I’ve been reading soon to be 91-year old Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman over the last few weeks. He’s an incredibly vauable, astute, and insightful commentator on deep social and political undercurrents that are having sunch a profound effect on world events. He gifts me the words to help me name what I think I’m seeing and feeling about living in contemporary Western society. Today I want to highlight three online of the article / interviews. The first with Spain’s El Pais. The second is with The New York Times. And the third was released a couple of days ago on Social Europe.
Here’s an excerpt from the El Pais interview:
QUESTION. You have described inequality as a “metastasis.” Is democracy under threat?
BAUMAN. We could describe what is going on at the moment as a crisis of democracy, the collapse of trust: the belief that our leaders are not just corrupt or stupid, but inept. Action requires power, to be able to do things, and we need politics, which is the ability to decide what needs to be done. But that marriage between power and politics in the hands of the nation state has ended. Power has been globalized, but politics is as local as before. Politics has had its hands cut off. People no longer believe in the democratic system because it doesn’t keep its promises. We see this, for example, with the migration crisis: it’s a global phenomenon, but we still act parochially. Our democratic institutions were not designed for dealing with situations of interdependence. The current crisis of democracy is a crisis of democratic institutions.
See also this May 2016 interview with Bauman published in The New York Times under the bannerThe Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis.
I also want to highlight a trailer for the forthcoming documentary The Trouble with Being Human These Days, directed by Bartek Dziadosz (Light Matter Productions) and produced by the Bauman Institute. I’m not sure if it’ll be released on DVD and available internationally, but hope it is.
“Over the six months in 2010 the crew followed Zygmunt Bauman on his academic trips to Lithuania, Spain, Austria, Slovakia, Germany and Poland. What emerged was a unique collection of footage comprising Bauman's lectures, panel discussions, award ceremonies, but also informal interviews and very personal reflections filmed during walks in places across the continent. We met crowds of Bauman's fans, his friends, collaborators, daughters and a grandson. In addition, we filmed interviews with a number of major figures in the field of sociology, politics and philosophy, including George Ritzer, Neal Lawson, Andrew Simms, Cezary Wodzinski and Albert-Laszló Barabasi asking them the same questions centred on fluidity of our times. A protracted and complicated post-production resulted in a film that attempts to represent a system of thought straddling a few disciplines and covering a dozen of topics. Despite the large and ambitious scope, Baumanian perspective is also firmly rooted in a particular ethical stance which the film seeks to unravel. It is a montage of visual ideas, a story without easy answers, but showing a direction of thinking.”
You’ll find more information here. Also let me highlight four recent books: