Through cybernetics, the techno-scientific class construed radiation ecology as a peaceful use of atomic energies for managerial purposes. A broad vision pictured nature as a system in a state of rapid decay due to industrial pollution, carefully side-stepping the blatant issue of economic exploitation. A technological plan to prevent disasters was enshrined. By the mid-1960s, cybernetics and the system-men had thoroughly seized the political imagination of the US public and private sectors
The reality of the atomic bomb – a cornerstone of technical fetishism and colonial dominance – thus became the hinge point from which deteriorating systems of power attempted to rejuvenate and redeploy themselves. The discursive mechanisms they employed to support that end, derived from systematised modes of sensing, became a cardinal way of viewing and informing the world, one that complemented rising industrial enterprises and technologies of communication.
This shift towards computerisation thoroughly affected the scientific perception of the environment. The purpose of the living world and its inhabitants was to ensure ‘optimal’ outcomes for the deployment of nuclear weapons and the tracking of their effects. Data, considered a strategic asset ripe for exchange and exploitation, were not only directly captured from the bodies of the colonised populations and territories, but very much injected, under the form of presupposed taxonomy made intelligible for the colonial gaze. This brutal in-forming, performed at gunpoint and realised technically, manifested the epistemological bounties arising from mechanisms of power designed to “dominate, extract, hierarchise and subdue”. Conversely, entities that refused their dissolution inside this blinkered model were labelled “inhomogeneities,” a denomination that presupposed their eventual homogenisation within nuclear technoaesthetics, and their “mobilisation as a resource for the exercise of power”.
The colonial order casts a looming shadow over our modern times. If capitalist powers were in large part responsible for this subjugation of people, landscapes and resources through military, economic and political means, there were many other actors for whom the economic gains represented only secondary importance. To appeal to a techno-scientific class driven by world-building narratives rather than profit motives or strict martial discipline, the engineering of this global order was framed by the social politic of the day, from the rallying cry of World War II, the purge of communist anti-colonial partisans or the promise of a post-industrial middle class utopia.