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Retrotopia
Author: Zygmunt Bauman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 150951533X
Pages: 180
Year: 2017-05-23
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We have long since lost our faith in the idea that human beings could achieve human happiness in some future ideal state—a state that Thomas More, writing five centuries ago, tied to a topos, a fixed place, a land, an island, a sovereign state under a wise and benevolent ruler. But while we have lost our faith in utopias of all hues, the human aspiration that made this vision so compelling has not died. Instead it is re-emerging today as a vision focused not on the future but on the past, not on a future-to-be-created but on an abandoned and undead past that we could call retrotopia. The emergence of retrotopia is interwoven with the deepening gulf between power and politics that is a defining feature of our contemporary liquid-modern world—the gulf between the ability to get things done and the capability of deciding what things need to be done, a capability once vested with the territorially sovereign state. This deepening gulf has rendered nation-states unable to deliver on their promises, giving rise to a widespread disenchantment with the idea that the future will improve the human condition and a mistrust in the ability of nation-states to make this happen. True to the utopian spirit, retrotopia derives its stimulus from the urge to rectify the failings of the present human condition—though now by resurrecting the failed and forgotten potentials of the past. Imagined aspects of the past, genuine or putative, serve as the main landmarks today in drawing the road-map to a better world. Having lost all faith in the idea of building an alternative society of the future, many turn instead to the grand ideas of the past, buried but not yet dead. Such is retrotopia, the contours of which are examined by Zygmunt Bauman in this sharp dissection of our contemporary romance with the past.
RETROTOPIA
Author: John Michael Greer
Publisher: Founders House Publishing LLC
ISBN: 1945810025
Pages: 264
Year: 2016-12-05
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FORWARD TO THE PAST The year is 2065. Decades ago, the United States of America fell apart after four brutal years of civil war, and the fragments coalesced into new nations divided by economic and political rivalries. Most of the post-US America is wracked by poverty and civil strife, with high-tech skyscrapers rising above crowded, starving slums-but one of the new nations, the Lakeland Republic of the upper Midwest, has gone its own way, isolated from the rest by closed frontiers and trade embargoes. Now Peter Carr, an emissary from the newly elected administration in the Atlantic Republic, boards a train to cross the recently reopened border into Lakeland territory on a mission that could decide the fate of his nation. Ahead of him lies a cascade of experiences that will challenge his most basic assumptions about economics, politics, and the direction history is moving. Alone among the post-USA republics of North America, the Lakeland Republic has achieved prosperity and internal peace, and it's done so by modeling its future... ...on the past.
Strangers at Our Door
Author: Zygmunt Bauman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1509512209
Pages: 120
Year: 2016-06-20
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Refugees from the violence of wars and the brutality of famished lives have knocked on other people's doors since the beginning of time. For the people behind the doors, these uninvited guests were always strangers, and strangers tend to generate fear and anxiety precisely because they are unknown. Today we find ourselves confronted with an extreme form of this historical dynamic, as our TV screens and newspapers are filled with accounts of a 'migration crisis', ostensibly overwhelming Europe and portending the collapse of our way of life. This anxious debate has given rise to a veritable 'moral panic' - a feeling of fear spreading among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society. In this short book Zygmunt Bauman analyses the origins, contours and impact of this moral panic - he dissects, in short, the present-day migration panic. He shows how politicians have exploited fears and anxieties that have become widespread, especially among those who have already lost so much - the disinherited and the poor. But he argues that the policy of mutual separation, of building walls rather than bridges, is misguided. It may bring some short-term reassurance but it is doomed to fail in the long run. We are faced with a crisis of humanity, and the only exit from this crisis is to recognize our growing interdependence as a species and to find new ways to live together in solidarity and cooperation, amidst strangers who may hold opinions and preferences different from our own.
The Great Regression
Author: Heinrich Geiselberger
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1509522395
Pages: 220
Year: 2017-05-11
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We are living through a period of dramatic political change – Brexit, the election of Trump, the rise of extreme right movements in Europe and elsewhere, the resurgence of nationalism and xenophobia and a concerted assault on the liberal values and ideals associated with cosmopolitanism and globalization. Suddenly we find ourselves in a world that few would have imagined possible just a few years ago, a world that seems to many to be a move backwards. How can we make sense of these dramatic developments and how should we respond to them? Are we witnessing a worldwide rejection of liberal democracy and its replacement by some kind of populist authoritarianism? This timely volume brings together some of the world's greatest minds to analyse and seek to understand the forces behind this 'great regression'. Writers from across disciplines and countries, including Paul Mason, Pankaj Mishra, Slavoj Zizek, Zygmunt Bauman, Arjun Appadurai, Wolfgang Streeck and Eva Illouz, grapple with our current predicament, framing it in a broader historical context, discussing possible future trajectories and considering ways that we might combat this reactionary turn. The Great Regression is a key intervention that will be of great value to all those concerned about recent developments and wondering how best to respond to this unprecedented challenge to the very core of liberal democracy and internationalism across the world today. For more information, see: www.thegreatregression.eu
Babel
Author: Zygmunt Bauman, Ezio Mauro
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1509507639
Pages: 180
Year: 2016-05-17
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We are living in an open sea, caught up in a continuous wave, with no fixed point and no instrument to measure distance and the direction of travel. Nothing appears to be in its place any more, and a great deal appears to have no place at all. The principles that have given substance to the democratic ethos, the system of rules that has guided the relationships of authority and the ways in which they are legitimized, the shared values and their hierarchy, our behaviour and our life styles, must be radically revised because they no longer seem suited to our experience and understanding of a world in flux, a world that has become both increasingly interconnected and prone to severe and persistent crises. We are living in the interregnum between what is no longer and what is not yet. None of the political movements that helped undermine the old world are ready to inherit it, and there is no new ideology, no consistent vision, promising to give shape to new institutions for the new world. It is like the Babylon referred to by Borges, the country of randomness and uncertainty in which ‘no decision is final; all branch into others’. Out of the world that had promised us modernity, what Jean Paul Sartre had summarized with sublime formula ‘le choix que je suis’ (‘the choice that I am’), we inhabit that flattened, mobile and dematerialized space, where as never before the principle of the heterogenesis of purposes is sovereign. This is Babel.
Does the Richness of the Few Benefit Us All?
Author: Zygmunt Bauman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0745679196
Pages: 86
Year: 2016-03-18
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It is commonly assumed that the best way to help the poor out of their misery is to allow the rich to get richer, that if the rich pay less taxes then all the rest of us will be better off, and that in the final analysis the richness of the few benefits us all. And yet these commonly held beliefs are flatly contradicted by our daily experience, an abundance of research findings and, indeed, logic. Such bizarre discrepancy between hard facts and popular opinions makes one pause and ask: why are these opinions so widespread and resistant to accumulated and fast-growing evidence to the contrary? This short book is by one of the world’s leading social thinkers is an attempt to answer this question. Bauman lists and scrutinizes the tacit assumptions and unreflected-upon convictions upon which such opinions are grounded, finding them one by one to be false, deceitful and misleading. Their persistence could be hardly sustainable were it not for the role they play in defending - indeed, promoting and reinforcing - the current, unprecedented, indefensible and still accelerating growth in social inequality and the rapidly widening gap between the elite of the rich and the rest of society.
In Praise of Literature
Author: Zygmunt Bauman, Riccardo Mazzeo
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1509502726
Pages: 180
Year: 2016-05-17
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In this new book Zygmunt Bauman and Riccardo Mazzeo examine the contentious issue of the relation between literature (and the arts in general) and sociology (or, more generally, a branch of the humanities claiming scientific status). While many commentators see literature and sociology as radically different vocations, Bauman and Mazzeo argue that they are bound together by a common purpose and a shared subject matter. Despite the many differences in terms of their methods and their ways of presenting their findings, novels and sociological texts are not at cross-purposes. Indeed, it is precisely their differences that make them at once indispensable to each other and mutually complementary. The writers of novels and of sociological texts may explore their world from different perspectives, seeking and producing different types of ‘data’, but their products bear the unmistakable marks of their shared origin. They feed each other and depend on each other in terms of their agenda, their discoveries and the contents of their messages. In a world characterized by the continuous search for new sensations and the fetishism of consumption, they bring fundamental existential questions back to the public agenda. Literature and sociology reveal the truth of the human condition only when they stay in one another's company, remaining attentive to each other's findings and engaged in a continuous dialogue. For only together can they rise to the challenging task of untangling and laying bare the complex intertwining of biography and history as well as of individual and society that totality we are constantly shaping while being shaped by it.
Retrotopia
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Moral Blindness
Author: Zygmunt Bauman, Leonidas Donskis
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 074566962X
Pages: 224
Year: 2013-04-24
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Evil is not confined to war or to circumstances in which people are acting under extreme duress. Today it more frequently reveals itself in the everyday insensitivity to the suffering of others, in the inability or refusal to understand them and in the casual turning away of one’s ethical gaze. Evil and moral blindness lurk in what we take as normality and in the triviality and banality of everyday life, and not just in the abnormal and exceptional cases. The distinctive kind of moral blindness that characterizes our societies is brilliantly analysed by Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis through the concept of adiaphora: the placing of certain acts or categories of human beings outside of the universe of moral obligations and evaluations. Adiaphora implies an attitude of indifference to what is happening in the world – a moral numbness. In a life where rhythms are dictated by ratings wars and box-office returns, where people are preoccupied with the latest gadgets and forms of gossip, in our ‘hurried life’ where attention rarely has time to settle on any issue of importance, we are at serious risk of losing our sensitivity to the plight of the other. Only celebrities or media stars can expect to be noticed in a society stuffed with sensational, valueless information. This probing inquiry into the fate of our moral sensibilities will be of great interest to anyone concerned with the most profound changes that are silently shaping the lives of everyone in our contemporary liquid-modern world.
Liquid Modernity
Author: Zygmunt Bauman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 074565701X
Pages: 240
Year: 2013-07-10
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In this new book, Bauman examines how we have moved away from a 'heavy' and 'solid', hardware-focused modernity to a 'light' and 'liquid', software-based modernity. This passage, he argues, has brought profound change to all aspects of the human condition. The new remoteness and un-reachability of global systemic structure coupled with the unstructured and under-defined, fluid state of the immediate setting of life-politics and human togetherness, call for the rethinking of the concepts and cognitive frames used to narrate human individual experience and their joint history. This book is dedicated to this task. Bauman selects five of the basic concepts which have served to make sense of shared human life - emancipation, individuality, time/space, work and community - and traces their successive incarnations and changes of meaning. Liquid Modernity concludes the analysis undertaken in Bauman's two previous books Globalization: The Human Consequences and In Search of Politics. Together these volumes form a brilliant analysis of the changing conditions of social and political life by one of the most original thinkers writing today.
Liquid Evil
Author: Zygmunt Bauman, Leonidas Donskis
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1509508155
Pages: 192
Year: 2016-04-29
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There is nothing new about evil; it has been with us since time immemorial. But there is something new about the kind of evil that characterizes our contemporary liquid-modern world. The evil that characterized earlier forms of solid modernity was concentrated in the hands of states claiming monopolies on the means of coercion and using the means at their disposal to pursue their ends ends that were at times horrifically brutal and barbaric. In our contemporary liquid-modern societies, by contrast, evil has become altogether more pervasive and at the same time less visible. Liquid evil hides in the seams of the canvass woven daily by the liquid-modern mode of human interaction and commerce, conceals itself in the very tissue of human cohabitation and in the course of its routine and day-to-day reproduction. Evil lurks in the countless black holes of a thoroughly deregulated and privatized social space in which cutthroat competition and mutual estrangement have replaced cooperation and solidarity, while forceful individualization erodes the adhesive power of inter-human bonds. In its present form evil is hard to spot, unmask and resist. It seduces us by its ordinariness and then jumps out without warning, striking seemingly at random. The result is a social world that is comparable to a minefield: we know it is full of explosives and that explosions will happen sooner or later but we have no idea when and where they will occur. In this new book, the sequel to their acclaimed work Moral Blindness Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis guide the reader through this new terrain in which evil has become both more ordinary and more insidious, threatening to strip humanity of its dreams, alternative projects and powers of dissent at the very time when they are needed most.
Free Speech
Author: Timothy Garton Ash
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300161166
Pages: 504
Year: 2016-05-24
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One of the great political writers of our time offers a manifesto for global free speech in the digital age
Liquid Times
Author: Zygmunt Bauman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0745639607
Pages: 128
Year: 2013-04-17
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The passage from ‘solid’ to ‘liquid’ modernity has created a new and unprecedented setting for individual life pursuits, confronting individuals with a series of challenges never before encountered. Social forms and institutions no longer have enough time to solidify and cannot serve as frames of reference for human actions and long-term life plans, so individuals have to find other ways to organise their lives. They have to splice together an unending series of short-term projects and episodes that don’t add up to the kind of sequence to which concepts like ‘career’ and ‘progress’ could meaningfully be applied. Such fragmented lives require individuals to be flexible and adaptable – to be constantly ready and willing to change tactics at short notice, to abandon commitments and loyalties without regret and to pursue opportunities according to their current availability. In liquid modernity the individual must act, plan actions and calculate the likely gains and losses of acting (or failing to act) under conditions of endemic uncertainty. Zygmunt Bauman’s brilliant writings on liquid modernity have altered the way we think about the contemporary world. In this short book he explores the sources of the endemic uncertainty which shapes our lives today and, in so doing, he provides the reader with a brief and accessible introduction to his highly original account, developed at greater length in his previous books, of life in our liquid modern times.
The Retro Future
Author: John Michael Greer
Publisher: New Society Publishers
ISBN: 177142253X
Pages: 256
Year: 2017-08-21
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To most people paying attention to the collision between industrial society and the hard limits of a finite planet, it's clear that things are going very, very wrong. We no longer have unlimited time and resources to deal with the crises that define our future, and the options are limited to the tools we have on hand right now. This book is about one very powerful option: deliberate technological regression. Technological regression isn't about 'going back,' it's about using the past as a resource to meet the needs of the present. It starts from the recognition that older technologies generally use fewer resources and cost less than modern equivalents, and it embraces the heresy of technological choice, our ability to choose or refuse the technologies pushed by corporate interests. People are already ditching smartphones in favor of 'dumb phones' and land lines and eBook sales are declining, while printed books rebound. Clear signs among many that blind faith in progress is faltering and opening up the possibility that the best way forward may well involve going back. A must-read for anyone willing to think the unthinkable and embrace the possibilities of a retro future. John Michael Greer, one of the most influential authors exploring the future of industrial society, writes the widely cited blog The Archdruid Report. He has authored more than forty books including The Long Descent and Dark Age America. He lives in Cumberland, MD, an old mill town in the Appalachians, with his wife Sara.
Twilight's Last Gleaming
Author: John Michael Greer
Publisher: Karnac Books
ISBN: 1781814074
Pages: 400
Year: 2014-10-31
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A chilling high-concept geo-political thriller where a declining United States and a resurgent China come to the brink of all out nuclear war.The year is 2025. Oil is the black gold that controls the fortunes of all nations and the once-mighty United States is down to the dregs. A giant oil field is discovered off the Tanzanian coast and the newly elected US President finds his solution to America's ailing economy. While the US blindly plots and plans regime change in this hitherto insignificant African nation, Tanzania's allies - the Chinese - start their own secret machinations. The explosion that follows shatters a decades-old balance of global power and triggers a crisis on American soil that the United States may not survive.Political conspiracies, military manouvers, and covert activities are woven together in this fast-paced, gripping novel that paints a stark warning of an uncomfortably likely future.