as the movement has tended to limit itself to a single-issue perspective and to omit the question of capitalism and the state, global fountainheads of the apparatuses of energy and war.
Fukushima’s tripartite disaster – earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear explosion – disrupted the infrastructure, economy, politics, and everyday life of Japan’s postwar regime for two years. The multi-dimensionality of its effects revealed how deeply the nuclear apparatuses had been enmeshed in a society resting on an earthquake-prone archipelago. Amid a crisis on all fronts, as people created autonomous projects for survival, they cast a fundamental doubt on the authenticity of a society that had allowed the US/Japanese ruling power to proliferate nuclear energy in their lives, despite the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Though short-lived, this marked a moment of revolutionary break. Yet with the nationalist orchestration of reconstruction, the status quo returned. While radiation contamination continues, permeating the planet beyond the national border, the off-lined nuclear reactors have been put back online, one by one. In the rest of the world, most nuclear states continue to compete with each other over the ability to instrumentalize nuclear fission for weapons and energy.
This demoralizing retrogression urged me to confront the nuclear problematic in a different context – from the vantage point of changing the world – with a question about the tacit role nuclear technology may well play for the global order: due to its Janus-faced functionality, isn’t it the ideal means to solidify the bond between capitalism and the state, and thereby block the struggles to abolish them?
The year 2011 was the beginning of the present: an age of endless disasters and struggles against ruling powers under the catastrophic conditions thereby imposed. The epoch has witnessed the intensification of two global impetuses – disaster and uprising – whose interaction, since then, has increasingly involved us.
To place the Fukushima nuclear disaster in a global context, it is important to note that it was when the Japanese oppositional milieu had been roused by the Arab Spring that the nuclear disaster intervened. Around that time, as if through a circuit of affective exchanges on a planetary horizon (i.e., George Katsiaficas’ “eros effect”), the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain had begun to resonate among peoples in various places in Europe. In Japan, amid the turmoil of radiation fallouts, the crowds were able to stand up quickly, both politically and existentially – largely thanks to the globally-shared passion of rising up. In Japan, people were experiencing an interaction between the flow of radionuclides and the reverberation of uprisings: both seemed to be unrelated, or even contrary, and yet concurrently went beyond the confinement of national borders, deranging the global order in different ontological registers. Since then, intensifying interactions have been materializing a new horizon of political ontology – of the Earth emerging out of the breach of the “World.”
Another dimension of the post-2011 development is that people’s existential struggles to protect their lives have inexorably expanded their territories of engagement – not only in post-Fukushima Japan but across the world – in response to the accumulating synergy of disasters, accidents, pollution, environmental mutation, and amid ongoing crises of political oppression, social exclusion, and economic inequality. Now, for the benefit of our well-being and happiness, all aspects of everyday reproduction require full-hearted reorganization.
In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the world. The immediate response of governments was national closure through border control. Meanwhile, despite or because of this closure, the reverberation of uprisings dramatically intensified – as if they were falling in love with each other more than ever. It was the uprising against police violence in America that broke the pandemic-imposed isolation and depression people had been experiencing across the world. The reverberation spread not only nationally, from city to city, but also globally, to Hong Kong, Chile, Kenya (Nairobi), Indonesia, and Thailand, as well as to many other places in all continents. In Japan, the inspiration liberated the moral bind that had tied people in self-confinement and encouraged them to go out in the street in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Perhaps most importantly, it synchronized the protest of Kurdish immigrants against the brutality of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
The impetus of the American uprising is far from being a straight path toward national revolution. It instead expresses a tendency toward a decomposition of the nation-state – along with the abolition of the police and criminal justice system – demonstrating the heterogeneous existentialities of the Empire. This tendency reveals the essential impossibility of calling America a “nation” – a society in which a majority shares an identical self-consciousness – due to its unsettled history of the invasion of indigenous land and the slavery of Africans, expanding its hegemony by military might, and absorbing waves of immigrants as labor force. Rather than a nation-state that has reached the stage in which imperialist expansion is compelled by internal contradiction – like the Third Reich or the Japanese Empire (up until the end of the Second World War) – America is instead an empire that always desires to become the World itself, and yet pretends to be a nation.
What is frightening about the ongoing conflicts in America is the prospect that – instead of prompting the emergence of a certain form of heterogeneous federation – they could give way to a long-lasting civil war. Yet the process of decomposition itself may be sending an inspiration of planetary synchronicity to the uprisings reverberating among many other countries, which, since the rise of Western Colonialism, share a universal history of institutionalized racial violence.
For most of us across the world, with the expectation of a worsening pandemic, ongoing oppression, and other disasters, future prospects are dark, yet strangely exhilarating for their unknown character. We are immersed in mixed feelings – between the apocalypse of the world’s end and the aspiration for a possible planetary revolution. Overlapping them lies another layer of emotion: a deep sorrow for the loss of invincible nature, and a burning rage against those who are responsible for the degeneration of the world (I cannot properly describe the depth of sorrow and the intensity of rage felt by West Coast friends in the face of accelerating wildfire).
Thus, we are confused in a strangely active manner. In this unprecedented juncture, I feel an urge to extend the analyses developed in the book of catastrophe to an understanding of a present immersed in a synergy of crises and disasters. The epochal meaning of the present is that it apocalyptically reveals how the world has been made, compelling us to reconsider how we participate in making it by living. In other words, the revelation affects our sense of changing the world (revolution). Such attempts will have to confront, decompose, and supersede the capitalist-state mode of development in a manner much more strategically multi-dimensional and technically substantial than ever. This lesson, whose relevance is still sustained after ten years, is the fundamental gift of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Radiation and Pandemic
Across the world, governments’ measures to confront the pandemic diverge, embodying a spectrum from strict to lax control of social life. In a catastrophe – whether nuclear or pandemic – none of the other problems vanish, but are unequivocally worsened instead. The catastrophe absorbs everything, through which it begins to speak. Thus, it tends to create a negative theology that affects the minds of all.
In Japan today, like everywhere else, the minds and bodies of people are imprisoned by the pandemic. Although the nuclear disaster is not over and the threat of radio-contamination persists, even this threat is muted under the acceleration of viral scare. Yet what commonalities exist between the nuclear disaster and the pandemic? The radiation of the nuclear disaster and the pandemic of COVID-19 are both byproducts of the indefinitely densifying interconnectivity between the human world and the planetary environment. They are different embodiments of the World expanding over the planetary body through the unstoppable development of capitalist-nation-states. Both attest to the fact that a catastrophic contiguity has opened the seal of an untouched universe from which monsters are released, spreading and exerting their mutant powers over our existential territories (individual, society, and environment). Assuming that the development continues, more and more monsters will emerge in the World.
Physically, they both mutate our DNA: one by radioactive attack and the other by parasitic activity. Both endanger the vital activity of humans and physically disrupt their social reproduction. Their impacts spread across the planet, but their spreading patterns are invisible and hard to detect, only graspable by way of extrapolation from combined data. In both instances, the political role of techno-science comes to the fore. Meanwhile, from this soup of uncertainties, information war arises. The frictions among representations of information make us realize that in our society, no event can exist in and of itself, outside the network of information that stages it. In both instances, a polar opposition appears. On the one hand, those who prioritize business interests and the status quo misinform people about the pandemic’s effects by spreading sheer lies and contradictory messages and overloading them with information – tactics that exhaust a will to know the truth. On the other, those determined to confront the truth for the sake of life’s protection are willing to open their minds to whatever that conclusion might bring: in the case of Fukushima, conflict emerged among those who moralistically followed the code of life’s protection (the so-called “Zero-Becquerelists”) and those who sought protection in a more flexible manner. During the intensifying moment of disaster, the power dynamic among diverging attitudes determines the political horizon.
What are the differences between radiation and COVID-19? They permeate and affect differently: radiation travels with all planetary movements – tectonic and climatic, as well as through human activities – and mutates genetic activities of all vital forms, while COVID-19 spreads via the agent of the living organs of mammals, mostly those of humans. While radionuclides travel very far and for a long time, permeating the earth in an ungraspable, chaotic pattern of nano-dimension, their genetic mutation is transferred through hereditary lineage. While the virus can travel only short distances and for a short time, the infected cells spread coextensively to all humans via the dissemination of bodily fluid, by contact or evaporation in the air. As it spreads, it mutates, and the stronger mutants live on. While the effects of the former are non-organic (or machinic) and spatio-temporally dispersed, those of the latter are organic, directly devastating social relations.
In terms of protective measures, those taken against radiation would have to seal all vital activities from it by a yet unknown techno-politics; such an operation would have to take into account all planetary movements, which would exceed the conventional realm of geo-politics. An ideal protection from radioactivity has not been discovered yet. Meanwhile, the measures against the virus are, in principle, believed to isolate the infected individuals by social operation, which requires all kinds of division among mass corporeality and restriction in social activities. The immediate effects on the socius by the pandemic devastate us intensely, but the long-term effects on the planetary environment by radiation are unthinkably expansive and endure well into the future.
What do radiation and the pandemic reveal? They paradoxically tell us something essential by way of what they destroy. They speak to us in the negative. In the philosophical sense, catastrophe is a message or an education – a lesson about its own origin as an event that takes place in the boundary between what humans do consciously and their unconscious effects on the planetary body. Radiation teaches us the indispensability of the rapport between people and land, by giving a fatal blow to it. The pandemic demonstrates the necessity of physical interaction among bodies, by making it hazardous. Their ultimate message is that we have nothing if not for these two relationalities. At the same time, the difficulties of dealing with their movements and effects open up a new context for existential struggle and the concept of the political, wherein we must be fully engaged in protecting our lives, ousting the capitalist-nation-state, and creating a new existential reality for our survival and happiness. This is the crux of the apocalyptic revelation of the present: the realm of what used to be considered “political” is just the tip of the iceberg. We are now facing the political ontology of not only social, political, and economic crises but also info-radio-viral-environmental catastrophes.
Structural and Machinic Violence
One of the premises of Radiation and Revolution is to consider the global nexus of the capitalist-state mode of development as the instigator of varying modes of violence over the planetary populace. Among others, it focuses on the nuclear megamachine as the most complex and heinous division of these modes.
Speaking of violence today, our prime target is the amassing brutalities committed by the state apparatuses of military, police, immigration, and criminal justice departments. But that is not all. If this violence exists at one pole in the spectrum of varying modes of violence, it could be called machinic violence – a violence whose exertion is direct, immediate, and visible, and whose effects are often murderous, either individually or massively. Against this violence, people may immediately rise up. At the other pole, a structural violence exists. Its effects are indirect, obscure, slow, and distant. Due to its imperceptibility, this violence might not always trigger an immediate response from the masses. It has been conceptualized as “slow violence” (Rob Nixon), a violence “that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.” This view recognizes all types of industrial pollution and waste disposal – including radiation contamination – as violence imposed on the inhabitants of the invisible peripheries of the world.
All in all, the nuclear megamachine – including its sectors of both energy and weaponry – is the most comprehensive apparatus of violence and forms a major part of the so-called military industrial complex. While being victimized in multiple dimensions, the planetary populace is made to serve: as laborers offering their blood and tears (from uranium mines, transportation, processing facilities, and power plants), commoners whose land is expropriated by power plants, payers of tax and electricity bills, casualties of war, those criminalized by security measures, and victims of radiation exposure. The nuclear weapon is the ultimate machine for power: not only for the destruction of enemies, but also for the annihilation of whole histories, cultures, and cosmologies of otherness from the face of the earth – the ultimate tabula rasa machine.
And yet – I emphasize – the varying modes of violence are observed more or less in all divisions of the capitalist state mode of development: to a greater or lesser extent, the majority of the planetary populace is exposed to the violence of certain modes. Finally, the most oppressed groups of people – racial and gender minorities, indigenous people and immigrant workers across the world – are the ones who suffer from a concentrated assemblage of various modes of violence. Their existential struggles are confronting this assemblage most intensely. This is why the current reverberation of uprisings across the planet shows us who is facing such a concentration, and in what arrangements they are facing it.
People’s existential struggles, confronting a layered synergy of violence and disaster, come to involve at least three principles of engagement: (A) the protection of life, (B) oppositional politics, and (C) the creation of autonomy. (A) is the sine qua non for responding to the disaster of the pandemic, and (B) emerges more and more intensely in the midst of immediate and direct violence across the world. As (B) grows in size and strength, it sends evermore powerful signals of inspiration to struggles elsewhere. (C) is necessary to empower both (A) and (B), and to establish their links as the territory of counter-power in the form of the commune – the shared basis for singular lives-as-struggle.
In the wake of the pandemic, the priority was considered to be (A), but that didn’t mean that (B) and (C) were omitted. In fact, mutual aid projects with (A) and (C) flourished in some neighborhoods in New York (i.e., Woodbine in Ridgewood), and in many other cities across America. (B), in the form of anti-police uprisings, began during the first peak of the pandemic, triggered by the police killing of George Floyd, yet another black man. The crowd – led by black people but heterogeneous – took to the street from one city after another, with a rage transcending the bind of the pandemic. Importantly, this was not a shift of priority from (A) to (B), but a collective awakening to the complexity of our reality: we must deal with the synergy of pandemic and violence at the same time! The power of (B) significantly influenced the perception of many, making them recognize that the racist nature of the American police – as an essential part of what constitutes the Empire historically – cannot be repaired. This reconfirmed the truth that a change of public opinion that could induce political reforms might take place less by means of reformist politics itself than through the spontaneous and massive expression of the popular will – a riot.
The most intense moment of uprisings might have passed for now, but collective memory preserves the various forms of action that developed in their proliferation: localized protests, occupations to create autonomous zones, destruction of statues commemorating slave drivers and colonizers, and people’s enduring confrontations with both local police and federal agents. Across the country, collective readiness remains. Whenever police brutality occurs in a city or town, it can no longer be ignored. The behavior of the American police, via media, is now being observed across the planet.
Something of this spirit of opposition has been captured by the political dichotomy of the presidential election, centered around a man whose presidency has consisted in imposing catastrophic situations on the American populace. He embodies a mad machine of violence, a machine that has successively privatized state apparatuses one by one. Meanwhile, Biden Democrats appealed to social stability, national security, fidelity to the constitution, and American hegemony in the world. They are the authentic bearers of American imperialism, willing to take over the apparatuses of structural and organized violence. It is hard to find anything positive about them, but within America, the desperate need to get rid of the mad man has drawn a large part of recent oppositional impetus into voting for the Democrats.
Though Biden has won the election, to everyone it is clear that conflicts will continue. If we schematize the complexity of forces at play, an ontologically asymmetric duality emerges: homogenetic America and heterogenetic America.
The former is a movement to forcibly make America a nation dominated by the value shared among the self-identical descendants of European colonizers and immigrants, with governance realizing their interests and prioritizing their cultures, at the expense of everyone else. Their historically inherited obsession with race continues to impose the convention of racially categorizing and dividing America’s heterogeneous inhabitants. This is a project to homogenize America. It is not only impossible, savage, and insane, but is also becoming obsolete in the global reality. In the final instance, however, this fanatic drive serves the interests of the American ruling class in order to govern the vast and heterogeneous space of the Empire as if it were their national territory, and to expand their hegemony across the World, as if it were their United States.
The latter, on one level, indicates heterogeneous groups of inhabitants, including indigenous and black people, as well as all other minorities – among them European descendants as well – existing on the horizon of multiplicity. They embody the tragic history of the American Empire, a cultural diversity expressing every alternative that heterogeneous groups of people and their assembly have been and will continue to create. Therefore, on another level, their existential potency can explode racial identities as such through their lives-as-struggle. In this sense, the term heterogenesis doesn’t simply mean the multiplicity of their origins, but the multiplicity of their becoming. Ultimately, they are the planetary forces, internalized in the Empire but externally extending their connectivity. Their struggles have been inspiring and are inspired by struggles and uprisings across the globe. The existential struggles of heterogenetic America involve multi-layered and poly-temporal dimensions according to three territories of engagement: life, militancy, and autonomy, each of which unfold in various singular contexts. We find their models among the long-lasting struggles of innumerable communities of those minorities who have historically fought concentrated assemblages of violence at once, from generation to generation, toward an unknown horizon.
From America to the World: A Decomposition That Might Have Begun
The uprisings have begun to reveal the fissures that run across American society. Along with their reverberation, this revelation is transferred outward to Europe and elsewhere. This has created a globally shared desire for historical reflection, which reconfirms that racist violence operates universally in the constitution of modern capitalist-nation-states, in continuity with the triangular trade. Thus, the ongoing reverberation urges us to recognize the World yet again as the outcome of Western Colonialism, in order to decompose it as the project of reversing the irreversible. This is the impetus of a universal abolitionism, of planetary insurrection.
Symbolically, around two junctures, the formation of the American Empire played the major role in the formation of the World: the violent enclosure of vast spaces of the Atlantic Ocean in the late sixteenth century and the Pacific Ocean in the mid-twentieth century.
The first juncture was the beginning of a totalization of the World, by connecting three continents. European adventurists intervened in the Americas by traversing the Atlantic Ocean, wiping out existing societies, erasing their values, cultures, and cosmologies, and constructing the economic ground to build colonies, based upon the blood and tears of slaves forcibly taken from Africa. It was the origin of institutional racism and a homogenesis exerted by employing the apparatuses of guns, Christianity, and the axiomatic (the equivalent form of value), in order to pave the road for the mercantile capitalist-state expansion to follow.
Thereafter, the colonized territories of America absorbed waves upon waves of refugees and immigrants freed from homelands in crisis (oppression, famine, war, and disaster), and regulated their numbers, according to the demand of labor power. Thus, the class hierarchy in American society was built, based upon a hereditary lineage, with the colonial rulers at the top, racially divided immigrants in the middle, and the indigenous and slaves at the bottom. The lower stratum of the middle classes has come to take charge of the accursed role of policing as vigilantes subservient to the upper class. Meanwhile, the two names on the bottom have always been vibrating as a basso continuo in the proper noun “America.” American revolution means nothing but the creation of a new world under their names.
The second juncture was the further expansion of the American Empire in the middle of the twentieth century, over the Pacific Ocean beyond California. It was this second wave of totalization that collapsed the East and the West: US forces clashed with the forces of the Japanese Empire that had stretched their tentacles from the Asian continent from the opposite end and defeated them ultimately by nuclear attack. The victory of world war announced the shift of global hegemony from Europe to America, both economically (Fordism) and militarily (atoms for both war and peace), with transferences of tremendous power and knowledge from the former to the latter. Thanks to the fatal pact between Europe’s cutting-edge physicists (Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi) and the US military, the Manhattan Project was realized, from which the civilian use of nuclear energy was devised soon after; hence nuclearity came to tacitly connect military and civilian spaces and control them at once. The United States thus became the dominant power both in the Atlantic and the Pacific – at the limit of colonial, westward expansion – and continued military intervention in the Wars of Korea and Vietnam. And then, after 9/11, through the so-called War on Terror (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc.).
The recent uprisings against police violence – and especially their planetary reverberation – bring to mind a historical fact we should not forget. US systemic racism is operative not only in domestic governance, but also foreign policy. To be precise, the origin of the American Empire is nothing but a totalizing expansion of the Colonial West by way of systemic racism. To this day, American interventionism is necessitated less by national security as such, as the State Department would claim, than by the dynamic of maintaining the Empire itself, involving both a centripetal movement (the absorption of wealth and labor power from outside) and a centrifugal movement (imperialist expansion moving outward). Both movements are regulated by racist violence – namely, the homogenization of the nation and the world.
A number of critiques have raised the question as to whether the atrocities at Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have ever been perpetrated against Western nations – whether such enemies as Germany and Italy were not actually too close – whether such attacks were not better-suited for an enemy in the territory of the Asian Other at the far end of the Pacific Ocean. This same question can be raised about all American atrocities from the Second World War to the present that have unequivocally targeted the lands and peoples of non-Western others.
With the technology of nuclear fission, American imperialists discovered a perfect machine for erasing the otherness of the world. This catastrophic erasure would support the intervention of the capitalist-state mode of development in view of an ideal condition – that of the tabula rasa. Around the same time and within its own borders, America perfected a culture of tabula rasa in mass production – automobile transportation, a network of highways, suburban life (and the nuclear family), supermarket food, shopping mall sociality – all facilitated by the economy of oil, and that effectively erased the singularities of heterogeneous forms of life. This is a civilization based upon “non-places” (Marc Augé), spaces constructed without any singular rapport with the local community or terrain, spaces just passed through or consumed, retaining little to no trace of our existential engagements.
The capitalist state mode of development has reached a material limit vis-à-vis the planetary body, a limit whose effects have materialized in ecological disasters, economic failures, and socio-political crises, severely affecting the reproduction of the populace at a planetary scale. These effects have also been visibly manifest in the decline of American and other Western powers, inasmuch as they had long been at the forefront of the totalization of the World. The American Empire has reached the limit of its expansive movement, especially in confrontation with the rise of the Chinese Empire. Its civilization of tabula rasa is in fundamental crisis, unveiling a psychosomatic degeneration increasingly exposed in the suburban form of life, that zenith of American civilization.
Trump’s presidency has been the hastiest response to the decline, that is, by way of a total denial. It is a catastrophe in and of itself in the sense that it champions the policies that would expand and elongate homogenetic America, although the latter has become obsolete. Yet it is precisely because of this obsolescence that his presidency has served as the most effective catalyst for gathering the resentful class of people, proud of serving the ruling class since the colonial age and devastated most by the Empire’s decline. Instead of accepting this reality, they sanctify it by fetishizing their historically inherited apparatuses: guns, Christianity, and racial identity. Meanwhile, armed racism rises in various societies across the World, and Trump’s ultimate ideal to form part of a dictators’ international has been concomitant with this global tendency.
At the same time, this armed racism embodies one pole amid varying modes of violence, composing an entire spectrum. In many national contexts, the ultimate role of the bearers of armed racism – the fascists – may be that of a vanguard that serves structural and organized enterprises of violence which operate according to longer and wider horizons, although they also often wage dramatic assaults on such enterprises. Therefore, having to face this entirety at once, people’s existential struggles involve practices widely distributed across the existential territories of subjectivity, society, and the environment, all unfolding in multiple spatio-temporalities. In the ongoing situation, these struggles are intensely empowered by the abolitionist impetus, which allows us to see the worldwide and universal arrangement of power under the light of discriminatory violence.
The most devastating effect of Western Colonialism is that it has created this hellish World consisting of nothing but nation-states. The anti-colonial independence movements, as well as the socialist movements of the Communist International – once they successfully ousted the colonial and authoritarian regimes – ended up becoming nation-states themselves, as the conditio sine qua non of preserving victory had been to survive the external pressures of existing Western nation-states by forming equivalent power apparatuses.
The ontopolitical paradox of the nation-state – as the modern embodiment of the Urstaat or “original state” (Deleuze and Guattari) – is that its internal integrity is forged as an apparatus only through its conflictual relationship with external forces. In the original sense, the state is ahistorical. It creates various, possible forms of “independence,” but not autonomy. The mechanism of despotism is to capture the bodies and minds of heterogeneous crowds and to hierarchically organize them internally, while its external interventions territorialize land and construct a cosmological architecture, or “megamachine” (Lewis Mumford). In the age of the capitalist-nation-state, capital’s necessity to expansively reproduce itself is militarily facilitated by the state, which at the same time territorializes land exclusively for the nation and the accumulation of national wealth. Herein exists the existential primacy of internality (national governance) over externality (foreign and immigrant policies), and it is this primacy that captures the lives and minds of heterogeneous crowds and congeals them into an enclosed community of the “nation.” This original articulation of interiority/exteriority is the ontological basis of institutionalized racism – homogenesis – that all capitalist-nation-states assume.
In the age of the Communist International (Comintern), there was a heated debate across the world about the choice of the workers: either they participate in their nation’s war or oppose it as part of the workers’ international. Internationalism was the beginning of a situation in which revolutionary movements must confront the division of nation-states as their main obstacle. The Anti-globalization movement experienced a particular moment in which the main focus of opposition was globalizing capitals. Various movements – including people’s movements of the global south and the movements of minorities and anti-authoritarian movements of the north – enjoyed exchanges relatively free from state intervention, through summit hopping and the World Social Forum. After the financial meltdown of 2008, while radical struggles shifted focus toward increasingly devastating local situations, they continued to nurture global exchanges across national borders, by way of informal and invisible nexuses.
After 2011, in the midst of the synergy of disasters and crises, the homogenetic forces of the capitalist-nation-state made a comeback across the globe. People’s existential struggles confront them by being armed with their heterogenetic powers: the powers to decompose the apparatuses of homogenesis by rediscovering a singular relationship with the land, creating new forms of communal living, and thereby rising up in synchronicity with uprisings everywhere. While lives-as-struggle continue to be largely captured by the homogenetic totalization of capitalist-nation-states – especially under the pandemic measure of national confinement – their heterogenesis nurtures another impetus, across the planet, toward a collective oscillation between dispersion and reverberation.
The age when national independence created a horizon for liberation is over. Today, the autonomy of the people of the world is achieved more through creating enclaves of counter-power inside and across national territories. The planetary significance of these American uprisings is that, through the fractures across the Empire, through dispersion and reverberation – they encourage the impulse to decompose the capitalist-nation-state across the world. We do not know where the impetus will lead us, but it seems to be the most hopeful prospect we share at the moment.
No matter how many increasingly desperate appeals to America as a “nation” are voiced by politicians, American heterogenesis has always resisted the attempts of state apparatuses to homogenize it as such. America is a world that internalizes the World. It is, like a Klein bottle, a kind of phase space. Therein are asymmetric becomings – homogenetic and heterogenetic – in the face of which all of us stumble, as if we were caught by a double bind. Simply said, we love and hate America. Who on earth can love this bloody name of racist wars? Who on earth dare hate the creative potency of its planetary populace?