New York, New York

Cities have become dumping grounds for globally begotten problems. The residents of cities and their elected representatives tend to be confronted with a task they can by no stretch of imagination fulfill: the task of finding local solutions to global contradictions.

Local politics – and particularly urban, politics – has become hopelessly overloaded – much beyond its carrying/performing capacity. It is now expected to mitigate the consequences of out-of-control globalization with means and resources that self-same giobahzation rendered pitifully inadequate.

Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Love

This is what Zygmunt Bauman wrote about New York (and other large cities by analogy) in 2003.

On the same page, he says that the exterritorial globe-trotting elites will suffer the consequences of this, too, when this out-of-control globalization becomes too hard for them to manage.

6 thoughts on “New York, New York”

  1. A timely quote.

    From what I understand, Bauman talks about metropolises in the Western world or about cities in general here as if they are all the same. Are there no important differences between American and Chinese cities f.e.? Between London and Moscow? Tehran? Or even Tel Aviv, small as we are?

    Read today a post on the aggression with which Russian citizens outside the Moscow ring react to Moscovites escaping from the city because of the virus. The Russian blogger predicted one day Moscow’s citizens will pay dearly for the robbery of the other areas of the country by the regime. He advised Moscovites to hide their dogs, brand clothing, etc. Seems like instead of being stuck with problems, Moscow dumps them on the other regions.

    The one way in which Tel Aviv is forced to find “local solutions to global contradictions” is the population of Eritreans in South Tel Aviv, with locals protesting “You promised deportation, we got a war zone … We’re living in Africa … It’s not only south Tel Aviv or Netanya or Eilat. The front is expanding. Eritreans go home.”

    (The following should not be taken as a criticism of Bauman’s statements) Still, the concepts of “dumping grounds” and “problems” are associated in my mind with peripheral areas. In America too, is it better to live in NY or in a small dying town of the Rust Belt? Small towns are also confronted by “globally begotten problems” without the economical power of a metropolis.

    Didn’t read “Liquid Love” with attention since after “Liquid Modernity” most statements felt like a repetition, yet how “the exterritorial globe-trotting elites will suffer the consequences” too sounds interesting.

    Interesting whether your new sources are going to be as good as Zygmunt Bauman. I have been stuck inside the flat for more than 2 weeks already and am aching to read something new. (Thought it was only one week before checking; have always been horrible with dates. 🙂 ) Don’t want to read fiction, but Bauman-like books sound nice. May be, if you shared the title, we would’ve read it together and then I would be able to participate in the discussion like in “The Madness of Crowds” case, iirc. Depends on the sources, of course. Some are easier to understand for a lay person than others.


    1. In the Rust Belt, big cities died harder and faster than small towns. Detroit, for instance, is a war zone.

      In the pandemic, specifically, I’m definitely better off where I am than people in New York. But even aside from that, we don’t have homelessness, we have almost no crime, no gangs, no street violence. I constantly forget to lock my front door, and once the wind kicked it open and it stood wide open all day. And nothing happened.

      Our manual workers make very good money because there’s nobody to replace them. Schools are good because everybody speaks the same language. There’s no littering, no vandalism and everybody drives carefully and courteously.


      1. Has Detroit ever been a true modern metropolis of the type Bauman seems to be talking about here?

        I thought it was a large local (American only) manufacturing center unlike today’s NY or London with their international ties of commerce.


  2. Re not exiting a flat, now checked the news sites:

    The number of coronavirus cases in Israel leaped by an additional 382 new cases since the morning hours, bringing the country’s total to 4,247 … There has been a 37% increase in the number of patients with serious symptoms, bringing their number to 74.

    Fifteen Israelis have died so far (3 of them – today)

    Many of the seriously ill come from ultra-Orthodox communities, prompting police to announce they will increase enforcement of government’s regulations in the affected areas.

    Among those currently hospitalized in serious condition is a 22-year-old man with no underlying health conditions.


    Hundreds of Israeli ultra-Orthodox attend funeral, defying virus orders
    Eyewitnesses say police forces that were present at the funeral, attended by some 400 people, not only failed to enforce the new restrictions meant to fight COVID-19 but even allowed for the event to continue with no interruptions


    Israeli doctors demand health minister be replaced by professional
    In an open letter Netanyahu and Gantz, doctors lament years of neglect that left the country’s health care system at its lowest point during the time of coronavirus outbreak; sources say there are no plans to replace Litzman in the next government

    AND something nice for a change (may be people will also do it in other countries):

    photographer Eitan Asraf toured the country and provided us with rare documentation of its roads, usually teeming with life, now abandoned and desolate.


  3. Started searching for more Bauman’s books and saw this. You’ve probably read, but haven’t mentioned Bauman’s last book of this blog. Did you like it? The topic of the new liquid generations (to whom I belong too) is fascinating and we’ve discussed it on this blog, but you haven’t mentioned Bauman wrote about it too.

    Born Liquid: Transformations in the Third Millennium
    Author(s): Zygmunt Bauman; Thomas Leoncini

    Publisher: Polity Press, Year: 2018

    ISBN: 1509530673,9781509530670

    Born Liquidis the last work by the great sociologist and social theorist Zygmunt Bauman, whose brilliant analyses of liquid modernity changed the way we think about our world today. At the time of his death, Bauman was working on this short book, a conversation with the Italian journalist Thomas Leoncini, exactly sixty years his junior. In these exchanges with Leoncini, Bauman considers, for the first time, the world of those born after the early 1980s, the individuals who were ‘born liquid’ and feel at home in a society of constant flux. As always, taking his cue from contemporary issues and debates, Bauman examines this world by discussing what are often regarded as its most ephemeral features. The transformation of the body – tattoos, cosmetic surgery, hipsters – aggression, bullying, the Internet, online dating, gender transitions and changing sexual preferences are all analysed with characteristic brilliance in this concise and topical book, which will be of particular interest to young people, natives of the liquid modern world, as well as to Bauman’s many readers of all generations.


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