By Dennis Smith
During this significant new evaluate of Zygmunt Bauman's paintings, Smith supplies a transparent advent to this debatable and demanding sociologist.
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Extra info for Zygmunt Bauman: prophet of postmodernity
As Bauman realizes perfectly well, the greater the number of actors (people, organizations, businesses, governments and so on) making autonomous choices, the more difficult it is to predict the outcome when the effects of their choices interact with each other. Under these conditions, making choices is rather like trying to pick your way in a vehicle through heavy traffic. The eventual result of one driver's choices (turn left? turn right? slow down? ) depends on what several other drivers decide.
Then, in 1968, it destroyed his second career as an academic at Warsaw University. His first home when he came to the West was in Israel. Why did Bauman wait for two decades after he had travelled west before dealing with the theme of anti-Semitism and, more generally, the plight of the outsider or stranger in his books? Why did something so central to his life remain, for so long, so marginal to his writing? I should emphasize that I do not think there was any special moral 'requirement' for Bauman or anyone else to write about this theme at any particular time or, indeed, at all.
Why does this item appear on the agenda and this other item disappear at this point in time? Another relevant question is: why has Bauman pursued these issues by writing about them rather than by undertaking other forms of action? The point is that a published text is an act of communication. It is, almost always, an intervention in a debate or an attempt to get a debate under way. A text is intended to change the world, at least a little. However, texts are not the only way to work for change.