Why do most of us consider ourselves free but also believe there is little we can change in the way the world is run - individually, severally, or even collectively? Why has the growth of individual freedom coincided with the growth of collective impotence? Bauman argues that this condition hangs on the agora - the space where private and public meet to seek the creation of 'public good', a 'just society', or 'shared values'. The problem is that little remains of (...) such old style spaces. We cannot, he argues, overcome our collective impotence without resorting to politics and using the vehicle of political agency. Three orientation points for a reconstruction of politics are suggested: the republican model of the state and of citizenship, basic income as a universal entitlement, and re-enabling the institutions of autonomous society by catching up with the controlling extraterritorial powers in an age of globalization. (shrink)
A liquid modernity, where the traditional certainties have become fluid and blurred, presents a major challenge for education. The world is changing so quickly that homo sapiens, learning animal par excellence, can no longer rely on strategies acquired through learning experiences, let alone those derived from traditional values or wisdom. The excess of useless information creates a glut. When saturation level is reached, accumulation ceases to be a sign of wealth and becomes undesirable. Knowledge is confined - discarded like refuse (...) - in the infinite capacity of cyber-computers. What should we humans keep and what should we reject in this process? In times of liquid modernity, how and what should our children be taught in order to be able to develop survival strategies throughout their lives? (shrink)
To measure the life `as it is' by a life `as it might or should be' is a defining, constitutive feature of humanity. The urge to transcend is nearest to a universal, and arguably the least destructible, attribute of human existence. This cannot be said, however, of its articulations into `projects' - that is, of cohesive and comprehensive programmes of change and of visions of life that the change is hoped to bring about - visions that stand out of reality, (...) adumbrating a fully and truly different, alternative world. For the constantly present transgressive urge to be articulated into such projects, some less common conditions must arise. Utopia is one of the forms such uncommon articulations may take. This article explores the conditions that defined that form - those of modernity in its initial `solid' stage, a form that was marked and set apart from other articulations of the transgression urge by two remarkable attributes: territoriality and finality. It is concluded that in the transgressive imagination of `liquid modernity' the `place' (whether physical or social) has been replaced by the unending sequence of new beginnings, inconsequentiality of deeds has been substituted for fixity of order, and the desire for a different today has elbowed out concern with a better tomorrow. (shrink)
Bauman offers an exposition of his ideas against the context of art and artistic practices. He draws links between his work on ‘liquid modernity’ and the practices of Gustav Metzger dating back to the 1960s. In particular he stresses how Metzger’s concept of ‘auto-destructive art’ anticipates his own argument on the ways in which contemporary consumerism demands constant novelty, and hence a relentless flow of waste and dissipation - ‘disposal is already contained in the original design’. He develops his insights (...) with reference to the work of Villeglé, Valdes and Braun-Vega who each exemplify key aspects of the liquid modern; creation and destruction, the hopeless and desperate battle for attention, the directionless march of time. It is a sequence of incessant new beginnings, but each new start also contains the seeds of its own destruction and disappearance. (shrink)
The four studies in this issue embark upon a journey of exploration and discovery of the relationship between time and technology in liquid modernity. This introduction seeks to help that journey and is concerned with the divide between the online and offline segments of the world we currently inhabit, and what this might mean for life, love and happiness.
The events of 11th September 2001 have many meanings. Although seen as a turning point in a number of historical sequences, perhaps their longest-lasting significance will prove to be that they mark the symbolic end to the era of space.. The article explores the consequences of this in terms of global space, which now becomes a new frontierland, where refugees, in a caricature of the new power elite, have come to epitomize extraterritoriality, and where floating coalitions and confluent enmities are (...) both the promoters and beneficiaries of the new global disorder. (shrink)
Zygmunt Bauman addresses the question to what extent today's resurgence of populism and nationalism is an appropriate answer to the very concrete loss of economic, social but also cultural security. He argues that the populist, nationalist and religious promises are no longer in a position to counter effectively and truly the multifarious problems people face today. Postmodern individualization and globalization undermine any possibility for an identitarian and nationalist solution to the loss of security. Only a political approach that takes into (...) account and addresses the global dimension of the current insecurity of citizens can have success in re-establishing a sense of security. (shrink)
Carl Schmitt's Political Theology, recycled into The Concept of the Political, was meant to be to political theory what the Book of Job has been to Judaism, and through Judaism to Christianity. It was intended/designed/ hoped to answer one of the most notoriously haunting of the born-in-Jerusalem questions: a sort of question with which the most famous of the born-in-Jerusalem ideas, the idea of the one and only God, omnipresent and omnipotent creator, judge and saviour of the whole Earth and (...) the whole humanity, could not but be pregnant. The question, however, had to be born once the Hebrew Prophet Jesus declared the omnipotent God to be in addition the God of Love, and when his disciple, St Paul, brought the good tidings to Athens — a place where questions, once asked, were expected to be answered, and answered in tune with the rules of logic. Taking absolute power, the God of monotheistic religion took absolute responsibility for the blessings and blows of fate. The Book of Job recasts the frightening randomness of Nature as the frightening arbitrariness of its ruler: God speaks and gives commands. But just like numb Nature, he is not bound by what humans think or do. He can make exceptions. Indeed, the rule of norm is by definition irreconcilable with a true sovereignty — with the absolute power to decide. To be absolute, power must include the right to neglect/suspend/ abolish the norm. Schmitt's idea of sovereignty would engrave the preformed vision of divine order onto the ground of legislative order. Power to exempt founds simultaneously God's absolute power and the human's continuing, incurable fear born of insecurity. This is exactly what happens, according to Schmitt, in case of the human sovereign no longer handcuffed by norms. Thanks to that power of exemption, humans are, as they were in the pre-Law times, vulnerable and uncertain. (shrink)
The assumption that human socializing instincts are restricted to the community of birth and upbringing was long accepted without question. But today’s modern states have passed from the nation-building stage into that of multicultural belonging, and fluidity of membership allied to perpetual population shifts is the norm. This article traces changing patterns of global migration: first, territoriality plus rooted identity plus ‘gardening’; second, emigration to supposedly ‘empty’ lands; third, interlocked diasporas. How may we now live with and in the right (...) to difference? Identity formation is never fixed, never final, veering between the pole of freedom and that of security. It is an intertwining of continuity and discontinuity that may now hold society together. (shrink)
Contrary to its heaping disasters, various actors and interpreters viewed the 20th century as the century of progress. This was as true of certain Marxists, or communists, as it was of Americanists such as Parsons. The temptation was to view the century, even in progress, as result, to view change as the precondition rather than as the process. Capitalism and modernity live on, rather, in the permanent revolution of liquid modernity. Capitalist, or at least liberal-democratic, and socialist utopias nevertheless behaved (...) as though perpetual peace was possible, if not impending. Uncertainty and contingency reigned in everyday life, if not in intellectual or progressive culture. Only now does the serpent again have its tail in its mouth. (shrink)
Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s of the last century, Antonio Gramsci recorded in one of the many notebooks he filled during his long incarceration in the Turi prison1: ‘The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear’. The term ‘interregnum’ was originally used to denote a time-lag separating the death of one royal sovereign from the enthronement of the (...) successor. These used to be the main occasions on which the past generations experienced a rupture in the otherwise monotonous continuity of government, law, and social order. (shrink)
Each one of T.H. Marshall's trinity of human rights rested on the state as, simultaneously, its birth place, executive manager and guardian. And no wonder. At the time Marshall tied personal, political and social freedoms into a historically determined succession of won/bestowed rights, the boundaries of the sovereign state marked the limits of what humans could contemplate, and what they thought they should jointly do, in order to make their world more user-friendly. The state enclosed territory was the site of (...) private initiatives and public actions, as well as the arena on which private interests and public issues met, clashed and sought reconciliation. In all those respects, the realm of state sovereignty was presumed to be self-contained, selfassertive and self-sufficient. (shrink)
Because of the growing debate concerning the nature of Soviet-type societies, a symposium-review was organized around two important recent books on the subject. The following are discussions of either one or both of the following volumes: Ferenc Feher, Agnes Heller, Gyorgy Markus, Dictatorship over Needs, St. Martin's Press (New York, 1983). Victor Zaslavsky, The Neo-Stalinist State: Class, Ethnicity and Consensus in Soviet Society, M.E. Sharpe, Inc. (New York, 1982). In social analysis, effective explanations alternate “thick description” with “thin description” Zaslavsky's (...) The Neo-Stalinist State and Feher's, Heller's and Markus’ Dictatorship over Needs, can be seen to track “actually existine socialism” down the respective paths of “thick” and “think” analysis. (shrink)
As many authors have acknowledged in these pages, Will Kymlicka has produced an admirable attempt to reconcile the differences of communitarians and liberals. However, Kymlicka's synthesis ignores the aspects of each theory which make his task impossible. Particularly, his analysis rests upon a misleading picture of communitarian community and an incomplete appreciation of the divergent liberal and communitarian understandings of freedom and pluralism. In the process of demonstrating the incompatibility of these theories, the similarities between communitarianism and nationalism are explored.
Sociology, like poetry, explores/discovers/creates hidden or heretofore non-existing human potentialities; both rebel against closing, identifying the-already-achieved reality with the limit of that potential. Sociology is destined to sustain the autonomy of, simultaneously, human society and human individuals, and autonomy means the awareness of the human origins of social reality and of the possibility of making it different from what it is. In the age of rapid and radical individualization, the task of sociology is to service self-interpretation with the view of (...) widening the sphere of human autonomy through disclosure of multiple social connection which contribute to its present form and future changes. (shrink)