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)
The global financial crisis has shattered the illusion that all was well with capitalism and forced us to confront the great challenges we face today with a new sense of urgency. Few are better placed to do this than Zygmunt Bauman, a social thinker whose writings on liquid modernity have pioneered a new way of seeing the world in which we live at the dawn of the 21st Century. Our liquid modern world is characterized by the transition from a society (...) of producers to a society of consumers, the natural extension of which is the society of perpetual debtors. The ruling idea of the society of consumers is to prevent needs from being satisfied and to create demand; its natural extension is to enable consumers to consume more by borrowing. Debt was transformed into a crucial profit-earning asset of capitalism in liquid modern times. The present-day 'credit crunch' is not the outcome of the banks' failure but rather the fruit of their success in transforming the majority of men and women, young and old, into a race of debtors. They got what they were looking for: a society of debtors whose condition of being in debt was made self-perpetuating, with more debts being offered, and more undertaken, as the only way of escaping from the debts already incurred. Starting from this reflection on the current global financial crisis and prompted by the probing questions of his interlocutor, Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo, Bauman examines in an historical perspective some of the most pressing moral and political issues of our time, from international terrorism and the rise of religious and secular fundamentalism to the decline of the nation-state and the threats posed by global warming, issues whose seriousness and urgency attest to the fact that we are living today not only on borrowed money but also on borrowed time. (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)
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)
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)
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)
What is the role of education in a world where we no longer have a clear vision of the future and where the idea of a single, universal model of humanity seems like the residue of a bygone age? What role should educators play in a world where young people find themselves faced with deep uncertainty about their future, where the prospects of securing a stable, long-term career seem increasingly remote and where intensified population movements have created more diverse communities (...) in which different cultures find themselves living side by side, no longer bound together by the belief that the other would eventually be assimilated into ‘our' culture? Faced with the bewildering features of our liquid modern world, many young people are inclined to withdraw - in some cases into the online world of games and virtual relationships, in other cases into anorexia, depression, alcohol or even drug abuse, hoping to find shelter from a world perceived as more and more dangerous. Others launch into more violent forms of behaviour, like street gangs and the looting carried out by young people who have been excluded from the temples of consumption but are eager to participate in the ceremony. And all this happens while our politicians look on, uncomprehending and indifferent. In this short book Zygmunt Bauman - the leading social theorist of our liquid modern world, here in conversation with Riccardo Mazzeo - reflects on the predicament of young people today and on the role of education and the educator in a world where the certainties of our predecessors can no longer be taken for granted. (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.
‘Vrees is een van de weinige dingen waaraan het onze tijd, die zekerheid, veiligheid en geborgenheid node mist, niét ontbreekt. Vrezen zijn er vele en verschillende. Mensen van uiteenlopende sociale, geslachtelijke en leeftijdscategorieën wordt geteisterd door de hunne; er zijn ook vrezen die we allemaal gemeen hebben -- ongeacht in welk deel van de aardbol we toevallig zijn geboren of hebben gekozen te wonen. De moeilijkheid echter is dat die vrezen zich niet zo makkelijk laten optellen. Naarmate ze een voor (...) een in gestage, zij het willekeurige volgorde afdalen, tarten ze onze pogingen ze met elkaar in verband te brengen en hun gemeenschappelijke wortels op te sporen. Ze zijn des te angstaanjagender omdat er zo moeilijk greep op is te krijgen; maar nóg beklemmender door het gevoel van machteloosheid dat ze wekken. Omdat we geen vat hebben gekregen op hun oorsprongen en logica , tasten we ook radeloos in het duister als we voorzorgen moeten nemen -- nog gezwegen van het voorkómen of het afslaan van de gevaren die ze signaleren. Het ontbreekt ons domweg aan de instrumenten en de vaardigheden om het te gebruiken. De gevaren die we vrezen overstijgen ons handelend vermogen; tot nog toe zijn we nog niet eens ver genoeg gevorderd om helder voor ogen te krijgen hoe die daarvoor berekende instrumenten en vaardigheden eruit zouden zien -- laat staan ze beginnen te ontwerpen en te maken.’. (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)
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.
De mythe van de verdrijving van Adam en Eva uit de Hof van Eden en die van de wetgeving op de berg Sinaï vormden de grondslag van alle theorieën over de moraal. Vele denkers hebben in de loop van de tijd de moraal verbonden met de gehoorzaamheid aan de goddelijke wetten. Knud Logstrup en Emmanuel Levinas daarentegen houden het erop dat de kennis van goed en kwaad, waarvoor Adam en Eva uit het paradijs van het onbewuste bestaan zijn verdreven, de (...) voorwaarde voor een morele levenswandel is. (shrink)
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