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MASAHIDE T.

KATO
Expanding Our Collective Conceptual Horizon
Masahide T. Kato is a Lecturer and Researcher at the University of Hawai'i system. We are excited to have his input after his recent publication From Kung Fu to Hip Hop: Globalization, Revolution, and Popular Culture (State Univ. of New York Press, 2007). Christopher Spurlock is an undergraduate student, and debate coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
CS: Some people say that this argument is out-dated and does not matter anymore because nuclear testing has been officially stopped by the United States military. Why might your criticism of the techno-strategic gaze still be relevant to debaters today? Kato: With the passage of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty in 1996, there has been an international, or more precisely, transnational ban placed on nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere. (ctbto.org). The US has indeed ceased to explode nuclear bombs along with other major nuclear nation-states that suspended the testing. However, the US, China and 37 other signatory states have yet to ratify the treaty and officially join the forces that monitor and police possible violations. In the meantime, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has assumed the transnational sovereign power reflected in the text of Article III which, for example, compels the signatory state to take measures to prohibit natural and legal persons anywhere in its territory or in any other places under its jurisdiction from undertaking any activity prohibited to a State party under this Treaty. (ctbto.org). What became outdated with the treaty, perhaps inadvertently, is the privileging of one form of the sovereign violence, nuclear explosions, over other forms. Although it attempts to invert the normative discourse, my Nuclear Globalism was still complicit with the dominant form of sovereign expression, as you can see other manifestations such as uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal were mentioned only in passing without elaborations. And yet, however dramatic, massive, and supreme they appear in our perception, nuclear explosions constitute but one aspect of nuclear violence and nuclear colonialism. So long as the nuclear power is located at the core of industrial civilization, there continues to be uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal. The nuclear cycle inflicts its violence upon the indigenous peoples as it opens and closes its destructive cycle on indigenous lands. Another important element of discourse or imagery that became outdated with the CTBT is a type of grammar where the nation-state still holds its sovereign status. The nation state or the State party is now a global enforcer of this contract of industrial civilization. The territory and jurisdiction of a given nation-state is subjugated to the global enforcement, to which each signatory nation-state is obligated to contribute. In some ways, it is similar to hosting a gathering of supra states such as the WTO and the IMF, as the nationstate is there to enforce a global contract, not to protect its citizens. The actual subject of the treaty is the transnational corporate sovereign that effaces itself behind the contract. You could say it's a biopolitical grammatical turn where the subject is the network of nuclear capital and the object is the agent unauthorized by the super states. The nation-state status is accorded as a party to the contract, which in essence is nothing but a transnational enforcer. Therefore, the political battles between the US, backed by TNCs (Transnational

Conglomerates), on one hand, and N. Korea, Iran, and other rogue states that behave or might behave as unauthorized agents on the other hand, seems at first to be over the latters nation-state sovereign status. However, it is misleading to see the contestation over the sovereign status in the context of north-south conflict, because the rogue states claim to a nation-state narrative can corner them into the existential state wherein the states suicidal and genocidal tendencies become indistinguishable 1. Fundamentally, what we are witnessing here is the process in which the states self-other destructive tendencies culminate in the nuclear state. In other words, the state sovereignty regardless of whether its a rational industrial state or a beastly rogue state achieves its telos in holding the nuclear capital at the center of its existence: it sovereignly presides over the life and death of the other as well as its own simultaneously through the sheer power of mass destruction and contamination. The recent nuclear disaster in Japan brought this contradiction of nuclear existential state to a broad daylight where a suicidal/genocidal war can be triggered by nature even if the nuclear fixed capital is officially not designed for a militaristic purpose. CS: This year's high school debate resolution reads "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earths mesosphere." Your work seems to speak a lot to this question, what lessons should we keep in mind as we start research on this new season and new topic? Kato: I am often asked to comment on high school debate topics. But every time I try to work on it, I encounter a tremendous difficulty in answering the question. And I apologize for those debaters who asked me the debate topic and never got my answer. I began to write a lengthy answer but I still havent been able to finish it. Hopefully one day I can finish it up and share with your readers. The hardest part is the grammar of the topic. The USFG is always and already posited as the sovereign subject that takes a certain action or actions that may result in a positive or negative impact upon the US, other nation states, regions, and the planet (and perhaps beyond this planet in this case). But my question is, what if the USFG is simply an effect of the biopolitical network that coordinates seemingly unrelated flows of capital, goods, information, services, labor, waste, etc for the profit maximization of transitional conglomerates? The popular will or popular sovereignty that had made the USFG a collective representative of the constitutional subject may no longer be valid grammar to capture the biopolitical regime of globalization. If seen from this angle, one can recognize how space exploration originates in the shift of philosophy over the role of the nation state in the so-called neo-liberal economy. (Foucaults The Birth of Biopolitics will be very useful here). The development of space exploration sets the tone for hyper-Keynesian policy where the public investment is not geared to the growth of national wealth but to the growth of transnational conglomerates as a form of corporate subsidies. The current US debt crisis is a cumulative result of this hyper-Keynsianism. As such, if the space program is to survive, I suspect that it wont be under the auspices of USFG but the transnational conglomerates. CS: Some people point to the blue dot theory as a reason why looking at the world from above and from space is a good thing because it allows a connection to a unified planet that promotes more care for others and environmental sustainability. Do you think this is true? Kato: We should always be cautious about the either/or or good/bad type of dichotomy, as it can degenerate into the Aristotelian binary in which to be one the other must be negated. Therefore the fact that the imagery was produced through the techno-strategic gaze doesnt negate its productive use for representing unity, sustainability, and overall ecological consciousness.

Having said that what I discussed in the article was about the ontological violence wherein a certain way of seeing obliterates the difference by imposing an artificial sense of homogeneity onto our perception. As you recall, the discussion has a specific reference to the indigenous conception of earth. In hindsight, I was contrasting the technologically derived notion of earth with the eco-kinship of earth that upholds earth as a familial and deified/sanctified subject. The relationship between the satellite image of the earth (for instance on your iPod) and the seeing subject is embedded in the sovereign subject and object relationship. I am not sure if I cited in the article but there is an interesting article in the same issue of Diacritics where Derridas piece on nuclear criticism is published. In this article, author Zoe Sofia sees the parallel between the technologically mediated notion of earth and the fetus in the discourse of new right. In both cases, there is clearly the sovereign, or colonial for that matter, subject-object relationship where the subject speaks on behalf of the object and hence the ontological violence. Let me cite a lengthy quote from Irigarays The Way of Love where she talks about the similar ontological violence, but in the context of proximity: This reduction in fact impossible of near to the measure of a calculation finally leaves proximity without any measure and without any distance. In this way it occurs that proximity becomes very easily subjected to political or scientific rules which alienate relations between citizens. Or, that relations between people become so readily subjugated to money. The best measures then appears to be the parental even paternalistic relation, which, in fact, does not know a real proximity or approach. Besides the fact that it is calculated in terms of precedence or age, of power, of goods, it is also hierarchical with respect to alterity and does not behave toward the other in a relation of approximation. What results from this is a lack of differentiation between one and another which prevents every possibility and even every sense of approach between those who are different. The father is a kind of meta-man God being here the model at least such as he is generally represented in our culture. Conceived in this way, such a relation is quite compatible with the domination of the world by all the technologies which aim to get a general view of it from on high, the most obvious example of being that of satellites sent to observe the earth and its planetary system. This matter of thinking and living, besides the danger that it represents for cosmic equilibria, prevents any approach because of an appropriating mastery of all that which could enter into a relation of closeness. (Irigaray, pp. 19 21) I am currently doing preliminary research on the relationship between traditional ecological knowledge and ecosophy. I am wrestling with this idea, under the influence of Guattari of course, that one way out of the sovereign subject-object relationship can be the becoming-object of the subject: Becoming-animal, becoming-plant, becoming-mountain, becoming-ocean It is capable of creating a new dimension of ecokinship that may come out of the over-saturation of technological mediation. CS: You interact with the debate community a lot via social networking sites 2. Is there anything else that you believe debaters should keep in mind in the coming year? Kato: I just love political-philosophical discussions, which are not necessary to win an argument but to expand our collective conceptual horizon. I find most debaters to be highly intelligent and quite knowledgeable in the type of knowledge I am also interested in. Some of the discussions Ive had with debaters are on par with the intellectual circles that I hang out in. Traditionally, the genre of academic writing tends to be an exclusive domain of the intellectual community. It

generally requires a certain type of training to be able to decode the message in this genre. Thats what I did for my undergraduate and graduate studies, mastering the discourse to be able to access the knowledge. However, the debater community has made a sort of anarchistic intervention where knowledge has come to flow in the direction that it wasnt originally designed to. The fact that debaters picked up an article written by this obscure intellectual figure is a testament to the anarcho-democratic tendency of the debate community. I can see the parallel between my projects and debaters in changing the flow of discourse for optimal production of desire. [1] I owe this term to my colleague Brian Richardson. [2] Kato is no longer available through social media. He can be reached at mtkato@hawaii.edu. home kdebate is an ongoing project. All content appearing on this site is forthcoming and considered in progress Draft articles to appear in kdebate volume one, edition one - please to not cite without permission. kdebate.com is best viewed using a modern browser.