Zygmunt Bauman. Conference: what future for the solidarity? in Madrid, 15 October 2011.
By Ruben Crespo. November 1, 2011.
Last Saturday, October 15, Madrid had the great privilege of receiving the visit of one of the social thinkers globally recognized, Zygmunt Bauman: sociologist, philosopher, emeritus professor at the University of Leeds and University of Warsaw, and Prince of Asturias Award of Communication and Social Sciences 2010. Bauman, the inventor of the term and concept ‘liquid modernity’, it was presented as the guest star of the project organized by Solidarność Camp, on the occasion of the Polish Presidency of the European Union, to give a conference on the future of solidarity in Matadero, Madrid.
The conference was the highlight of Solidarność Camp, in an attempt to strengthen the movement of Solidarity trade union in the Poloniade the 80’s, have tried to help you think critically about key issues of the future of europe: Where is the solidarity? What was left of those values, and how many were devastated by consumerism, the mechanisms of the free market economy, the growing materialization of the life, the greed, the identification of isolation with the safety, among other things? How is solidarity a living idea of the european constitution and the civilization or just an emblem behind which hide the interests cynical?
Saturday, October 15, was a day quite special; there were concentrations convened in 45 countries for a change with “dignity, direct democracy and proactivity”. Zygmunt Bauman started his lecture by mentioning these movements, in particular to the “Occupy Wall Street” in New York, which claims to be the outrage of the 99% of the population against the 1% who has done wrong things. Will they be able to movements such as “Occupy Wall Street” or the 15M to recreate the movement of the Solidarity trade union in the Poloniade the 80’s led by Lech Walesa? It seems that in our days are given similar circumstances that arose the Solidarity movement. But Bauman is not yet quite sure that these movements are to regenerate a permanent solidarity. In an analysis in key sociohistórico, also the Solidarity movement in Poland started with a lot of hope, and were forged many links between the citizenry, achieved many of the goals… it was All very nice and wonderful, but… in the end emerged divisions, and the bonds disintegrated.
We live in a time that Bauman called “interregnum” (time in which one era dies and a nine begins now), that have to do with the way we organize our lives and societies, ways of thinking, the logic of the time… Today, there are a number of things that no longer work in our life. Like many years ago, when it came to a plague or epidemic, and did not know that was going to happen, in our time there is that same feeling of uncertainty. Is more, although we knew what’s going to happen, most of the people are unable to react to that to fix the problems and improve the present. Today, more than ever, there is a great desirability of replacing the sociopolitical organization and build a new building in which we’d all like to live. But… how should it be that building?
According to Bauman, the precarity, a term that replaces the old concept of the proletariat, is at the basis of solidarity. Since there is not much a proletariat as that formerly met in the class struggle following the ‘industrial revolution’, and the little that is left of him, he has a lot of fear to claim. Know of the facility that has a head, thanks to the great advances of the technologies of information and communication, to pick the mobile, make a few phone calls, and in a short time move the means of production to another nation. Since it is not possible to solidarity heavy factories because there are no factories. Therefore, the little proletariat that is has been weakened in such a way that their ability to affect policy is residual. That has not proletariat as before, does not mean that have improved the conditions. The proletariat has been replaced by the precarity, that includes the middle classes. Below are the subclasses, people who are outside of the system, or better said, are not attached to any class (socially excluded).
Until now, many people may have had success and would not have occurred adverse events. However, even if everything has gone well, now the feeling of an uncertain future is more intense and constant. The uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety are, precisely, the phenomena that are coming together to individuals currently. But, still the individuals that we are in that 99% of angry, we don’t know what to do. The process of individualization in which we were immersed more and more, made to believe that the individual is the creator of his own life and he is the responsible, both if it succeeds as if it fails. This is a phenomenon, says Anthony Giddens, which belongs to a new social sphere where everything has its own ‘policy logic’. It is assumed that individually we have the responsibility to always find solutions, even global problems; but there is a vast distance between ‘individual being’ and ‘institution’. Between theory and praxis there is a great chasm: the ‘individual in theory’ is not equal to the ‘individual practice’.
Before the idea of precarity as a new world-class, and in the face of uncertainty, Bauman formulates the following questions: Will this new class be able to change the things that disgusted?, Are you going to be able to replace the current society for the better?, Where is the solidarity in the whole of this shadowy amalgam of events uncertain? Bauman thinks that, more than solidarity, “we are solitary connected”.
Thanks to the ICT revolution (particularly the Internet and social networks), it is very easy to call people out on the street to be indignant and protest for good causes; but, it is also very easy to handle the emotions and manipulate this kind of social movements that we are witnessing currently. The individual has the perception of a victory is subjective, that is to say, it goes from being a loner to join in the mass in a sphere of belonging. As a member of the crowd, the individual feels united with others, to demonstrate and to shout the same slogans. The individual is located finally one of his greatest satisfactions in this society the individual. However, the emotions, even if they have a lot of power to achieve great things, they disappear right away. Emotions have a very short life. This is the problem of our time and it is necessary to dig about it.
Unlike the older classes, which binds to the precarity, is a feeling of spray and atomization. Whatever the causes of the outrage, members of the precarity suffer a kind of punishment an individual for not being smart enough or enough workers. The members of the precarity, until now, have rarely found common interests; there has always been a feeling of being each to his own. That is to say, there are very good intentions, but the end result seems to be in the hands of destiny, doing gala of the proverb “man proposes and God disposes”.
All of the above, Zygmunt Bauman does not hide to say that it is still displayed pretty skeptical with all this kind of movements, such as the 15-M and “Occupy Wall Street”, and refers to a reflection metaphorical of finding the differences between ‘revolution’ and ‘mine’. However, while Bauman does not answer the above questions, or has recipes safe to build a better society, the necessity of resurrecting the very idea of “the good society”: a society without divisions, non-toxic… it is Only after this exercise –and not before – will the solidarity.
On the other hand, Bauman does not condemn with the exclusivity of the political class. However, it warns of the existence of a divorce between Power and Politics. While Power is the ability to do things, the Policy is the ability to decide what things to do. Power and Politics have become two global actors that go by separate paths. The Policy already do not have the traditional power, for this reason, Bauman says that the politicians do not necessarily have the blame; whatever you do, do not have enough ability to change things. Therefore, it is urgent to restore the balance between Politics and Power.
Returning to the idea of “the good society”, the first notion to understand, to not stagnate, it is the “common good”. It is necessary, therefore, a sense of collective mission. How do we get this idea of the “common good” and “the good society”? Bauman does not answer, does not have recipes, and even warns us not to trust sociologists methods of crystal ball. The ambition of Bauman does not go beyond the effort that has been able to do to perform a correct analysis of the social reality and show us their results.
However, Bauman gives some references to be able to drive on roads helpful. For example: create scenarios-like laboratories where people are able to find new means of action, there is a chance for the heuristic and may produce behaviors specimens that exhibit. Like Richard Sennett, Bauman supports the collaboration open informal as a procedure which we approach an idea and a praxis of a more just society. It is about creating polílogos in multiple perspectives that do not presupongan rules in advance. You can’t decide in advance the rules that will have to be taken into account for a more prosperous society. Therefore, the rules will be established in the course of the dialog itself (the polílogo). Only from the informality will be the collaboration and cooperation to implement the ideas.
Bauman attempted to explain the latter allegorically, from the machiavellian trap of diversity to put into practice Mao Tse-Tung, which I let blossom 100 flowers -making believe that preserving the diversity – and then destroy the 99 flowers that could not be tolerated. This is an example where only one individual chooses what the flower will still be alive. Confronted with the dilemma of not knowing what is the best flower, you need an open mind to debate, to dialogue, to reflection. Granting to the dialog (the polílogo) long enough, it will be more likely that more and more people reach the consensus of deciding what flowers to allow that to flourish; and even, until you can get to know if it is more convenient that there are 100 flowers.
Zygmunt Bauman ended the conference, calling his speech a vague and indeterminate. The feeling of aimlessness is because many times we yearn for simplification and we would like to make the world less complex, but you can not, nor should you fall into that error. Every time you shop to simplify, it would make the world a prison. We are in an “interregnum,” an indefinite, undetermined. We are surrounded by mists.
Link here for the video on youtube of the interview that you did and relayed in the program para todos la 2: