Zygmunt Bauman “Liquid Life”

by Giovanni Carlini

Searching for who understands and can explain what is occurring in these last few years, some answers come from Zygmunt Bauman. In Liquid Life, the focus is on some simple but profound aspects which aid in understanding what we are doing.

a) Until a few decades ago we had a solid world, the one of production, where there were goods “Made in Italy” or “Made in Germany”. In this world, those who finished schooling found work. We were not rich, but we were wealthy (even though in proportion we were richer than what we are now). There were common ideas and common grounds of action.

b) In the past fifteen years the world has become liquid. The West is no longer governed by production, but by commerce of goods produced elsewhere. The goods are “Made in China” or “Made in India”. In this reality, many are jobless at the end of their schooling. Ideas and behaviours are essentially marked by exasperated individuality, thus no more collaboration, searching for extreme originality for raison d’être. To appear is fundamental, substance is a mirage.

c) We have gone from a solid society to a liquid one without an instructions booklet. Essentially you could compare the situation to possessing a car but not a license. The same situation happened when society changed form a community (villages and tribes who cultivated the land and had nobility) to society (with urbanisation, industrialisation and a bourgeois class). This transformation was also characterised by a dark age which produced a great form of opposition to capitalism: communism. In addition to that, a new equilibrium was reached after 2 world wars.

d) In uncertain times, the mass is attracted to events because they happen rapidly, expressing furthermore the lack of the strength to remain true to ones customs, values and habits, which are those things that offer certainty. Consumes are at the basis of a changing, nervous and immature character. Less books are read, and those who read often just glance at the titles of newspaper articles, maybe on the internet, where news is offered but not concepts. Curing the body is fundamental, because the constant remodelling of something that is liquid and thus mutant, followed by an histrionic cult of showing photos.
In this context, we discover that we are in a crisis. There is nothing original in stating that a life lived this way does not work. The million dollar question is, how do we get out of this situation? Well, there are many answers. Move forward, turn back, save what can be saved. Surely Globalisation needs to be re-thought, like the Euro and the European Union Structure. Specifically, the business model in every sector must be revisited. The mobile phones need to be turned off, finding the courage to sit at a table and look at each other, figuring out what can be improved in the decadent business. New markets need to be explored, the interned needs to be used, as well as including the right professionals and managers maybe even in lieu of family members. Together, try and find new original ideas, and patent them instead of merely sell. Finally, check all personnel and expenses with a new marketing plan in mind.
From these lines a research author emerges: Zygmunt Bauman (1925- living). Apart from the books in the bibliography, the author researches around the following concepts:

a) Globalisation has confirmed that the concept of community has lost its value.

b) In total confusion, which sums up to problems which have been analysed by sociology since the 70’s and 80’s, the single person throws on the couple his/her own tensions which end up having substantial effects. Separation has reached the rate of 42% and sexual deviance in the couple.

c) Sexual attitudes are signals of a complex confusion which is not possible to discuss as being a deviance from “normality”, because the concept of what is normal is vanishing.

d) Without “rules” or boundaries, which fix what is acceptable and what is not, Ulrich Beck’s statement is valid: “Finding personal solutions to systemic contradictions”.
This research puts together aspects which are usually not analysed together, but what are the solutions for these problems? Certainly in the last 30 years there has been excessive risk taking that has only increased social problems. The incomplete Parsonian model has been regrettably and done away with too quickly, when it should instead be re-thought and restructured especially in the torts done to Simmel. This is where the roots of renascence come from, the magic word is start again.

Translation by Andrea Anastasi