Another Quote

The purpose of pretty much any politically tinged debate these days is to demonstrate that the adversary

is incurably death and blind to ‘the facts of the matter,’ and fatally addicted to malice aforethought. The verdict of ill intentions makes the proof of one’s own veracity redundant. Listening to the adversary is strongly un-recommended, empathy with the adversary is a fatal, all but suicidal blunder.

This is from Zygmunt Bauman’s Retrotopia.

3 thoughts on “Another Quote”

  1. Wanted to share something I discovered today. After reading some commentors expressing hopes for post-national world with less strife and blaming nationalism for hatreds, I was happy to discover some thinkers view this approach with certain scepticism.

    I have just finished Bauman’s “Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World” in which he claims that

    [According to Richard Rorty] “The aim will be to keep the bottom 75 percent of Americans and the bottom 95 percent of the world’s population busy with ethnic and religious hostilities … If the proles can be distracted from their own dispair by media-created pseudo-events, including the occasional brief and bloody war, the super-rich will have nothing to fear.”

    [Now in Bauman’s own words]
    The elite’s freedom to move depends to a very great extent on the locals’ inability … to get their act together. […] The more pulverized they are [ – the less their ability to] prevent another vanishing act […] Contrary to a frequently voiced opinion, the absence of political agencies able to match the scope of economic powers is not a matter of developmental lag; it is not as though the extant political institutions have not as yet had enough time to combine into a new global system of democratically controlled checks and balances. It seems, on the contrary, that the pulverization of public space and its saturation with intercommunal strife is precisely the kind of political ‘superstructure’ ( or should we now call it ‘understructure’?) that the new power hierarchy serviced by the strategy of disengagement needs and would openly or surreptitiously cultivate if allowed to do so. Global order needs a lot of local disorder ‘to have nothing to fear.’
    END QUOTE (page 105)

    Bauman calls for dialogue and negotiation among different communities (often ethnic ones like Muslims in EU) as a part of a political process aimed at achieving the best form of humanity / living together. He criticizes glorifying difference for its own sake and regrets the creation of ghettos and fears leading to communal isolation and end of dialogue. However, he doesn’t clarify how feelings of security – “a necessary condition of dialogue between cultures” (142) – can be achieved in practice. Have any sociologists and other experts offered any practical suggestions?

    One interesting point Bauman makes about multiculturalism is that, by adopting “everything goes” approach, academics mimic the strategy of disengagement practiced by elites. This contrasts with the previous role of thinkers as teachers, as guiding lights for others, and even with the academic elite’s role as “homo politicus, member of the polity.” (137)


    1. Post-national world with LESS strife? What are people smoking? :-)))

      Academia is servicing the needs of global capital that will end up hollowing it out completely. It’s funny to watch how deluded people are by the myths of globalization.


      1. \ Post-national world with LESS strife? What are people smoking? :-)))

        By strife, I meant ethno-religious conflicts and wars, like between us and Palestinians. However, I am unsure how even those hatreds will decrease if we talk about Middle East.


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